Sunday, February 05, 2006

Call for Help

I went foraging with Cranky yesterday, as we hoped we would. For a few minutes, driving to our secret trail-head harvesting spot, the sky clouded over and I was afraid we'd be standing drenched in the mud with a plastic bag, shoveling in drippping treasures like hippie-dippy idiots.
But suddenly the clouds evaporated, we found our trove, and all was well. I'll save up that particular forage-i-ness for later.
We also picked (a little closer to civilization) a couple of fistfuls of California wood sorrel (I think that's what it's called). If you're from my corner of the world, you've seen this ubiquitous clover-shaped weed with the ephemeral yellow flowers. The leaves have a pleasant, astringent, sour taste. (Flowers do too, apparently.)
I know I've eaten cream of sorrel soup. I have a recipe for cream of sorrel soup.
Here's the question. Do I dare make cream of sorrel soup from these wild weeds? I know too much oxalic acid can be toxic. How much is too much? If I do steep the leaves in vegetable broth, can I safely puree them and eat them?
OK, thanks.
Meanwhile. Gad! Did you just see the Stones at halftime? Man, they have a lot of energy. They're in a lot better shape than I am. They looked good, and sounded good! I was very impressed (and I got over the Stones a long time ago).
But I just hate watching Mick "dance." Puppet boy! Perform!
Still, he really threw himself into it, probably because it was only a three-song set.
And what did you think of that pastel-clad cast from Up With People, writhing in a tongue-shaped mosh pit? Yeah. Ew.


mrs d said...

I have a sekrit krush on Mick Jagger. It's the only thing allowing me to enjoy this game. Officiating by Diebold. Hrrmph.

No clue about the sorrel soup, alas, but if you wait a bit, I can attempt a look-up in a book or two.

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, wowie! Sekrit crush. Did you love it when he said (announcing the third song) that they could have performed it at the first Super Bowl? Funny.
Diebold (snrk). (Cranky's rooting for the other team... don't invite him to dinner.)
Oh, no problem waiting on the look-up. My stash is in a bag in the fridge, and if it wilts -- well, 'tis the season around here for that particular herbiage. Herbiness.
And thanks.

Sam said...

Mick Jagger - sexy tummy - really hot - I think he is older than my mum.

I have a sorrel soup recipe on my blog - just look up "shrek's swamp" in my google button, but please don't poison yourelf. Thank you.

cookiecrumb said...

I couldn't believe it. I had so long ago written them off. Then tonight: Sexy tummies (all of them, including Charlie). Even Keith showed some amazing thigh performance in a kneel-down (which I could never do.) However I did glimpse a peek of "teacher arm flab" on Mick. It can't be helped.
Yep, Sam. They're even older than Cranky!!
OK, I'll search for your recipe. Thanks.

Passionate Eater said...

I agree about Mick Jagger! My girlfriends and I were laughing hard at his midriff-baring antics, and how he vigorously shook his bod' across the stage! At one point, he looked like he was limping, but I was informed that was his dance.

They had some great pyrotechnics, and prop-effects though, (like the sea of people in the little mouth pit).

cookiecrumb said...

Yeah, he was working way too hard, especially on the first song. Amazingly, though, he could still sing with his own voice (not synced) through all those calisthenics.
So what were we watching? Some old guy proving himself? Or some guy who really still can do it -- and wants to?
I don't even really care. But I was kinda enchanted. Actually, I was kinda impressed, as one who wrote them off a long time ago.
(Um, yeah. That's his dance. He really sucks as a dancer, but oy, such energy.)

MM said...

I am so envious that yu can just go foraging and find stuff like sorrel! If I went foraging, the only vegetable I would find would be the local dirty old man. But then, even if you let me lose in your neck of the woods, I wouldn't be able to tell a sorrel from a poison ivy.

And I'm sorry. I cannot look at Mick Jagger without cringing. He looks too much like me dad. It's like perving on your own da. Eeeuuww.

Jamie said...

Does wild sorrel have more oxalic acid than regular sorrel? People make soup of the regular kind all the time.

I agree that the Stones were really good. Most new, young bands today don't have that kind of raw energy or dirrrrty, rough-hewn sound.

I can't believe I'm saying it--I was watching expecting to mock them!--but there it is.

