Crunchy Mama's Urban Homestead

Come learn about awesome plants on my homestead

Amazing Tapenade Recipe – a flavor delight in your mouth

My mouth is so happy right now!  I made this amazing tapenade (pronounced tah-pen-AHD) and it is so delicious I just had to share.

I was asked to make some artisan bread for my sister-in-love’s surprise birthday party.  I figured that it would be good to make a spread to go with it and I remembered that tapenade was delightful.  It’s not in my regular rotation of foods that I make but I need to change that!

artisan bread and tapenade

I looked up a few recipes online and then came up with my own with the ingredients that I had on hand.

Most recipes called for a combo of olives, anchovies, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, capers and some herbs such as oregano, thyme and rosemary.

Here is what I threw into my food processor:

  • 2 c. kalamata olives, pitted
  • 2 oz. tin of anchovies in olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • the leafy tops of three oregano stems growing in my garden
  • the leaves off of 2 thyme stems growing in my garden

I usually have capers but I ran out a few weeks ago and I haven’t purchased more yet.  Boo-hiss!  They would have been great in this spread.

I just love the salty, savory and tangy flavor or tapenade!  I’d love to hear from you.  Do you have a favorite tapenade recipe that you’d like to share?

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Today’s Savory Green Smoothie Combo

Today’s green smoothie is savory and warm; it was my first time making this combo – it included:

  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup torn Swiss chard (stems removed)
  • 1 cup torn collard greens (stems removed)
  • juice of one lemon
  • a few sprigs of parsley (no stems)
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water

savory smoothie     savory smoothie in blender

I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel that I needed to add any salt or hot sauce or seasonings to this smoothie.  The chard is naturally salty.

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Consuming Raspberry Leaves

I have an amazing amount of wild spinach (Chenopodium album) and that makes up the bulk of our greens but I also pick a few other types of leaves including young grape leaves and young raspberry leaves.  In this post, I’ll write about just the raspberry leaves.  I’ll save the grape leaves for a future post.

young raspberry leaves


I like to consume some of the leafy greens in my diet in the form of green smoothies (the other part in salads; I’m not a big fan of sauteed greens).  My green smoothies consist of a few cups of washed greens and a few cups of frozen (or unfrozen) fruit and water.  My favorite fruits are frozen blueberries and frozen bananas but we also use pineapple, mulberries, raspberries, melons, peaches, grapes, etc.  I also started sprinkling some cinnamon and kelp granules into our smoothies.  You can taste the cinnamon goodness but thankfully not the kelp.  Sometimes I will put in some coconut milk.  What turned me on to green smoothies was Victoria Boutenko’s book  Green Smoothies   Consuming more leafy greens really resonated with me.  The benefit of increasing the amount of veggies in one’s diet is hard to argue with.  One of the most surprising things that I learned from her book is that greens are actually high in protein.  Sweet!

I choose young raspberry leaves and young grape leaves.  The raspberry leaves that I choose are just an inch or long; and, of course, they come as a set of three.  They are a much lighter and brighter green than the old leaves.  I simply pluck off the set of three with my thumb nail and middle finger.  I don’t take any of the thorny stem.  I have tasted the leaves plain and they really don’t have much of a taste.  I don’t put these in my salads or eat them as “trail nibble” because I do not think that they have a good mouth feel.  As a side note, raspberry leaves can be dehydrated and later steeped for tea.  Here are the benefits of the tea, according to Traditional Medicinals.

If you are new to gardening and/or wild edibles, you should definitely know what poison ivy looks like (for a variety of reasons).  I mention this because of the one similarity that raspberry leaves and poison ivy leaves have: the leaves grow in sets of three.  Perhaps you have heard the phrase: “leaves of three, let them be”.  This is good advice for people who are new to identifying plants.  However, as you examine the two plants side by side you will see some very distinct differences.  I will list out the characteristics of each.

