Saturday, September 12, 2015

In which it must be lunchtime because I'm thinking about FOOD again

A lot of our traditions here in the Swampland involve food.

I have very early memories of picking blackberries with my parents when I was almost too small to carry the coffee can necklace my folks constructed for me--a little 1-pound Folgers tin, hung 'round my neck with a string so I could use both of my grubby little hands to pick berries.

ker-plink, ker-plank, ker-plunk

When Will and Lisa came to live with us, of course blackberry hunting was one of the skills I taught them.  

Blackberries aren't native to our Swamp, by the way.  They are noxious weeds purposely introduced on the east coast of North America by Luther Burbank in 1885.  The plants moved into our region around 1945, and good luck if you think you'll ever get them to leave again.  The vines are truly obnoxious, but the berries are delicious.

Will was not enthused about the blackberry thorns,
or the spider webs, or the bees.  He does enjoy a nice
blackberry pie, though!

But blackberries aren't the only seasonal food we hunt around here.

Right now, of course, all eyes are on the ground.  Chanterelles are the treasure we want to find.

Patty captured the first chanterelles of the season

I'm new to mushroom hunting.  

Gail and Mike taught the crew where to find morels near Vet Check 2 at
the Renegade Rendezvous ride.

A bunch of us caught "gold fever" last year during the epic chanterelle season.  Mushroom hunting is a good thing for endurance riders to practice, since we spend so much time on trails!

Right hand, camera left:  a chanterelle mushroom
Left hand, camera right:  certain death

Dinner last night:  pasta with chanterelles and chicken, sweet potato greens,
and roasted garlic in white sauce.  Dinner tonight: chanterelles with 
homegrown tomatoes and apple slices on homemade pizza dough.

When I was a kid, we used to find apple trees in weird places:  along rural roads, or by the side of some trail that was only used by deer (and kids).  The trees were planted by early settlers in the Swampland:  when they abandoned their homesteads, the apple trees remained, grew, bore fruit, and fed the deer (and the kids) who found them.

Alas, apple trees don't live forever, and it is a rare thing to find feral trees anymore, and their seeds rarely grow up into apple trees (most apple trees grow from grafts, not from seeds).  So there just aren't very many non-domestic apple trees by the side of the road anymore.  

When I want apples that don't come from Haiku Farm trees, I go visit friends and pick from their trees.  
Gail lives in the Dry Side of our state--
home of the best apples anywhere 

Rhubarb is another food plant that we sometimes find growing in strange places. 

We've had an extraordinary rhubarb season this year--the first batch we ate
with strawberries in May and June.  We ate the last batch this week with
peaches we got on the trip to Maryhill.

Like the apple trees, rhubarb plants were brought by settlers.  We have a rhubarb plant growing on the fence line between our property and the next-door neighbor's:  proof that the entire stretch of land was once a single farm, and that the place that is now the property line was once somebody's garden.

Wild foods aren't just plants, either.  Our neighbors sometimes bring us a haunch of bear meat, or slab of elk (either of those in the slow cooker all day with a bunch of root vegetables will result in AMAZING FOOD!).

And sometimes, we go catch our own!

The crabbing season this year was pretty pathetic

Crabbing with Jim and Tim in 2014

Of course, scrounging for food around here can sometimes require no commute at all.

Jim's hat is an excellent container for the ingredients we need

Breakfast of champions, the Backyard Scramble:
green beans, scrambled eggs with rosemary, fried potatoes with carrots,
peas, and zucchini, and homemade bread with blackberry jam.  

And then, of course, there are the foods that take a bit of planning and preparation.

The story of the 2014 turkey feast is HERE 

Dear Readers, what are your food-scrounging traditions?  Do you seek out wild food, or pick fruit from local orchards?  Share in the comments!


4 comments:

  1. Besides seafood of course, our island's foraging is fairly limited. In the spring there is wild asparagus, and in the summer tons of purslane. The absence of hurricanes this year has led to bumper late summer crops of figs, grapes and persimmons. Looks like I'll be in preserve making mode for the next few weeks :D

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  2. If I look REALLY HARD out by the shop, I can sometimes nab a frozen pizza!

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  3. left hand, certain death.... and that's why I'm scared to eat mushrooms.

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  4. OK you've finally convinced me to attempt to hook up with mushroomers and learn how to do it. Germans are crazy about mushrooming. I wouldn't mind finding some hallucinogens, but not the certain death.

    Last night at my grocery store, for the first time in 8 years, there was celery. I was shocked - if I'd wanted celery in the past I'd have to drive to a big store and it was always small and limp, no crunch left. Germans prefer celeriac for some reason. When I told the checker at Aldi how happy I was to finally see (normal, green, American) celery, she agreed with me that she'd never seen it before, and asked me what people do with it. I said, "Well, put it in anything just like carrots. Or fill it with peanut butter and eat it as a snack." I'm sure since Germans don't eat peanut butter, that made her stomach turn. Crap, I have no peanut butter in the house. But I just dipped it in balsamic. And forced J to take a taste test between celery and lovage, which are related, and I cook with lovage as if it were celery. He agreed they are similar, but dislikes them both. J's mom invited us to dinner today and I offered to bring celery and she said YUK! OK then. (But she eats lovage!)

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