The Un-Harvest Party
On a small farm, a “harvest party” can sometimes eat into the market share too much… what do you do if you’re a foodie on a budget? Jason Young says, our guest blogger, says “go forage!” Below is a meal he sent me from his Harvest Party, and it sounds scrumptious. Hopefully you can go forage in your backyard and have an “un-harvest” party…
Edible weeds play perfectly into the hands of health-conscious foodies on a budget. Often, there is nothing at all inferior about culinary weeds. Their “opportunistic” nature as deeply-rooted pioneer plants make them able to tap much deeper into the soil than many other garden plants, making these highly nutritious, maybe medicinal, and often delicious! Why harvest only what you planted?
Lamb’s Quarter Quiche: Luckily on our farm, Willow’s Bend, a 3-year old three-acre sustainable micro-farm, one such edible weed, Lamb’s Quarter, was allowed to consume our compost pile, growing to have a good foot even on me. Chock full of tender tips with a flavor and nutrition rivaling spinach, Lamb’s Quarter (raw or cooked), works well as the perfect centerpiece for my party. 8 cups of it reduced nicely in the skillet, and this late in July, it also seemed to be much more forgiving than most weeds I’ve tried in terms of bitterness. The quiche gave me a chance to show off our new beautiful blue Ameraucana chicken eggs!
Jerusalem Artichokes/ Sunchokes One of the most intriguing alterna-food finds I stumbled upon this summer was with the “Jerusalem Artichokes,” more formerly called “Sunchokes.” My first encounter with Alisa’s beloved Jerusalem artichokes begged a little forgiveness on their part and hers (I unwittingly attacked them with a machete on a weed-slaying rampage). She later explained them to me as a native and hardy species of sunflowers, where I later read about their edible potato/ginger-like tubers being nutritious and nutty in flavor (they store just like potatoes too). Unfortunately, these were understandably stunted, but we harvested a couple handfuls to try raw or roasted on the fire.
Wassail & Cinnamon Roasted Apples Who said drinking had to be wholly unhealthy? Wassail, the caroler’s classic of old made a beautiful and nutritious “jungle juice” tasting quite a bit like warm apple cider. This concoction is just perfect for incorporating the tart flavor of Alisa’s untended wormy cooking apples. The good slices of ten small apples were baked in tinfoil packets with cinnamon on the bonfire and added to our drink, along with quality orange and apple juice, spices…etc. and spiked hard with a handle of vodka.
Blackberry & Lemon leaf tea/ Lavender and Vanilla sun tea
For added quirkiness, I made a few varieties of Sunteas in Alisa’s old economy wine bottles set ontop of the hot well house. The Blackberry leaves and Lavender were wildly abundant and easy to harvest. Because random google searches is what I do, I discovered blackberry leaves are in fact not only edible, but high in Vitamin C, and are said to be medicinal to women for menstrual pains. My guests and the internet agreed: it really did resemble green tea in every way. The lavender tea I made for kicks, mostly to dump on my body in the shower if nothing else. In all I had set four wine bottles of teas on the table outside, and to my gaping horror the next morning almost all of it was gone!