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blacbird
05-14-2012, 06:47 AM
I am tonight fixing a simple pasta alfredo with tuna and a couple of seasonal wild greens that are ubiquitous up here in Alaska. At least one, and probably both, of these extend well down the northwest coast of North America, at least as far south as Oregon. And they are fabulously edible and nutritious.

1. Fireweed. The sprouts of this plant (the official flower of Yukon territory) come up in early spring, and are wine-red. The mature plant produces a prolific spike of heliotrope-purple flowers and can cover a landscape with these in July-August. The sprouts, picked at 1-2" in height, they are soft, lemony and excellent, either raw in salads or cooked. They turn green when cooked, but no matter. This plant is a member of the evening primrose family, and has good nutritional value. If you cook it, add it to whatever you are cooking very late, as it cooks quickly.

2. Chickweed. This plant is the major bane of gardeners where I live, an admirable organism which is proof of God's evolutionary powers. It grows like kudzu, can completely take over a garden in a couple of weeks, if not dealt with, and the seeds remain viable in the soil for 600 years, by studies I've read. You can't get rid of it and you can't avoid it, if you garden up here.

But you can eat it. That's my revenge. The thing is a member of the chenopod family, a close relative of spinach. And is an excellent green, raw or cooked, in much the same manner as the fireweed sprouts. I actually it grow in a corner of the garden, just like any other vegetable. The leaves are thin and small, at best not much larger than your thumbnail, but they'll be there in the thousands.

3. A third, not yet emergent in my garden: Lamb's-quarters. This oddly-named weed is not a North American native, but is naturalized just about everywhere on the continent. It isn't much of a garden pest, as it grows as individual, non-spreading upright plants. I usually let some of these grow in my garden as well. The leaves are spade-shaped and not shiny. It also is a chenopod, and can be used much like spinach. Raw, the leaves have a nice lightly nutty flavor that goes very well in salads. I've made Florentine cheese sauces for pasta using them, and it works really well.

I'll start a thread on wild mushroms later this summer, when they become seasonal.

caw

backslashbaby
05-14-2012, 07:15 AM
I've wanted to try lamb's quarters. I don't know that I've seen it growing around here.

We have a green that we find near the woods that's called creasy greens :) That was my mom's favorite! It's seasonal, I believe.

I want to eat some of those fiddlehead ferns that I think are a far northern thing. I may have had them in Indian food, but I'm not sure those are what those were.

sunandshadow
05-14-2012, 11:57 AM
That's cool. My favorite wild green around here is wood sorrel, tastes so nice and sour/sweet, except eating it in large amounts can cause health problems. It's fine as a snack or garnish though.

blacbird
05-15-2012, 08:17 AM
That's cool. My favorite wild green around here is wood sorrel, tastes so nice and sour/sweet, except eating it in large amounts can cause health problems. It's fine as a snack or garnish though.

I actually grow sorrel. It's perennial, and three or four plants are all you'll ever need. You are correct, it is sour/sweet, and the flavor is very pronounced. A leaf or two, chopped fine, goes really well in a salad with sweeter greens like lettuce and spinach. More would overwhelm.

For backslash: fiddlehead ferns are nothing more than the early curled fern sprouts, which they are only a inch or two high. The best fern for this use, that I'm aware of, is something called "ostrich fern", because at maturity it resembles a big ostrich feather. The reason it works well is that it doesn't have a lot of brown coating fragments attached, which makes it easy to clean.

But don't eat bigger ferns. Almost all, when they become mature, are both fibrous and tough, and many are carcinogenic.

Some information on lamb's quarters:

http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/cropprot/weedguid/lambsqua.htm

caw

backslashbaby
05-15-2012, 10:07 PM
...
For backslash: fiddlehead ferns are nothing more than the early curled fern sprouts, which they are only a inch or two high. The best fern for this use, that I'm aware of, is something called "ostrich fern", because at maturity it resembles a big ostrich feather. The reason it works well is that it doesn't have a lot of brown coating fragments attached, which makes it easy to clean.

But don't eat bigger ferns. Almost all, when they become mature, are both fibrous and tough, and many are carcinogenic.

