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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Food Finding: A Garlic Mustard Spring Omelet

An Earth Day Omelet
 Sure, garlic mustard is an invasive weed, but it is also a nutritious and delicious early green that you can find almost anywhere that you can find grass and other "weeds" growing, and it's FREE!  Our early March "heat streak" in Wisconsin has given many of us locavores unrealistic hopes about taking early adventures to the garden and leaving the freezer behind. With nothing of substance to pick yet, going to get eggs from the chicken coop, garlic mustard from the yard, and herbs from the garden this morning were quite the exciting ventures to pay tribute to Mother Earth on Earth Day.

Spring chives

If you haven't foraged for garlic mustard before, you should know that it is packed with Vitamins A, C, E and some of the B vitamins, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and magnese.   If you're up for picking it, you're in luck because it's everywhere (hence, many considering it an invasive, annoying weed). It has a light garlicky taste and can be eaten raw in an early spring salad or cooked in such wonderfulness as soup, stir-fries, or omelets. 

Here's what it looks like:
One of the garlic mustard patches
 I've heard of many foragers stopping alongside the road to cut a basketful or hiking through forest grounds to look for some.  We're "lucky" enough to have it growing in our own backyard. For all of our local friends, let us know if you want any -- we have quite the abundance and are happy to share.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Berry Blast: Aronia, Honeyberry, Hardy Kiwi, and Elderberry Plantings

Aronia flowers today
Our bees will soon arrive and will they have plenty to pollinate!  An early spring jump-started our annual trip to Jung's Garden Center, and we had pre-ordered 10 aronia plants from Bellbrook Berry Farm in Brooklyn, Wisconsin, so the yard is buzzing with young fruit plants (pun intended).

To start with, we planted one more rhubarb plant. We've planted one every summer minus one since we've resided here, so we're up to four. We find new and exciting recipes for rhubarb every year and never feel we have the adequate amount come springtime, so who knows, maybe we'll end up with a real rhubarb patch in a few years.

Rhubarb, from youngest to oldest

We also added one hardy kiwi plant. One of ours seemed a little weak after snow and cold this winter, so we'll either end up with three like we intended, or get the gift of a fourth. These guys will soon be trellised up poles that lead to a bat house. More to come on that soon.
Our youngest kiwi plant
Sporadically, we bought four elderberry canes. We couldn't help ourselves. On the way to Jung's, I found this recipe, and with spring fever overwhelming both of us, elderberry canes sounded like something we absolutely had to have. Granted, this recipe is written for the elder tree berries, but we figure both should work just fine.
Elderberry canes
Honeyberry plants also caught our eye, so yes, we planted two of those as well. Honeyberry plants can tolerate extremely cold temperatures, and their flavor is often compared to blueberries, which we cannot successfully grow due to our soil. Plus, they are blue, and blue fruits are known super fruits.
Honeyberry plants, wrapped up due to some neighboring feral cats who like to dig these up

8 of the 10 plants
Finally, the aronia....planting aronia was a mission this year. Weekly, we find ourselves ordering fresh juice smoothies with added aronia from the co-op. No one really sells the fruit anywhere other than if you're ordering food to-go. Aronia has caught a lot of buzz lately as a super-fruit because it contains more antioxidants than other super fruits such as blueberries. Plus, aronia grows easily in a variety of conditions ~ from sandy to clay, from cold to warm. Each bush is said to produce between 20 to 30 pounds of fruit annually. And a bonus, the plants are beautiful. In the spring, they flourish with white flowers, and in the fall, they wear a dark crimson. We purchased two-year-old plants, so we'll be picking fruit this fall!

With all of our super fruits, it is just a matter of time before we become super humans, right?