eat well: fiddlehead ferns and a cure for burns

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!


Our time together at The Cape was like a dream in so many ways, but Rebecca has already written about that. There is something very special about all being together away from home. Roles change.  Everyone is an equal.  Everyone chips in...
...Unexpected treasures are discovered. 
IMG_0943 Moon snail
One of those for me was cooking together in the spacious kitchen.  We ate like kings but didn’t spend hours at it, and it was a true vacation for me not to be in charge of the nightly meals thanks to David, who took over most of the cooking duties and planning (AND, David and Hal did most of the shopping!)
Fiddle ferns and arugula pesto pasta!
I think the trick to cooking away from home is making “easy gourmet” meals. Pizza and macaroni every night would be boring and not very special, and eating out is expensive and not that fun with babies, but also one doesn’t want to spend all one’s vacation over the stove.  We had brought some stuff from David’s house, especially since we have our gluten and vegetarian members of the family, but as soon as we got to The Cape, David, Alyssa, and Hal went shopping and did a really good job stocking up with enough stuff to get us started.
Also, I think it’s fun to take advantage of special local foods. David and Alyssa found fiddlehead ferns at the local market. Where have you been all my life, fiddleheads?  We don’t get them in our neck of the woods so this was a HUGE treat for us. They cooked us a scrumptious gluten free pasta with arugula pesto, fiddlehead ferns, and pea tendrils for dinner our first night. Here we were, in the most heavenly place imaginable, and eating this amazing meal which, literally, took 30 minutes to make (Alyssa had made the pesto at home and brought it with us which saved time).  Fiddlehead ferns are delicious and a culinary treat, and although this sounds like an unbelievably gourmet meal (which it was), it also was quick and easy. 

Rachel masterminded a vegetable curry using packets she had bought at Jungle Jims in Cincinnati.  Using these as a base, we worked together to create an easy and delicious curry with enough left over for a rice curry salad the next day.

Another night, David and I made soft tacos with homemade refried beans (which also made great lunch leftovers).  For the fish eaters, there was local fresh (and sustainable) fish from the fishmonger to go in them.

Our final meal was a frittata using up all the odds and ends in the refrigerator. At one point, four of us were chopping away in the kitchen and I was in heaven.  This is such a great throw-together meal and perfect with a salad for dinner.

I made the refried beans on taco night, but somehow my brain was on vacation because I forgot how allergic I am to pepper oil.  Having no gloves, I roasted and peeled the poblanos with my bare hands, and by bedtime, my fingers were on fire. I lay in bed wondering how I would ever go to sleep, my hands throbbing in pain, so I tiptoed downstairs to one of the kids’ computers to see if I could find a solution.  This had happened to me several times before (you would think I would have learned by now) and I’d tried various remedies:  yogurt, milk, aloe, butter, to no avail. So when I, again, saw all of these same remedies suggested on websites, I kept looking further.  Finally I found a blog touting mustard as the only cure.  MUSTARD?  Luckily we have several mustard freaks in the family so there just happened to be a jar of Gray Poupon in the fridge and I generously lathered it all over my hands.  This is about the time that Rebecca came downstairs to see who was making all the racket in the kitchen at midnight. 

“What are you doing, Mom,” she asked, looking at me strangely as I held up my yellow hands.  
“I know it sounds odd but…” 

By this time the pain was already subsiding and 5 minutes later, believe it or not, all the pain was gone.  COMPLETELY!!!!  We laughed as I washed off the mustard and we both went off to bed.  The next day I told my miraculous story to everyone.

“But MOM,”  Rachel implored, “Don’t you remember?  I told you about that a year ago.  Mustard is a miracle cure for ALL burns.”  (Another confirmation that my brain was on a holiday.) 

I guess she had been cooking with a friend, had burned her arm, and he had rubbed mustard all over it.  No blister, no redness, no pain.  I have since tried to find out a scientific reason for mustard curing burns, but can’t find it (although there are lots of sites supporting its abilities). I do know that people have been using mustard for healing purposes for centuries and that the oil in peppers, capsaicin oil, is soluble in fat but also needs to be neutralized with an acid, so perhaps it is the combination of fat and vinegar with mustard seeds’ natural healing qualities make it a perfect burn remedy.  Anyway, for those of you who aren’t big mustard fans, buy it anyway and keep it in the refrigerator as a burn remedy. Any type of mustard works.

Here is the recipe for David and Alyssa’s fabulous pasta.  For those of you who don’t live in a place where you can buy fiddleheads, substitute asparagus chopped into 1-inch pieces.


Pasta With Pea Tendrils and Fiddlehead Ferns

1-2 cups arugula pesto (or pesto of your choice)
1 lb fiddlehead ferns (or 1 lb coarsely chopped asparagus)
1 bunch pea tendrils
1 package pasta (fusilli, penne, or other medium sized pasta)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Toasted walnuts (optional)

Make pesto, using arugula as your greens. Rinse fiddleheads well. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Drop fiddlehead ferns in boiling water and blanche for about 5 minutes, or until tender.
Take out of water with slotted spoon and blanche pea tendrils for a minute or so, or until tender. Remove from water. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. (Or use separate pot for pasta.) Toss with pesto, pea tendrils, and fiddlehead ferns.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and toasted walnuts. Enjoy!
…and may you never have burn pain again!!