I have this thing for weeds. I really like being able to eat them. I don’t know why. Maybe it appeals to my scrappy nature because they grow so easily that its truely like free food. Or maybe it appeals to my inner nutritionist because of all those extra antioxidents they carry to defend themselves. Or maybe it makes me feel like a pioneer in making do with what you have. But I like them. When I was my older sons age and in preschool our teacher would take us through her wilderness like backyard on exploritory walks and she would find the minors lettuce and let us eat it. Ever since then I never pass a grove of minors lettuce without picking some and enjoying it’s fresh taste.
So imagine my delight when I found out that our biggest weed bully, purslane, was edible. Purslane only comes out when the weather heats up and then it comes out with abundance, taking over every last inch that it can penetrate. Its one of the most common weeds in the world and I’ve heard that the one growing in our neck of the woods (or valley should I say) is called golden purslane. I like to eat it earlier in the spring when it’s taste is light and lemony. I find that as the plant matures it takes on a kind of soapy taste. It has high levels of iron and Omega 3s. And in Turkey they make a stew out of it. As soon as I read that recipe, I took our salad spinner basket (our favorite harvesting basket) and headed out to pick some. The recipe calls for 2 pounds of purslane and after picking a half basket full, I was only at half a pound. So you can really get rid of some weeds this way.
I washed it well followed the recipe, made the yogurt garlic sauce to go with, Scott poached a few eggs to go with and we had ourselves an incredible Sunday dinner. Really, it’s worth trying. And if you don’t have purslane where you live you can easily substitute spinach.
Purslane Stew Served with Yogurt and Garlic Sauce
from Classical Turkish Cooking
2 lbs. purslane
3 T. butter
1 c. chopped onion
1/4 lb. ground lamb or beef
1 tomato, chopped
1 c. stock or water
1/4 c. uncooked rice
salt & pepper
Heat butter in a large heavy pan and cook onions until lightly brown. Add meat and cook until it browns. Add tomato and cook for a minute longer. Then add purslane, cover the pot and let cook for about 10 minutes until the leave wilt. Stir in the stock or water, bring to a boil and add the rice. Season to your taste, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Serve with Yogurt Garlic Sauce (2 cups of plain yogurt mixed with 2 t. crushed garlic, salt and pepper mixed together).
So were we, so we grew some:
Really now? Do we really need to be having this 100+ degree weather already? This is coming from a couple who dream of summer days getting to a maximum of 80 degrees. You know it’s going to be a toasty day when you open up the doors and windows of your 85 degree house at 7am and the air outside is not much cooler. Days like this are a tough one for the garden, but at least good for air drying laundry.
The cherries that we tried so desperately to save from a huge flock of cedar waxwings that decended on us last Friday are now a deep dark burgandy. It seems like last week they were just blooms, but already it’s been two months! How quickly time flies. It is wonderful to taste our first fruit of the season. Last year the birds for some reason let us have every last cherry on our tree and we made tarts and pies and we canned jars and jars of jam. This year they left us with only enough to eat, which is just fine. We have plenty of last years jam. The below photo is a cherry tart I made last Mothers Day from Mario’s book, it was incredible.
I noticed our first pea on the vine. Last year we were also bombarded with peas. I spend a lot of afternoons pureeing them into Charlie’s first food. This year, not so much. Maybe we planted too late?
The hardneck garlic is ready for picking and drying. We stopped watering it because we noticed that one started to rot.
We also ate our fill in artichokes last night. Even our three year old has demanded his own artichoke, eating not only the leaves and the heart but the stem too. Our three year old is the defination of a locovore. The only, and I mean only time he eats vegetables is if he sees them coming from our garden. Not a green veggie has passed by his lips all winter until last week when we picked our first spinach salad, then he kept asking for more. Hopefully his little body gets all he needs during these summer months because once winter comes he won’t touch anything green. Each winter I get worried that he’s not eating any vegetables but Scott keeps reassuring me that he’ll get his fill once summer comes.
So I’ve just finished my fifth (!) book about food. Really now, five in a row! Someone please hand me a piece of fluffy fiction! First it was The Omnivore’s Dilemma, then Heat, then Tender at the Bone, then Animal Vegetable Miracle and now In Defense of Food. All of them were fantastic reads and I’d recommend every last one of them. And each one has altered the way I buy food, cook food, or even just think about food. It’s made our grocery shopping trips completely different than what they were two years ago. I mean we’ve always grown much of our own produce and gone to the farmers markets on a regular basis, but I’m guilty of buying the crud when I found a good bargain.
I don’t have to explain my thoughts on food to most of you because I know you, feel much the same as I do and have read many of the same books, so I’ll just share this quote from In Defense of Food that I thought was beautiful:
When you’re cooking with food as alive as this—these gorgeous and semi gorgeous fruits and leaves and flesh—you’re in no danger of mistaking it for a commodity, or a fuel, or a collection of chemical nutrients. No, in the eye of the cook or the gardener or the farmer who grew it, this food reveals itself for what it is: no mere thing but a web of relationships among a great many living beings, some of them human, some not, but each of them dependent on each other, and all of them ultimately rooted in soil and nourished by sunlight. I’m thinking of the relationship between the plants and the soil, between the grower and the plants and animals he or she tends, between the cook and the growers who supply the ingredients, between the cook and the people who will soon come to the table to enjoy the meal. It is a large community to nourish and be nourished by. The cook in the kitchen preparing a meal from plants and animals at the end of this shortest of food chains has a great many things to worry about, but “health” is simply not one of them, because it is given.
I’m going to start with a pretty picture, because what I’m about to show you is ugly. Remember how I wrote up a nice little cheerful post about the good bugs in the garden? Well, what’s below is one that I hope you never see in your garden. And that is scale.
I don’t normally get squeemish about a bug here or there, but when they are in mass, it completely gives me the heebee jeebeeies. I first noticed these little black round guys on my two Chinese lanterns last year, but never did much about them at the time. I read that you should scrap them off, but being that I had just given birth and also had a two year old to contend with, I wanted no part of scraping anything extra off of anything else. So those poor plants when untended to. This year, the scale killed the smallest chinese lantern and seriously did some major damage to the above varigated one. I loved that tall, seven foot beauty, but it and it’s nasty scale had to go. It was completely covered, so I ripped it out.
Unfortunately I waited too long and the dreaded scale moved over to my oak leaf hydrangeas too. Those I did scrape off, the whole while wearing a look of complete disgust on my face, so hopefully it can be saved.
The UC Davis site says: “Populations of some scales can increase dramatically within a few months, such as when honeydew-seeking ants or dusty conditions interfere with scale natural enemies.” As you can see from the photo above, those ants were all over it.
Has anyone else had to deal with scale? Did you remove it successfully?
One frozen ziplock full of last years nectarine slices + Two stalks of this springs Rhubarb + One ziplock full of frozen crisp topping = A quick crisp of backyard fruit for dessert.
Crisp Topping Recipe: (Make extra to keep in the freezer next to frozen fruit for last minute sweettooth cravings)
1 c. flour
6 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
2/3 c. pecans
1 1/2 sticks of cold butter
Mix dry ingredients, cut the butter into it. Sprinkle over pie pan full of fruit and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes.