Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kiss each other clean

Spring is a time for all things new. New life, new dresses, new skirts, new ideas, new music. The world itself seems shinier and newer, even if it's actually just slightly more radioactive and disruptive. Us bears, we awake from hibernation, look around carefully, lumber into the sunlight, prick up our ears and hear new melodies.
The man from the water
The trouble with getting older, is that you are less and less effected by new things; music, art, film (Or music videos!?! I think that last music video I actually loved was like 3 years ago...).

This isn't because you're not interested, though it's true you no longer follow these things as obsessively as you did when you were younger; it's because you already own the greatest albums of the world. No, seriously, there's a time in your life, often in your teens and twenties, when your music taste begins to settle. There are songs, records, that can move the whole world inside you. And after that, after families and remodels and loans and kids and the long nights spent painting the bathroom, you just can't get fired up about the New Album by Some Flannel Clad Hipster. So you go back to the family room, put on some headphones and silently bob your head to There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out. Again.

Which is fine. Because it is the best song in the history of pop music and frankly, it reminds you of a time when you could still go to places where there was music and people who were young and alive. And maybe you lived in London when you were just 22, and listened to it on the top floor front seat of a double decker bus with a boy you thought you loved from one earbud each...(okay, so maybe this is just me;)

But the trouble with this is that you might end like one of those old fogers who believe that nothing worthwhile has happened in the world of music since 1973 (if you have to ask...).
So you reach out and search and listen, for other voices and other rooms (if you have to ask ;).
And maybe the songs and bands and singers you find won't move the sky inside you and send rainbows through your brain, but they might just be perfect for the moment. Like a beautiful spring day who's passing I've documented for your pleasure. (Lots of gratuitous cat-shots follow.) Consider this a springtime mixtape.

Sometimes you get music and then just forget about it (especially if you have emusic), and then when it plays at just the right moment you fall in love with it, like those idiot guys in romantic comedies when they finally realise that the girl of their dreams has been under their noses all along. Shearwater's last album, Rook played a lot at our house, but I wasn't really taken by The Golden Archipelago (in spite its Island theme) until this spring.

For the past few years I've been very taken by music with folky-connotations, new folk, freak folk, just plain old Railroad and Union and Coal-mining songs. I'm one of those obnoxious people who just keep claiming that they like "all kinds of music", but my musical tastes really are pretty varied.

C. likes to complain that my music is too moody, and normally I don't agree, but when you get a birthday package all the way from Turkey you need totally to crank up some cheerier tunes.

Especially when it contains a new Gunne Sack previously seen on a girl you obviously adore, a bear-pendant AND an awesome piece of non-fiction hand-picked for you. Vampire Weekend's eponymous debut is another album that was actually released a while back and pure silliness to boot, but sure fits into twirling in your new dress and doing chores in the sun. Sometimes I like to have a little dance party to its beat all by myself.
It was the perfect day to hang out the season's first laundry beneath the cedar tree. I love the smell of air-dried sheets and clothes. The spring air sticks to you like a perfume. While I'm normally all about reality based blogging, I will admit that I hung the prettiest laundry first. What can I say, it's all staged...
The two Bowerbirds albums probably get the most airtime at our house, we both blast them while we work, burst into sing-alongs to The House Of Diamonds and In Our Talons and dissect the environmental, elemental lyrics (how could we not love a band that states in their website that they're spending their winter building a cabin and chopping wood ;). They are one of the three points where our musical tastes fully converge. The other two are Elephant Revival and Gogol Bordello (The former is playing here next weekend and we just bought tickets to go see the latter in Bham! Wheeeee!). Go figure.
cat crime?
You're witnessing some hideous cat-crime. Kissa decided to make some bedding available for the illicit lolly-gagging in the sun.
I don't know how she feels about the Cure, but I play this tribute album a lot these days. I know it's not entirely new music and even this album is about three years old, but I've only recently rediscovered it and love all the versions of these songs.

