Thursday, July 8, 2010

Loupie Lupine!

The Silvery Lupine is said to be the most common wildflower.  A. K. A. Bluebonnets, Old Maid’s, Bonnets or Wolfbean.  Lupines are symbolic of imagination.  The name "lupinus" actually means "of wolves" due to the mistaken belief that ancient peoples had thought lupines robbed the soil of nutrients. The fact is that lupines add nitrogen to the soil.  The Romans used lupines for fertilizer and ate the high-protein seeds.  The seeds of lupines are said to aid digestion and have been used in skin care for removing spots from the face.  The Romans used the flat seeds for theater money.  Lupines are the only food for the Karner blue butterfly's caterpillar.  The larvae crawl up the stems of wild lupines to feed on the new leaves in mid-April.  The scent from lupine blossoms is like that of honey.  Besides being beautiful and an olfactory feast, lupine flowers are fun to play with.  You can easily observe the “trigger” for pollination in lupines by pressing on the lower petal of the flower.  This simulates a bee buzzing sipping nectar.  Bright yellow pollen squirts out of the tip, which would normally be sprayed on the insect’s belly and transferred to the next flower it visits.
John Parkinson attributed wonderful virtues to the plant. Many women, he says ‘do use the meal of Lupines mingled with the gall of a goat and some lemon juice to make a form of soft ointment.” He also says that the burning of the Lupine seeds drives away gnats.
Culpepper adds, 'the seeds, somewhat bitter in taste, are opening and cleaning, good to destroy worms.  Outwardly they are used against deformities of the skin, scabby ulcers, scald heads, and cutaneous distempers.'
Legend of the Bluebonnet
One of the most charming flower legends is the story of a Comanche girl who had lost all of her family to drought and famine. The only thing she had left to comfort her was a doll that had been made by her mother, decorated with bright bluejay feathers. When the shaman asked what the remaining tribal members could do to redeem themselves and end the suffering, the spirits requested that the tribes most prized possession must be offered to the gods.
Hearing this, the young girl gave her doll to the fire late one evening and scattered the ashes to the four winds. In the morning, nourishing rains returned to the land and the hills were covered with cheerful blossoms of bluebonnet. The bluebonnet is thus regarded as a symbol of forgiveness and selflessness.
While we're talking about lupines I'd like to recommend a good book, 'Miss Rumphius' by author and illustrator Barbara Cooney.
I loved the story's message to go to faraway places, live beside the sea and do something to make the world more beautiful. For Miss Rumphius, that means planting lupines all over the country side in her later years.
1 cup Lupin Flour
250g canola margarine
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup wheatmeal or wholemeal flour
1 cup self raising flour
Pinch of salt
Juice and zest half a large lemon
1 tsp lemon essence
Cream margarine, add sugar, lemon juice and zest and lemon essence.
Mix the flours and salt together in a bowl,
slowly add to the margarine and sugar etc to make a stiff dough.
If too dry add a small amount of milk.
Let the mixture stand for a few minutes to soften the lupin flour
if it is not finely ground.
Turn out onto a floured board and roll to around 4mm thickness.
Cut out with a pastry cutter and place on trays.
Bake until golden brown at 175ºC.
Allow to cool on wire rack then place in an airtight container.
Substitute a mashed banana for the lemon essence, juice and zest.
Add 1 tsp of vanilla essencee still warm.
Cool in baking tray.
Store in an air tight container.