Ingredients seek dish…

There have been a couple ingredients that have been languishing around here, causing me all kinds of guilt. One was a bowl of porcini mushrooms (King Boletes) that we foraged out near Leavenworth when we went camping a week or two ago. I owe you a post about those, by the way. The other was bok choi that’s been ready for at least a month in the garden, and was starting to flower.

Finally today, we woke up to a bit of rain after a string of 8o° days, and inspiration hit. I decided to make some mushroom and bok choi miso soup with rice noodles for lunch. It hit the spot, used some food up, and the kids even ate it.


The elusive morel

Last year was the first time I went morel mushroom hunting, and Jared and I did OK for a first try. Over Memorial Day weekend this year, I decided to head out east to a clearcut off 97 between Cle Elum and Leavenworth (which is as close as you’ll get from me, unless you’re a blood relation, in which case I might tell you which Green Trails map it’s on. And this is for a pretty mediocre patch).

With 2 kids in tow, I was only hoping to find a few and leave it at that. Which is exactly what happened. I found exactly 15 morels. Which I was pretty happy with. The sausage leek mushroom pie was delicious, but maybe not worth all the time and gas it took to track them down.


Of raspberries and morning glory and… kittens

I went outside last night to take a look at how the garden was doing, and I noticed a funny leaf in with the raspberries. We’ve been battling morning glory in the yard forever, and it keeps popping up everywhere, especially in quiet neglected corners. I started to follow the vine down to the bottom of the raspberry thicket (which really it an applicable word; it’s a jungle in there) when I heard a little hiss and saw a black and white ball of fur. Hanging out in a raised bed of raspberries was a little kitten, probably just a couple weeks old. Apparently leaving your baby in a raspberry patch is the cat equivalent of floating your baby down a river in a reed basket.

Free Kitten. Loves to garden.

This was not entirely a surprise. There were kittens born under our porch last year that we tried to lure out (without any luck) and now they are roaming the neighborhood with their feral mother. They don’t really belong to anyone, though the neighbor lady feeds them, and at one point tried to tell us that when we bought the house, the cat came with it (which we ignored).

Until now. Baby cats are invading our shores. The onslaught must be stopped. So if you want an adorable cat, let us know. Before Hannah informs us that this foster placement has moved to adoption (dan@theurbanfarmersalmanac.com).


Baking with Weeds

Yes, weeds in the plural, dandelions to be specific. Hannah and I were out on an errand, and I was telling her about a recipe for dandelion bread that I had just read about (in Langdon Cook’s foraging book Fat of the Land – anybody seeing a trend here? However I can guarantee I won’t be diving down to the bottom of Puget Sound to spear lingcod anytime soon.) Of course she was delighted by the idea of cooking with flowers, so we kept our eyes out for a good patch. We found some huge dandelions out beside a sketchy Chinese restaurant and filled the only vessel we had handy – mom’s hat.

Back in the kitchen, the process of picking the yellow petals from the flower head was a bit tedious, but got easier as I refined my technique. I needed to get a full cup of them, which was no small feat, and Hannah lost interest pretty early on in the project. The bread was a basic quickbread, and the dandelions only seemed to add color (though a lovely color it was), and apparently also a ridiculous amount of vitamins. The flavor was pretty plain, and next time, I’d add some cinnamon, or maybe lemon zest. Fortunately we had some tasty lemon curd from the Bent family pantry, and it made the perfect accompaniment.

I’m also thinking that dandelion petals could go into pancakes or scones just to sneak in a little extra nutrition and interest from the kids, but only when I have an extra half hour to kill. The recipe is after the break.



Finding Fiddlehead Ferns

I have a favorite route home when I’m coming south on I-5 that is not the fastest way to get here. It involves getting off a couple miles early and taking a winding road through Interlaken Park, which is down the hill from our old apartment. I have very vivid memories of riding my bike through the park our first fall back in Seattle, listening to the new Iron and Wine album on my iPod, and heading off to teach color theory at SPU.

I was taking the same route home the other day, and the road through was blocked off. Something strange came over me, and instead of taking the detour, I parked the car and hopped out to take a look around, wondering if there had been a big landslide. I also had an ulterior motive in the back of my mind – I’ve been reading Langdon Cook’s book about foraging around Seattle called “Fat of the Land” (I know, another blogger with a book that I’m obsessed with), and I’m on the lookout for a nettle patch. As I was walking around, I didn’t find any nettles, but another topic from his book came to mind. Fiddlehead ferns. After a little investigation, I figured out what types of ferns produced fiddleheads and which didn’t, and after that, it was easy to find them.

I took a couple heads from each newly blooming fern (do ferns bloom?), because apparently if you take them all, well, there won’t be a fern there next year, and gathered a handful. Tonight I got around to cooking them up (blanched for a couple minutes, then sauteed in butter), and they were nice and tasty, kind of like asparagus, and apparently full of beta carotene. Plus, I had a little bit of nettle pesto left over from Zack and family’s recent visit mixed into some homemade pasta from the other night to pile them on. Not to brag.

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