Sunday, April 29, 2012

macro madness

A macro lens lets you pick and choose. I could almost convince you that mine is a well-tended garden, when I show the best bits, carefully cropped and strategically blurred.

Most of my Myosotis are white this year. Strange.

Mertensia virginica, fortunately, is exactly what it should be. BLUE-bell.

I'm sorry, I don't know which Hellebore this is.

Or which Epimedium this is.

And you know what? I don't care.

Today I'm not wearing my teacher's cap.

I'm playing hooky in the Houstonia.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Springtime in NH

A few weeks behind NYC, spring in NH is just starting.

I'd read that the flowers of sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina) are edible, not in a substantial way but in a trail nibble way. Maybe I caught them at the wrong stage because I was entirely underwhelmed. Sweet fern flowers are imperfect and the plant is monoecious, meaning flowers are either male OR female, and flowers of both types grow on the same plant (like corn). Maybe I unwittingly grabbed a flower of the wrong sex;t I've found nothing in the literature saying which flower tastes better.

This crop was more to my liking. With Sarah and her family out of town (Galapagos!), I did her a FAVOR (her word, not mine) and harvested from her asparagus patch.

I confess, I ate some raw, it was that good. Asparagus is already my favorite vegetable, but when it's plump and just picked...well it's amazing any of it made it back to the kitchen.

Queen Carnivore scoffs at asparagus. She waits for something with a little more fight.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

auto parts and the edible landscape

Why did I take this picture?

Or this one?

Now can you tell?

How about now?

I'm sure the landscaper didn't think about edible plants when he chose the plants for the Advanced Auto Parts parking lot. If he did, mad props. If he didn't, well he has inadvertently given me a thrill by proving that any landscape can be an edible landscape. I even forgive his choice of hideous, died black mulch.

Redbud flowers are at the perfect stage for picking and adding to your salad. The daylilies are a little scrawny, but may well provide some edible buds and blooms in mid-summer.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

spring encouragement

I suppose it's time to get back in the saddle. A sad winter, a busy winter, not enough time in the kitchen, in the woods, in the garden.

This weekend felt close to normal after some time outdoors and a little culinary therapy. A blooming Amelanchier is a lovesome thing.

I'd heard rumors that cornelian cherries (the fruit of Cornus mas) were crazy high in pectin, but I'd never had a big enough harvest to try making a preserve. Last fall, Carleen sent me almost two cups of fruit, which I processed and froze for a rainy day. Damn if that jam didn't set solid in less time than any fruit I've ever worked with. Dark ruby red and super tart. It's a keeper.

Leda and I pulled in an excellent knotweed harvest on Monday. Once again we found that even stalks as tall as 36" had a tender 8 - 10" at the top that were easy to snap off with a satisfying pop. Plenty of stems for wine, and plenty left over for an experiment. A recipe for knotweed tapioca pudding at the 3 Forager's website served as my jumping off point, although I used small pearl tapioca instead of instant. I thought it was ok, but Michael said he'd like it better if the crunch came from a nut rather than from sliced knotweed. So I created a second variation using puréed knotweed and ginkgo nuts. The result was a smooth, green, semi-sweet pudding with small chunks of boiled ginkgo nuts. The taste was semi-sweet and entirely addictive. I won't say how many bowls we ate.

(version #2 (w/ginkgo nuts) in foreground, runner-up in the rear)

Garlic mustard, ground beef, and knotweed: a simple dish, a hearty dish, a spring dish.

In between, the last of the apples and carrots went into wine, the first harvest of wild garlic was minced and dehydrated, and I reviewed my copy-edited manuscript.

Yes, it almost felt normal.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

the Sisko

We buried Sisko this weekend. He died back in January, but the ground was frozen so our vet kept him till we could dig a hole next to the Viburnum trilobum, where we hope Sisko will do for it, what Kyra has done for the Yucca baccata.

It's been more than two months, but the wound is fresh. After we dug, and buried, and found the perfect marker stone, we sat on the flat rock in front of the deck, where Sisko loved to stretch out and roll around, soaking up the sun and the heat from the slate.

We talked about Sisko, I cried like a baby, and Michael got teary in a quiet, manly kind of way. At night we lit a candle and despite our sorrow, we agreed it was good to have him home.