Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #74

bitter cold, shameless self promotion, lung cancer and thrash...

    This time last year, I was writing about how it was hard to come up with wintery herbal ideas because the Bay Area never gets any winter...well, I’m paying for that little off the cuff remark now!  I’m back in Milwaukee again and while I love being back in this wonderfully crumbly post industrial beer capitol of the midwest, I can’t say that I’m digging the weather AT ALL!!!  There is nothing fun about a seven degree day...and the sad part is that it used to get a hell of a lot colder here.  I can remember weeks of 15-20 below zero wind-chill and snow everywhere.  Ahhh, the joys of global warming.  Enough of this complaining about the weather’s just a stalling tactic because (truth be told) I haven’t done a single thing with any herbs since moving back to Wisconsin.  Oh sure, I’ve been doing my usual teas (nettle, oatstraw, red raspberry, red clover, etc) and the occasional tincture here and there, but I haven’t pursued any new education avenues at all.
    I’ve been too busy managing a bar and inhaling mass quantities of second hand smoke.  I never really appreciated California’s strict public smoking laws until now...a little too late.  I’ve got nothing against smokers, I guess I just forgot how much people smoke when they’re getting juiced up in a bar.  Speaking of bars (just a little promo plug), if you should find yourself in the Milwaukee area (and you are at least 21), you should stop on by The Palomino (2491 S. Superior) in beautiful Bay View and check out our great menu (everything from extra meaty to extra vegan food) and great drinks (Silver Stallion, anyone?!).  Okay, I’m done with the advertising...can you tell that I still don’t have any good plant information to write about?!  I can mention that I had an amazing two days of shows in Madison and Minneapolis just recently.  Limp Wrist played at the Wil-Mar Center in Madison and it was easily one of my all time favorite shows ever.  Not because of all the fresh faced kids, or because Martin can jump all over the place in high heels...I guess it just boils down to that gut instinct of ‘fuck yeah’, this is why I choose to live my life the way I do...that wave of adrenaline that can wash over you when you’re hearing great music and listening to powerful lyrics and ideas.  That inexplicable, never really comes out right on paper, you must feel that surge in your heart and get that smile so big it hurts on your face experience.  It was also super great to be at a show in Madison again (the town that started it all for me over a decade ago) and see some old friends and meet a few new folks as well.  The next day was Thrash Fest 4 in Minneapolis and it was PACKED!  Lots of great bands, lots of vinyl for sale and lots of emotions running high, as the mighty D.S.-13 played their final show.  I’m horrible at describing shows...suffice to say that it was incredible and full of really raw, heartfelt energy and passion.  D.S.-13 and Limp Wrist (twice)...what a weekend!  It doesn’t get much better than that!

a little reading material...
    I guess I do have a teensy bit of plant related info to pass along to you, but it’s just in the form of books that I’m in the middle of reading.  Here goes:
The Herbal Epicure by Carole Ottesen (Ballantine/Wellspring)
Herbal Remedies From The Wild by Corinne Martin (Countryman Press)
The first title is about growing, harvesting and cooking with healing herbs.  There are some good recipes in it, with plenty of solid herbal info and tips along the way.  The second book is about finding and using medicinal herbs and is especially good because the author includes notes/experiences from her daily journals about each of the 52 plants discussed.  I’m also re-reading Hygieia: A Woman’s Herbal by Jeannine Parvati (Freestone Collective).  An incredible book that covers all aspects of woman-hood...ovulation, menstruation, fertility, pregnancy, birth control, self-health, abortion, aphrodisiacs, menopause.  There are definitely parts that are way too ‘new agey’ and hippie for me, but I can get past it because the rest of it is so darn righteous.

good luck, southern style...
    I know that this issue won’t be out until February, but here’s a little dish that will bring good luck for the coming year (according to southern tradition). You’re supposed to eat it on New Year’s Day, but I figure that all of us can use a whole bunch of luck year ‘ it’s darn good for you!   Black eyed peas and greens!  Get a whole bunch of greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip, chard, spinach...which ever you prefer) and steam ‘em up real good.  I like to do a short steam, so as not to lose those nutrients, but feel free to cook ‘em however you like.  There are some good greens recipes on the internet and can be modified (substitute liquid smoke for the whole ham hock) (to the vegan/veggie sensibilities) very easily.  Add black eyed peas (either canned or soaked and cooked) to your cooked greens and spice it up anyway you like (my favorite is a little margarine, cayenne, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and pepper).  Save some of the pot liquor (the green juice leftover from cooking the greens) to add to the mix...chock full of goodness.

blah, blah, blah...
    Take care of yourself during the winter...make lots of tea and soups and spicy goodies to ward off the cold and flu beasties.  Garlic, cayenne and water are indispensable this time of year.  Eat your dark green leafy veggies!  Exercise! Hydrate!  Okay, enough mothering (for now, that is).  Happy spring (hopefully it’ll be just around the corner). 

- karoline