Monday, June 13, 2011

Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album) and Wild Strawberries

Early summer is here! Along with a few crazy hot days and a series of wild thunderstorms, Yub Yub and I have harvested our first garden peas from our garden and strawberries from our strawberry patch. Along with these come fun early summer edibles.

Last week, we went for a foraging ramble with out foraging friend, Arena. Like many foraging treks, it was a bit random. We set out with a general idea of where to go and what we'd like to find and ended up somewhere different picking something different.

Among our finds were some sumac shoots we nibbled on, a nettle patch, and some succulent new wild grape leaves to cook up. We wanted to collect burdock shoots, but we were a bit too early. We gathered a few thistle stalks, but they weren't enough to make a meal from. Our big find was a lovely patch of wild straweberries. We had thought it was a bit early for this, but as Thag hunkered down in a field covered in strawberry plants, he found them--tiny, red, and oh, so sweet. Baby Yub Yub was asleep on his back and as he divvied up his find amongst the three adults, Arena asked, "Aren't you going to save any for the baby?" Neither of us hesitated before saying no. In surprise, she said she would save hers for when the baby awoke. About five minutes later, wake up she did. And I popped a lovely sweet berry into her mouth. Within seconds, she ate all of mine, all of Thag's, and all of Arena's and was asking, "Mama, do you have any more?" Soon we were all hunting for berries just for her and Arena said, "I see why you didn't want to save any. If you did, you wouldn't have gotten any!" Indeed, last year I think I picked a total of ten wild strawberries, and I ate only one! Thag picked more, but he did so when we weren't around!

After the strawberry scramble, we found a large patch of lambs' quarters growing nearby. These are among my favorite edibles. Easy to use. Easy to find. Available all summer. We picked a batch and we use it just like spinach. However, it must be cleaned really, really well. It grows close to the ground and gets dirty easily. In addition, it has a natural coating of a gritty substance that is not terribly palatable. I washed it three times in water and gave it a thorough spin in the lettuce spinner. Then I simply stored it in the fridge, ready for use. This week we have added it to our pasta sauce and cooked it into an omelet. Tomorrow I plan to sautee it with onions before using it to fill calzones.

Happy foraging!

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