Kevin said...


I grew up calling that plant (or a close relative) "sour grass." I've used it in salads but have never seen enough of it at one time to do more than that.

Kalyn said...

I am with Mrs. D. on the crush on Mick. When I saw the Stones in 94 I thought he was on speed or something, but later I read an article that said he runs about 6 miles a day and is in incredible shape. The tummy shots made me want to do a little pilates myself. Personally I think Mick might be a little ADHD which explains the dancing and the inability to stick with one woman. My brother said "Would you go out with him" and I said "I might if he hadn't cheated on all his wives."

Dagny said...

I never knew what that plant was. All I knew was that it grew plentifully in El Cerrito when I was growing up. My friends and I used to munch on the stems on a regular basis.

kudzu said...

If you think of how garden sorrel cooks down, you can imagine how much sour grass you would need for soup! I would just use it as an accent with other greens -- it's pretty potent tasting and too much of a good thing -- well, you know.

So you were among the housebound sports fans who made my trip into San Francisco a breeze yesterday? Hardly anyone on the road on a gorgeous Sunday, pure bliss. Made me realize how typically impossible weekend traffic is in these parts.

Mona said...

Ha, great post, especially the part about Mick Jagguh. I was watching it again this morning and was dancing around trying to imitate him to Swimster-he was cracking up.
I thought they were awesome, a world better than Paul McC last year, no offense to any fans out there. But more importantly, can we get to the Aaron Neville "Anthem." I wanted to DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE for him and the players, no wonder the Seahawks lost, was that supposed to be inspirational?!? Oh my they could've come up with so many better options...

mrs d said...

Okay, my plant books weren't much help. Under sorrel and under sour grass, they stick mostly to sheep sorrel (Rumex acetocella), which is an entirely different genus than wood sorrel (Oxalis acetocella).

The thing with oxalis is, of course, the oxalic acid -- but I can't find any information that specifies just how large a dose of it is too large. I think the key to this is to determine how much more oxalic acid is in a handfull of wood sorrel vs a handfull of sheep sorrel. If it's not much more, then you should be okay, since most sheep sorrel soup recipes call for "a handfull." :-)

Ahah... Googled oxalic acid+rumex+ oxalis+levels and came up with this discussion thread, which may help. Or confuse things further.

cookiecrumb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cookiecrumb said...

Spelling issues. Preview is your friend, preview is...
MM: Hah! Your da looks like an aged rock star! No perving, eh? As for foraging, I'm still not sure if I should eat this stuff...
Jamie: Regular sorrel has spade-shaped leaves, and the kind I picked looks like clover. I think it does have more oxalic acid (mrs d provided a fairly useful link above). Mock the Stones... heh. Me too. And then I sat riveted for the entire mini-set.
Kevin: I always called it sour grass too. Don't you have scads and scads of it in Novato? Hm. Too well-groomed a neighborhood? :D
Kalyn: Yeah, and he doesn't marry all of his women either. There's a former lover of his in Oakland -- and a grown-up daughter from that liaison! (He always visits her when he's in the Bay Area, so he's nice... but ADHD.)
dagny: If I get good results (read kudzu's "ominous" warning above), I'll let you know and you can try something.
kudzu: If I do use it in a soup, I think I'll blanch the leaves first. And definitely bulk out the soup with potatoes, broth and cream.
mona: I know, me too. I tried to imitate his "rooster on LSD" dance, but I can't get it. I'm not spazzy enough! :D
mrs d: That actually was rather helpful. And confusing. I think I might try it. Once. Heh.

kudzu said...

You probably already know this, but if/when you use sorrel of any kind you should add it at the end of cooking to avoid having it turn khaki. It happens quite fast.

If you like sorrel, plant some in a pot or in your garden. It's perennial and will provide a source of wild taste that is safe and tart and pretty. You can get starters at good nurseries in the herb section. Around here it grows year-round.

cookiecrumb said...

kudzu: Thank you! For (1) believing I might already know something -- which I didn't. And (2) for that khaki-info. I do love tart-tasting things, so maybe this year I'll get a genuine garden sorrel plant (did you know we're doing all our gardening in containers on the little patio?). The recipe I copied off the Internet has the sorrel stewing for a half-hour! Maybe I won't try it after all... :P

Shauna said...

