Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wildly Edible

Tonight I am, like most food bloggers, taking photos of and reporting my dinner to you. I didn't think it was going to be anything special, as I was just about to boil some pasta when...oooh what about theees and ooh yah..... mmm, hmmmm.... Voilà! I love when these kinds of meals happen, as you can use all sorts of items you forgot you had, and the most exquisite end result is achieved. Paired with a precious Midwestern hard cider I've been sitting on for a few months, I think I've found myself with quite the little bloggable and delicious meal! :)

Spelt angel hair pasta tossed with the remainder of my "herbed buttery spread",
sauté of shallot, dandelion greens, pine nuts and hand foraged (by my very own sister in Wisconsin) Hen of the Woods mushrooms.

Hen of the Woods

"Chicken of the Woods" mushroom- Called so because they grow high up on the trees, and look like hens roostin up in the trees! Cute eh? :)

Every spring and fall my sis goes out pokin through the woods and scores loads (literally buckets) of Morels, Hen of the Woods, "Honeys" (real name?), and a few other varieties that elude me. Even my 93 year old grandma is hooked and goes lookin for the tree'd prizes so she can fry 'em up in butter. Last year Heather (my sis) dried bunches of 'em and sent me a precious ziplock full. I use them so sparingly as to cherish them, but tonight I thought with my bitter dandelion sauté they'd have just enough earthy complexity to balance it all out.
(My hunch was correct).

I feel like I've been kinda spoiled in this lifetime with mushroom foragers in my circle. When I lived up in the fertile territory of the Bay Area the chef at Millennium restaurant where I worked would bring in Porcinis fresh and bright with mustard-yellow gills, still dusty with soil from just being plucked outta the earth. He would find them on his morning mountain bike ride through Marin, and we'd use them on the menu that night. My other dear friend in Berkeley would often also bring over GROCERY bags FULL of Porcinis, Chanterelles and the highly coveted and seducing Candy Cap mushrooms who's maple aroma is so intense it smells like you've converted your kitchen to a sugar shack and have been cookin down maple syrup for days.... I extend my gratitude to these foragers and to the sweet little forest floor dwellers, for they are so varied and delicious! It is of course a skill and art to hunt and pick the right ones!
Not too many people are so bold as to go out and hunt for them,
and even less so cook 'em up and eat their harvest.

Ahh, nature and the delights which you bestow upon us! There are so many exciting options for us all, right outside our door.... dandelions, nettles, lambsquarters, mushrooms, ramps, asparagus, acorns, nuts, berries, herbs... I might just go live in the woods of Wisconsin yet! Acorn flour pancakes with elderberry syrup anyone? :) Yes, please!!

There are many community garden groups or nature clubs with excursions where one can go on walks and pick and eat these delights which grow right under your noses. See if your community offers one! I'm not too sure what grows abundantly in the San Diego area, but I'll have to investigate. If you're curious, check out this guy, "Wildman" Steve Brill. :) He's amazing, and will give you a great intro to dining in the woods or your own backyard even. If you live on the east coast, you could be lucky enough to catch a class with him.

Until next time, may you flourish, be happy and follow your heart!
Happy holiday weekend everyone~

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