Filed under: Eats | Tags: brining, canning, corning, cucumbers, homemade, jar, pickles, pickling
This past weekend my brother and I did a little pickling with the bumper crop of cucumbers we have grown in our garden this year. We like to keep our pickles pretty simple both in the ingredients and in the process. We skip the whole canning thing and instead opt for refrigerator pickles since we would prefer to eat them in a weeks time not sometime next year. The end result is a crisp half-sour style pickle.
The recipe is pretty simple. Layer in dill and crushed garlic cloves followed by several cucumbers. Build up several layers of the ingredients until you get to the top of the jar and then add a bunch of whole pepper corns, a few table spoons of salt, and then fill the jar up with boiling water. Of course you can also add other spices, with this batch I threw in a few dried cayenne peppers we grew in last summer’s garden for some extra spice. Close the top of the jar and give it a good couple shakes and turns to make sure the salt dissolves well. Then the tough part comes, stick them in the fridge and wait a few days. Start tasting them over the next few days until the reach the desired flavor. You’ll find the longer they sit in the brine the stronger the flavor gets…however chances are they wont be sitting in the brine for that long.
One of my favorite ways to prepare greens during these warm months is on the grill. The smokiness from the fire is a flavor you can’t get when the skillet is on your range top. After you have finished cooking your meats on the grill remove it entirely so you can get at the coals. Take a cast iron skillet and put it right on top of your coals which should still have plenty of heat to cook up some greens.
Let the skillet get nice and hot then throw in some smoked bacon. Let that cook awhile and get nice and crispy before adding any greens. As for the greens themselves and what you should use you really can’t go wrong. I happened to have a lot of leftover kale and mustards from our spring garden this year so I took what was left and put it in the pan.
You’ll want to start with what seems like an obscene amount of greens because as they cook they will reduce in size. Start by filling the pan up and continually stirring until the cook down a bit and then repeat. You will probably looks a few pieces to the fire during the cooking process but consider it a small sacrifice for some of the best greens you will ever eat.
Filed under: Eats, Wilderness Heroes | Tags: Euell Gibbons, foraging, Stalking the Good Life, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, wild food
“Now is the time to stop writing about nature and get out into it. It is the season for research and exploration, a time of taking in, not putting out, and I revel in it.”
- Euell Gibbons, Spring, Spring, Spring!
The Spring Equinox may still be a few days away, but around here the season changed weeks ago. Spring has sprung. Spring is the best season for gathering wild foods, and while there may be many experts and many book on the subject if you have any inclination to consider gathering wild things to eat this spring then you should probably consider Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons. A seminal piece of writing on the subject, the book discusses not just how to search and collect wild asparagus but a whole range of other things to eat.
An avid outdoor man, naturalist, and forager, Gibbons wrote articles for both for National Geographic and Organic Gardening and Farming magazines. He is widely considered the father of the wild food movement and while his books are informative as he continued to write his writing became a bit more philosophical then instructive. Anyways it is spring and you probably shouldn’t actually be reading you should gathering wild ramps by a stream somewhere, but but if you need some information and inspiration on the matter Gibbons is your guy.
Filed under: Architecture, Eats | Tags: greenhouse, Lynchburg Grows, virginia
I had the opportunity the other day to visit a pretty amazing non profit operation in Lynchburg Virginia. Several years ago Lynchburg Grows took over 9 historic green houses from the city of Lynchburg. The green houses which were once used to grow roses for almost a century were transformed into organic vegetable beds. The urban farm now provides food to the city schools along with education opportunities for youth.
Its a pretty impressive operation already but with plans to establish a fruit orchard and an aquaponics system with tilapia it should be an even more amazing place. For the whole story check them out.
Filed under: Eats, Travel | Tags: A Frame, Berkshire mountains, blueberries
The Wildwood was lucky to spend sometime last week up in the Berkshire mountains at a friends family house there. The house itself is an A-Frame style home built in the mid 50′s, affectionately known as “The Tent.” It was a restful week and well needed.
