Claire's Nettle-Kissed Buns from Outlander book Dragonfly in Amber

Claire's Nettle-Kissed Buns

"The peasants of Gascony beat a faithless wife wi' nettles," he  said.  He lowered the spiky bunch of leaves and rushed the flower heads lightly across one breast.  I gasped from the sudden sting, and a faint red blotch appeared as though by magic on my skin.

"Will ye have me do so?" he asked.  "Shall I punish you that way?"

"If you...if you like."  My lips were trembling so hard I could barely get out the words.  A few crumbs of earth from the nettles' roots had fallen between my breasts; one rolled down the slope of my ribs, dislodged by my pounding heart, I imagined.  The welt on my breast burned like fire.  I closed my eyes, imagining in vivid detail exactly what being thrashed with a bunch of nettles would feel like.

Suddenly the viselike grip on my wrist relaxed.  I opened my eyes to find Jamie sitting cross-legged by me, the plants thrown aside and scattered on the ground.  He had a faint, rueful smile on his lips.

"I beat you once in justice, Sassenach, and ye threatened to disembowel me with my own dirk.  Now you'll ask me to whip ye wi' nettles?"  He shook his head slowly, wondering, and his hand reached as though by its own volition to cup my cheek.  "Is my pride worth so much to you , then?"

"Yes!  Yes, it bloody is!"  I sat up myself, and grasped him by the shoulders, taking both of us by surprise as I kissed him hard and awkwardly.

Dragonfly in Amber (Chapter 29)

And you're still gonna tell me you don't want to, at least, try stinging nettles?  I mean, look at that colour! A gorgeous green that would make Claire sigh with pleasure...as well as keep the scurvy at bay and the teeth in your jaw should you ever manage to fall through some stones of your own.

I love that picture up there so much that I'm bumping the regularly scheduled programming that is the photo you see down there...meant to represent the nettles on the cliffs near Fontainebleau where Jamie and Claire so intensely re-claim their passion after that painful Paris absence -- you know, the absence and related activities that most of us don't even like to talk about.

But the light in the pic below is a little flat.  And if there's one word that doesn't belong anywhere near Claire's breasts, it's flat. (Especially if you're reading Exile!) :)

ready-to-roll copy

Nettle Season is upon us out here in the Pacific Northwest.  Some areas of California have been picking them for at least a month, and other regions of North America are just behind as the spring thaw continues.  There are dozens (if not hundreds) of varieties of nettles worldwide.  A quick google will show you what you have in your area and when the best time of year to pick them is.

Our stinging nettles pop up after rain, when it's still a little cool, so they're the ideal fodder for the early-season forager.  If you're interested, find a foraging club in your area.  You'll get out for a walk, learn a ton, and most likely go home with some free food to boot.  I have a small crop that I have been tending in the forest behind our house for the past 4 years.  I clip them regularly, as soon as they appear, and I have a good supply through the end of the season which, around here, is mid-April.  At that point, the plants are too old and bitter.

But the reality is that you probably don't have to find your own.  You'll find nettles at many farmer's markets as they come into season.  I've seen them for sale by farmers and foragers alike.

nettle rolls

As for Claire' Buns, I racked by brain (and the thesaurus) for some way of turning nettle-brushed breasts into rolls (or vice-versa), but I just couldn't pull it off.   So we'll stick with her other end -- Jamie appreciates that part of her anatomy just as much, after all.

I made a few of each size.  We used the large ones at breakfast, splitting them like bagels, toasting them lightly and topping them with a poached egg and bacon for an out-of-this-world breakfast sandwich.  3 days in a row.  Even when they're a little stale, Claire's Buns are amazing. (Say it aloud.  Isn't it fun?)

I spread garlic butter on the mid-sized ones for a quick and tasty dinner with grilled chicken breast and salad.  And the mini ones would make really cute appetizer, either alone or filled.

blanched-nettles

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