I do a lot of my music immersion while I bike up and down this Island, make whole mixes around what routes I plan to take. Sometimes I play the pensive, delicate tunes that C. so dislikes, but more often I like to blast my eardrums with energetic, adrenaline moving music.
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, have been a mainstay for a while now when I speed down these hills, and what could be more suiting when the band itself has an unlikely connection to these here Isles; Siri who hails from around here, is the one and only of the band's bassist.
Another recent biking favorite, is also a current New Yorker of a completely different musical persuasion. These spring days, I'm swooning to Justin Townes Earle in the sunlight while I bike to the Dump for some sweet finds.
One album that has not left my ears this season though, as you maybe have guessed from the title, is the new Iron And Wine. While there has been mixed reviews on the different musical turn one Samuel Beam is said to have taken with this, his latest album, I have embraced it whole hearted in these last weeks.
It is so light, melancholy, with bursts of unexpected energy. Perfect soundtrack for the frogs to croon to and the bugs to dance in evening sun.
And for me to walk around, close to home, in my new dress, pondering the mysterious cycles of death and rebirth, of frogs and tadpoles and eggs and birds unfolding right here on my doorstep.
And a tiny part of its sweetness was hearing Darin discuss its merits one night at Heather's house.
Happy Spring My Loves! And do tell: what are you listening to?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

There once was a girl who lived in the middle of a big, light forest, on top of a mountain, with her dog and cats and the wild, wild birds....

Since this week is all about what we love here at Bear Matrimony Headquarters, I thought I'd introduce you to someone who we are much in awe of. Some of you know her already, but I think the rest of you should go over and meet her as well.

I will not bore, nor terrify you with things that I did more than a decade ago when I was 20-years old, but let me assure you, they were nowhere near as cool as the life pursuits of Sara the Forestlass.
Singing songs...
Already working on her bachelor's degree via the magic of the internet, Sara is not only a wonderful writer, but also a master gardener, a knitter extraordinaire, an expert at animal wifery, an artist, and...did I mention she's a snappy dresser too?
Hecks, yah she is! Not only the owner of several mesmerizing Gunne Sax, Sara has more style in her pinky finger than a lot of girls her age will ever possess. And of course, I love the fact that she wears such amazing dresses on a daily bases. (She's also the inventor of the phrase "gratuitos cat-shot". My hero.)
Move away from your western guns
However, being a country girl like myself, there is nothing impractical about her dress or her attitudes. Sara's all about getting projects done and I'm in awe of the energy that seems to be required for her many pursuits. Oh to be young again!
rainy days
Raised in the US. Sara now lives on a mountain top in her folk's native Turkey, who's language she's had to learn, and go through much paperwork to acquire her passport. Not to mention culture shock I'm sure. Moving to a whole new country is like starting your life over on an entirely different plain and though Turkey has one foot firmly in Europe, it also has another equally firmly in the Middle East, a Nation rather subtly different from the traditional West.

It's also, from this point of view a faraway nation mailing to where can be precarious and which recently banned the use of blogger (!).

A few grim days after she was no longer able to access her blog, I was happy to discover that Sara had created a new site on wordpress.

Luckily, Sara has befriended the folks at the post office (Then again, how could they not take extra good care of the mail of such a lovely creature.) and actually got the one thing I've ever managed to mail her (more to come-I swear): a dandelion dress she'd been eye-balling on etsy, that I ended up buying and realizing it wasn't quite right-for me ;) And just the other day she purchased this namesake dress from Sadie. I can't wait to see it on her!

Rust and Cables
If you're ever feeling blue, I heartily recommend a visit to the Forestlass archives. You'll learn resilience, kindness and how to eat crocus bulbs.
Rust is a must

Speak no evil
As amazing and uplifting as I find her writing and pictures, Sara isn't immune to the ennui that sometimes catches up with all of us. Like many of us at her age, Sara has been faced with some though choices lately, something she bravely posted about just today. Happy, sad, or just plain pensive, Sara's honesty always shines through.
If life were all sunshine...

Without Jacket
I have all the faith in the world in that she'll find her path, because whenever I read Sara's posts and messages, or check out her beautiful outfits, I can't help but wish I had been this self-possessed at her age, able to determine what I liked, who I wanted to be and to doggedly (this one's for you Sara!) pursue those goals.

