All along the rolling hills of northern California live the most amazing things-free artichokes! Okay, maybe not the kind you are used to seeing in the store but, despite their smaller size, the flavor is the same (better in my opinion, actually). And free, if you don’t mind the prickly, aggressive spines. My husband and I went picking a little late last year so we ended up with some very beautiful electric blue flowers but no food.
This year, we’ve been keeping on top of it and have had a few artichoke dinners already. Preparing these wild artichokes is the same as preparing any other artichoke. Before cooking, soak your artichokes in water for an hour or so with a couple of teaspoons salt (to get rid of any bugs). Rinse well. Trim off the prickly thorns with a pair of scissors. Be careful! Place artichokes in a steam basket or pasta pot with a little water and steam on medium high heat until a leaf, when tugged on, comes off easily (around 40 minutes).
Artichoke has been part of the human diet since antiquity. It is highly prized for it’s nutrient value. Artichoke is also used in alternative medicine as a treatment for blood and liver diseases as well as digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. It is said that artichoke stimulates bile production and reduces cholesterol.
As I pick these wild artichokes, it gets me thinking of all of the other local, free food sources all around us. In our hurried society, we always seem to rush to the store to purchase what we need. Little do we relish in the true abundance that nature brings us for free. To be grateful for and enjoy what is abundant and fresh now is to connect with our own Mother Earth. Today try and see what abundance surrounds you.
Happy Mothers Day!