Thunderstorms Today

shoreline

Sunny is getting old.  He can’t keep up with me when we go walking anymore.  So today I left Sheba with Ron and took a gentle stroll with Sunny along the shoreline, letting him take all the time he wanted to sniff and explore while I took pictures.

Blackberries and hairy ragwort.

Blackberries and hairy ragwort.

I always wonder how much more time we have with him, so I want to let him pack all the doggie adventure in that he can in his remaining time.

Shortly after we returned from our walk, the thunderstorms moved in.

The variety of plant life around the lake is amazing.  It’s pretty humbling to see how much I don’t know!

lanceleaf coreopsis (tickseed)

Lanceleaf coreopsis (tickseed)

Anyway, I’ll share some of my photos and hope you enjoy them.

 

Lyre leaved sage

Lyre leaved sage

Oxalis leaves (shamrock)

Oxalis leaves (shamrock)

Ripening blackberries

Ripening blackberries

Spiderwort

Spiderwort

Bobber caughtimus  :D

Bobber caughtimus 😀

The urge to build a kid's fort between these 4 trees was almost irrestible!

The urge to build a kid’s fort between these 4 trees was almost irrestible!

 

Lagustrum.  Not sure if its tree privet or Chinese privet.  (Or another lagustrum!)

Lagustrum. Not sure if its tree privet or Chinese privet. (Or another lagustrum!) But it’s beautiful and smells heavenly.

 

Wild Foods with Dinner & SUNSHINE

Baby poke salad shoots and daylily buds tempura with dinner

Baby poke salad shoots and daylily buds tempura with dinner

We had blue skies today — at least between the clouds.  And SUNSHINE!  I didn’t mind being outside in the steamy weather today.  The sunshine felt SO good!  The deluge came around 5:30, but I didn’t care…. I had seen and felt the sun!

Edible daylily buds

Edible daylily buds

While I was out I noticed that both our fig trees promise a bumper crop.  That’s great because I have almost used all the figs I dried last year.  I love putting them, along with dehydrated orange peel, in my oatmeal in the mornings.

I also found some baby poke salad plants and some daylily buds.  High on sunshine, I picked some to cook with dinner this evening.

This evening’s dinner was a country boy special just for Ron…. cubed steak, mashed potatoes and gravy.  I’ll be eating a lot of rabbit food to make up for that!  😀

I had so much fun playing outside today that I didn’t get started on the curtains.  I can do that when it’s raining!

Figs!

Figs!

Baby poke salad plants

Baby poke salad plants

Blackberries

Blackberries

Cute little mushroom

Cute little mushroom

Small, tough-rinded, inedible puffball

Small, tough-rinded, inedible puffball

Unidentified yellow-capped mushroom

Unidentified yellow-capped mushroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Fruits and Flowers & Ukulele Update

Plums are beginning to ripen

Despite the brutal heat wave, nature continues her eternal cycles.  Late in the day, when the yard is in shade, is when I enjoy getting outdoors and enjoying the display.

Our plums are beginning to ripen.  We’ve already picked half a dozen.  Soon we’ll have more than we know what to do with!

An ant enjoys the half plum that another critter nibbled on and discarded.

The figs, and wild blackberries and wild black cherries are also maturing nicely.

Wild oxeye daisies are blooming.

And another year is almost halfway gone.  That’s a significant milestone when your hair is silver.  🙂

I am REALLY enjoying my ukulele.  I’m working on combining simple picking and chording for the most elementary introduction to fingerstyle playing.  It is so rewarding.  I also do a lot of soft chording and singing (HAH!) after Ron is in bed in the evenings.  It’s my special time in a very special dimension where music is the only language that is spoken.

Baby figs

Blackberries just beginning to redden.

Wild black cherries beginning to color

Hazy sunset

Ox eye daisies

Wild Edible Plants & Tulip Trees

Baby wild blueberries

I walked down our dirt (gravel) road today to deliver an Easter basket to my neighbor.  Just that short distance provided me with a treasure trove of interesting (to me) photos.

