Friday, June 07, 2013

Recent Harvest

Seems like winter lasted up into may this year, then we had three months of spring happen in three weeks. Here's a few of th' fine goods we've been harvesting and eating lately. 

Milkweed shoots. Pick these before they form flowers buds, while they're still rapidly growing, and cook them anyway you'd cook asparagus. They are similar in shape and texture, but have a much better flavor, in my opinion. We like to eat them raw, but i have heard of some people getting sick from th' raw ones, nevertheless, th' flavor is much better than when cooked, so try one or two raw before you cook them, you won't get sick off of so few, and your taste buds will  be glad you did. Below are some grilled with fish, peppers and shallots. Those were good.

A few days ago we pounded and leached acorns for this mornings breakfast. 

Acorn waffles with butter and maple syrup
Then i headed into th' mountains with Alex, or Axe, as Fynn calls him to a spot we've come to call "Th' Garden". Me and Alex have an ongoing skills trade agreement, which is nice, because skill sharing is better than reading books, or laboring away solo for years. I'm learning hide tanning, among a host of other skills, and he's learning foraging, and bowmaking. Plus, it helps us all to hone our skills. It's easy to impress folks who have little experience in an area, it's something else to show off your skill to someone with experience. Helps you to always get better. Never settle for mediocre. 

We picked wild Violet flowers. 

And stinging nettle. Sorry for th' blurry picture. 

We munched dandelion flower stalks, and came to understand that stalks with flowers are more bitter than stalks with seedpods. Try it for yourself. 

One of my favorite things in th' world is walking barefoot through a mountain stream surrounded by food. We harvested a bag of raspberry leaves to dry for tea. We got rained on. And we ate Cow Parsnip. A flavor i crave every year, that tastes like no other, and cannot be bought in any store. 

We peeled and ate thistle stalks and petioles, and collected a bunch to make pickles. Thistles are very juicy, like a cucumber or a watermelon, and th' ones up here were enormous. 
Here's a thistle garden. I know you can't see how big these really are, but some of th' stalks were two inches in diameter, and full of fresh filtered water.

30 pounds of thistle in this bundle.

To eat th' flower stalks you need to peel the outer layer of fiber, or just break it in half and scrape it off with your teeth. To eat th' leaf petioles, just scrape off th' spines and eat. 

Another exciting find was th' positive identification of a new to us and very useful food, Wyeth Biscuitroot. This was a north american native peoples staple food, and another root vegetable, which is where th' calories are. 

Th' root at this time of year was fibrous and dry, but it had a good flavor. We'll be back for more in th' fall, and next spring, th' root season. Th' leaves have a flavor very much akin to fennel and dill, which we'll dry for spice. I love foraging because there is always a new plant to learn, and biscuitroot is one i've been after for a while now, and now that i know it, i'm finding it in great abundance. It's amazing how you can see a plant for years, and then one day, when you realize what it is, you see it in a brand new light. I look forward to many new experiences with this plant, and it's cousin, th' yampa. 

To finish th' day we gathered two good sized bags of Black Locust flowers. These are too good for words, but Alex says they taste like they look. Try some and see what you think. 

And, just for th' icing on th' cake, we found a four and a half foot roadkill bull snake, which we promptly skinned, and is now waiting to go on a bow's back.

All in all, it was a good day.