Monday, January 18, 2016

Wild Nettle and Oyster Mushroom Quiche

Armed with my homemade bow and stone-tipped arrows, I paddled down a local waterway in search of migratory game birds the other day.
My mobile blind (kayak with assorted burlap and camouflaged netting) worked quite well. In the first few minutes of the hunt I already had several close shots on wood ducks and drifted to within ten yards of grazing deer and a whole family of otters. As the rain gently drizzled down and flocks of distant Canada geese honked by, I had a big smile on my face. This is the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday!

Can you see the otter looking back at me?
Waterfowl hunting seems to be the only activity I know where I can dress like a bandit and everyone will still smile and wave as they pass by;)
I once read a bumper stick that said "Vegetarian: An old Indian word meaning 'bad hunter'." As I missed shot after shot and spied a nice patch of wild mustard greens on the bank, this slogan came back into my head. I got a good chuckle as I switched gears from hunting to gathering and collected half a bag of greens for a favorite seasonal vegetarian dish: Punjabi Saag Paneer (with mustard greens instead of spinach)...but more on that later.
The next day, my buddy Jason and I headed out again, this time in hopes of finding more local oyster mushrooms.

We found a big cluster right off the bat but they had seen a little too much rain and were starting to degrade.
A little while later we came across a patch of honey mushrooms.
Then we found a super cool poisonous rough-skinned newt.
Then we found what we were looking for, a small but very health flush of oyster mushrooms!

As we turned to head back for the day, I spied a patch of edible stinging nettle and stopped to gather a few dozen leaves.

I had been wanting to try making a quiche for some time, and so I was not about to pass up the opportunity for one of my favorite locally abundant pot herbs!
On the way out I also snagged a few sprigs of wild fennel to throw into the mix.
Once home, I parboiled the nettle and sautéed the mushrooms with bacon and onions.

Next I layered the wild ingredients with egg, cream and cheese...not exactly a recipe for weight watchers, but wow was it good!

Abalone enjoyed watching her "favorite show" (me cooking) from the edge of the kitchen, and was subsequently rewarded for her patience!

It is quite easy to learn to identify oyster mushrooms and stinging nettle. So, for the adventuresome reader, I highly encourage you to get out there and give this meal a try! I ate half of a 9" quiche in an hour's time... soooo good! 
Remember, always be sure to key out your plants twice in the field and once again in the kitchen to be positive that no potentially toxic hitchhiker species tagged along. Wear gloves while cutting nettle, at least until you learn the tricks of this stinging yet sensational green.
And always strive, to keep the old ways alive!

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