Palo Alto Tender Tracks Thursday April 11, 2013

Day 58
New Moon
Huddart Park
(read below Herb fairies for blog)

Happy Spring! Today is all about chickweed.

This is Stellaria, the chickweed fairy…

She and all the Herb Fairies will arriving soon from the Fairy Herb Garden. When they do, they’ll have some fun stuff to share with you and your kids.

We’ll be letting you know all about Herb Fairies next week!

Meanwhile, enjoy this delicious pesto recipe made from chickweed.

Stellaria has added her recipe for chickweed spread (a variation kids will love) as a PDF print out on the bottom of this page. You and your kids will love making it together!

Now is the time for chickweed…

Chickweed Pesto Recipe

by Rosalee de la Forêt


Some may dismiss this beautiful and bountiful plant as a simple weed, but herbalists and wild food foragers cherish this yummy and nutrient-dense plant.

Think of chickweed as a wild and tasty lettuce or mild-tasting spinach. It can easily be eaten in salads, cooked up with eggs and even made into a pesto.

But chickweed is far superior to its cultivated counterparts!

Chickweed is easier to harvest than going to the store and buying greens, at least twice as tasty and assuredly way more nutritious! Chickweed is high in calcium, minerals, potassium, and magnesium.

Chickweed as Medicine

Besides being a nutrient-dense and delicious plant, chickweed can be used as a cooling poultice on hot conditions like sunburns, irritated eyes, or insect bites. The infused oil is often used to soothe the irritation of diaper rash and insect bites.

Chickweed can also get things moving in the body. You can use it internally and externally for relieving signs of stagnation such as benign cysts and swollen lymph glands.

Identification and Harvesting tips

Chickweed is a low-growing plant with a delicate root system. In more temperate climates it grows during the winter to early spring and can be a perennial or an annual.

Its leaves have an oval shape and they grow in an opposite pattern.

The flowers have five petals that are deeply divided, giving the appearance of ten petals.

One of the best ways to identify chickweed is to look very closely at the stem of the plant. It will have little hairs growing up vertically along one side of the stem. Then, at a leaf junction, those little hairs will grow on another side of the stem.

Chickweed is best in the spring, although some climates produce a bountiful fall crop as well. To harvest chickweed I bring my scissors and simply snip the whole plant a couple inches from the soil.

Chickweed quickly loses its oomph after harvesting so this plant is best used fresh. If you don’t have access to fresh chickweed, try the following recipe with parsley instead.


Chickweed Pesto

Today’s newsletter recipe is one of my favorite food staples. We like to have chickweed pesto as many times as possible during the season. We put it on our eggs in the morning and enjoy a dollop on top of meats and veggies throughout the day. It also makes a great sandwich spread. Got lots of chickweed? Freeze it in ice cube trays for later!


  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cups freshly picked young chickweed leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • dash of sea salt
  • handful of walnuts (optional)
  • tablespoon of lemon juice (optional)
  • lemon zest (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor.

Blend well.


Note: I prefer making this pesto in a food processor instead of a blender as the chickweed stems tend to get caught up in the blender blades. This easily overheats the blender and removing those stems can be tedious work. Yes, I speak from experience! If you only have a blender, simply chop up the chickweed really well before placing it in the blender.

I hope you enjoy this simple chickweed treat. When you are out harvesting, don’t forget to look for Stellaria, the chickweed fairy, dancing amongst this delicious weed.

Happy Spring!


I wanted to include the above to share with you the recepie from Tues.   Also, I encourage you to go to this website and see all the herbal things that they have to offer. It is wonderful site!

All were here and though it wasn’t as peaceful as Tuesday it was truly a close second. Another very very beautiful day.

I want to share here a list of Social-Emotional descriptors from the 5th Edition Child Development text book Beginings and Beyond:


Poised, self-confident, self-contained

Sensitive to ridicule

Has to be right; peristent

May get silly, high, wild

Enjoys pointless and ridiculous jokes

Enjoys group play, competive games

Aware of rules, defines them for others

Chooses own friends;is sociable

Gets involved with group decisions

Insist on fair play

Likes adult companionship

Accepts, respects authority

Asks permission

Remains calm in emergencies



Your children have been showing all of these signs this past week, and most notably the last four listed.

There has been a lot of focus on tending to what they need to feel most comfortable.  As we were driving to the park there was some challenges that I wanted to tend to straight away so I pulled over and made sure everyone had what they needed.  They all then were able to share what they wanted in the moment; a book, a rabbit fur, a blanket.  These were given and then, off we went with far more ease and comfort regained.

When we got there they truly just wanted to play in the sand but I knew getting them to this most beautiful place down the trail would be excilirating and satisfying for them so, with their jobs at hand, snack in their bellies, off we went down the trail

As we were walking down the trail  several children fell, especially Miu who wound up getting a bloody nose.  ALL the children came to see how she was and support her well being.  A beautiful sight.   Running down a hill that is not even and has rocks and roots take great physical skill and wisdom.  These types of trails are such great teachers for mindfulness, slowing down, paying attention to ones surroundings and making choices appropriate to where you are for ones own well being.   They have a chance to become respectful and responsibile for how they take care of themselves.   So, after really looking at the ground and making different  choices of how they would now move on the trail, there were no more falls that I recall.   When we got to the water they just scattered to their favorite places.   Giselle and Aoife, after a time, spent some beautiful quiet time down by the creek.  Audrey offered, for any one who wanted, to join her with listening for the fairies. This was inspired by a true to life, story that I told earlier.   Most actually started off with her and then one by one many trickled back, accept Aoife and Giselle.    They stayed down in this one warm and watery world exploring for the rest of the day.
Taz and Kaden found a beautiful little pond where they had fun throwing rocks and when I came over to them Taz was burying Kaden’s hands in the sand. Which Kaden really liked!
The rest of us were finding different rocks with different colors and painting each other. My favorite find was when we found a large piece of wood turned charcoal.  It made GREAT black when crushed up and water added to it.   They had to do a lot of difficult climbing up and down the hills and they all were wonderful.  I enjoyed how they helped each other as well.   When it was time to go back everyone jumped right in and we made it up the steep “short cut” without a hitch!  Then up and up and up and up the trail without complaints we went.  They have developed such strength during the year!
All the way back on the bus Audrey told them personal nature story after nature story from her life.  They love this very, very much which is why she kept going on and on.
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