Acorns are a forgotten food. What was once a vital component of hunter gatherer people, is now simply a festive fall decoration, or worse, a nut that scatterers across well kept yards, pissing off folks trying hard to keep their lawns pristine.
Come June, there is one vegetable that I look forward to eating in abundance and that's milkweed. Although technically not a vegetable, milkweed's chunky flowers are a satiating and delicious treat.
Asclepias syriaca or common milkweed is a versatile plant in which just about every part of the plant, depending on the season, has a use. In the spring, young shoots can be harvested, blanched, then treated like broccoli. The flowers again, once blanched, can be cooked in a variety of ways. Towards the fall young pods can be prepared similar to okra and once the mature stalk dries out in the late fall, can be used as fiber.
This simple side dish merges the flavors of the Mediterranean with one of my favorite spring vegetables, the fiddlehead fern. Having guests over, I felt this would be the perfect side to accompany my yearly tradition of making nettle falafels. Along with cucumber raita, this combined for a glorious spring dinner, shared with loved ones under a clear spring sky.
In 80% of the worlds nations, bugs and insects are consumed on a daily basis. But here in the United States, entomophagy is more of a taboo subject, then a normal practice. Humans eating insects dates back to prehistoric times. But what makes Americans so disturbed at a seemingly normal choice of food?
When any of the 4 seasons provide a bounty of food, I make a solid effort to put some up for the remainder of the year. The practice of canning has allowed me to enjoy a variety of foods beyond their "season" and into the warmer, or colder months of the year. Learning how to preserve food through canning methods has quickly become one my most reliable techniques for long term storage and food security.
Our lawn has become a sea of dandelions. Their vibrant yellow flowers dance in unison to the cool spring breeze. We are certainly overdue for cutting the lawn, but until i force myself to do so, we will keep enjoying the nutritious wild foods that have emerged from the ground. This past weekend, while hosting some close friends, we enjoyed a few wild food feasts. I whipped up a tasty fried dandelion flower dish that was perfectly paired with some aged fermented tomato salsa.
It's mid May here in Maine, so many wild foods including nettle's, are in abundance. This of course, means it's gnocchi season! Although making pasta from scratch seems a bit daunting, it is quite easy to do and the end results will yield a much more delicious end product then anything can come from a box. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is highly regarded in herbalism for it nutritive properties.
This time last year, Camille and I were enjoying a bounty of freshly harvested wild foods, including Japanese Knot weed, nettle, fiddlehead ferns, and ramps. Whenever possible, these delicious wild foods make up as much of our diet is possible, for their nutritional profile is superior to that of their domestic counterparts. Paired with Maine caught wild seafoods, this is a meal I could eat nearly every day.
One of my favorite qualities of cast iron pans is the ability to cook on the stove top then easily transfer into the oven for the remainder of the cooking time. The recipe below shows how easily one can create a nourishing meal using fresh, seasonal recipes, with ingredients found from local sources. After a few minutes on the burner, the pan is transferred in the oven to slowly cook the potatoes and fresh sausage.