Yesterday was simply gorgeous, and today looks like it is shaping up to be another just like it. I went for a walk in the woods and around the yard yesterday, gathering bits and pieces of "stuff", like tiny leaves that we'll try the electroform machine on, feathers, pinecones, and berries. And then I was just goofy enough to put it all together and take a picture.
The berries on the plate are big juicy rosehips from the Rosa Rugosa that my brother in law planted this past spring. They really took off, covering an entire hillside behind the "condo" where the pheasants currently reside.
Next year, we will definately make some jelly. We probably had plenty this year, but time was not so plentiful.
The pinecones grow right off the side yard. I'm not sure of the species of conifer... maybe a spruce. The firs growing there don't have cones that you can actually hold in your hand. They fall away into scales in the wind as soon as they are picked. I found a few violets, lots of beautiful leaves and holly berries... the yew out front is covered with the palest of blue berries. The mums and flowering sages are just knocking themselves out. And then there are the Jerusalem Artichokes. Oy.
Those knobby roots are the chokes. They are much simpler to harvest than I had imagined. One scoop with the shovel brings up a lot more than I can possibly serve for one meal. The scale is not very clear in the picture I took to show the quantity of chokes under a single plant, but each of the tubers are a couple inches in diameter. They are pretty tasty, almost like potatoes, except they have a "rooty" flavor that reminds me of ginseng. They contain inulin, which I had read was very good for helping to regulate blood sugar - and since they can be prepared in almost any way that potatoes are used, I thought they would be much better to eat than the regular starches. I'm still reading up on this, so I could be wrong. Still, free food is a good thing, and a health benefit would clearly be a bonus.
This is what they look like all cleaned and ready to cook. I tossed these into the oven for 30 minutes, and they softened, making it very easy to peel them. After that, I sauteed some sweet onions in a little butter and sliced the chokes like home fries, frying them just until they were browned. They took on a wonderful texture with a soft middle and a sort of crunchy-chewy outside... just what you imagine really good home fries would be like.
However. I must warn you that they produce intestinal gas. Lots. So, since I've got them and like them, looks like I'll need to try growing epazote next year and grabbing some Beano for now.