Thursday, June 23, 2011

Delightful Summer Starter!

I've been so obsessed with foraging lately that my garden (in its infant stages) is losing some of its luster.  Don't get me wrong, I'm loving how the garden is taking off right now.  Its just hard to be patient for each thing to mature.  I definitely don't like waiting.  While I wait for the bounty that my garden will provide eventually...I've started to open my eyes to what nature is already those who know what to look for....and when.

I look around me and see the supermarket at our door steps now.  The cattail is something I've always seen in the landscape but rarely do they ever make it to my plate...ok never have they made it to my plate.  I read an article about them in Outdoors Canada magazine.  It was the Food Special Edition called "The Best of Living Off the Land" October 2009.  The article talked about what you could do but was lacking in pictures.  I need a visual to help me through the process.  Thats when I discovered The 3 Foragers blog!  See below for the link to their cat tail post:

Best pics ever!

Then they went and posted this video of their outing with Blanche Derby.  It made me wish we had a Blanche Derby around these parts.  Then I figured I might as well become the local Blanche.  Why not?

FYI Verona, Ontario is host to the 2nd annual Cattail festival and hopefully I can wow them with my recipe further on down the post!

Its the time of year for picking cattails, but its also a great intro to the season of purslane.  I first heard of eating pursland from Brigitte Mars.  Her video shows her in the garden and pointing it out, but alas, no recipes.  Turns out we're regular purslane farmers and didn't know you could eat this stuff!  They grow in abundance in our garden patches and we've been weeding it out every year. 

Here is Brigitte Mars talking about purslane, Ghandi's favorite food:

I showed my darling husband the cattail posts...the next thing I knew he was bringing home a bunch of the male cattail flowers!!!  He also harvested the tender shoots at the base of the plant.  Then he had a basket in the garden and was grabbing purslane leaves.  The result was an amazing summer breakfast-for-dinner affair!

A shot of the whole brilliant meal

Sunny-side up Dill eggs, Cattail on the cob, Tomato, Onion & Cattail shoot salad on purslane with whole wheat toast

I'll break this down for you:

Sunny Side up Dill eggs with fresh dill from the baby herb garden.  Just another reason why we're seriously contemplating raising hens in our shed....

Cattail on the Cob is what I'm going to call this from now on.  You take the male part of the flower before it has pollenated the female part (which eventually puffs out and becomes the brown part we all identify with cattails).  You simmer in water for a few minutes then brush with butter and sprinkle on salt just like corn on the cob!  Strange but true.

Close up on the cattail on the cob

Eats just like corn on the cob!

Don't eat the stem...

Tomato, Onion and Cattail shoot salad served on purslane is a wonderful fresh salad.  The cattail shoot are like artichoke hearts...tender and soft.  They taste like a strange hybrid of cucumber and celery with a cucumber texture.  If you can't bite through it easily, you'll need to peel off a few layers and try another bite.  I chopped up 2 tomatoes, not even 1 half of an onion, a dozen or so cattail shoots, fresh cilantro from the garden then added a tbsp of veg oil, a half a lid of white vinegar, a full lid of lemon juice and fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.  It was like a fresh tomato-cuke salad but way better!  The purslane adds a peppery taste to the mix.  Like you added hot spinach or something.  A very interesting twist on the usual fare.  We would definitely have this again...perhaps as a side to fresh caught fish? 

The salad that rocked!

All dressed up with purslane and ready for eating! 
 A great resource for purslane recipes is the link below:

I look at the swamps and my garden with eyes wide open now.  It's amazing what you can find, when you train your eyes.  You can literally find food ANYWHERE!  Its a very liberating feeling.


  1. Great combinations with one of our favorites! Your season may be a week or two off of ours, but enjoy it while it lasts. Karen

  2. hey, I've read about purslane and funny enough got a free seed pack, really nutritious stuff! for a while there we just couldn't deal with all of our dandelions, but perspectives change when you look at what once was perceived as annoying weeds and look at such to be an abundance of healthy food!!!