Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dolmas with Wild Grape Leaves

The figs just started fruiting and as usual I was there to greet them!

A few days later on a successful bass outing I spied some wild grape vines and got thinking. 

Abalone with her bass (she chased it around the creek gnashing her teeth)
Here in northern California, wild grapes grow in such abundance that they will actually cover and kill large trees who cannot compete for vital sun to photosynthesize. As a result I am happy to use the grape vines for material, eat the fruit, and eat the leaves. 

Wild grapes beginning to out-compete some cottonwoods
I can assure you, the leaves of the wild grape are far from unappetizing...they are in fact delicious!
I gathered up a few making sure to select the tender new growth (late spring/early summer is the best time for tender leaves). I was also careful to only gather leaves about the size of my palm (much larger and they're too tough, much smaller and there is simply not enough).

Then after a few minutes blanching in boiling water, the leaves are allowed to cool and are filled with a delicious mix of rice, ground meat, olive oil, and spices.
One simply needs to roll them up like "cigars" and a Greek feast is in the works!

These dolmas were delicious! I will certainly return to the grape patch for more.
Well, the mulberry flush is over, but I tasted some of the first blackberries of the season yesterday. So get out there gathering, head out hunting, and always strive to keep the old ways alive!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Prime Plum Jam

My absolute favorite plum is the Santa Rosa variety. The sweet red-fleshed fruit is balanced by a tart purple skin that makes for a delicious combination!
Every year I look forward to the plum harvest. However, last year I was so caught up with finals week that I completely missed a plum tree right down the block from me. By the time I found it, hundreds of plums lay rotten on the street. I vowed to return the following season and ask the tenants for permission to make use of these delectable fruit.
On a walk with my dog the other day we rounded the corner and I saw we were just days away from a full-on flush of perfect ripe plums. I knocked on the door and asked politely and low and behold, the owner (Sven) told me to "pick as many plums as you want!"
You don't have to tell me twice for the message to get across!
I returned with my dog, a picker, and my friends Nick and Kate and we picked two bags full.

Afterwards we set to work cooking down some plum jam. My grandfather made jam from his Santa Rosa plums every year. Now when I cook the recipe I am reminded of him and the flavor brings me back to being a kid.

Well, I just spied a wild grape vine while bass fishing at the creek. Though the grapes are not near ripe, I have plans for the leaves. I will keep you posted.
Keep the old ways alive!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Apricot Jam Once Again

I have been pretty busy lately but I managed to get out for a half an hour the other day and gathered up a hat full of apricots!

The fruit this year is so sweet and juicy!

I brought my harvest home and cooked it down with sugar and made a small batch of incredible jam.

This is a short report as I have to get back to the books.

After finals week I will need a break...and nothing beats foraging as a way to relax! I will keep you posted.

Keep the old ways alive!