Oh man, I thought they were great. I've always been a Beatles girl, but a friend of mine is turning me into a Stones girl too. Mick is two years older than my father, so I find it hard to see him as sexy. Mostly, I was thinking, "Wow, you can still do that with your hips? good for you!"

Hey, what's with the crack on teachers, though? "Teacher arm flab." Bah!

Dagny said...

I am with Shauna on the "teacher arm flab" thing. What's up with that? I will have you know that my arms are quite toned.

Kevin said...


I'm in Knoxville, not Novato. But I've never actually gone looking for it so it may bbe more common here than I think.

Wood sorrel is a favorite of mine (a friend sometimes calls me Sorrel-Boy). It makes an awesome pesto and I'll sometime use it to make a green mayonaise for grilled fish. It should grow just fine in a pot.

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, gad, Kevin, I momentarily mistook you for another of my food-blog boyfriends, Greg. So you're saying you've actually eaten some quantities of the clover-shaped sorrel, like in my picture? Then maybe I won't throw the stuff out after all! (though I can certainly get more)
Oh, damn: Shauna and Dagny! Sorry about the flab remark (though Kalyn didn't seem to mind). Bad description, because we all get it (you too, Dagny, your time will come), but as kids we always noticed it when the teacher wrote on the chalkboard and those loose skin bags just flew!! Apologies.

Brett said...

I guess I'm weighing in a bit late here. Hope you're still alive;-) I have this great foraging book by Margit Roos-Collins called "The Flavors of Home: a Guide to Wild Edible Plants in the SF Bay Area." She mentions that oxalis (which, like Kevin, I've always called sour grass) does contain lots of oxalic acid, but that the worst that will happen if you eat great quantities is a "stomach ache similar to eating too many green apples, but this is rarely a problem." Personally, I like to toss some into salads or pound them in a mortar with olive oil. I love foraging for wild greens this time of year!

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, thanks Brett. Yup, still alive. :D
I wonder if that's the same book Jen Maiser uses... But I am reassured. I may just go ahead with this soup. It's "mitigated" (if that's the word) by untuous quantities of cream and potatoes. And, yeah, it may come out khaki, but the best food is usually unpretty.

Clare Eats said...

As a kid we would ick oxalis and run out teeth along the whole length of the stem to get that sour goodness, HEAPS of fun, but we never ate more than a few stems at a time....

So what did you make with it?

kitchenmage said...

Do tell on the oxalis adventures, maybe I can do something useful with the stuff overrunning my flower beds.

As for Mick, I listened to him singing "I can't get no satisfaction..." and and said, "Dude, you've gotten more satisfaction than most folks..."

cookiecrumb said...

Yeah. Buying some heavy cream today and making soup. I really like Sam's recipe (see her comment above) but I don't think this tart-tasting sorrel will need (or even benefit from) creme fraiche. So we'll make it more peasanty with potatoes (and puree it).

jastity said...

(And I am very late here, but I can't resist.)

I was astonished to see "sourgrass" in flower when I visited San Francisco. My (gardener's, not botanist's) understanding is that it is Oxalis pes-caprae (or some such spelling), a native of South Africa.

I grew up in Adelaide, in South Australia, which is totally infested with the plant. It's everywhere, it has far less competition that it has in California. We call them soursobs.

Children used to eat it, I certainly did, but I've never heard of it being used in salads or cooking. It's seen more as a noxious pest (whether or not it is.)

Love the blog.

cookiecrumb said...

Jastity: How totally excellent of you to drop by with that information. You may be happy to know that 1) I'm still alive, because 2) I decided not to cook with the weeds. ;-)
In fact, I bought a domestic, culinary sorrel plant instead, and it's doing fine in a pot on the patio. Already had one delicious meal of soup from it.

Anonymous said...

We also picked (a little closer to civilization) a couple of fistfuls of California wood sorrel (I think that's what it's called). If you're from my corner of the world, you've seen this ubiquitous clover-shaped weed with the ephemeral yellow flowers. The leaves have a pleasant, astringent, sour taste. (Flowers do too, apparently.)
I know I've eaten cream of sorrel soup. I have a recipe for cream of sorrel soup.
This sorrel type is very tasty, I can advice also to try French sorrel also, it's really special.