Monday, May 21, 2012

Backyard Foraging

The last month has been pretty eventful. Rick and I had two duo gigs; the band had three. We did lots of driving, too. Two weekends in a row we drove four hours down to the Philadelphia area and then home again in one day, getting in around 3:00 a.m. each time. The following week Rick and I drove almost as far, but up into Connecticut instead. All the shows were fantastic. Thankfully, we followed that with two local shows within a half hour of home. Besides performing, my "regular" job has basically come to an end. I was busy busy busy all month designing the last issue of the newspaper I do and I'm just finishing up some loose ends. I've been having a hard time coping with the loss of the job, so to keep me occupied Rick set me up in the copper jewelry business. I had gone outside one day and gotten in his way while he was doing his copper bowls -- and having loads of fun (working with the copper, not getting in his way) -- so he bought me wire, hammers, mini anvils, etc. He was super kind and thoughtful, knowing I was unhappy and worried and needed to keep busy. Anyway, I set my etsy shop up last weekend and sold four shawl pins so far. So, in a bit of shameless self promotion, you can check out my newest endeavor, which, to stay in keeping, I named Cacklin' Hen Designs.

Another noteworthy event this past month was the start of a local farmer's market, just up the street from us. Annalee was approached to participate to sell her handmade soap, so we all go up with her to sell all our handmade items -- Rick's copper bowls and spindles, Erica's crocheted and knit items and hand dyed yarn, and my woodburned boxes and copper jewelry. Annalee's soap is the runaway hit, but it's kind of fun to be up so early every Sunday and interact with the community as they come to shop. I can't wait for the participating farmers to have a bit more produce, though. It's a little too early to have much variety. Then I can shop for whatever we don't grow while I'm there and skip the grocery store.

Rick has our garden planted. We dragged his father (visiting from San Diego) out to the Pumpkin Patch last Friday to buy whatever plants Rick hadn't started indoors. He then spent Saturday planting the garden. It's awesome. I love this time of year when a newly planted garden holds such promise. (Thank you, Rick, for your hard work!) And while we're waiting, we forage on our property. We cook and make salads with dandelion and radish greens (and the radishes, too, of course), and we flavor dishes with the wild garlic growing all over the yard. My herbs are all flourishing, too.

So, I suppose, life is really good and I should quit whining. What more could anyone want than food made from ingredients foraged in your own yard? Rick sent me a link for Wild Garlic Soup by Georgia Pellegrini. She's got great photos of wild garlic and step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the soup. I made a few adjustments since I didn't have fennel or sherry. I also added onion and threw in some greens from our yard, which made it have a bit of an escarole taste. I left some of the vegetables and potatoes unblended so the soup was a bit chunky instead of totally smooth. Rick mashed the chunks in his bowl so the soup was smooth :the way it was meant to be," but I like soup to have something that needs some chewing action. Either way, it's really tasty.

This was my variation. For the original recipe, visit Georgia's site. I always change things around to suit what I have on hand.

Wild Garlic Soup

• 1/2 cup wild garlic, cleaned, green stalk snipped, outer layer peeled, and root removed
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 1 onion, chopped fine
• 2 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
• 1 cup (or more) foraged greens
• 4 cups vegetable stock
• 2 tablespoons + 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 pinch cardamom
• 1 pinch cinnamon
• 1 pinch cayenne
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
• Salt and pepper to taste

1. Blanch the garlic for 3 minutes, then drain and set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the same pot and saute the onion, celery, and garlic until soft and translucent. 
3. Add the potatoes and vegetable stock and simmer until potatoes are tender.
4. Transfer 2/3 of the vegetables to a blender and puree on high for 2-3 minutes. In the last 30 seconds, pour the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil into the blender in a thin steady stream. It will get all nice and creamy.
5. Pour the contents of the blender back into the pot. (Georgia recommends straining it here to remove the woody fibers from the garlic. I skipped this, and probably will again, but there were a few woody fibers in the soup. Oh, well.)
6. Add in the greens. Simmer to wilt. (Add greens earlier if they need more cooking -- but don't blend -- or cook separately and add in here.)
7. Add more water or vegetable stock, if necessary, if too thick.
8. Mix in the cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne, and white wine. Add salt and pepper to taste.


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