|Have you ever
noticed that in nature, everything has a purpose? There is
nothing superfluous. The weeds that grow at the side of the road,
the flies that buzz around us at our picnic, and the banana peel we
throw away - "What purpose do they serve?" we ask. Weeds are not
only food for grazing animals, their flowering tops provide pollen and
necter for bees. Flies are a tasty snack for frogs, bats,
swallows and warblers. And the banana peel? It's edible.
Edible? Yes, but it's not necessarily that tasty in it's raw form. Here's a recipe for cooking it. It's an Indian recipe and it's very good:
Banana Skin Black-Eyed Peas
Heat oil in frying pan,
add mustard seeds and add the cooked peel and cow pea and mix well.
How About Those Cattails?
Ever seen cattails growing in a swampy or marshy area? They are those tall reed-like plants with a cigar-shaped, white or brown seed head on top of a tall, stout stalk. Almost every article I have read about them calls them nature's "supermarket" because every part of the cattail has a use at one time or another in it's lifespan. The familiar brown "cigar" contains thousands of tiny developing seeds. It turns white during the winter after the seeds die. Every part of the cattail has a use. It is easy to harvest, very tasty, and highly nutritious. Before the flower forms, the shoots can be peeled and eaten. They taste like a combination of zucchini and cucumbers. They are great in salads, and added toward the end of cooking soup, add a nice crunchiness. They are great in stirfrys and sandwiches. A great way to fix them is sauteed in a little sesame oil with wild carrots and ginger. The shoots provide beta carotene, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. You can cut off the male portions of the green, immature flower heads and lightly steam them or simmer for ten minutes. They taste vaguely like their distant cousin corn.
When the male flowers open, just before the summer solstice, they produce a huge amount of pollen, which people spend outrageous amounts of money for at health food stores. During the fall, winter and spring, the rhizomes store starch. These can be harvested and used as a thickener for soups and gravies, and can be allowed to dry and used as flour. It contains gluten so it will rise.
There is a jelly between the young leaves that the Indians used to use medicinally on wounds, sores and boils to relieve pain. The leaves can be used to thatch roofs, weave baskets and cane the back of chairs. After the pollen is gone, the brown flower heads make a good flaming punk, and the smoke drives away insects. The fluffy white seeds can be used for stuffing pillows, mattresses and toys.
Here is a wonderful cattail recipe:
Cattail and Pasta Toss
24 oz pasta
1/2 cup olive oil
1 and 1/2 pound peeled, sliced cattal shoots
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh bsil, finely chopped
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling, salted water along with 1 tbs. of the olive oil until al dente. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, sauté the cattail shoots in the remaining olive oil over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring often.
3. Add garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.
4. Add the pasta,
parsley, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the parmesean
over the pasta and toss.
5. Heat through and
While human beings tend to collect junk that serves no useful purpose, in nature nothing is useless. Everything is designed to be re-used or recycled. Nature biodegrades everything so it goes back into the soil. Let's try to limit the amount of clutter in our possession that has to be thrown away or destroyed. If you can't use it, give it away or sell it in a garage sale. Make it into something else, or just plain don't buy it to begin with. Less is more. A home cluttered with unused possessions or excess recyclable items is bad Feng Shui. It creates a negative energy balance. If you refuse to eat that banana peel, start a compost pile and recycle all your food scraps, paper and other biodegradable items. Learn to use things you used to throw away in a new way.