Spring!

Spring is following us north.

Spring is following us north.

I was seriously tempted to take some of the redbud flowers to make pancakes with, but decided I didn’t want to have to explain to a ranger why I was eating his trees!

Field garlic

Field garlic

So I settled for using a little field garlic in our dinner omelets this evening.

It’s fun watching spring start all over again after experiencing it in Florida.

Dandelions.  My favorite spring flowers.  Seriously!

Dandelions. My favorite spring flowers. Seriously!

We have had to take turns walking since Sunny can’t be left alone now. We went shopping in Valley yesterday, but had to take turns shopping, too. It was too hot to leave Sunny in the truck without air conditioning.

Lush clover.

Lush clover.

I thought I would always have a dog. But after being so constrained by Sunny and Sheba this trip, I think that when Sunny passes on, I may wait a while and see how I do without one.

Nature's lace.

Nature’s lace.

Another beauty.  Can anyone tell me what it is?

Another beauty.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Another cute COE safety sign.

A Cold Casita and More About Wild Yams

Lynne called today from Salt Springs to ask which replacement converter we had bought.  I was so tickled to hear from her.  Amazingly, our phone connection held, which is better than any cell reception I got when we were down there!  I’m hoping we will be able to get to Florida before they have to leave, but am not sure if we can make it work.

Tonight is predicted to be the first really cold, below freezing night we’ve had this winter.  I have the Casita winterized, but need to bring all the canned and staple foods that I generally leave in the trailer inside so they don’t freeze.

Greene Deane, author and prolific wild edible foods video producer, has tentatively identified my wild yams (from yesterday’s post) as Dioscorea Polystachya.  Due to the immense variability of the leaves, he hesitated to give me an absolutely positive identification, but with that lead, I should be able to name my yams when they come up this year.

What’s cool is, if that is what they are, I’ve added another excellent wild edible to my natural grocery sources!

Here is a quote from Green Deane’s website about it:

One-year-old roots weigh about 3 ounces, two-year-old roots, a pound. The root, in good soil, can grow up to three feet long and weight up to five pounds.  Its flavor is between a sweet potato and a regular potato. It is 20% starch, 75% water, 0.1% B1, and has 10 to 15 mgs vitamin C. The most common use is cooked like a potato. The Japanese prefer it raw. However, varieties can differer and I do not recommend you eat it raw. Cook it, or experiment with it raw very carefully.

Really Yummy Foraging

A mix of golden and smooth chanterelles

A mix of golden and smooth chanterelles

I’ve been through photo files today until I a bleary-eyed.  I decided instead of posting endless photos of what probably looks like weeds to most people, I’d just post some of the especially delicious wild foods I’ve found.

Smooth chanterelle

Smooth chanterelle

I used to be an avid wild plant forager.  But eventually I got bored with just wild veggies and started studying mushrooms — mainly to add some variety to our foraged meals.  I’ve slacked off on my study since we got, first the Aliner and then the Casita.  There was just too much other fun stuff to do outdoors.

But now the desire to get back out there and get serious about learning new plants — and new ways to use them — is becoming a compulsion.

So I am really anxious for spring to come!

Golden chanterelle

Golden chanterelle

I did forget to mention using day lily flower buds in my last post.  You can boil them like green beans, or my favorite way is to batter and fry them.  I hope to get some photos of lots of cooked wild edibles for you from our camping trips next year.

Another thing that most people would like — simply because they taste exactly like little potatoes — is groundnut bulbs.  I boil them in salty water until they swell up and the top of the skins starts popping to expose the white inner flesh, then toss them in butter and serve.  A simple, starchy, fun, filling side dish.  I’ve read that in some areas of the country that groundnuts have a slight turnip taste.  I’ve never run into that, though.

Daylily flower buds

Daylily flower buds

And then there’s the foraging that EVERYONE knows about — wild blueberries and blackberries.  Here’s what I did with my blackberries when I didn’t want to mess with making jelly.

So much for the low-carb diet!  🙂

Groundnuts

Groundnuts

blackberry cobbler

Blackberry cobbler

with ice cream

YUM!

Groundnut leaves.  Groundnuts generally grow by streams.

Groundnut leaves. Groundnuts generally grow by streams.

 

On edit – At the request of one of my readers, I’m adding a photo of groundnut leaves.

More on Cold Weather Wild Edibles

Field garlic

Field garlic

I still haven’t finished cleaning the Casita.  I keep finding more interesting projects to play with!

Today I thought it would be fun to show you how to use field garlic.  Wild garlic is better than field garlic, but field garlic is what grows here.

Field garlic looks a lot like a clump of grass, except that its leaves are round.  Once you know what to look for, you can spot it easily at a distance.  And if you have a country yard, like we do, you might have it growing in your lawn.  If you’ve ever mowed the lawn and smelled garlic afterwards, that’s field garlic.

Field garlic bulbs

Field garlic bulbs

It’s a cool weather plant.  It goes dormant in the heat of summer.  But if you know where it grows, you can dig for it in summer and easily spot the bulbs.  There’s no mistaking them for anything else.  If it smells like garlic, it is garlic!

The bulbs are small and are not separated into cloves like the garlic you buy at the store. They look more like small green onions.  Field garlic is pungent so use it sparingly.

Field garlic washed and ready to prepare

Field garlic washed and ready to prepare

The green tops of field garlic are essentially inedible.  If you try to cook with them, they will turn your cooking liquid a dark, ugly green.  And they are so tough that you can’t chew them.  If you try, you will end of with a wad of cellulose in your mouth.

However, if you slice the tops very thinly, you can use them very sparingly to add flavor and color to a recipe like a rice dish.  The key is very sparingly!

Field garlic ready to cook with

Field garlic ready to cook with

I usually slice the bulbs thinly, saute them slowly in olive oil, and build my recipe from there.

I also found sheep sorrel today.  Its arrowhead shaped leaves have a pleasant, tart vinegar flavor.  It’s especially good in rice dishes and will perk up other bland foods.  It also is a good in soups and dips.

Sheep sorrel.  Think small when you search for this plant.  If you look for a big plant you will miss it.  Note the arrowhead shaped leaves.

Sheep sorrel. Think small when you search for this plant. If you look for a big plant you will miss it. Note the arrowhead shaped leaves.

I don’t give recipes because I am one of those cooks who makes everything up as I go along with a handful of this, a sprinkling of this, and a pinch of that, based on what I have to work with and my mood.  It’s tremendous fun and usually turns out interesting and good.  But once in a while I do end up with a colossal disaster.  I don’t have the patience to go back and analyze and measure what I do, though.

I also wanted to tell you about wood sorrel today, but it appears last night’s cold has done it in.  So I’m posting a picture of chickweed that I took the other day that shows wood sorrel leaves in the center.

Wood sorrel has three leaflets and looks a little bit like clover.  It has a tart lemony taste that is good anywhere a touch of lemony brightness would be good.  I like it best in salads or chopped small and served as a garnish over a rich soup.  It’s also good with fish dishes.

Lemony-tasting wood sorrel leaves growing in chickweed.  Click to enlarge the photo.

Lemony-tasting wood sorrel leaves growing in chickweed. Click to enlarge the photo.

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