As a transplanted Manitoban experiencing her first Nova Scotia spring, I’ve been having an easy time keeping my spirits up through all this rain and fog. Don’t get me wrong – when the sun makes its very short appearances, I get delirious like everyone else – and I still am somewhat worried that the slugs will overtake my garden before I even get a chance to put my tomato plants in the ground.
However, I’m having a lot of fun exploring the unique springtime foods of wild Nova Scotia. On my first day on the job last week, I was sent home with a big bag of freshly foraged fiddleheads from Ray Plourde, our wilderness co-ordinator. (This is what you do for ALL new summer student employees, right?) These were a real treat, but the real fun was when I started foraging in my own yard for edibles.
I had just noticed these spiky plants growing in my yard a week or two ago and then learned on this blog that it was Japanese Knotweed, a highly invasive and (highly delicious) plant that tends to be quite destructive if left unchecked. Clearly, I had two important motivations to get out in the rain and pick this stuff!
The larger the stalk, the easier it is to peel – and you do need to peel this stuff if you don’t want to be chewing on woody pulp. I ended up boiling the smaller, unpeeled stalks for a few minutes, draining off the resulting juice and adding honey for a refreshing lemonade-type tea.
This past weekend, I told my mother-in-law about this concoction and she was horrified that I would consume this stuff. She wasn’t quite convinced that it tasted just like rhubarb – so I served her a surprise dessert for lunch – warm stewed knotweed with brown sugar and cinnamon garnished with a large dollop of vanilla foxhill yogurt. She had to admit it was tasty!
I’ve also been spending a lot of time picking dandelions in my yard and garden. It’s still entertaining and novel to me that I can (occasionally) get the entire plant out by the root. This NEVER happened in the clay soils of Winnipeg!
Last weekend after a long rainy morning hunched over picking weeds, I got inspired to turn a few of the thousands of these dandelions in my yard into lunch. Sauteed in a bit of bacon fat, they were a very yummy garnish to my bratwurst and smoked gouda sandwich. A delicious way to eat the fruit of my back-breaking labour!
Yours in food,