Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recipe: Grilled Chicken with Foraged Mulberry Chipotle Sauce & Daylilly Buds

As a quick disclaimer, I would like to acknowledge that the idea for this recipe didn't originate with me. I've seen mulberry chipotle sauce posts kicking around the Internet. They appear to originate here.

Though I would usually not post something I didn't come up with on my own, I wanted to put this here since I feel I really did customize it enough to change the ending flavor. The original is a BBQ recipe, and mine is more of a Middle East fusion dish. I changed the proportions, whereas the BBQ dish is very spicy, and primarily a chipotle flavor, this dish balances the sweetness with the heat, and the flavor of the berries takes the forefront. Finally, I served mine with grilled daylilly buds, to make it a more comprehensively foraged dish.

Grilled daylilly buds, white onion, and button mushrooms

As an alternative presentation, which would really push the Middle Eastern element, feel free to cube and kabob the chicken before grilling. Try to use the native American mulberry, or a pink hybrid, as the sauce will have a much more appealingly vibrant color. I used that fruit here, and the result was a fiercely magenta hue which contrasted nicely with the golden rub on the chicken.

I hope you like!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Foraging: Identifying Juneberries (Serviceberries & Shadbush)

Identification difficulty: Beginner

This year, the sheer abundance of berries made them impossible to ignore. For the past 3+ weeks, I have made berry pancakes, berry drinks, various breads and muffins, added berries to frozen banana "ice cream" and even made a sweet and spicy sauce with mulberries and chipotle for chicken. (I'll get around to a mulberry post soon, I promise!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Foraging in a "Life After People" Landscape

The scene above was once a parking that fit 1000 cars, as well as touring buses. It was for an outdoor tourist destination that went out of business in the 1970s. For the past 40-odd years, the forest has slowly been reclaiming its own.

Edible milkweed and unripe raspberries
Life pushes its way up through weakened seams in the concrete; decades of growth creating an organic maze of grasses, shrubs, and even small trees. After even a few yards, the waves of greenery cut off the entrance of the former lot, and it's easy to feel completely isolated even though a picnic area and a major road lie within a mile. Subtle breezes bear the fragrance of wild roses and honeysuckle.

For the forager, these alleyways of pavement are like the aisles of a somewhat chaotic supermarket; stroll down one gathering clover, another for thistles, and a third will be bursting with raspberries in a month. All along the perimeter, rows of milkweed stand guard, three or more rows deep. In between them more raspberries, and bull, milk and sow thistles wait to snag the forager who ventures to gather the milkweed buds. 

Foraged Simple Milkweed Bud Stir-Fry Recipe

After a long day of being in the sun, hiking around foraging, I usually don't want to spend hours prepping an elaborate dinner. A quick stir-fry can be the perfect solution. Straightforward ingredients, simple, carefully chosen spices, and an exotic, wild element produce a memorable meal, one that comes together in about 30 minutes--and all in one pot!.

Milkweed buds are a great wild food source. They are generally abundant, incredibly easy to gather, and are part of a plant that will produce one vegetable after another over the course of several months. (Shoots in the early spring, buds and flowers in the early summer, and pods during the height of summer.)