A Foraged Dinner
I came home tonight after a large lunch, thinking about a warm, light dinner of crockpot chicken stock with miso and chives… and discovered, in my pile of unread RSS feeds, that Sustainable Eats, in conjunction with Fat of the Land and some of your other favorite foraging blogs, is running a challenge during the month of May. My mission, which of course I chose to accept: Prepare a meal where the main ingredients are all wild and/or foraged.
The most challenging part of this challenge? Our oven is broken. But still – nothing makes me greedy like the chance to win free mushroom plugs.
Despite Langdon’s insistence that late May is a great time to be a forager, I’ve found myself stuck in late spring/early summer doldrums more years than not. Wild greens have grown past their tender youths, but the nocino-stage walnuts and earliest osoberries are still many weeks off. Chasing spring up the mountains, or digging for clams by the sea*, are both Serious Excursions when you don’t have a car. Were the oven working I would wander into the yard for some broad-leaf dock, moneyplant silques, and dandelion greens to saute in sesame oil, but none of those things are all that tasty raw. I’m just sort of moping around until my oven is fixed and the black locust trees blossom.
Whine, whine, whine. The more productive thing to do is go foraging in the refrigerator:
- Nettle soup from the freezer, with moneyplant and chive flowers for garnish. I’ve settled on a signature nettle soup formulation involving caramelized fennel bulbs and a splash of akvavit.
- Pickled Japanese knotweed – sure enough, another few weeks in the brine really did improve the flavor! It’s still a bit salty but it doesn’t taste angry anymore. Or else this is just proof that everything tastes better if you eat it from a small rectangular dish.
- 1 1/2 oz. pineappleweed liqueuer, 1 1/2 oz. rowanberry infused vodka, dash orange bitters, 1 drop black pepper extract, orange twist. I think it deserves a name but I don’t know what to call it. (This is why I will never be a real mixologist, I can never think of good names for my cocktails.)
- (Not shown – I decided I was still hungry after the soup) PBJ with oregon-grape/blackberry jam.
- (Also not shown) A bit of Douglas fir simple syrup with soda.
I’m not sure if the PBJ is cheating on the “main ingredient” criterion – but really, given the constraints of making a foraged meal with minimal forethought and no stove, I think this turned out pretty well. Score one for mindless habitual food preservation!
And that rowanberry/pineappleweed combo is a revelation. I had been trying to figure out how to add the last some’n-some’n to a combination of pineappleweed liqueur, vanilla-heavy whiskey, orange peel, and black pepper… basil was close, coriander bitters was closer, but everything was just a little too sweet to be the cigar or else you couldn’t taste the pineappleweed. The tart/bitter rowanberry cuts through the sweetness without masking the pineappleweed flavor. Sadly, that was the last of the liqueur so I won’t be able to fart around with different combinations of bitters & minor flavors for another month or so, when the pineappleweed blooms again.
*Did I mention that we tried to dig up some geoducks during the Supermoon? We failed. The ‘ducks were out there but we totally failed to locate the shows. But there were plenty of littlenecks and oysters further up the beach, so all was not lost. Proptip, bring along some mignonette in a tupperware container so you can eat oysters on the half-shell right on the beach.