We spent alot of time swimming and walking in the woods however between beers we picked from the many blueberry bushes on the property surrounding the house. It must have been a bumper crop year for blueberries in the North East because even when you thought a whole bush had been picked-over there were always more picking to be done.
Blueberries by the handful, blueberry pancakes, blueberry pie, all were enjoyed.
When you plant zucchini plants in the spring one thing is certain, you will have more zucchini then you know what to do with. However planting your own also means you get to harvest the blossoms which are very edible and pretty hard to come by unless you grow your own.
Its important to try to avoid picking the female flowers, as these are the ones that will actually grow into zucchini, you can pick the male ones freely, and some flowers the plant doesnt need it just drops. Dont worry about picking to many flowers, the plant produces many more then it does zucchini, and even if you do pick a few to many you are still bound to have a bountiful amount of zukes.
Cut the flowers down one side of the blossom and spread them open. Give them a dip in some simple batter a la Marcella Hazan, and fry them in a bit of oil. Add a little salt on after they are done and enjoy.
Filed under: Craft, Eats | Tags: churnning butter, Foxfire, The Foxfire Book
To churn your own butter you need a 4-5 gallon stoneware jar with a wooden lid and a dasher. Fill it half way, or slightly over half, full with rich milk which should mostly be cream. And then get to churning the cream with that dasher you made from an old broom stick.
To pass the time you can try chanting this traditional chant said in time to the up and down movements of that dasher. When the butter gathers adequately, remove, rinse, and and some salt. Let it chill in the icebox before spreading on some toast. * As seen and described in The Foxfire Book by Eliot Wigginton.
In our family there is one Thanksgiving tradition that has always been consistent, even the years spent as vegetarians, and that is a smoked turkey. Honestly I cant remember ever having anything but a smoked turkey for the holiday. As with other smoked meats described on WildWood before, you want to make sure you give you bird a good long soak in an cold brine over night, and while you’re at it make sure those beers get a icy bath as well.
Very early the next morning pull that bird out of its brine bath and rinse it off and dry it. After that rub it with a dry rub. For turkey, and Thanksgiving for that matter, I lay off the chili powder and go with a lot of paprika and garlic powder.
After getting that rub on, get it on the smoker cause its gonna take all day to get that bird ready for the meal. For smoke I stick with Apple wood primarily with a few other chunks of hickory.
Smoke it for roughly 1/2 hour per pound but use a thermometer to be sure. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.
Because many of you enjoyed the chickens, I thought I would continue to share with you my meat smoking exploits. Over the long Memorial Day weekend I had the opportunity to smoke a brisket with my father, the man who taught me everything I know about smoking. In the end it turned out alright, a little dry, brisket is probably one of the toughest cuts of meat to smoke.
Whereas with the chickens which I smoked on a smoker, the brisket we did the on the grill with the indirect method. Make sure to rub up the brisket the night before with whatever you are using for a rub.
Push all the coals over to one side of the grill and put you meat on the opposite side, add some mesquite or hickory and let it go for at least 4 hours. Some say you should wrap it mid way with foil and baste it…maybe I should try that next time.
Filed under: Eats | Tags: barbecue, barbeque, BBQ, smoked chicken, smoking meat
With warm weather comes the frequent ability to cook quantities of meat over an open flame and during this past warm weekend I did just that. My favorite technique for this, as taught to me by my father, is not simply cooking meat over flame but rather bathing it in smoke.
Now I am no barbecue pit master, in fact I keep it pretty simple. I like to use apple wood and a bit of mesquite mixed in for a slightly stronger smoke flavor. For the chickens themselves, I go with an overnight brining and then a homemade dry rub.
And because one has to go through a bit more trouble to smoke meat, you can’t simply smoke a chicken, rather you must smoke chickens. And allow them to take a long nap in that smoker for about 4 hours, remove and enjoy with lots of beer.