Staten Island, NY. With the balmy temperatures we’ve been experiencing in the city this winter, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to find tenacious chickweed (Stellaria media) with its corn-like flavoring in flower so early this season. Last week, campus was filled with the tiny green ground cover and its wee white flowers soaking up the sun. Turns out, chickweed isn’t the only thing in flower: I’m currently eight months+ pregnant with our first child, and thrilled to see the appearance of all of my favorite wild edibles coming up so early before I have to head indoors to make the big push myself.
Through the years, I’ve written about chickweed for the New York Times City Room and Local sections as a tasty weed that grows among the ice and snow, which makes a delicate wild substitute for micro-greens. But it also has skin-soothing properties, which I, as a pregnant woman, have found very helpful—especially when dealing with eczema, which I had a bad bout with in my 1st trimester, and with avoiding stretch marks (so far so good).
My secret weapon to combat both was an infused sesame-chickweed oil (with the chickweed strained out); it’s marvelous and works better than any prescription cream I’d ever gotten from my doctors. Note: Sesame oil is denser than almond or coconut oil, and when you’re dealing with a severe case of eczema as I was, this is what you want. If you’re having a difficult time locating Stellaria media in your neighborhood or on your front lawn, sesame oil alone can be helpful. Any old sesame oil from the supermarket will do, though avoid the toasted kind as you’ll really end up smelling like a marinade to your partner.