Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Forage from your own front yard

Foraging in both urban and rural settings has been, and seems to be again, a popular way to find food "from the wild." I haven't practiced this much (yet), but what I do do is find and eat unlikely food from my own front yard. I have two examples for you today. But first, the poultry word of the day.
Chicken or hen scratch: unreadable or ugly handwriting.

Garlic scapes

Here are the scapes still on the plant.
Garlic scapes are that curly "whip" that grows up the stem of hardneck garlic. Softneck garlic does not have this whip, and I recently learned that most commercial garlic found in the grocery store is softneck precisely because growers don't have to deal with the scape.

"Deal with?" you ask. If the scape is not removed, the plant will put lots of energy into developing a seed pod at the end, thus leaving less energy for the underground crown which is what we like to eat. Removing the scape not only helps develop a larger crown of garlic, it's also tasty.

This year I harvested at least 90 scapes. We've already started chopping them into salads and sauteing with asparagus. If I get time, I want to try to pickle a jar of them. If you haven't snapped yours off yet, it's time to get them, and then eat them!

















Lambsquarters

This "weed" grows in our orchard, probably came in with the compost or the hay mulch we used last year. But I'm not complaining - we eat this early summer green raw while weeding, and cooked as a side dish. Our favorite way to prepare it is to steam with a bit of oil and vinegar. Think wilted spinach, except free, and very organic ;)

Close up of lambsquarters leaf so you can identify it. The leaf underside has an interesting white powder; it's one sure way to identify this plant in your garden.

Dinner guest

Tonight while eating on our lambsquarters and garlic scapes on our front porch, this little one hopped in and started helping itself to clover. Jay remarked that we've probably created a bunny haven; no dogs and lots of clover. But as long as they don't eat any of the shrubs, they're keeping the clover to a manageable roar.