The Mad Scientist went and picked me a grocery bag full of nettles today. They grow on his friend’s parents’ property, and the property is posted “no trespassing”, so he got permission from his friend’s dad to go cut them. Mr. Friend’s Dad says “okay, I hate those things”.
They’re still on the small side, and it’s not a really dense patch, so I didn’t have enough to make a big dish of primarily nettles. (I really like them cooked and pureed with garlic and sour cream). So instead, I made crustless quiche with potatoes, onions, and nettles. I buttered my glass baking dish, and chopped the onions very fine, and cut up the potatoes in bite sized chunks. I didn’t peel them (I hardly ever do). Then I put the potatoes and onions in the oven on 425 to roast while I chopped and washed the nettles (they were rather muddy). After chopping the nettles and washing them, I put them in a pot with a lid to wilt on the stove, so I could be sure to get the right proportions in my quiche (I haven’t cooked with nettles very much yet and I’m still learning how they behave). When the potatoes and onions were tender and nearly cooked (I think it was just over 30 minutes), I reduced the oven temp to 375. Then I added the wilted nettles to my baking dish, and sort of pushed everything around with a fork, then grated some cheddar cheese on top. Next I cracked five eggs, and added a big glob of sour cream, and a big glob of cottage cheese, and maybe a cup of milk. Mixed it all up with a fork, added some dried basil, a generous pinch of ground mustard, and a generous pinch of paprika. I poured this over the veggies in the baking dish, popped it back in the oven, and baked it for a final 30 minutes. I ended up with a perfectly filled 13 by 9″ pan of crustless quiche, and it was REALLY tasty. The garlic toast was a perfect accompaniment. The stepspawn gobbled it down, too, and the Drama Princess told me that one of the nettles told her its name is Kelly. I told her, “That’s fine, but you’re still eating it.” Which she cheerfully did.
One interesting thing happened though. I was handling the nettles with a great deal of care and attention. But a few things happened in the past several days that made me angry, and uncomfortable, and as I was pulling the plants from the bag, the angry feelings were welling up and rolling around in my chest. I don’t think being angry is always a bad thing–sometimes it’s an appropriate response–but the anger I’ve been feeling these past days seems disproportionate to its source. As the anger reached an intense point, nettle bit me–once, on the end of my right index finger, sending a sharp, stinging vibration to one specific point, tiny as the tip of a single needle. It hurt–it still tingles and hurts a bit, in fact. But I almost felt like nettle was giving me a playful nip, and maybe laughing at me a little. “There–I stung you! It was just a little sting, it wasn’t so bad, was it? Life is FULL of little stings–don’t be such a weenie.”
Point noted, lady Nettle. Thanks.