It has been a pleasure getting to know this lovely lady over the last year, and I sincerely hope that this is only the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship, connected by the internets and the taproots of forest-dwellers.
Little Bear's Friend's Grandmother

I tilled it with my two hands...

First of all: thank you so much for all your comments on those posts written in darker days. It finally feels like the sun has come out, or rather the moon and the sun both. It seems that, at least for our family, the Vernal Equinox marked the beginning of a new, lighter era and hopefully this will be true for all of you and the wider world as well.

In the spirit of spring, renewal and waking from our hibernation, this will be an entirely un-serious week here, filled with things I love and want to share with you.

Starting guessed it: my garden.
I thought that I would share my humble tips to having a garden that gives you food, peace of mind and eases stress, rather than creates it. I just want to dispel any notion that you need some sort of experience, knowledge, or good sense to have a garden patch.

Unfortunately, the rumors are true: organic gardening (Or any kind for that matter, that just happens to be the kind I practice. There are varying degrees of gardening ease, from round-up to bio-dynamic and back again...) takes a lot of time, so much so that some crazy people have come up with the myth of the 20 dollar tomato to measure it (or the even bigger myth of the 64 dollar tomato). Meaning that the time, effort, equipment and care will end up costing you far more than a bag of seed and a few hours of shoveling.

However, if you don't harbor illusions of grandeur, or value your time quite so highly, a home-grown, organic (if you wish), delicious tomato is something anyone can achieve for the low-low prise of...well, best not think about it. After all, you can't put a prise on a delicious, home-grown tomato, people.
Starting a garden can be rather intimidating, simply because it's a place loaded with dreams. Dreams of fruition, of harvest, of beauty. The very human dreams of making orderly rows out of the chaos that is nature left to its own devices. Or, as the case maybe, not. As a novice gardener I don't feel like I'm in a place to offer a lot of advice, but I will offer this: dream big, plant small. The easiest way to end up with a huge, expensive garden is, to quote R. Kelly, believing you can fly. You can't.

Seriously, so often you hear people saying they're going to start their first garden and it's going to be huge and they'll have everything that grows under the sun in it. While I know that there are people (I know some, they are amazing. I worship the ground beneath their feet. There's beets in that ground.) out there who can pull off a huge garden in their first (or second, or third, or fourth) year, my advice is that you plant only the things you really want, and not the seventeen different varieties of corn that looked so cool in the seed catalogue. (Seed catalogues are like porn, people, it's not like that in real life.)

The first question you need to answer when starting your (first, second, or hundredth) garden is: What does your family like to eat? Vegetables? Good. What vegetables (Or fruits. I hear you can grow fruits. What a weird idea.) do you buy most often at the store? Can you grow those?

Don't think about what you should have, think about what you need. That way you don't end up with giant, tasteless zucchinis, because nobody in your circle likes them, or radishes that sit in the bottom of the veggie crisper all summer, because you were planning to use them for that exotic pie that would have impressed everyone if only you'd made it.

Pick like 5 of your favorites, throw in some herbs and add a couple of oddities, like that crazy corn. Just for fun.
Got my hoes
Figure out what those plants need. Light, nutrition, pest control? Can you provide that for less than 20 bucks per tomato?

Okay good. Then go ahead and buy some seeds. (Just remember: seed catalogues=garden porn. Don't fall for it. You'll never have a satisfying real garden life.)
Spring bloom
As for tools, in my experience, you only need a couple: A shovel, a hoe, a weeding hoe and a hori-knife. What's a hori-knife? Only the most useful garden tool ever. Now go get one.

You'll also need fertilizer. How about getting some chickens? No but seriously, good fertilizer is key. Did you know you can mix your own to suit your soil? Sounds like chemistry, but since I have no math-brain, I like to think of it as cooking. Plants need a meal and since you're their momma, you need to fix it.
Seed collection
Knowing what kind of soil you have is important, but frankly, if you want to start out with some lettuce and spinach and take it from there, there's plenty of time to get to know your soil next year. Most likely you'll figure it out because something you want just won't grow, no matter how much water and yummy fertilizer it gets.

