Archive for April, 2009

Elm Samaras & Knotweed Soup

This past Saturday I led a foraging tour for Green Edge NYC. It was a gorgeous day, more early summer than spring-like. Along with all the usual suspects (garlic mustard, Aegopodium, plantain, chickweed, and other guaranteed-to-be-there wildlings), we found redbud flowers that taste like green beans, and Japanese knotweed. Here I am holding up a small burdock leaf (they get huge later in the season) and teaching some foraging ID skills:

And here’s one of me with a handful of mixed chickweed and mugwort that were growing together in the park lawn:

If you think that backpack looks heavy, you’re right, it was. I was carting around a gallon of chilled Japanese knotweed soup to serve as a wild edibles tasting at the end of the tour.

We also spotted lots of Amelanchier in flower. They should be covered with fruit for my next Green Edge foraging tour in June (the common name for this shrub, Juneberry, is a tip off to when you can expect to collect the fruit).If you want to see an absolutely gorgeous photo of Amelanchier, check out my friend and fellow forager Ellen Zachos’ blog (by the way, Ellen was with me when I collected the knotweed for the soup. It’s an annual expedition we make every April. She’ll be turning her knotweed harvest into wine, and if I’m lucky I’ll get to drink some when it’s ready).

The dandelions were in their full spring flush of blossoms.

If you want to try the dandelion wine recipe in my book, now is the time to collect the flowers since for the rest of the year they will only spot occasional blooms.

On the way home from the foraging event, I stopped at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket.

I was thrilled to see asparagus from South Jersey, the first of the season, and brought a bunch home with me.

Also on the way home, I found some of the elm samaras I’d hoped to share on the foraging tour (we didn’t find any on the tour. Oh well.) I lightly steamed and salted them and served them that night to a dinner guest as an edamame-like appetizer, only better.

On a different note, a couple of plugs for events coming up this week that you might be interested in. On Weds. 29th I’ll be doing a book reading/signing and hosting a discussion on local foods (this is your chance to pick my brains in person with questions about being a locavore in NYC!). The event is at the Ti Lounge at 459 West 15th Street, Weds. April 29th 7:15 p.m.

On Sat. May 2nd, I’m hosting the Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays book club program. The discussion this time will be about Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, as well as other aspects of the local/sustainable food movement. Details about the event are here.

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Foraging Tour on Saturday

If you’re in the NYC area, please join me for a foraging tour I’m leading for Green Edge NYC this Saturday, April 25th in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. You can register here. We’ll be meeting by the gazebo at the Grand Army Plaza entrance to the park (right near the 2 and 3 subway lines) at 9:45 a.m. At this time of year I’m expecting we’ll find lots of edible wild greens, flowers, and shoots, as well as some root vegetables and wild seasonings. I’ll be including a tasting of some chilled Japanese Knotweed soup!

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Interview with Locavore Leda Meredith

Taste of Local just published an interview about my local foods diet. It includes one of the most fun to answer questions I’ve been asked yet in an interview: “What superpowers would the comic book character ‘Locavore’ have?” (along with more serious questions). You can read the full interview here.

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Hops Shoots & Wild Salad

Last night, following a recipe suggestion in one of Elizabeth David’s books, I tried a vegetable that was new to me: hops shoots.

hop shoots

I boiled them until tender and then tossed them with a little butter. I didn’t want to get fancy with it because the first time I taste something I like to, well, taste it. The hops shoots were excellent, with a succulent texture and mild but intriguing taste. Since my hops vines have threatened to take over the area where they’re planted, I’m glad to find another use for them besides waiting for the late summer strobiles (”flowers”) for beer.

I also had a salad with some wildlings from the garden: dandelion, garlic mustard, and violet greens. The harvesting season is definitely here even though the first domesticated crops (and my CSA share!) are still a couple of months away.

Today I went to the farmers’ market at Grand Army Plaza. Not much new to report. I’m still waiting for the first asparagus and strawberries from South Jersey. I’m pretty much over apples until the fall.

I’m revamping my garden in a locavore-ish way. Since I get so many vegetables from my CSA share, it doesn’t really make sense to plant greens, snap beans, or summer squash, so I’m skipping those this year. I will plant a few cucumbers because I need really tiny, 2-inch no longer, ones to make cornichons. And I’ll do a few tomatoes because you can never have too many of those, especially if you’re drying and canning some. But my main beds are now dedicated to edible perennials.

In one of my sunnier beds, I’ve now got horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, daylilies (yes, they’re edible), raspberries, asparagus, and various herbs. The shade in my shadiest bed is created by two tall elderberries that produced copious fruit last year. In between them I’ve got mayapple, ostrich fern, wild ginger, lemon balm, and I’ve just ordered some ramps (wild leeks) seeds that I’m planning to add to that edible shade bed.

It’s good to be back to the gardening, foraging, and fresh eating.

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Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith

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