Before we get to what’s cooking I want to express my deepest gratitude to our Gather Patreons. Thanks to you we are nearing our funding goal of $1,000.00 and so I’ve been starting to lay the groundwork for the seasonal e-cookbooks I’ve promised y’all. And while I’m wildly grateful and excited to be having such fun, I’m also experiencing a few organizational challenges. Because wild food is just so…seasonal!
Gathering what nature gives us in time makes it very difficult to create recipes in advance – like you need to do for a cookbook. And while I may wish to have flowery edition of sweet treats ready for spring celebrations, well, how to create it without the florals?
The problem is what I’m cooking up now will only be useful for next year – because by the time I’ve compiled the recipes the season is done! No point releasing an e-cookbook on the glory of spring greens when they’ve died back in the heat of the coming summer. Which means I’ve been preoccupied with creating and testing as many dishes as time allows, and not everything works out as planned!
Take for example my recent experiments/plans which involved working with wild greens and the very first plum blossoms of the season. Plans changed quickly with the arrival of unexpected family visitors – and a sudden thick blanket of snow. And while I’d been out foraging that morning in a spring landscape, it was now a cold winter evening with guests to feed.
I had planned to try out two non gluten wild onion flatbreads with a spring green pesto for the cookbook, but that was put aside. I went with a heartier warming supper of wild green dumplings and roast chicken (with lemon and garlic) instead.
Luckily I’d harvested and washed my greens in the morning and so they were ready for chopping. Improvising, I added a cup of roughly diced greens to the dough for the flatbreads (one with a great deal of parmesan cheese and the other more “nan” like). Then mixing these two doughs together I made about two dozen dumplings.
These I baked for about 30 minutes and then pan fried to a crispy brown. The result was so successful I could barely get in a photograph! Relatives pinched them away when my back was turned and when it was time to put the dumplings in for a final basting with the roast chicken there were hardly any left.
I added some last minute potatoes but it was the last few wild green dumplings that were the first to go. These were extolled by my brother in law as “truly superb” – and for someone who is highly suspicious of the weeds I serve at dinner this is high praise indeed. Problem is, now I can’t remember the exact measurements I used, so I need to go back to drawing board to recreate them. So no recipe here yet!
For the incredibly beautiful and spring scented first plum blossoms (see other recipes here and here) I had envisioned a honey posset – but possets need to set overnight. So I decided to add some gelatin to the posset and try a Plum Blossom Honey Panna Cotta instead (which only take a few hours to set). I had plunged my blossoms into whipping cream earlier in the day (to infuse the cream with their flavour) but sadly had to strain them out earlier than the minimum of 24 hours (necessary for maximum flavour). I had guests who wanted dessert tonight!
But then in the cooking, I added a little too much lemon overwhelming the plum blossom, as well as a little too much gelatin. And although it was far from a perfect Panna Cotta it was very tasty anyways, much enjoyed with many lip smacks by the husband.
And while it inspired a lot of pretty pictures, it will take some more work before it is cookbook worthy. And I still want to make the Plum Blossom Posset!
Last week I also attempted my hand at Staghorn Sumac Sour Gummy Bears. The staghorn sumac seeds came from my pantry where I’ve been hoarding the crimson lemony cones all winter. I’ve been reading a lot about the amazing properties of malic acid to stimulate metabolism, increase energy, as well as improve mental clarity – and sumac is loaded with it.
I took about a cup of seeds and infused them in a large mason jar of water overnight. In the morning I strained the seeds and used this “juice” for my gummies. But these didn’t work out as planned either, turning instead to wobbly Staghorn Sumac Jellies – probably not enough gelatin this time.
But the colour and gorgeous tart flavour (a result of it’s malic & citric acids) definitely came through. So do I fine tune the recipe for jellies or go back and figure out the Gummy Bears? I love, love, love floral gums and sour candy, so I’m NOT going to give up on this one!
So it looks like the Gather cookbooks are still far away on the drawing board. But I’m going to start sharing these experiments with the Gather Patreons who signed up for Cookbook Rewards ($5.00 & above). As we move through each season I’d love to hear which dishes you like – and which you’d like to see first up as your Patreon Cookbook previews. It’s my goal to get a few finished recipes out to you before each season is over! And it would be sooo helpful to get your input as I craft the final products – after all, these cookbooks are for you!
Today the snow is almost melted, so I’m back out gathering. There are baby nettles, new dandelions, tangy wood sorrel, garlic mustard, bittercress (tastes just like arugula), tender miner’s lettuce, and sweet smelling violets, primroses and gorse blossoms to choose from. And I’ve got plans!