As a final tip I heartily recommend getting a local gardening book. I got this one and it blew my mind. Figure out when the last and first frost are in your area, and what zone you're in. Then start your seed(ling)s as per instructions. Bam! You're now a gardener.

And next year you'll know more. What you did wrong, how much more you want to do, whether that crazy corn can survive in your zone, or just your yard. That's how you get to the perfect garden, the Platonian idea of a garden that you see in front of you when you close your eyes after looking at seed catalogues ("Porn! Porn! Porn"). Like everything in life, you must work towards it, shifting slowly through the earth. Now you can really fly, Little Grasshopper. Be free and garden.
Too much?
Like people, our gardens too are all individuals, with a distinct look. I may fantasize of a wild riot of colors and plants, aesthetically pleasing, carefully organized around their companions, but right now it's just a bunch of soggy cardboard and piles of plastic pots.

It's everything I ever dreamed of. Speaking of which: dig my technicolor-dream-catcher? I got it in a little town along the Oregon coast. The key is from an estate sale and they crystal bullet by the lovely and amazing Sadie Rose.

On our way back home, we got stuck in a snowstorm in near the border in Oregon and dipped into a little farm store to warm up. The proprietress looked the amethyst bullet carefully over and asked me if I was a Spiritual Warrior. I told her I guess I'd like to think so. Aren't we all Spiritual Warriors on a quest in an increasingly crazy world?
These prison walls can't hold me.
My trusty side-kick is not much of an Animal Helper, when it comes to tilling and planting. She does do the vole patrol, which has been immensely useful. Voles have done me more wrong than slugs.
Speaking of slugs, I've had to kill so so many as I've taken out the cardboard. I once read of a Buddhist monk who said that when slugs came to his garden he just asked them to leave. I hope that in some future life I'll be able to do the same. It's not very likely though at the rate I'm killing slugs. I'll probably be reborn as a slug. The irony.
Stop taking my picture mama!
If I could only be reborn as a catten-tat, that would make me very happy indeed. They get to laze about in the sun, while others work.
All in a day's workDone!
Seriously though, gardening is hardly work on a sunny day like this. There is something atavistically pleasing about planting even the tiniest seeds. Like you're suddenly such a provider.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I must add that I don't always garden in such dainty garb. Some days it just feels right to wear favorite clothes from some of your favorite sisters. The rubber boots are a stalwart though. If you can't abide them you'll be out of luck in the next month.
They're back!
Beyond seedlings and garden lust, a sure-fire sign of spring is the return of migratory birds. We spotted both hummingbirds and campers today. I hope for their sake this wondrous weather continues.
Gather while you may
My (it's not really mine, but we humans are so territorial) plum tree bloomed a little later this year, thank goodness, since last year we didn't get a single plum.
PoserTree inside
Coming in from the porch where you've had a beer with your sweetheart, to the scent of plum blossoms and cooking some of your own over-wintered greens, now that's plenty to be blissed about. This has been the best day in a long long time. I'm so happy I could share it with you.

How's your world? Please share gardening tips? Happiness?

Love, light, blessings and pale green things,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

You may not believe, but even we were scared at first...

Warning: there will be no pretty pictures attached to this post.

As you may have gathered from the last few posts, our family has been pulled at by many negative forces lately. No amount of positive thinking seems to shake these things off, to the point where it sometimes feels like there's some grander, cosmic force at work, compounding mishap to mishap.

Last Saturday morning however, those things were put into the right perspective in one fell swoop by the magnitude of the natural and manmade disasters who's powers have (literally) been shaking the very foundations of the earth. The aftershocks of Japan's earthquake still continue to ripple through all of us, whether physically, or emotionally. In a globalized world, everything instantly touches everyone. From Calcutta to Austin, Paris to Tuvalu, we are now all connected for better, but more often, it seems, worse.

