Edibles from the woods


Oh how we suffered not so long ago  from a winter that never seemed to come to an end. Suddenly  almost overnight all came alive! My daily walks in the woods over ice and snow shifted fast. White is now  replaced by a burst of  greens.  Edible greens!

IMG_0013Mustard garlic tops, wild garlic and fiddleheads’. You know those fern tops one sporadically sees served with fish.  I harvested fiddleheads before the frond had opened and reached its full height. You have to cut them close to the ground. Fiddleheads have antioxidant activity, are a source of omega-3  and omega- 6 fatty acids, and are high in iron and fiber. Certain varieties of fiddleheads have been shown to be  carcinogenic according to Wikipedia.

Garlic Mustard Greens are so abundant one can make lots of meals form the leaves.The leaves contain natural anti-freezes that lower the freezing point of water for those that need to thaw out a frozen toe.  Caution: Never put garlic mustard leaves into a car radiator. It’s not that kind of anti-freeze says some wise man. Better to make a Pesto out of it. Or sauté them quick like  you would spinach.

The garlic tops for now I use instead of chives and toss them in a salad. I am also experimenting making a garlic oil out of those. Not all comes from the woods. Though I am adding one more find here.

Chaga mushroom.  chaga( king of plants or diamond of the forest!) oh yeah.I copy a short version of its benefits : Concentrating this powder, chaga contains numerous B vitamins, flavonoids, phenols, minerals, and enzymes. It is also one of the world’s densest sources of pantothenic acid, and this vitamin is needed by the adrenal glands as well as digestive organs. It also contains riboflavin and niacin in significant amounts.

Besides foraging  the woods I also start creating all season  menus for http://www.Hamhouse.com in Tivoli  where I am the preferred caterer. In the making are  healthy wholesome, detox and healing organic menus for the newly opened spa at Ham house.  It is quite a special place. Right up my alley.

At Ham house I also cater weddings for the summer season. Now that I have joined the Rhinebeck Community garden I started growing  all my vegetables from seed. Here  too I base my menus on garden pickings. The plot is big and the happy seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed bank are fun to watch come up. The workshops and info the Hudson Valley Seed bank provides make gardening easy. The  community garden soil is organic and the fertilizer comes from horse and cow if you know what I mean.

And there’s more that keeps me busy at Ham house and beyond. When there are no weddings or yoga retreats there are weekend guests. Then the menu change to family style. My house dressings  made from last season’s herbs and berries now make their way in.If it comes from the earth in a healthy organic way I will make sure it ends up on your table the way it should be!

And then there is a dilemma. On a walk by the river I find people fishing. What you got I ask? Herring…. Herring up here? I tell the guys I eat herring  raw and they give me this look.. Is she for  real? Well now I really  wonder if I am but that is what we do in Holland. I wonder too if that herring is the same as the North Sea one.  I inspect and it sure looks like it. The guys  are not parting with them herrings anyway so no way to find out.  I get a speed lesson on how the catch them. Real easy! They are used  for bate. Oh what a pity. Bate to catch striped bass migrating up or down? the Hudson towards  the Atlantic. While I  watch one of the guys catches a 17 lb fish in front of my eyes.  They tell me I can have a fish next time. Oh it is tempting  to accept it but I look at that Hudson River  and wonder. The warning reads no more than one fish meal from the lower Hudson River a month. Why is it we have to worry if we are being polluted, poisoned or fooled when it comes to the food chain.

I shall return to the woods and my vegetable garden with joy this summer and leave the fish for another day.

esopus ligh-house on the hudson River

The view from a fishermans eye.

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This entry was posted in Fresh Vegtables, Meat/Poultry/Fish, Mushrooms and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Edibles from the woods

  1. Ani Danelz says:

    Wow that all looks great! I just had my first foraging adventure yesterday and it was amazing! I collected a ton of dandelion greens and a few fiddleheads. I went home and made a delicious dandelion green huevos rancheros (more about my hunt and the recipe on my blog!) Any tips for a novice forager in the midwest of the US?

    • Annemarie says:

      Hi Ani, So fun to hear of foragers in the making like my self. There is a foraging society in the mid west though I am not sure on any details. Here on the East coast I learn from friends trial. Will check out your recipe on your blog! Annemarie

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