Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

"The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout Dutchland against winter to put into broths, physicall potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spicesellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigold." ~The Countrie Farme

I grew and dried a lot of calendula last year.

In The Earthwise Herbal Matthew Wood writes, "As an 'immune tonic' European peasants gathered the flowers throughout the year and threw them in soups in the fall and winter to warm and protect against wind and chill. In this regard it is an analog to astragulus. It prepares for the stress of winter by removing old lymphatic congestion and lingering infections."

Being of sturdy, European peasant stock myself, I see no reason not to reclaim this old tradition, so I keep a jar of dried flowers in the kitchen pantry. It is such a pleasure to stand at the stove in bleak midwinter and pluck bright orange petals and meditatively toss them into the pot.

Last night the petals went into a squash and pasta dish, along with garden grown sage, rosemary, thyme and garlic. I added crumbled stinging nettle leaves too. The squash I got at the farmer's market last fall. It has kept so well for months. The oyster mushrooms were grown locally. The onions came from somewhere in Quebec. The brown rice pasta came from far, far away. I do the best I can.

Point is, I really enjoy cooking this way. By with what is available. Not by what is dictated in a recipe. It stretches my imagination and makes me creative. I cook by feel and sight. Is that the start of soft spot on the delicata squash? It's on the menu tonight. I scan my shelves and see a flash of colours. Orange, green, yellow, purple. Use me! the jars say. Yes! I respond.

This morning more calendula was added to stinging nettle and red clover flowers, this time for an herbal infusion. It will steep all day today and later I will have a nutrient rich drink targeted to my lymphatic and immune system.

I love when the lines between food and medicine blur and disappear. In fact, why we're so hell bent on isolating and separating the two, I'll never understand.

All the herbs mentioned here are easy to grow (or forage for in the case of nettles and clover). Containers on a sunny windowsill or balcony will serve if you don't have a patch of land. If you're planning your garden for this season, I highly recommend growing calendula.

(Awesome food photos I do not take. I live in a dim basement and my camera is a hand-me-down (for which I'm most grateful) pocket sized affair, whose most notable feature is that it is hot, metallic pink. Whatevs. This isn't Saveur or Food and Drink. However, if there were such a thing as smell-o-net and taste-o-net, I'd win you over with that pasta dish. It was tasty!)


Cross posted on Unstuffed

Views: 255

Comment by Cornelia on February 21, 2011 at 11:59am
This is such an awesome post, Amber, thank you! And can I say how I covet that retro tea kettle - so fab!
Comment by Kristie Nackord on February 21, 2011 at 12:05pm

I love what you said "I love when the lines between food and medicine blur and disappear. In fact, why we're so hell bent on isolating and separating the two, I'll never understand."

I grow a ton of calendula and create infused oils, salves, teas, etc with this most WONDERFUL plant. She is also an incredible ally in the garden for your tomatoes!

Comment by Sarah Elise on February 21, 2011 at 1:32pm

Would you recommend growing calendula from seed? Where would you suggest getting the seed? I, too, try to make my food healing and my medicine delicious! What a great post.


~Sarah Elise

Comment by Kristie Nackord on February 21, 2011 at 1:38pm

Hi Sarah, I personally HIGHLY recommend growing calendula from seed. Try to source your seed from someone local as it will already be regionally adapted. (seed swap, seed library, local seed company) If you can't then I highly recommend Horizon Herbs seed cmpany and Seeds Trust seed company for herb seeds.

I wrote a blog post if you were interested in learning more about growing calendula. http://www.spirithorseherbals.com/_wp/?p=446


Happy growing!

Comment by Lyndsay Officer on February 22, 2011 at 8:08am
Sarah, my first calendula came from seed "borrowed" from an overgrown front garden I was walking past! It grows so well and you will have seeds from now on into the future. Now I'm not advocating theft here... being respectful and acquiring a few from somewhere with plenty particularly if they are from friends etc is such a nice connection.
Comment by Amber Westfall on February 22, 2011 at 2:53pm
Thanks for all the lovely comments!! :)  I grew my calendula from seed (from Richter's) and saved some to grow more again this year, although I'm hoping I'll have plenty of plants that self-sowed too!


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