One too many civil wars and draughts battering you day to day, between commercials about insulin pens and shows about unnaturally attractive people's relationship woes, and they might just begin to seem very distant. As a friend once pointed out: "most of the time, you can only care for the 100 people physically closest to you. Everyone else is always a little bit abstract."
Sometimes we literally have to shaken out of our complacency in the face of tragedy.

The cataclysmic event and in Japan, is just the kind of super-disaster that can often draw more of our emotional attention than the ongoing unrest in the Middle-East, the continued unraveling of East African nations, the plight of homeowners facing evictions, the racist policies of EU-countries that single out certain ethnicities as second class citizens, or heck, the exact same thing happening here in the US.

Not only is the tragedy unfolding in Japan, dramatic and urgent, but it's also easily relatable because they are a technologically advanced Westernized nation, just like the rest of us here in the hyper-connected developed countries. When a massive tsunami hit Indonesia and Thailand on December 26th 2004, at least part of the massive media attention awarded to it had to do with the number of Western tourists there at the time. It also garnered a record amount of international aid and donations from private people. There was a collective sense of effort: we could fix this. For once, there was something we could do.

As the days dragged on in the last week, our alarm for the people in Japan, whole towns erased from the face of the earth, loved ones gone forever, homes ripped apart and now facing an ever increasing threat of a nuclear disaster seems to have turned into a concern for our selves, especially here Western coast of the US.

We are no longer as concerned for the lives of the people dealing with the immediate fallout, who have no place to go, who's food systems are now beginning to get effected, or the heroic men and women who are putting their lives on the line to try cool the exposed fuel rods in the heart of the Fukushima reactor, the short and longterm effects of radiation on ecosystems, many of which are connected to us through the complex biological network that is the Pacific Ocean.

Suddenly we are all hoarding iodine tablets and sharing survival tips, lest the radiation reach us in the next few days, carried by the unpredictable winds. The world seems more fragile now, dangerous the way it used to during the cold war, the way it did for many in the the days after 9/11, like it could all just vanish while we're looking out the window.

What is the point, we seem to wonder now. What is the point of birthday parties? Of planting a garden? What is the point of making a meal? The point of watching the deer? Of driving to work? What is the point of fixing a broken ladle? Hanging the laundry? What is the point of blogging?

There actually seems to have been a small exodus from blogland in the last week. We are holding a little tighter onto our loved ones, shutting off our TVs and computer screens. Some have found themselves speechless in the face of this disaster. Some state briefly that it seems strange to blog when the world has been turning upside down, but that good, positive things must still be shared. Others have gone on as though nothing is the matter. A reader in Japan commented (So many good thoughts to you, Brenda.) on my last post that many of her favorite blogs have completely ignored the whole matter, as though the real world doesn't carry over to this electric fantasy-land we spend some time in.

Perhaps it doesn't.

Having always believed that blogging like anything else we do must come from a sincere place in our selves, I felt strange about going on with my garden, rowboat, herbal remedies and recipes and vintage dresses, my wood-carving husband, my crazy cat, my books, movies, moon parties, wild women...

It seemed like the destruction in Japan, the sudden sense of apocalyptic ennui, the hysteria surrounding me with it's iodine-scented conversation, was the final straw. For a few weeks since we returned from California I've been contemplating quitting blogging all together. One of the many negative forces currently engulfing my life has been in this circle that has always been a refuge, a supportive place of positive woman energy. There is insecurity and competitiveness (not mine) where sheer joy should be. Perhaps, I thought, this is a sign that it's time to move on. I closed the computer. I followed the news. I tried to work through the problems tangible in front of me, one by one.

Then, two days ago, on the ferry, trying to recover from another personal blow, I looked out the window at the spring green islands stretching on, it seemed, towards a snow-capped mountain in the distance. I thought of my mother, who one spring morning when I was seven, closed all the windows and forbade me from going out for days.

The town I grew up in lies about 750 miles from the site of the worst nuclear disaster in our history and the prevailing weather patterns dumped a lot of the fallout less than 50 miles south of where we lived. My mother was very educated about the potential effects of such an emergency and we had the iodine tablets to prove it. It was a beautiful, unusually warm week. Everyone was out playing in the sunshine. My mother kept the radio on, waiting for something, a government emergency signal, the health administrations orders to take the iodine, a declaration of a state of emergency, but nothing came. Eventually we emerged, blinking into the sunshine.

