Monday, July 25, 2011

Forager's delight

A bout with bronchitis has laid me low and unable to go afield in search of wild plants. Fortunately, my garden has begun to produce beans, chard and summer squash, all favorites of mine.

Also, some garden “weeds” remain, having been purposely spared in order that I might harvest them upon maturity. One of these, purslane, is welcome indeed. This requires but little energy (something I am in short supply of at the moment) to pick…just grab and lift from the loose, garden soil. And if an entire plant comes up roots and all, what of it? Purslane self-seeds readily, so that’s not really a problem. Once established, always present.

Along with purslane and garden vegetables, trout in my pond have reached an acceptable size to harvest. These 9- to 10-inch brook trout are of a perfect length to fit in a frying pan. Also, they are just big and fat enough that one trout satisfies me.

So times are good. This is what we Mainers wait for all winter long. But make no mistake…the seasons continue to change, although it takes a bit of sleuthing to notice it. For instance, goldenrod has acquired its trademark golden hue. A few colored leaves drop from red maples and boneset has begun to bloom. These are all signs of approaching fall.

So while we revel in summer and its comfort and warmth, just remember that the “times they are a-changing.” But for now, enjoy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July Is Day-Lily Month

Daylilies, Hemerocallis fulva, rank high on the list of delicious, wild treats available to foragers in July.

A day-lily blossom, as the plant’s common name suggests, last only one day. But not to worry – tomorrow, the plant will produce a blush of new flowers to take the place of yesterday’s spent ones. Both fresh and day-old flowers have uses, as do the unopened flower buds.

Pick and dry the old blossoms for use as a flavoring and thickener for soups and stews. These keep well and add a gourmet touch to any dish. Use the fresh flowers the same as squash or pumpkin blossoms, as a deep-fried treat.

It’s the buds that draw me, though. Cook when yet small and firm and boil until tender, for five minutes or more. These have a texture, at least to my way of thinking, similar to green beans. A slight peppery taste precludes the need for black pepper.

The day-lily season lasts about two weeks, quite long when compared to some of springtime’s ethereal treats. For me, blooming daylilies are a hallmark of summer, the high point of the season. Others, when contemplating the month of July, may think of swimming, picnics and barbeques, hiking or boating. Ask me what comes to mind regarding July and I’ll say, “daylilies.”