Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mint and Purslane

I am beginning to realize that there are more than four seasons. There's still spring summer fall and winter, yes, but this year i've also become acquainted with cattail pollen season, and linden leaf season, and black locust flower season, and milkweed shoot season, just to name a few. There's no reason to limit our understanding to four distinct seasons which often overlap and defy classification anyway. Now i understand th' seasons according to what i eat, and what i smell in the air as i ride around, especially at night.

A night time bike ride through th' fields and back roads of Ft. Collins is a feast for your nose. Sometimes subtle, sometimes assaulting your sense of smell. Right now, (mid to late July) it's mint. I can usually detect four or five unique mint smells, though i see none of them. And of course th' skunk. And th' skunk that got into th' mint patch. It seems every night has it's own pervading aroma.

I pick mint and add it to my drinking water. We chop it up and use it in salads. we cook it with our chicken. There are few places in our house where mint dares not go. But what is mints' favorite companion? This time of year it's purslane. Yep. That inconspicuos succulent growing right under your feet, or popping up in your flower boxes where you've never seen it before.

We pinch all the leaves off th' stems for our salads, and following th' suggestion of Euell Gibbons have pickled some jars of th' stems for a snack. Th' leaves form th' base of th' salad. To this is added a bit of chopped red onion, chopped fresh basil and yes, of course, our good ole friend th' mint. Any kind will do though we mainly use peppermint due to it's close proximity to th' kitchen table. Then we add about a teaspoon full of olive oil, two capfulls of apple cider vinegar, toss it all together then garnish it with wild currants, raspberries or just some slices of an orange, with a little of the orange juice squeezed on top. It's good.

I quote Josh, multi instrumentalist extraordinaire for The Lighthouse Band: "That's good. Real good. It's a flavor i've never eaten before. I really like trying new flavors. Got a good texture too. What'd you put in this stuff?"


More Cattail Pics

Here's a pic of Rico harvesting the pollen, one of Fynn snacking on 'cattail-on-the-cob', and eating a cattail biscuit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wild Food Adventures: Cattail Pollen!

Well, here are some pics of some cattail pollen that we harvested. I see that i failed to get a pic of Rico actually harvesting it, but this is how you do it: you cut a hole in the side of a milk/juice jug in the middle. (It has to be the middle, not the top, otherwise there will not be enough room for the spike. You'll see when you try.) Go out in the shmuck and muck (muckle-a-do, we call it) when the cattail spikes are full of yellow pollen. Gently bend the spike (w/o breaking it) and put it into the milk jug and shake. The jug will collect most of the pollen. Rico turned yeller, and we were surprised how much pollen we actually came home with after so much flew away!

Once we got it home, we sifted it thru a sieve to get the fluff out. We sifted it several times. Watch out cause little bugs will try to get into it. We put it in a jar and keep it in the fridge. This way it's fresh. Some people let it dry out and then store it in a jar in the cupboard "indefinitely" but the gnats were after it so we wanted to put it away right away.

Cattail pollen has a delicious flavour. It is hearty and reminds me of fried okra. We added a little to some flour to make biscuits. YUM! A little goes a long way. The biscuits went really well with bacon & black-eyed peas. Well, of course biscuits always do, but you'll believe me once you try it. I also added some to a crust for a quiche. I cannot tell you enough how delicious that was! It really added to the flavour of the quiche.( I am spelling flavour this way because it comes out right on spell check! ha!) It seems to go really well with savoury things so far, but we like to also add it to oatmeal. It seems to bring out the flavour.

Fynn one day said that Cattail was his favourite food. (He has a lot of favourites; they change every day) This was after we had eaten some young cattail stalks for a snack, before we had ever tried the pollen. When Rico asked Fynn if he wanted cattail in his oatmeal, he said "wwwwESSSS!" ( Translation: "yyyyESSSS!)