Later they discovered that most of the airborne radiation had gone into mushrooms and lichens and trees, not affecting us quite us directly as my mother had feared, but rather infiltrating the whole foundation upon which our lives are built.

I sat there on the ferry and thought about my mother and her fear, her need and will to protect me. I thought about what we can do in the face of our fear for the fragility of the world.

We can go outside into the sun. We can live. We can plant gardens. We can hold our loved ones tightly. We can reach others across the world through our strange digital means. We can remember the dead and pray for the living. We can protest the powers that be. We can sign petitions. We can conserve electricity. We can leave negativity for those that cling to it. We can try to be happy. We can try be honest. We can try to be our best selves. We can not be afraid. We can dance under the brightest moon.

"We're only human, this at least we've learned."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

When life gives you nettles...

First, a big virtual hug and thank you for all your nice comments on my last post, I feel much better, if partly only after considering how lucky I really am. From chronically sick friends, to the sobering reality of those suffering the aftermath of Japan's earthquake, there's so much pain and anguish in this world, that when we can, we should try to enjoy what we have. Here's my attempt at that.
Kissa Says Relax!
While there's been a lot going on at our little house by the sea, some people seem to still find time to take it easy.
Comfort zone
We have much to learn from these people.
Sleepy time
In between relaxing though, I'm working on my final seed order. I like these folks, mostly because their organics are easy to spot and also because I like smaller, independent seed companies. I've had some bad experiences with Seed Savers (just bum seeds, but a few more than I would have liked), though I do continue to order from them as well. I use catalogues for some of the more "exotic" veggies, herbs and flowers (I'm rather particular about my squash by now. I love squash.), but most of the ordinary crops (carrots, greens, beets etc.) I buy from our local Island seed company, who are pretty darn awe-inspiring.

I also plan to buy all my tomato starts straight from the source and not bother with my own starts this year, since they just can't get a head start on my shady plot. They do fine once they're bigger, though, so it's worth the investment. We got lots of tomatoes last year and as we're eating yet another can of our home-made tomato sauce, are already excited for this years crop. I've also got a bunch of seeds I saved myself that are just starting to germinate, which makes me very happy.
Broom corn!
And Kale
It's about time too, because there's lots going on in the garden, seedlings, winter and spring crops and next fall's garlic and onions are really enjoying the extra light.
A meal make nettles
As is the wild harvest of the woods. Like I said yesterday, I've been gathering nettles a lot since we came back. Not only are they delicious in food, or as tea, they also have many medicinal properties and work for variety of illnesses.

As a matter of fact, they're good for pretty much all that ails me personally, a fact that is rather mysterious and wonderful. As a tea (just don't use boiling hot water, but a slightly lower temperature) it can ail allergies (I'm allergic to a variety of pollens and hay.), promote healthy kidney function (It's a diuretic, so make sure to drink lots of water. ), be applied as a poultice to excema (taking it internally is said to help with this too) and alleviate inflammation associated with, among other things, arthritis. It even alleviates joint pain applied directly to the area, prickly side up ;).
Start wearing purple
Not to mention that Nettle is delicious. It can be used just like kale, chard, spinach and other greens, is delicious in soups, sauces, pancakes (personal favorite- my mom making nettle pancakes was always a surefire sign of spring growing up) and of course pesto.
In the cut
Here's tea!
I've posted a little about nettles before, specifically our gathering method. It minimizes the chance of getting stung, medicinal as the sting may be. You just use a mason jar into which you clip the plants.
Heading out
I usually only take the most tender top leaves. The nettle will recuperate from such a clipping fairly quickly. Being relaxed also helps with not getting stung. I usually like to say a little thank you to the nettles too, for all the energy and health they are providing.
Little one
A walk in the woods is, as previously noted, a balm for the soul, attuning one to the wonders of nature-everything feeding everything in one complex, glorious cycle.
Alder from the gold country
In another complex, glorious cycle: I'm wearing more spoils from Nicole, the beautiful birthday dress she gave me when we met, and my tiny piece of the gold country from C.
Dressing down
As you may know by now, I love Gunnes, love wearing them even if there's no special occasions and particularly adore ones that can be appropriated for everyday use, like this one. To that effect and for its protection, I added a 70s denim shirt C. got for me from The Dump.
Practicality and beauty, all in one, is very much the essence of wild-crafting. It's literally walking in beauty, observing and educating oneself of one's surroundings. What joy!
Once I have the desired amount of nettles, I always dry a part of them, for those nettle-less months ahead. I find that it's easier to dry them little at a time, than to try to fill up the pantry in a single harvest.
my nettles! all mine...
The trouble is Kissa likes a bit of the old nettle sting remedy too.
what are you doing?
She says it makes her even more relaxed. (No but, seriously, the sting disappears once they've dried.)
About to pesto
Now as for that pesto recipe: the nettles can be supplemented with the more traditional basil, or even spinach, chard, kale, sorrel (mixed with some other green), or a mix of any and all of the above.