Raspberry Plant:

  • thorny stem/cane grows upright for a few feet before making an arch back down to the ground as the stem continues to grow (note: some plants may be thornless)
  • leaves grow in sets of three (but sometimes five)
  • leaves have lots of small “teeth” along the edges (they serrated)
  • the underside of the leaves are silver-colored
  • leaves are astringent (pop a young leaf into your mouth and you won’t taste much but the leaf will give your mouth a very mild but strange sensation which someone called “cotton mouth”)

Raspberry leaf set with 5 leaflets and another leaf set turned over to show the silvery underside

Poison Ivy (info taken from this webpage of the site Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Information Center (linked below))

  • “It can appear as a ground cover, a shrub, or as a vine growing up a tree. Older vines are covered in fibrous roots resembling hair that grow into the supporting tree.”
  • “It has dull or glossy compound leaves on a long stem that are divided into 3 leaflets, each 2-4″ (5-10 cm) long. The leaflets can be slightly lobed, and are a dark waxy green, above, and light, fuzzier beneath. A short stem sets off the end leaf.”  My note: the leaves can also have a burnt orange color.
  • “Poison ivy grows throughout eastern North America…[and] can be found in Bermuda and the Bahamas. Poison ivy…grow[s] in open woods, thickets, fence rows, stone walls, roadsides, and waste places. On roadsides, it tends to be ground cover, and in sandy coastal areas, it tends to be an erect shrub. In woods, you’ll mostly see the vines on trees.”

This site is dedicated to poison ivy: Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Information Center.  I highly recommend the Poison Ivy Tutorial on their site to better familiarize yourself with poison ivy.  Another nice article on poison ivy (by Twin Eagles Wilderness School) is here.  And this pdf from jim mcdonald with close-up, color photos.

poison ivy leaf set with a raspberry leaf set in lower left side of the photo

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Today’s Green Smoothie Combo

We are huge fans of “green smoothies” (introduced to me by Victoria Boutenko’s book Green Smoothies — she has several books on the topic of how awesome leafy greens are for health).  My children like them for the taste (and so do I) but I particularly like that I can get leafy greens into my children’s digestive system!

Today, after a wonderful (and hot) round of miniature golf, we headed home to cool down in the pool and with a green smoothie (NOT in the pool, thankyouverymuch).  Now, I don’t hide the fact from my children that I include leafy green in our smoothies but I have found that the boys prefer if the smoothies are not green in color.  Thank goodness for the awesome blueberries!  They make the smoothie pretty purple and they are super healthy as well!

Purple Green Smoothie

Today’s green smoothie includes:

  • frozen bananas
  • frozen blueberries
  • frozen, chopped kale (although more commonly, I use wild edible leafy greens such as wild spinach, purslane, young grape leaves, young raspberry leaves, violet leaves)
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • a sprinkle of powdered astragalus
  • about a Tbsp. of chia seeds
  • juice of one lemon

Oh, my!  Yummy goodness!  I’d love to hear from you.  What do you like to include in your green smoothies?

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Wild Edible Short – On Flavors

Whenever I talk to folks about eating wild edibles and the topic of dandelions comes up, I refer back to some advice that John Kallas gave in his AMAZING book Edible Wild Plants.  He wrote something to the effect of this: Most people like to eat meals that have a medley of flavors.

Don’t think that to include bitter wild edibles in your diet that you need to eat a plate full of dandelion greens!  YIKES!  That’s ridiculous.  If you are not fond of bitter foods, just include a tiny bit into your meal — mixed in with other foods (such as green smoothies).  For instance, I only put one or two chopped dandelion leaves (young ones) in my entire salad. Same goes for garlic mustard — just 2 or 3 leaves, chopped, go into my entire salad.  I still get the benefit of the bitter foods but I don’t have to endure my meal.  I enjoy the variety of flavors on my tongue.

For more of my posts on wild edibles, please click this link.

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