Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thimbleberry Shake

Wow, August went by very quickly.  This beautiful purple color above comes from this years thimble berries (aka blackberries.)  Also incuded was  almond milk, chia seeds, possibly half an avocado to make a creamier texture, and a little honey or maple syrup if you like a sweeter shake. The  latest addition to fruit shakes is a tablespoon or so of Tropical Traditions coconut cream concentrate, for a little extra sweetness and creaminess also.  The earlier season black raspberries (aka black caps) picked a little unripe are still delicious, but a little tart.  Thimble berries picked when fully ripe are delicious also, but if picked before their time are REALLY tart!  I remind myself when picking, walk by faith, not by sight:  God will bring good out of even bad situations in our lives, as we love Him, and love and care for His children. We only see what's happening this moment, not the full picture that is unfolding.  Off the track a bit-  the thimble berries may look ripe, but unless they fall off from the slightest touch, they aren't ripe yet.
There are two different kinds of plants: ones with thorns, and the newer thornless varieties.  On the traditional plants, the thorns are extremely hard and sharp, but the flavor of the berries is worth it.  They also tolerate the cold temperatures here in western New York State well.  The thornless variety has a flavor I don't personally care for, but others don't notice a difference, and still others prefer them.  They are wonderful to maintain and pick though, but the canes don't survive the winter quite as well.  We lose between 20 and 100% of the canes each year here. A few years back, after several years in a row of total cane loss,  I stood in front of that patch and said, "if there is no fruit next year I'm digging you up and planting blueberries here."  The next summer we had a good crop.  Talking to your plants does work!  (I'm sure we just had a milder winter finally.)  I confess, I do talk to the plants sometime while weeding, in a nicer way.  And then there was the conversations with the chipmunk a couple years ago who was causing so much trouble and even built a den under the garden between the bigger veggies.  He (or she) would pop out of the hole and look at me weeding.  I would chastise him for eating my veggies and remind him there were many other things to eat elsewhere.  He sat up, looked at me, and in a rather unpleasant tone scolded me for being in HIS garden!  We had this exchange several times that summer!
The variety with thorns we grow is Illini.  The thornless variety is Triple Crown.  I recommend trying the actual berries you choose to plant if at all possible.
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sauted Lambs Quarters

When I tasted Lamb's Quarters for the first time this past fall I was an immediate fan.  They taste like spinach but heartier.  This spring and summer I have left the ones growing around the garden to get big enough to eat.  One in particular was a good three feet tall and a couple feet wide before removing the leaves.  The more mature leaves have a stronger, but good flavor eaten raw, and delicious steamed with fresh garlic, drizzled with a little xv olive oil and whole salt, as shown in the photo above.  The leaves are denser and drier than spinach, causing considerably less shrinkage when cooked. The young ones are a nice addition to salads, or for a quick snack when working outside.
Going wild can be delicious, but please remember to only eat wild plants you can identify with 100% assurance.
Happy foraging!