Milkweed & May Day

Scrap Kitchen 11- New and improved (hopefully)

That was a little ominous, wasn’t it? Having an unscheduled hiatus after an aptly named issue about burnout. It was, in all honesty, not on purpose. But maybe I should have seen it coming.

As the Pink moon set last Monday, I felt a twinge of regret for not having sent anything out. But then I also felt little-to-no regret for taking a whole weekend to do nothing much at all. Long Covid called for me and I answered by staying horizontal. Sometimes that has to happen. The rest itself was vital. Not only because this last week has been a hectic one farm-wise, but as a much-needed reminder that rest is essential and can only be ignored for so long. On that note, Scrap Kitchen will now be a bi-weekly endeavor. This is for a multitude of reasons; one because I want to, two because I can. But honestly, it also allows me to spend more time writing and resting in equal amounts. It’s almost as if I am taking my own advice.

The Tarot Card for this week is on point as always. The Ace of Swords Reversed, which I always joke is the card symbolising unplanned pregnancy. Within this, it speaks of a pause, unexpected projects and not having all the information you need. Ask yourself: How can you seek clarity? What is working and what is stuck? How can you reframe an idea? Are there projects that can be adapted or reborn? Are you using your birth control?

A lot of weeding is taking place on the farm at the moment, and by weeding I mean collecting various plants to turn into dinner. On the menu recently was Milkweed, which is a brilliant analog to asparagus. Fried simply in a pan with olive oil and salt it is delicious. Its pods can be turned into these brilliant-looking Buffalo Style Baked Creations. Their pods are also edible, suitable for pickling, or as an Okra substitute. I would not recommend making Milkweed Capers unless there is a bountiful supply of the plant. While capers, made from the green immature flower buds, are a great addition to salads etc, without the full blooms the pollinator-supporting benefits of Milkweed will be limited. Though we have picked all the milkweed on the beds, in preparation for the full-throttle growing season, I have been informed there will soon be a patch by the river, so these flowers are on my to-cook list.

In my research of Milkweed, I stumbled onto foraging #discourse. Milkweed is native to the US and is one of the few plants on which the endangered monarch butterfly lays their eggs. Once hatched, Milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat. Not only does it provide for monarchs but many other pollinators benefit from milkweed. This has caused some controversy within the foraging community; some don’t want the information shared that it is not only edible but delicious, while others encourage the spreading of said information believing that by highlighting a second use for Milkweed (aside from species-support) it will be more likely to be conserved within peoples gardens. For a deeper dive into this and some well-reasoned arguments read Practical Self Reliance’s Post on the subject. Add into the mix that Milkweed is toxic when not cooked, making people cautious of planting it to protect other animals. It’s the perfect recipe for a heated comments section.

When foraging, or even collecting from our own gardens, we must detangle ourselves from the hierarchy we have been brought up within. Humans are part of a complex food web, not the pinnacle of it. Wealth hoarding flowers you have grown does not encourage a healthy ecosystem. However, if you are planting an abundance of milkweed, to support both butterflies and your curiosity, then sample away. Projects such as Save Our Monarchs in the US will even send you free packs of seeds to help with this effort. Be sure to match the species to your local area to ensure you are supporting your local population in the best way possible.

Speaking of local support, this Saturday I celebrated Mayday/Beltane. Marking the midpoint between the summer solstice and the equinox, this day marks the first of summer in many pagan traditions. One element of this celebration is to bring hawthorn flowers into the house, and my quest for the weekend was to find some. Failing that, there are some glorious cherry blossoms and catkins which will have to suffice. A fire of some sort was also on the agenda, meant to be both cleansing and protecting. I also made some oat-based breakfasts to get something close to bannock.

Of course, as well as the millennia-old traditions May Day is International Workers Day. On this day it’s a good time to learn more about the movements that have shaped our world. Mass protests lead to the adoption of the 8-hour workday, though of course, this took longer to establish within occupied countries (i.e those under Imperial rule) and for women and children. This gives me hope that more change can be made to the established patterns of late-stage capitalism. For more resources check out Working-Class History, the Projects Combatting Sweatshop Labour, this absolutely sickening look at the rise of For-Profit Prisons (a form of modern slavery and who’s funding them) and the ongoing farmer’s protests in India. Worker’s rights have come a long way but there is always so much more to do. It’s also an interesting time to consider that the leader of the Labour Party, which was founded to represent the laborers of the UK, would not even endorse teachers strikes in the midst of a pandemic, despite safety concerns. Does a Boris-bootlicker really represent the working people of the UK?

Workers rants aside, the hunger gap is slowly closing as we emerge into the growing season. Overwintered veg such as artichoke, asparagus and broccoli are all popping up. Radishes too are coming in, my favourite thing to do with them while there is still a chill in the air is to roast them. On warmer days this delicious Dongchimi or cold radish soup does the trick. On medium heat days (if there is such a thing) then this easily-veganised risotto recipe is the one for you. Peas too, these beautiful resilient bastards, are coming in. Preserving them in a puree is always good, especially once you realise you can put it on toast! Soup is a classic, fritters are a must-have and this pea-cake is a bit out there but worth a try. As always if you have tried any of these recipes please let me know in the comments, I would also love to hear any other recipes that you have discovered.

This week’s podcast highlight is Working Class History’s fascinating discussion on The Green Bans where workers in Australia refused to take part in both socially and environmentally destructive development.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my diatribes and recipe recommendations. I will be back in two weeks’ time for more forageable goodness and socialist leanings. In the meantime, I would love if you could leave a comment, give this post a like or even share it.

Until then, stay scrappy.


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Image Credit: Jeffrey Hamilton, Michelle K, Erika Fletcher, Courtnie Tosana and Bankim Desai

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If you missed the last (ominous) update, read it here.