Saturday, June 29, 2013

Connecting the Dots With Nasturtiums

When Kari and I had lunch in the Gathering Barn at the Country Life Center last week, we both chose the same items from the menu - the Spring Greens Salad with Rhubarb Vinaigrette and the Vegetable Tart with Asparagus, Sorrel, Spring Onions, Swiss Chard, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese. 
As Jill set our plates before us, she said, "I'm sure you know the nasturtiums are edible." Yes, I did know that and have for a long time. BUT, I had never tried eating them before. Kari was hesitant about eating flowers. I decided if I was ever going to try them, now was the time. I chomped down. My first reaction was  WOW!, "These are so good!" Kari said, "Really?" How to describe the taste to her? "Sort of peppery?" She bravely tried her's and agreed, "Nasturtiums really are good to eat." (But she couldn't say the same for the goat cheese. I ate all mine, but it isn't something I care for either.)

Now, the nose twist from yesterday's blog title - in Latin, nasturtium means nose twist - because of its peppery taste, I assume. The leaves are also edible. One site suggests chopping the flowers and leaves and adding to softened cream cheese to use as a sandwich spread. It also lists medicinal uses for the plants.
I used to plant Nasturtiums just because they were so pretty, easy to grow and I liked their delicate fragrance. I wanted to go right home and plant some to have to eat!
Jill also mentioned that the vegetable tart crust was made from buckwheat flour milled at Panora, Iowa. More about that later, but first, more about Jill.........

From the moment she seated us and handed us our menus, I thought our waitress looked familiar. I told Kari I thought she was the woman that ran the antique store in Lorimor. I could remember her last name, but could only remember that her first name contained four letters. I told Kari I was going to ask her name, but before I could, when she came to take our order, she looked at me and said, "Don't I know you? I'm Jill Alexander." Aha! "I had just been telling Kari I thought I recognized you."

I asked if she still had her store in Lorimor, but she sold the building a couple years ago. It was the neatest shoppe, located in the old bank building. She made very few changes to the interior, so the old photo I found online looks very much like her store did - just picture the tellers cages with antiques artfully displayed. She even had old pieces arrayed in the vault in the back.

I first met Jill around 2001-2. The Lorimor Bank was robbed September 25, 2000 and closed shortly thereafter. I don't know exactly how long it was before I first noticed a sign outside it: "Life's A Journey" - a quote close to my own beliefs. I wondered what kind of store it was. When I saw it was antiques, I stopped to look around.

You've experienced meeting someone for the first time and feeling like you've met a long-lost friend? That is how my visit with Jill went that day. We made so many connections - like when I lived in West Des Moines and used to shop at the Lagniappe in Valley Junction - where she used to work; even how we had both dreamed of buying an old building and turning it into an antique shop, only she was making her dream come true. Jill is an amazing woman - she even remembered some of the items I purchased from her store. It was good to see her again.

I don't remember being overly fond of the connect the dot worksheets we had in grade school, but I do believe all things are connected. Jill's mention of the buckwheat milled at Panora led me to search for it online which led me to Early Morning Harvest.

The way my mind works, once I discover something new, I follow that to another new thought, location, connection. The Early Morning Harvest site led me to where their products are sold which led me to Panora's Square Fridays - where every Friday in July and August there's a Flea and Farmer's Market.
Guess who's planning a road trip to Panora next month - all because of a nose twist.

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