Category Archives: Food Value

Growing love of hazels

Diverse hazel coppice example in bloom, with flowery understory. From https://midwestpermaculture.com/2012/11/coppicingpollarding/
Diverse hazel coppice example in bloom, with flowery understory

These relatives of birch, ancient and awesomely rugged, adding golden bark and kindling salvation to tree lines around the world
These shrubs with long flexible bows
These fruits from charming hot pink flowers that greet the spring and stay

These nuts that come in energy-dense compostable packaging, shelf-stable for years, made by arboreal solar panels
These nuts that are easy to eat raw and one of the healthiest snacks I have
These nuts that are even tastier roasted; simply apply fire and enjoy a sweet, earthy, ancient gastronomic ally

These branches, that have been warmth in peaceful and desperate times
These branches, that have been homes in peaceful and desperate times
These branches, that have been the crux of countless wooden items

These gifts, that have come from ancient hedges, woven into the fabric of lives over time
These gifts, that host the humans and other kin, who enjoy them and who need them
These gifts, that can make the giver better as they enrich the recipient, when given and received in good relations

Ancient hazels, though we face harshly changing times,

Your past and present company comforts me, knowing you have helped my ancestors through ice ages and then some
And so, knowing we work together even where we are not in touch,
I wish peace upon you, and I love that in that, peace may be upon me too.

Strategic trees: hazelnut

On a regional permaculture listserv, someone asked the great question of what trees are strategic to grow during these challenging and chaotic times. That thread received some good answers, including a shoutout to hickories, willows, cypress, hazels, the great book Trees of Power by Akiva Silver, and more. Of course, diversity is a strategic priority in itself, as are site specific selections. Here, I’m sharing an ode to hazelnuts as one such strategic tree:

Hazels have a long history of resilience themselves, surviving climate chaos in the past and being in the birch family who extend to the edges of where hardwoods can survive. There is evidence of hazelnuts being a resilient food source for our ancient ancestors. In terms of site suitability, hazelnuts can be a good fit in both urban and rural settings.

Hazels are botanically unique in that their beautiful flowers stay open for pollination for weeks (a grower recently told me they observed one open for 8 weeks!) Those flowers can also be cold hardy down to -20F, so they are less vulnerable to climate chaos.

There’s so much more to say, but the last bit of inspiration I will share to encourage learning and engaging with hazels is this.

Of all the ways trees can provide for our basic needs in mutualism, hazels offer many gifts.

  • Food: can be eaten raw, can be used as a staple food in various ways, incredibly healthy, can be valuable for trade.
  • Fodder: can be forage for animals, good for wildlife.
  • Fuel: coppices provide a short-rotation source of dense firewood that does not require splitting, and the nut shells are also energy dense.
  • Fiber: hazel rods were used to build early cool temperate-climate homes, and their strong, flexible wood is handy for many tools and applications (even boats!)
  • Farmaceuticals: “Let food by thy medicine…”
  • Fun: Hazels have deep roots in my ancestral culture and many others. They make lovely places for wildlife and can be used in all kinds of play. Their pink flowers softly announce the arrival of spring, and that kind of forward-looking positivity is needed with the challenges and metaphoric-winters we face.

What will come of this?

Year 2222
200 winters away
How many generations will have passed?
What will I&I enjoy in life? What of one's own ways will continue?
What lessons will I&I have learned?
What challenges will I&I face?

What will I&I have of the essential gifts to sustain oneself? Wood, water, air, soil, energy?

#TreesAreTheAnswer #WeAlreadyKnow #Hózhó

Hazelnut Happiness: Prose Proposing Corylus Seedlings as a Close Ally in Love and Life

The amazing abundance of trees from seed. Reforestation happens through a range of approaches, and from seed is one of the simplest, cheapest, and most time-tested of ways. It comes with pros and cons, the bad including relatively high loss and diversity of traits (such as shell thickness or fruiting time, which industrial operations seek consistency in). In such chaotic times diversity is good. This low-tech approach embraces loss en route to life. Life of the critters enjoying these trees & their seeds along the way, life that comes with the space and legacy of endings, life from letting life be as it will. Seed is a powerful source of sustenance, survival, and succession toward better local adaptation for chaotic futures.

Hazelnut seedlings growing in air-prune box nursery

Like the idea of trees and long-term improvement, enjoyment, environmental restoration, and if needed, sustenance? Hazelnuts are a tree you can trust to thrive easily and be enjoyable company. Measuring  in at 18ft high and 15ft across, these beautiful bushes have been at the heart of our ancestors’ lives for many, many millennia. Food; some of the healthiest fats available to us. Fiber for homes and many essential crafts. Fuel as both coppice1 firewood and as-energy-dense-as-coal residues (shells and husks) for burning (is that true? nearly2).

Hazel is a gift in social resilience as well. A folk hero. How do all the gifts hazel offers sound as renewables, compared with other strategies for food, fiber, fuel, health and wellness? Fossil fuels and  ‘renewable’ energy that depends on mining and toxic processing at industrial scales is degrading the foundations of life: water, soil, air, weather, ecosystems. How about a hedge of hazels instead?

How about a biocultural renewal? A deep adaptation? A relational agriculture that reciprocates and enhances nature’s gifts rather than degrading them.

Continue reading →

Squash Chickpea Brussels Bonanza

  • 1 Orange Kabocha Squash
  • 1 can Chickpeas
  • Several handfuls of Brussels Sprouts
  • Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cumin, curry powder, cayenne
  • (supercharged version) Dukka
  • Sauce
    • Tahini
    • Lemon
    • Honey
    • Cumin
    • Warm water
    • Salt
    • Olive oil

Guidance:

Bake everything above with oil and salt and spices listed above. Bake squash seeds separately though, they’ll want to bake longer but the chickpeas and Brussels only want to go in for a little while. For sauce, combine all ingredients then titrate with warm water until it becomes sauce. If you have duqqa seasoning, also add that, especially with hazelnuts 👌. Put sauce and duqqa on all the baked goodness and enjoy!

White Bean Swiss Chard Pasta

Components:

  • Whole wheat pastas
  • 1can Great Northern Beans
  • 1 Onion
  • 8ish leafs Swiss chard
  • Basils
  • Garlics
  • Great Parmesan
  • Half lemon
  • Sufficient Salt & Pepper to taste

Guidelines:

  • Boil water and make pasta. When straining pasta, save a cup of pasta water in case you need to make the dish more sawsy
  • Dice onion and saute in pan with oil
  • Cut up swiss chard, first separating stems then cut it all in thin slices/ribbons
  • Add stems to pan, cook for a couple of minutes, add leaves
  • Add crushed and sliced garlic
  • Add cooked beans
  • At the end squeeze in half lemon without seeds
  • Add basil, grated Parmesan, S,P,etcetery
  • If mixture is dry, add reserved pasta water