The recipe is vegan (no cheese-sorry guys!) and I use sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts for a couple of different reasons: 1)organic pine nuts are prohibitively expensive 2) they still come mostly from China (whereas sunflower seeds can have more local origins) 3) in spite being expensive and organic they can still give you pine-nut-mouth (true story! a friend at work ordered a whole box and got it-now she can't use them)
what u need plus salt
All you need for a dinner sized batch is (all measurements are approximations-I cook off the cuff mostly):
1 1/2-2 cups of olive oil
garlic to taste (i used 5 cloves-that might be a bit much for most)
1/2-1 cup of sunflower seeds,
5-6 cups of fresh nettles (you can blanch the nettles if you like-this means dipping them very quickly in some boiling water-this removes the sting for all nettle cooking, though you want to be careful not to loose a lot of the good stuff. The oil does the same so this step is not necessary for the pesto.)
salt to taste
I used to chop all this by hand (getting the sunflower seeds to desired texture can be hard), but now we have a blender (spoils from C.'s dad's move to New Mexico- but that's another story.), so I blenderize the ingredients, adding until desired texture appears. Don't blenderize too long though, sunflower seeds can congeal your concoction into a butter, after a time. Delicious and worth trying (increase the ration of sunflowers seeds if you want to try this-good with basil too), but not the intent here.
And voila! You have pesto. Good on pasta, pizza (my choice this time), or just plain toasty bread.
Word to the wise: nettle begins to spoil very quickly, and even with the oil and garlic it's best consumed within two days.
Ship shape
We'll, we're off to dinner (with some nettle pesto in hand ;), but I thought that before I go you should see what C. has been working on (when he wasn't carving into his finger). That's right: his very first bowl, filled with Meyer Lemons from Missa's (or should I say Lucas', Missa?) lovely tree.
Missa's sunshine
I hope that you are nourished and warm and loved. I hope that the folks suffering from the loss of homes and loved ones can experience some relief. I hope that if nothing else, we take from this earthquake the understanding that nuclear power is not the solution to climate change, but something disruptive, unreliable and damaging for generations to come. And if you're thinking of ways to contribute to helping those affected by the earthquake beyond good thoughts and prayers here's how (via the lovely Teacup Adventure):

2011 Sendai Earthquake / How To Help: President Obama released a statement earlier announcing that “[t]he United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial.” Below is a list of charities and relief organizations you can donate to in order to help bring aid to those affected by the worst earthquake in Japanese history.

  • The American Red Cross has set up a special designation for disaster relief efforts in Japan. To donate, click here, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to instantly donate $10.
  • International Medical Corps says it is putting together relief teams and supplies to aid Japan “and other affected countries.” Donate here.
  • Click here to donate to AmeriCares’ emergency relief response.
  • Reminder: Google’s Crisis Response Center / Person Finder.
  • Personally, I figure, no matter how broke I am, I can most always back up a prayer with a 10 dollar bill. But if I can't, a prayer is enough.