Monday, August 30, 2010
Foraging New England's Wild Greens
I found a wonderful book last year, "Foraging New England," by Tom Seymour. Bit by bit, I have been trying to learn to identify our edible wild plants. Please be sure you have identified a plant correctly before serving it to your family! The one pictured above is purslane. It came to America with early European settlers. If you have a vegetable garden you have probably met this valuable and nutritious invader, and you have probably thrown it away! To prepare it, snip the ends of the stems, the most tender part. Rinse very thoroughly, since this plant sprawls right on the dirt. Chop into inch long pieces, boil or steam, and serve with butter, salt and pepper. It also has medicinal uses. The sticky juice of the crushed stems and leaves can be rubbed on stings, burns, and bites, like aloe juice!
The next plant is lamb's quarters, another European colonial import. According to Seymour, it is a wonderful early green in the garden, and later in the summer, when lamb's quarters is about a foot high, you can harvest a great quantity. All but the thickest part of the stem is nice for eating, and it is good eating all summer long. You can steam or boil it. My little boy gobbled it the very first time I served him some.
Last weekend my niece and my son were playing on the beach. My son told me that my niece was "foraging" for him on the beach. My son was plating the "food" he had made. He has watched his big brother the chef and his big sister the pastry baker do this many times. He put a rock on an upside-down frisbee. He arranged seaweed, pebbles, sand, and shells on the food in a beautiful way. Our children are watching and listening.