Later on, things to know about a wonderful healing plant known as true watercress. But first, it s my turn to spill the beans, sort of! I m not going to tell in detail something out of school when I was in Grade 3. Suffice to say there was a kid who took my beanbag and another who ate my jelly beans. But I shall talk of beans of a different sort.
A FAMILIAR EXPRESSION IS
& pork and beans are a musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you —-. If readers so choose, fill in that four-letter word at your discretion. So let s get on now with the subject of real beans. As a matter of fact, I got an email in early October from a Northern OntarioGrainewsreader and it s all about beans.
Dear Singing Gardener;
After your column on coloured beans last winter I ordered some Orca, Jacob s Cattle and Tongue of Fire. I had a good crop and I am wondering about cooking them. Do I treat all of them the same like navy beans or Great Northern? Thanks for your interesting page and any cooking help would be appreciated. I live just outside New Liskeard which is about 100 miles north of North Bay in the Little Claybelt Region. I ll be watching for your reply. Thanks.
Margaret Arnott, in Northern Ontario
COME ON NOW READERS
& here s your chance to also spill the beans about beans. By the way, those three words can be interpreted to suggest: tell all you know, or all you wish to tell. There s another traditional expression that says: Make five beans. Know how many. Such pictograph words are said to mean: to be well informed and intelligent. I won t bother detailing: full of beans. It s said to refer to a specific type of character. You may interpret it as you wish.
I HAD A CHANCE
& to speak on the telephone with Karyn Wright of Terra Edibles in Foxboro, Ontario. She sells the varieties mentioned and many other bean seeds for garden planting. Karyn tells me Orca, Jacob s Cattle, Tongue Of Fire and Great Northern are all treated similarly. She shared the following. They re very reliable producers and good for dried use, but should be soaked overnight, or for a day. Then, drain off the water before adding beans to soups, making baked beans or any other favourite bean recipes.
Karyn mentioned: Tongue Of Fire comes with a bonus. It can also be eaten as fresh green beans harvested off the bushy plants before they ripen. The name refers to the colouring of the 20-cm-(eight-inch-) long red pods and not the wonderful creamy flavour of the ripened white seeds with red specks.
If you re looking for a variety to thicken and make creamy soups, Karyn suggests easy-to-grow Hutterite Soup bean. This gourmet heirloom was brought to Canada by Hutterite Christians from Austria about 1750-60.
Another heritage variety that s been around for generations is Ukrainian bean. This is a large, round, white-seeded, marrow-fat type with excellent taste and very useful in soups. There s a bonus too. You can mash cooked Ukrainian beans and use as a base for wonderful sandwich fillings.
BEAN POD TEA
You re not likely to find this old remedy in any recipe book. If you are diabetic or have any of the other health issues mentioned later, your condition should be monitored by a health-care provider.
Scarlet Runner bean is probably the best known and has been grown here in Canada and other North American countries since the 1800s. Ornamental, tall vines can reach a height of four metres (over 12 feet) with numerous scarlet flowers that eventually turn into tasty snap beans. When left to dry in pods, they can be shelled and used in place of lima beans. There are shorter varieties of other green runner beans too. This time of year, you may still be able to buy some fresh beans.
To make runner bean tea, chop up a generous handful of fresh or dried runner beans in their pods and soak in water overnight. Next morning, simmer the beans in the same water for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and strain off the liquid. If too concentrated, dilute with some water.
Drink one-half cupful (four ounces) two or three times daily, between meals. Its value and flavour is enhanced by adding a few sprinkles of pure garlic powder (no salt). In generations past, this home remedy was used against diabetes, dropsy (swollen legs and water retention), kidney and urinary issues, heart weakness, gout and rheumatism.
We are regularly hearing about the next big medical breakthrough on TV news and in the print media. But often at the end of the story, helping or curing the health subject discussed often seems to be four or five years further down the road. What about right now?
There are several types of cress such as wrinkled curly cress, peppergrass curly cress and my personal favourite true watercress (Nasturtium officinale). Numerous studies already highlight benefits of true watercress and its emergence as a potent anti-cancer superfood.
Eating as little as three ounces of watercress daily has been shown to effectively battle and help ward off cancer, both in the short and long term and as studies suggest turn off the blood supply to tumours. Watercress is laden with outstanding natural plant compounds. There appears to be a direct correlation between eating watercress and reducing one s susceptibility to cancer.
A U.K.TV presenter and survivor of bowel cancer commented: Research from the University of Ulster is very interesting it s great to know there are simple things that people can do like eating watercress which could help them avoid getting cancers. It s great that watercress farmers want to raise awareness of bowel cancer, the commonest cancer in Europe. Thousands of people die unnecessarily of bowel cancer every year with exercise and a good diet, many of them could live.
Watercress is the U.K. s most historic salad leaf. In the 19th century, watercress was a staple part of the working-class diet, most often eaten for breakfast in a sandwich. If people were too poor to buy bread, then they ate it on its own, which is why it was sometimes known as poor man s bread. Bunches were hand-held and eaten ice-cream-cone style and became the first on-the-go takeout food.
For decades, watercress, like parsley, has been pushed to the side of the plate as nothing more than a decorative garnish. Fortunately, watercress is currently enjoying a renaissance, with sales increasing by 18 million a year to 55 million. Consumers and celebrities alike are rediscovering its distinctive peppery taste and its amazing nutritional benefits. Liz Hurley has been known to drink seven cups of watercress soup a day!
HIPPOCRATES, THE FATHER OF MEDICINE
& cultivated watercress in pure spring water and revered it as a superfood. Popularity continued down through the centuries. Hippocrates is said to have located his first hospital close to a stream to ensure fresh-grown watercress to help treat his patients. Greek soldiers were given it as a tonic before going into battle in the 16th century. Herbalist Culpepper claimed it could cleanse the blood. It is brimming with more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals. Gram for gram, it contains more iron than spinach, more vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than milk.
But ready-to-eat watercress may not be that easy to find in most stores. Fortunately, it s an herb you can grow indoors in pots with supplementary lighting year round and outside seasonally in a sunny, moist location. Watercress is a member of the cole family and related to broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kohlrabi. Gardeners are familiar with all the good things we ve been hearing about cole veggies and sauerkraut. You may be able to find watercress extracts at natural and pure food health stores.
Watercress seeds are readily available from: West Coast Seeds, 3925 64th Street, Delta, B.C., V4K 3N2; phone 1-888-804-8820; and Early s Garden Centre, 2615 Lorne Ave., Saskatoon, Sask.; S7J 0S5; phone 1-800-667-1159.
Every once in a while I still meet up with someone who says, Hey Ted, when did you shave off your beard? I didn t recognize you at first. Among my several answers, here s a poetic one.
I had the toughest whiskers in the town,
Bought a razor
and mowed em down,
Now that I keep my chin more tidy,
I expect to meet a lady Friday.
ThisisTedMeseytontheSingingGardenerandGrow-ItPoetfromPortagelaPrairie,Man.There spowerinkindness,yetwhenputintopractice,itdoesn tfeelpowerfulatall.Matteroffact,tobekindalmostfeelstoosimpletobeimportant.Yet,it samongthemostessentialthingsthatcantransformalife.Butsomeoneasked:Howcanthatbe?Simplyput,kindnessisthefoundationofagoodheartandwithagoodheart…agoodlifefollows.How syourheart?Myemailaddressis [email protected]
Have you started a farm-based business venture? Share your experience and a photo or two with our readers. Email me at [email protected] Sue