The wild blueberries have appeared!  It won’t be long until blueberry dessert time!

I also found a rare (in this area) Solomon’s Seal.  A few years back I dug one up to sample the tubers.  But since I hadn’t seen any for several years, there was no

Solomon's Seal

way I was going to disturb this one brave little spray of leaves that grew along the roadside.

I also found some wild strawberry plants that are a lot larger than the ones that grow on the edges of my yard.  I wonder if the strawberries will be larger also.  They are usually so small that I eat them as fast as I pick them and never have enough left over to

These wild strawberry plants are much larger than the ones that usually grow around here--more than double the size that I'm used to seeing.

make dessert with.

The Japanese honeysuckle blooms are getting ready to open.  It’s actually a noxious weed around here, but the blossoms are so beautiful and the scent so heavenly that I love them.  I haven’t yet made tea from the flowers, although I have intended to.  This year I will finally do it!

And I couldn’t resist more greenbrier photos. I think the shoots and tender new, almost translucent leaves are beautiful.

I used to pick and cook a lot of poke salad shoots.  But an odd thing  happened

Young greenbrier leaves

to the flavor.  The ones in our area used to have a wonderful taste that was a cross between asparagus and green beans.  Last year, when I was in Florida, I picked some  to cook for my sister to introduce her to them.  But when they were done, they were completely tasteless.  I threw them out.  Then when I got home I picked some and they had the same puzzling lack of flavor.

I believe that it may have been due to all the rain we had.  Steve Brill in New York has described poke shoots as having a pungent taste.  Ours never did–they were always mild tasting and good.  So climate must have a big bearing on flavor.  I’ll cook

Young poke salad plants

some tomorrow and see how they turn out this year.

If you want to try poke salad shoots, only use the shoots with small new leaves at the end.  The mature plant is poisonous.  When the leaves lose their new green color and translucence, they are no longer edible.  Also avoid shoots that have a lot of red on them.    To remove the small amount of water soluble toxins in the young shoot and leaves, bring a large and small pot of water to boil.  After the water in the small pot is boiling, add the shoots and cook for 5 minutes or so.  Drain and pour more boiling water over the shoots and cook for two or three minutes more.  Pour that water off and cover them with boiling water once again and cook a couple more minutes until done.

Wild lettuce bolting. This one had been run over by a lawn mower.

The water from the first two boils will be reddish and cloudy.  The water in the last boil will remain clear.  At this point, you have a safe, very healthy vegetable that was once a staple food in the Deep South, particularly in the war years.   Brush with butter and salt lightly when done.

My older neighbor remembers her mother cooking poke salad for dinner.

Up North, they call the cooked greens poke salat.  Down here, it’s still poke salad.  🙂

I also stumbled upon a wild lettuce bolting.  This is the sweetest, tenderest variety of wild lettuce.  Even though it

Baby black cherries

was bolting, the leaves only had a tiny, pleasant tinge of bitterness.

The blackberry flowers are beginning to lose their petals, which means small green blackberries will be appearing soon.  And the black cherries continue to grow in abundance.  I made syrup with them last year.  This year I’ll probably make jelly.

This post is getting WAY too long, so I’ll add the rest of the photos without comment.

Blackberry flowers are beginning to lose their petals.

Red clover. Their red blossoms are nutritious in teas and recipes.

Yellow clover. When wilted, it develops coumarins, so I avoid it.

Yellow poplars (tulip trees-not edible) grow all over our property, but I had never noticed flowers on them. Today I found several fallen blossoms where branches had been knocked down. Will have to go looking for flowers on the trees tomorrow.

I don't think birdsfoot violets are edible, but wanted to post this picture anyway!

And finally, another strange, bulls-eye looking leaf parasite. Will have to research what it is. On edit - this is a maple eyespot gall. It is caused by a midge and it does not hurt the tree.

Figs, Blackberries & Flowers

figs on our fig tree

Figs on our tree

I’ve been feeling stressed about all the ramifications of the Gulf Oil Spill, the methane, the dispersants, and the unfathomable implications to sea life, the environment, and our lives.  No, not just stressed.  I was really letting it get me down.

