Category Archives: Wild Edibles

The young princes

AuguDSC_4393Are all mushrooms with a veil poisonous? When I saw the fist sized mushrooms developing next to our compost, I thought this could not be edible. The two tops on the left side of the picture became almost 5 inches in diameter. Especially beautiful are their dropped and almost intact veils. A veil, albeit not as complete is normal for this kind of mushroom, plus a wonderful sweet scent, almost like marzipan or anise. The underside gills are pinkish or brownish, the spore print is dark and the mushroom society confirmed that it is indeed Agaricus Augustus, a relative of the champignon. Also named ‘the prince mushrooms,’ they indeed look majestic with their white culottes. Eat them for example sauteed with onions.
Mushrooms have good and bad look alikes, I recommend never to eat without consulting with a mycologist or experienced guide.

Shrooming weather

PicklesDSC_3846Monday, we had a Spring Flood.  When I went down to the train, I took an umbrella, in less than 10 minutes, the rain turned into a flood, water was shooting down Maple Avenue and left me wading to the station. I was wet up to my knees. Within 3 minutes we watched water filling the tracks, luckily it did not rise to the platform, the trains were in time. At Grand Central, people all looked dry and outside was just a little drizzle. How do you explain the wet suburbian-rat look?

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Mighty green Midgets

EmpanadDSC_3699

Our CSA delivery has just started and we are loaded. This year we are sharing on a bi-montly schedule with a nice neighbor. Easier sharing, provided you have a big fridge. A good way to work leafy greens of all kind is steaming them and then fold them into empanadas with butternut squash as a sweet component. We like little ones and whole wheat dough, which I haven’t seen ready-made yet; so we made our own dough, which is a little more work, but you will be rewarded with easy to handle, handsome dough. Our newest tool is a tortilla press, which helps turning doughballs into small disks. Just some touchup and you can fill them. Better with two person handling… See recipe

Orzo rediscovered

OrizoDSC_3558Warmer days ask for lighter fare. With humid heat around 32˚C the cold and succulent salads are back as a great alternative to warm lunches. Prepared in advance, they are easy to take anywhere and are very filling. Short before our first CSA pickup, salads seem to be harder to come by at Whole Foods. Armed with some watercress and organic chickweed from the garden, we have an even more nutritious alternative here… a new twist on the good old orzo salad. See recipe

Welcome back

OysterDSC_3517Spoonsense is back from a creative break. While involved in a business program plus some family visiting, we did not have much time left for testing new recipes. However, Spoonsense will go on and I’ll try posting at least once weekly while hopefully managing to redo the design. 
Our first gardening attempt in May after a stretch of rain, greeted us with a fine, 600 gram oyster growing on a poplar stump. What a treat! Truly something for my gratitude jar after last year’s home farming efforts. Try in a rice and mushroom sauce either in a blend of mushrooms or just pure fresh oysters. See recipe

Winter ‘shrooms

New York got hit again.  Just one week after Hurricane Sandy, we were hit by a snowstorm; we were lucky this time. With leaves still on the trees, this early snow could break trees when combined with strong winds. Cleaning up after the hurricane, we found small mushroom buttons sticking out of last year’s leaf mulch. I was delighted to have them confirmed as Blewits (Clitocybe or Lepista Nuda). Continue reading

Giganteas

Giant puffballs have been mistaken with sheeps in a meadow. On our morning run, we found this little ‘giant’. Giant puffballs (Calvatia Gigantea) are safer to identify. Smaller puffballs under 10 cm size, may be mistaken for other mushrooms, such as juvenile versions of the destroying angels or stinkhorns. Therefore, determine the species of the mushroom by cutting it in half. Continue reading

Poor man’s Caviar

Oh my; Liverwurst… from early teething, little children in Europe are reared on liverwurst, just the way U.S. children eat peanut butter. There are fine ground, and coarse country styles, some with herbs, onions, even burdock. Call it paté if you want to be more sophisticated or ‘foie gras’, use upscale packaging and maybe rare ingredients, such as truffles… However, it will always be a variation of a childhood memory just as the Ratatouille of Mr. Anton Ego. I was surprised how easy it is to make real good tasting paté without meat. So last week, I made my first coarse country style paté, D’Artagnan’s favorite! Oh, and did I mention the cinnabar chanterelles I put in there? See recipe

Love thy enemies

Just eat them!  Reading the German Wiki for the common Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria), I was surprised how different the view was from the American version a good idea to look over the fence sometimes. Here goutweed is shunned as an aggressive exotic invader, sprayed, banned and hated. Surely, the perennial, with pesky underground rhizomes, gave my family a share of cursing this weed. Little did we know that the plant is a reliable medicinal plant and vegetable that recently celebrated a comeback, at least in modern German cuisine. Continue reading

Battle of the pestos

 

Earth Day weekend paints the town green. NY City exhibits cars, green drinks and alternative snacks, with a party at Javit’s Center, Westchester retreats into volunteer garbage cleanups and weed cutting. And then I thought about eating an invasive weed that day… Traditionally, seven ingredients make an Italian Pesto: fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil, parmigiano and pecorino, garlic and salt. However without sacrificing on flavor, pesto can be done in many different ways with aromatic herbs, without cheese and less oily nuts.

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Wild Eats

Our first outside market had wild spring greens. I found claytonia and nettles. Also in season the first small zucchini squash (courgette). While nettles are widely used in Europe, (especially for a home made spray against aphids), Claytonia perfoliata is new to me. The Western American native plant, is also known as miner’s lettuce or winter purslane, and belongs with purslane to the portulacae. White flowers are surrounded by a round leaf collar. The plant is supposedly easy to grow on sandy and poor or wet soil and might be found on abandoned land. Eat in spring and colder months, as hot temperatures will turn the leaves bitter. See recipe

Getting the B’s and D’s

Mushrooms are a natural source of Vitamin D! I love to eat mushrooms, but was surprised to read how nutritionally beneficial they are. In winter, when building vitamin D is harder with limited daylight, adding mushrooms to your plate is a good idea to fight the winter blues. Mushrooms are also high in B vitamins, and minerals, low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients. Most mushrooms have a high protein content, usually around 20-30% by dry weight. Continue reading

Eat your weeds

You don’t have to forage in public parks anymore for ‘Gourmet Weeds’. Even Union Square market sometimes sells wild edibles, such as Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) a persistent hot weather succulent in summer or the Common Chickweed (Stellaria media), which is one of the first persistent greens after frost. Continue reading

Wild Things

Beech trees start blossoming after 30-50 years of age. A hot and humid summer can produce an abundance of prickly capsules holding the handsome triangular beech nuts. However not every year. As harvest is never reliable and work intense, beech nuts were never used commercially. Readily eaten by man and beast likewise during lean war times, they were roasted to reduce toxic tannins and processed to cooking oil and lamp oil. Continue reading