Nasturtium Powder

Around this time of year Nasturtium becomes a kind of massive monocrop in our yard. We’re always trying to figure out uses for it. Of course it does well in salads, both the greens and the flowers, and we’ve made capers of the pods. Also, the flowers make a particularly beautiful pesto. But this year, inspired by the culinary experiments of forager Pascal Baudar and his partner Mia Wasilevich (friend them in Facebook if you want a daily dose of foraging greatness) I decided to make a nasturtium powder. It’s simple:

  1. Dry the leaves. Here’s a fast way: take a bunch of nasturtium leaves and spread them in a single layer between two paper towels. Microwave for two minutes.  Or use more conventional methods. Just don’t let them get so dry they lose color. (Important note from Mrs. Homegrown: Careful with this microwave trick! It’s a new one for us. It worked perfectly for Erik when he dried a whole bunch of leaves, but today I tried to dry just one leaf, a celery leaf, as an experiment and it burst into flame after about 30 seconds. Scary!!!!! We think it success has to do with mass and moisture: lots of leaves, not just one.)
  2. Put the dried leaves in a spice mill or coffee grinder and pulse until ground.

Think of nasturtium dust as a kind of zombie apocalypse pepper replacement. Or as a salad dressing ingredient. It is surprisingly tasty–better than fresh nasturtium, and without that bite. It would be fantastic combined with a little good salt. We’re still trying to figure out exactly how to use this magic powder. We may just keep it on the table and sprinkle it on everything.

What do you like to use nasturtium for?

Easing the Pain of Runner’s Knee

Salvation in foam.

Update 4/20/13: Foam rollers can be useful, but you need to be careful. I believe that overuse of a foam roller caused a nerve entrapment issue that has resulted in some numbness to my right shin. Before using a roller I strongly advice reading Foam Roller–Friend or Foe, a blog post by manual trainer Adam Mentzell. Mentzell goes over possible unintended consequences as well as some common sense rules for using a foam roller.

First off, many thanks for all the suggestions Root Simple readers sent in when I asked for help fixing my runner’s knee (in my case caused by fencing). The comment thread on that post is now, I believe, a very useful resource for dealing with runner’s knee thanks to your contributions.

While I still have a lot of strengthening to do to fix the underlying causes of my runner’s knee, the pain is almost completely gone. Several things helped. First off was rest as suggested by my doctor. Rest does not mean taking long walks (for a person like me, addicted to cardiovascular exercise, walking seems like rest). Rest means, well, actually resting. It means taking the elevator or, as my doctor put it, “not being a hero” when going up and down stairs.

But the real miracle came in the form of a foam roller. Several commentators mentioned it and my friend Elon Schoenholz actually came over with one to show me how to use it. At first I was afraid that it would make the pain worse. But out of desperation I finally decided to give it a try. After two short sessions over the course of three days 95% of the pain went away. As several commentators mentioned, using it is pure torture. But I can’t believe how quickly it worked. A commenter left a link to this video, which shows how to use a roller.

The “RumbleRoller.” Ouch!

I found a tight knot of pain and tension in the iliotibial band (ITB) just above the knee. Rolling this spot, carefully at first, loosened the ITB and, I believe, eased the pain. Elon, in dealing with his knee pain odyssey, has moved on to a more intense RumbleRoller

But my work fixing my patella femoral syndrome is far from complete. I’ve got a lot of strengthening and flexibility work to do. To that end I’ve signed up again at my local YMCA. I had let my membership lapse thinking that I could do weight training at home and save some money. This was foolish. It’s hard, with a home gym, to do lower body exercises. While some people probably do fine hefting logs in the great outdoors, I need the structure and motivation that a gym provides. Plus I really like the mission and ethos of the YMCA.

To sum up these are the four steps that helped with my patella femoral syndrome:

  • rest
  • weight training
  • foam rolling the iliotibial band
  • gym membership

I have a feeling I’ll be running and fencing again soon.

Picture Sundays: A Handy Handyman

Kelly found a soggy flyer on a sidewalk near our house. The front showed a picture of a man with a mullet hairstyle holding a trophy below a headline “Best Handyman.” On the back said handyman promised the services you can see above. I laughed, then realized that it was my exact jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none set of skills. Well, except for “hydrophany” and gutters. And you’ll have to go to Kelly for both the fine art and the house painting.

Saturday Linkages: Bus Offices and Secret Doors

Vintage Hungarian bus re-purposed as a home office. Via Dornob. (Kelly says: I can totally see Erik working in here, with a little hat to match.)

Hungary For History: Vintage Bus Becomes Rad Home Office | Designs & Ideas on Dornob …

Secret exterior door with remote control lock – Boing Boing …

“Yes You Can Build Your Own Tiny House” …

HOWTO assemble the Powercube, hydraulic power source for the Global Village Construction set: …

A just plain cool site:  Thanks, Davis!

grounded design by Thomas Rainer: No They Didn’t!: A Gallery of Mockable Landscapes …

Ancient wheat: making a comeback …

Soul Searching
The secret to feeling like you have more time available – Boing Boing …

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (review): …

Zócalo Public Square :: How Doctors Die …

For these links and more, follow Root Simple on Twitter:

How to Keep Squirrels and Birds From Eating Your Fruit

Photo by Noel Ramos.

Got a tip from Noel Ramos a.k.a. Florida Green Man on how to deal with those pesky squirrels and birds in your fruit orchard. Noel says:

I use those clear plastic fruit containers that are used for packing strawberries and grapes. I personally don’t buy fruit in these containers but I asked some neighbors and friends to save them for me and in a short time amassed a large collection. They snap shut over most fruit like these mangos and this helps to control fruit damage. Since they have vent holes, they don’t collect water inside. They can be washed and stored and are durable enough to last several seasons. After they serve their duty, they can be put in the recycling bin.

Noel is the person who sent the picture of all the winter fruit he grows in Florida that we put on the blog on Sunday. Judging from that picture he’s got a handle on critters issues. Thanks Noel!