So late this afternoon I went outside to see what was growing, figuring it would cheer me up.  It did.

ripe blackberries

Blackberries are beginning to ripen

One of our fig trees is producing more figs this year than it ever has.  It’s loaded!  I ate one the other day, and today enjoyed two more that were ripe.

A few years back they only had a handful of figs on them.  An elderly aunt (who has since passed on) told me to buy a can of lye, poke holes in the can, and bury it near the trees.  I did, and the following year they just exploded with figs.  Apparently our ground is too acid, and the lye corrected the ph.  Every time I enjoy a fig from our trees, I think of her.

Also, I discovered that the wild blackberries are beginning to ripen.  I only found a few ripe ones,  but did get enough to make blackberry cobbler later this evening.  There are still many, many vines with unripe berries on them, so we will have plenty soon.

rose

One of our climbing roses

It appears that I missed the wild blueberry season.  It goes so fast!  That’s what I get for staying inside in the air conditioning instead of combing the edges of the woods for them in the heat!  Maybe I’ll do better next year.

Some of the flowers looked a little heat stressed, but they brightened my spirits and reminded me to be grateful for the beauty and grace that fills my life — today.

And not to worry about the future.  If I can remember to stay in today, then I won’t dwell on the problems the future may bring.   And my life will be richer and more satisfying, too.

new guinea impatien

New Guinea impatien... thrives in hot weather

white periwinkles

White periwinkles -- heat tolerant and self cleaning to boot!

orange marigold

Bright, happy, dependable marigolds

yellow marigolds

Yellow marigolds. I love their sturdy, heat-tolerant little faces!

pastel daylilies

How can anything so hardy be so beautiful!

Wild Edible Foods in My Yard

Wild strawberries in my yard

Delicious, sweet wild strawberries

Our land is completely surrounded by forest.  We keep the area as natural as possible, which leaves a transition area between the forest and the yard where all kinds of wild plants thrive.

Since we were out camping, the yard went a couple of weeks without mowing.   This also allowed all kinds of cool edible plants to do their thing.

Late this afternoon I took the camera out to see what had sprouted up in our yard in our absence.  I was amazed at the variety I found.

best kind of wild lettuce

This is the best variety of wild lettuce. Tender, and not a hint of bitterness.

There were all kinds of greens at their prime.  I also noticed that the blackberry bushes were covered in little green blackberries, and the blueberry bushes had tiny little green blueberries.

There were many wild strawberries fruiting.  The ones that are reddish orange are not quite ripe.  The ones that are a deep red are beyond description.  Sweeter than any domesticated strawberry with a burst of intense, fruity pleasure.

I have noticed something odd about the poke salad.  It used to have a scrumptious flavor that was a cross between asparagus and green beans.  But this year it is very bland.

I noticed that when I was in Florida, too.  I had picked poke shoots to cook for my sister to show her how good wild edibles could be.  They were so bland I threw them out, rather than introduce her to something that wouldn’t impress her.

I know that Steve Brill says poke salad in New York has a very pungent flavor.  So the taste must vary from location to location.  Maybe all the rain we have had has affected the taste.

The blog editor is  not letting me insert photos where I want them, so they will be out of logical sequence.  For some reason, it is inserting the last photos here instead of at the end.  Hope it’s not too distracting.

wild salad greens

Wild salad greens. I threw the plantain leaves out as they were too tough to serve raw.

Another variety of wild lettuce... slightly bitter

Another variety of wild lettuce. This one is slightly bitter, and is best mixed with other greens.

sheep sorrel with wood sorrel in background

Tangy sheep sorrel with lemony wood sorrel in background

unripe blackberries

Little green blackberries, soon to be fat, juicy, purple blackberries!

unripe highbush blueberries

Little green blueberries

passionflower vine

Passionflower vine promises maypops in a few months

poke salad

Poke salad

common plantain

Common plantain. A decent cooked vegetable. Also edible raw when very young, although I don’t care for it raw.

poke salad shoots ready to cook

Poke salad shoots ready to cook

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