Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category
I’ve done a lot of plant processing lately involving mason jars — what with my herbal infusion oils and tinctures. So last weekend, when I took my sumac down from the ceiling where I had hung it to dry to make some rhus juice, an idea struck me.
Normally I would either rub the drupes off the bobs to vacuum seal for later, or I would just rub the drupes off the bobs in a bowl full of water to make some juice right off the bat. But as I went through my cupboards to get the stuff out to make some rhus juice, I thought, “What if I just stuff some bobs in a mason jar and then just shake it like crazy?”
So I tried it. And you know what? I liked it. In fact, I highly recommend it.
I also recommend mixing rhus juice with sassafras tea. The blending of the flavors really does a number on your taste buds. Only I can’t decide whether to call it sumacafras or sassamac.
So, go gather some sumac bobs before the drupes lose all their flavor to the rain. Shove them in a mason jar, and fill it with water. Shake it like the proverbial Polaroid picture. Let it set for about 15 minutes to ensure that all the drupes have soaked up some water. And then shake it again before filtering it out through some cloth.
A few years ago, I tried a mojito for the first time at this little burrito chain on the Upper East Side in NYC called Blockheads. They decorate with sock monkeys. It sounds strange, I know. What do sock monkeys have to do with burritos–or blockheads, for that matter? But I digress. The point remains that their mojito tasted amazing! I didn’t know what ingredients they used besides the copious amount of mint floating around in my glass–not just the usual “sprig” for decoration, but an entire stalk.
On almost any path, in virtually everyone’s yard, in the cracks of sidewalks, you will find a strong little plant that not only tastes good, but that can improve your life. We call it plantain.
Just to get us all on the same page, I don’t mean the little bananas that you can fry up (hence the title of this post). I mean the forb with the nutty flavor and distinctive parallel rib veins that you will likely find growing outside of your nearest door or window right now. (No, seriously. Go look.)
As I walked past a part of the little creek that flows by my house, I saw two lonely cattails growing on the bank. I smiled to myself to know that a little stand of cattails had started growing so close to my home. I felt tempted to eat them, but I wanted them to thrive. But as I looked over the little plants, I suddenly realized that one of them had already formed its flowers, and the male flower had already gone to pollen. “Oh, wow!” I thought to myself, “We have almost reached the Summer Solstice: time for gathering cattail flowers and pollen.” The next day, a friend called me wanting to go foraging, and I told her that she had called at a perfect time.
Continued from Part Two: Getting to Know You
The underground part of the cattail has remained a mystery to me for quite some time. It is reported to be very starchy and a good source of wintertime calories. Euell Gibbons‘ proclamation of the cattail as “The Supermarket of the Swamps” in Stalking the Wild Asparagus likely has to do with the fact that you can find something edible or useful from this plant in the winter months as well as the usual spring and summer foraging seasons.
Wildman Steve Brill essentially dismisses the underground parts of the plant when he recounts his experiment in harvesting the rhizomes and processing the starch from them. He states that “the digging and cleaning is so much work, I’d have to be starving in the winter to bother.”