Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Eating the lawn again

Yes, I’m cooking up stuff normally thought of as landscape weeds. 

There is a lot of plantain in our yard and mostly year round.  In the spring, you can gather the smaller leaves for a salad or cook them like spinach.  The older the leaves get, the tougher they are and they develop several fibrous veins that are pretty much impossible to chew up without looking like a goat eating bailing twine. 

Instead of using the leaves, last week’s dish was young plantain seed stalks (or whatever they are called) and seed heads.  The younger seed stalks were much softer and I could nip them off with my fingernail.  The older seed stalks I snapped off at the bottom and “zipped” off the seeds by running my thumb and forefinger down the stalk and letting the seeds fall to a bowl sitting below.

I boiled up the younger stalks for a few minutes, drained them and then sautéed for a minute in butter & salt. 

They were not my favorite.  I was hoping that the younger part of the plant would not be bitter, but alas, it was.  But that’s fine.  There weren’t nearly as many younger shoots as there were older seed stalks so it’s not like I’d be picking many of them anyhow.

I boiled the plantain seeds for about five minutes, drained, rinsed, then sautéed them with a bit of butter & salt.  They were much more palatable than the younger stalks.  I ate them stand-alone, but they would be good to toss into a soup, or maybe with a rice dish or anything that called for “greens”. 

Sprinkle them here, sprinkle them there, sprinkle those things everywhere!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Yucca Yucca Yummy!

I will readily admit that I am a lazy gardener and that finding any sort of wild edible makes my heat sing (and my stomach growl).  I love the fact that I can just go over there and yank something or other and put it in a pot and have something yummy to eat without having to plant, water, weed or otherwise care for said yummy thing.

This is the view outside my office window…..

Yuccas to the right
No, Fozzie, it's Yucca Yucca Yucca! 
I’ve been looking at those yuccas for five years now.  And just now realized that I could eat them.
They started blooming in early June and I would snack on the flowers back and forth from the car to the office.  I meant to gather more for putting in a salad, but always forget to do so (i.e. lazy).

So now I’ve noticed that the seed pods have formed and I did one of my usual internet searches, “Can I eat this thing?” and came up with enough “Yes” posts that I thought I'd have a go at it. 

I picked one off the stalk and took it into the office, washed it off a bit, plunked it into a coffee cup with water & boiled it for a few minutes.  Drained, salted and proceeded to take a bite.  Not bad!  Kinda like a green bean exterior taste, a wee-bit mucilaginous like okra, and the seeds were still forming so they were soft like okra seeds as well.  On my way to the car after quitting time, I stuffed the remaining ripe pods into my bag and headed home to cook them up as well.

And on my way home, I spied more yucca plants!  I pilfered a few more plants (yes, I had permission!) and added them to my sack.  I bet I had over five pounds of yucca pods.   

Took them home and boiled up a few more, lightly salted & buttered them and proceeded to munch away.  But this time there were some that were over-ripe, at least for eating.
Pod on the left, not good.  Pod on the right, excellent!
Getting too old to eat.  Notice black shells forming on the seeds.
Younger and yummier!
Yummy seed pod showing tough, center thingy.
The ones that started getting black seeds were definitely not worth eating, although I did try my darndest to do so.  You could choke through it, but it was very, very fibrous and the black seed coverings were a bit much to swallow.  There is also a center vein in all of the pods, but I just yanked those out or chewed around them.  Seeing as this is my first time harvesting the seed pods, I will definitely make sure I get to them earlier in the season as to avoid those tougher, more mature seeds.

You can eat the entire pod as is, just kind’a using your teeth to peel the three sections off and leave the stem in your fingers, or I suppose you could just cook them, then separate the sections off and then butter & salt them for a more “normal” looking side dish.  Either way, I’m glad I found out about these and I’m already driving around looking for more yucca bushes for next year’s harvest.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Driveway Garlic

There is a patch of wild garlic up by the front gate.  I pass by it at least twice a day on my way to work.   

I watch it start greening up in the spring, getting taller & taller.  Then the scapes start forming.  Then the scapes are ready to harvest.  Then they are past harvest.  Then the seeds pop out of what could have been a bunch of scapes on my dinner plate.   Because even though I pass that spot every stinking day, I just can’t manage to get my lazy bum out of the car to pick them.

Rhiannon started milking one of our dairy goats last week and accumulated enough milk to make some fresh cheese.  Hmmmm, some fresh basil and garlic would be perfect for an herbed cheese.  I don’t have any garlic in the pantry, but there is that patch up by the gate!  So I schlop my flip-flop wearing behind up the driveway with a trowel in my hand and proceed to dig up some garlic bulbs.  Then disappointment sets in.  They are smaller than I recall, and a bit dry.  Not sure if it’s because all the energy went into making the seed heads (and those lovely scapes I missed picking) or I just need to wait until fall to dig them up.  Regardless, I wanted - no NEEDED - some garlic in that goat cheese.

I plucked a half-dozen seed heads, shoved them in my pocket and flip-flopped my way back down the driveway, snipped several basil leaves from the herb garden and made my way into the kitchen.
Getting the husks off the tiny seed heads wasn’t difficult, but was time consuming.  Or at least took more time that I would have liked.  You know, more time than it would have taken had I properly stocked and stored garlic in the pantry.  But I did what I had to. 

I diced the peeled garlic seeds and added it to the basil and cheese and put it in the fridge for several hours to set up a bit. 

It was divine.  

And all gone.