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The Cabbage family - by Susun Weed

February, 2012

This is the month of hearts and I declare it the month of the cabbage family, too. Why? Because all the plants in this large family love frost, are available in February, are easy to identify,are dependably edible, and provide major medicines as well. I love you cabbage family!

Wild members of the cabbage family like garlic mustard and Barbara's cress (see photos in last week's green report) are easy to find and ready to eat right now. In the next two weeks we will focus on some delicious ways to utilize garlic mustard; this month let's explore the tame members of the cabbage family.

Thousands of years ago, clever women genetically modified one wild plant to produce the many cabbage family plants we grow today including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, Brussel sprouts and the many kinds of cabbage. Yes! These are all really just one plant! Other cultivated cabbage family plants include mustard (greens and seeds), radishes, arugula, bok choy, turnips, rutabaga, kohlrabi, broccoli de rappi, and horseradish.

The cabbage family provides more greens and vegetables than any other family. And every member, cultivated or wild, is loaded with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and cancer-preventative substances. Scientific studies confirm that eating as little as four servings of cabbage family plants a week reduces overall cancer risk by fifty percent!!

Don't like calling it the cabbage family? You can call it the mustard family. Gardeners call them cole crops or brassicasias (bra-suh-case-ee-ahs) and to the botanist they constitute the Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae) family.

Your two tasks for this week:

  • Grow some cabbage family plant
  • And learn to cook kale and collards.

Buy seeds of any cabbage family plant and plant them right now in a pot, in your coldframe, in your garden, or in your greenhouse.Really! The seeds will sprout when they decide it is warm enough, so go ahead and plant them as soon as you can. Cabbage family seeds germinate best in cold or cool soils.
Buy a nice bunch of collards or kale from your favorite market. (Remember, they sneer at cold, so weren't affected by the recent frosts in California and Florida.) My local supermarket offers both.
Remove the large central stalk from the kale; leave it on the collards.
Rinse the leaves in cold water, then hold the bunch tightly and cut it into 2 inch wide pieces.
Put about one inch of water into a pan big enough to hold your greens and throw the cut kale or collards in. Bring to a boil, stirring now and then. At this point, the greens will have shrunk and ought to be just covered by the water. If not, add enough more to barely cover them.

Keep them simmering for at least an hour, checking on the water so it doesn't boil away. Optimum cooking time is really four hours. (I dare you to do it.)
Study the differences between short and long cooking of greens by removing a spoonful of greens from your pot every 15-20 minutes. Label your samples with the time and set aside so you can taste and feel into the differences. You will be surprised by the surge of love your body feels for the long-cooked greens.
Long cooking breaks the cell walls of sturdy greens, thus freeing the minerals to be utilized by our bodies, maximizing our ability to convert the carotenes into vitamin A, and it boosting the anti-oxidant content. For even more nutrition, add some fat (like olive oil or bacon drippings), when you eat your kale or collards. I guarantee you will love them this way, and hopefully cook them this way forevermore.

From the Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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Susun Weed’s books:

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed.
Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.

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Healing Wise
Author: Susun S. Weed.
Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations.


NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed.
The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Introduction by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations.

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Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed.
Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations.


Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way
Publication date: June 21, 2011
Author: Susun S. Weed
Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health. Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations.

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Abundantly Well - Seven Medicines The Complementary Integrated Medical Revolution
Publication date: December 2019
Author: Susun S. Weed
Seven Medicines build foundational health and guide you to the best health care when problems arise. Includes case studies, recipes, exentsive references and resources. Introduction by Patch Adams illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard 352 pages, index, illustrations

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Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's Six herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health. Visit her site for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses and more! Venture into the Menopause site to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.
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