Sticky Weed Cleansing Drink

You probably know this weed well, for its clingy tendencies. In the Northwest, we affectionately call it sticky weed. It comes in the door on our dog, our socks, and the backs of our sweaters. Also known as clivers, cleavers, goosegrass, catchweed bedstraw, or sticky willy, this little bugger with tiny hooked hairs that’ll stick to you better than velcro, now holds a special place in my kitchen culinary arts: I use it in a simple spring cleansing drink, thanks to the advice of a friend.


The Kew Royal Botanic Gardens has this to say about its uses:

Galium Aparine — “The whole plant is edible, though not particularly tasty, and in China, for example, it is eaten as a vegetable. Its seeds can be roasted to prepare a sort of coffee substitute. It is also reputed to have a number of medicinal properties, having been used in traditional medicine (usually as an infusion) to treat kidney problems, skin disorders and high blood pressure among other ailments. Archaeological evidence suggests that it may have been used in this way for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Cleavers is still used by medical herbalists today, although scientific evidence regarding its effectiveness is still lacking.”

I use it as a spring “cleanse” that might be good for my kidneys but just tastes wonderful, and excites my need to get the most out of the plants around me. As I weed it out of my garden, I set it aside to be washed and then stuffed into a jar filled with fresh water and throw it into the fridge.


Twenty-four hours later, we have a refreshing sticky weed infusion that tastes like spring green. It thickens the water a little, too, (or maybe I’m just imagining that) making it feel silky on its way down.


Drink Your Sticky Weed © Liesl Clark


Eat and Drink Your Dandelions

It’s been a long winter, and since the deer ate all our kale, we’ve been sans greens for too long. This week, the dandelions are in full force, and I’m eradicating them from my vegetable garden while weeding the lovelies more selectively from the lawn. Honey bees need their pollen, too, so I aim to leave plenty to flower for the bees, as dandelion flowers are among the first pollen sources for bees in the spring.

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Today, I collected a bucketful of dandelions, making sure to get as much of the roots and greens as I could. This is my second harvest, and we’re hungry for more. After washing the greens thoroughly, I’ve made a few dishes with them and they’re delicious!

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Sausage on a Bed of Dandelion Greens (serves 2)

Sauté 4 sausages to your liking.

Add some olive oil to the pan and sauté 4 cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil. Add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to sauté along with the garlic. Add two pinches of salt. After 2 minutes, add a couple of handfuls of dandelion greens and another pinch of salt. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vegetable or chicken broth into the pan and let simmer for a few more minutes. Place sausage on top of the greens on a plate and enjoy!

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Poached Eggs on a Bed of Dandelion Greens (serves 2)

Follow the same instructions above for cooking your greens and in the last 4 minutes, add 4 eggs sunny side up to your skillet or pan, right on top of the greens. Put a cover over your pan to let the eggs poach. Let them cook for 3-4 minutes until the eggs have cooked to your liking.

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Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

I love dandelion root tea as a substitute for coffee. It’s dark and bitter like coffee and tastes great with cream or your favorite creamer. Simply clean your dandelion roots as best you can.


Dice them and throw them into a Vitamix or blender to chop them into small nugget size pieces. Don’t puree them into a powder.


Place them in a 250 degree oven and roast for 2 hours. Let them cool completely and store in an airtight jar.



You can grind them down to a powder after this if you like. I just put them in a tea strainer like other loose leaf tea and brew up!

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A Wood-Foraging Workout


© Liesl Clark

It occurred to me, last winter, when high winds blew down so many trees, that I could help clear the trails, rather than just hike them. The added benefit was wood.


Blown-down wood on a Pacific Northwest Trail © Liesl Clark

Rather than carrying a backpack filled with random items to give me added weight for a pre-expedition workout, I realized the resource I could gather on my hikes was right at my feet. My friend, Yangin Sherpa, walks 5 miles a day to collect wood where she lives. Why couldn’t I?


We heat our home with wood and our property provides most of what we need. But I realized that every day, during the storm season, I was picking up and throwing aside big chunks of wood that had come down the day before onto the trails we hike on our hill.


Huge Trees Come Down, Blocking Our Trails, All Winter Long © Liesl Clark

I bring an empty pack after a windstorm and load it with large chunks blocking the trail that I would otherwise throw aside. There’s so much wood out there, areas where blow-downs outnumber the trees standing. I figure a small payment for my clearing of the trails are the few pieces I can gather to add weight to my gait, to give greater resistance to my uphill climb so I can prepare for the high passes and cliffside traverses we do each summer in the Himalaya.


Payment for My Pains © Liesl Clark

I find joy in knowing what it feels like to walk 5 miles for a bundle of wood that will keep my family warm for one more day.


What are your simple pleasures?




100 Foot Diet

Winter Survivor: Collard Greens

It’s the ultimate homegrown challenge: eat at least one meal a week, or the majority of your ingredients, from foodstuffs you can find on your own property. No, that doesn’t include the stuff you have in your cupboards that came from Chile. I’m talking about the food you’ve grown, farmed, and the delectables you didn’t even know were edible but are sitting in plain sight, growing right in your lawn, ditch, or woods.

Forager's Quiche

The kids and I are natural foragers. Since that amoebic age when they mostly crawled across the dirt, our little ones have put anything that looks edible in their mouths for a taste. Luckily, that urge to test is still intact. This week it’s been salads made of the weeds we didn’t intend to grow while we were away for 2 months in Nepal — if you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em. And these weeds have been utterly delicious: young dandelion leaves, bitter cress, water cress (okay, that’s in a nearby ditch), plantain, mustard, dock, mint, and stinging nettle. The nettle goes in soups and pestos. Even the potatoes I had thrown in the worm bin hatched new ones (potatoes, not worms) while we were away. Our little homestead just keeps producing in our absence and we’re so very thankful.

These amazing collards have been producing greens for 9 months

The collards and kale kept going, although they’re as leggy as a runway model. And the chickens are laying 10 eggs a day. So, quiche and frittatas are a regular menu item.

Eggs in Dandelions (great quiche combo)

Even the honey bees are offering up some of their excess gold. Amazingly, one hive of ours didn’t even touch their extra super of honey we had stored above their brood. A mouse, of course, got in a partook in the elixir, but we’re planning on harvesting a few frames for ourselves in the next week to enjoy the honey on our homemade zucchini bread. We pulled out the last of our shredded zucchini from the freezer a few days ago.

Shredded Zucchini from the Garden, 8 Months Later

So, for those who’d like to take the challenge, give the 100 foot diet a try. Go forth and search out those oyster mushrooms, maple blossoms (they’re in season now), and arugula that re-seeded itself just down the path. Oh, and I think your canned, dried, or frozen home-grown produce from last summer definitely counts! Explore and live off the fat of your land.