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.


At April 15, 2012 at 11:25 AM , Blogger Sweetgum Thursday said...

Wonder if one of these years, foragers and parks could get together on some of these plants that are problematic and kill two birds, so to speak. Like a big event, annual Forage/cookoff/serious weeding thing.. Anwyay...enjoy your not so normal spring. Maybe we will get rain sometime.

At April 16, 2012 at 12:32 AM , Anonymous wiseacre said...

I was down on Long Island during the first week of April. It was a bit horrifying to see just how much garlic mustard there was. Happy to say I saw no knotweed.

I thought of you when harvesting some wild leeks this weekend.

I'll be headed back to the island on Tues, 17th. If you can drive to Brookville (near Glen Cove) to pick some up I'd be happy to harvest plenty to go around. I'm afraid to drive into the city :)

At April 16, 2012 at 7:59 AM , Blogger Ellen Zachos said...

Damn! I'd love to meet you and score some ramps in the process. But we're heading to New Hampshire tomorrow and won't be back until the 23rd.

Thanks for offering, and thanks for your kind words about Sisko.


P.S. Driving in the city is insane. I do it, but only under protest.

At April 16, 2012 at 8:44 AM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

The recipes all look wonderful and I'm sorry to have missed my chance to sample! Here's to the bountiful foraging months ahead...

At April 16, 2012 at 9:06 AM , Blogger SaraGardens said...

Mmm, gorgeous - semi-sweet means you can eat as much as you want! I know it's not quite the same as foraging in the wider world, but I'm glad to report I (finally!) got those ramps in the ground, and am counting on moremoremore for next year...

At April 16, 2012 at 11:06 AM , Anonymous Mark said...

Damn, woman! That sounds like a heavenly weekend. And if you won't let me try some of the preserves, I'll break in and steal some. You know I mean it. The pudding sounds wonderful, too.

Checked out paw paw blossoms on a hike yesterday and I can't tell how they'll bear. The blossoms seemed a bit damaged and I think it might be heat or lack of pollination. Everything is out of whack here.


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