Some information on lamb's quarters:

http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/cropprot/weedguid/lambsqua.htm

caw

I could grow them here, then! So cool. I have ferns for sure (evergreen ones), but I'll want to grab some ostrich ferns.

Kerosene
05-15-2012, 10:11 PM
There are only scrap out in the desert where I live.


I remember living in oregon and being able to pick my dinner from out around my house. Maybe a little from the garden too.

Ken
05-16-2012, 02:37 AM
... neat. I like spinach. So that last one you mention would probably be to my liking.

PorterStarrByrd
05-16-2012, 02:52 AM
Sounds good .. used to take advantage of those when I lived in Oregon.
Lots of nice mushrooms there and here. Just finished with morrels (or at leas a variety of them.

Should be seeing lot of different ones real soon ...

Love idea of shariing info on both foraging and edible landscaping. I kind of go by the philosophy that if I feed them, they should feed me.

blacbird
05-18-2012, 08:25 AM
An additional note on northwestern fireweed: There are actually two species, a tall upright one that can get to be five or six feet high, with a stalk of flowers at the top, and a smaller, spreading one, found along roadsides and gravelly stream beds. Both have flowers of the purply heliotrope color, and the entire plant is edible, although at maturity, the stems and leaves are coarse and tough. Native peoples used the peeled pith of the taller plant stems as food, however; I haven't tried that.

But the flower petals actually are a great garnish for a salad. They have no flavor, but are nutritious, and look spectacular sprinkled on top of a salad. They are ridiculously abundant up here in summer, and I saw huge ditchfuls of them when driving around British Columbia a couple of years ago.

Rarely, white-flowered varieties occur. And there are relatives in the Rocky Mountain region of the lower 48 states with yellow flowers, as i understand.

Fun to pay attention to.

caw

sunandshadow
05-22-2012, 07:07 AM
Hmm, now I'm wondering if I can safely make a liqueur out of the wood sorrel or use it to flavor a hard cider or mead...

blacbird
06-21-2012, 09:12 AM
Hmm, now I'm wondering if I can safely make a liqueur out of the wood sorrel or use it to flavor a hard cider or mead...

I think that would be very sour and nasty, frankly. Sorrel is quite strongly flavored, and not at all sweet. Think of it as something like arugula (which I love) on steroids, with a metallic flavor mixed in. Like I said, it's nice in small amounts mixed with other greens in salads. I've seen recipes that use it, chopped very fine, as a garnish with baked fish; I think I'll try that this summer.

Tonight I fixed a simple meatball stroganoff thing over noodles, and popped in it a pile of chickweed leaves. Much like spinach, and quite excellent. Could be used for cheesy florentine sauces as well. As long as the crap is going to grow in my garden, for free, I'll gleefully make use of it.

caw

BunnyMaz
06-21-2012, 04:06 PM
Do you guys get gorse bushes near you? If so, you can make a great liqueur with that. Pick about 3-4 cups of the flowers and cram them into a bottle of vodka, add a vanilla pod and leave for about a week or two.

Remove the flowers after that week and you'll have a bright yellow, coconut-scented vodka liqueur. It's really tasty.

mccardey
06-21-2012, 04:11 PM
On my first morning here, a local woman took me for a walk to see the neighbourhood, during which she kept stopping to pick local plants on the side of the tracks. We got along very well, and after the walk she came back to my place and we made a salad of all the gleanings; salad greens, wild thyme, wild leek, god-knows-what-else and the gorgeously named pisse-au-lit (wet-the-bed) diuretic - young dandelion.

Great with local cheese and red wine. :)

It's gone on like that ever since - last week it was wild cherries and wild plums and last night I made a sauce to go with the duck of - wild cherries and wild plums.

*sigh*

I heart France :)

blacbird
06-27-2012, 10:13 AM
Sorrel is quite strongly flavored, and not at all sweet. . . . I've seen recipes that use it, chopped very fine, as a garnish with baked fish; I think I'll try that this summer.

Update: I did use it a couple of nights ago, as mentioned in the What's for Dinner thread. took one big leaf, and some clippings of chervil, cilantro and dill, chopped all very fine, and melted butter with this stuff in it, to brush on grilled salmon. Was fabulous. Recommend very highly.

caw