Saturday, April 19, 2014

Field to table

Field garlic oil and salt

Some wild food ideas I've been working on.

Field garlic deviled eggs

Last night's menu looked like this:

Field garlic deviled eggs

Nettle, dock and garlic mustard bruschetta with field garlic olive oil on sourdough 

Sweetfern bourbon-infused chicken liver mousse, with fresh field garlic chutney

Japanese knotweed and field garlic greens vichyssoise

Shawarma-style lamb with mugwort and field garlic

Baked potatoes with field garlic greens salt and butter

Orange and treviso salad with pickled dandelion stems and pickled Japanese knotweed***

Spicebush-scented crème brûlée

(***Late last night after we'd done the dishes and were on our way to bed, I discovered the enormous platter of forgotten salad on the large bedroom table where I'd left it to stay cool...)

 Field garlic chutney on sweetfern chicken liver mousse

Spicebush-scented sugar, for crème brûlée

It is a pretty, sunshining Saturday. Outside in the early Harlem afternoon (the sun has just reached the terrace) my alarm bird is calling - a white-throated sparrow. It sounds exactly like the calm alarm on my phone. 

Today I will garden, and tomorrow I will forage some more.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Birds, boules and bruschetta

On Thursday the housefinches sat unafraid in the sour cherry in the sun.

Inside, two boules rose.

And dock (Rumex) and nettles were cleaned, for this evening's bruschetta, with friends.

The loaves baked at 500'F and sang as they cooled. 

Around them the humans tried not to break, and then had supper: bread with cheese.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A wild spring walk, after snow

I crunched to the subway on a layer of ice. It had rained, then snowed, then frozen in the night. In the woods the snow still lay in the lee of trees and logs, where it melted fast when the sun touched it.

The Dicentra cucullaria had opened and were just lightly battered by the unusual weather.

Below. This is my year of learning (more) trees: buck eye?

Horse chestnut?

Lovely spicebush (Lindera benzoin), everywhere.

The sky above was clear blue.

Precisely one violet had opened.

Robins sang and a woodpecker worked. I saw two joggers and two walkers. And one man, planting things. I wondered about that, for a bit. He did not want to be disturbed.

More day liles than anyone could ever eat, below. They have taken over. No indigenous spring ephemerals up here. 

I braked hard: nettles! And yes, they do sting. A lot.

My old friend jewel weed (the fat seedlings, below) really did help with the stinging. I rubbed my hands till they were green. And then it stopped. Placebo?

I rounded the wide corner and there was the mighty Hudson. It was much colder on this side.

My collection, unpacked at home. To be worked on, today.

Clockwise from L: field garlic (Allium vineale), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), 1 lurking dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum/Fallopia japonica), dock (Rumex sp), and nettles (Urtica dioica). The flowers are lesser celandine (Ficaria verna).

All invasive plants, bar the nettles.

The menu for a dinner tomorrow night will employ all of these vegetables, bar the lesser celendine. It is still evolving (the menu, I mean), starting with today's batch of sourdough boules, which will contribute to some wild greens bruschetta, tomorrow. I suppose a field garlic boule is a bit much?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April thinks it's March

127th Street. Just before the SNOW of last night. 

If you're looking for me today, I'll be in the woods. Dressed warmly.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Life and death on the Harlem terrace

It's official.

It is no more.

After seven years of New York winters the fig must have gasped its last sometime in January or February. At one point, in the snow that buried the Harlem terrace this winter, it was alive. I know, because I scratched its bark and it was green. But then I discovered a split at its base, and perhaps that is what did it in. I can't be sure how that happened. I know a massive icicle dislodged from the darn leaking gutter two floors up, and hit it, but I am not certain that that would have caused this low split. And this winter was the coldest I can remember.


I am sad, of course. But not as sad as I had expected to be. The fig seemed to symbolize what was special about the tiny Brooklyn  terrace. When we moved here everything was suddenly off balance, and not quite what we had expected, and maybe it seemed fitting that the poor fig tree died.

The cut wood smelled like fresh fig leaves. That was a bit difficult. I saved the wood for a fire, to perfume something for a supper.

(Of the fig cuttings I took, one seems to have survived. We shall see.)

There has been another loss: the Iceberg. Also trapped underneath that leaking gutter, and entombed in ice. I think I bought it from the Texas Rose Emporium in about 2004.

The end of an era.

In better news, I planted lily bulbs from the wonderful Lily Garden, who included two free bonus bulbs in their order (it was a bonus Silk Road, years ago, that led to me ordering so many more, subsequently), and hand written warnings on labels to warn of the tender shoots emerging inside (you break them and you lose your flowers for the year). And this despite the fact that I had not paid them! I had forgotten to call in my credit card number. The Lily Garden is a small but impeccable outfit in the Pacific Northwest and does things the old school way - one can't order online (even though their catalogue is very good, online), and I don't fax. So I email my orders with a promise to call in the payment details. And I forgot. They just included a hand written note to say what I owed.

Their bulbs are very healthy and large, and the care excellent.

Not so, Brent and Becky's. Less wonderful. $15 for a lily bulb smaller than a quarter (Lilium canadense - hard to find, anywhere). Not impressed. And several of my Lilium longiflorum had lost their shoots in transit. The Uvullaria seemed healthy, as did the Gloriosa lilies. But I will never order lilies from them again. This happened some years ago, with Formosa lilies (tiny!) and I should not have tried again.

Also: the fava beans have emerged, the chives look green and juicy, and the blueberry is covered with buds.

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