I'm gearing up for spring, as the daylight hours grow visibly longer and my mood, once as dark as the moonless night, brightens like a dog who hears the treat bag rustling. I'm making plans for meals in the months to come the way Martha Stewart must have been scribbling menus in jail, waiting for the day she'd be sprung free as a lark and hungry like the wolf.
Shortly before Valentine's Day, Cranky and I went foraging, more avid than Euell Gibbons on cheap absinthe, for sour grass and miners' lettuce. I blogged about the sour grass, and received assurances from a couple of knowledgeable food people that I'd be just fine using it in soup... but I chickened out, and the bag of (oh, let's be honest here and call a weed a weed) weeds went out in this morning's trash, so wilted it was pathetic (well, it was picked more than a week ago). Surprisingly, no more wilted than most of the slime in my crisper drawer — but hey, that's why it's a weed. It will probably survive global warming and nuclear meltdown, same as Velveeta and cockroaches.
However, we did make good use of the miners' lettuce, and since I've been as busy as a ho' on nickle night learning little new CSS and HTML secrets, I haven't been active in the kitchen (or using my camera much), so I'm going to put up the old picture I took of it.
We served the miners' lettuce dressed with a beet-vinaigrette, and watch out, because I learned the hard way that beet juice stains clothes worse than Mrs. Macbeth's dog (and keep it far, far away from your raw oysters). Alongside the salad was a simple soup based on pork broth (I just swiped a bone and shreds of meat from an uncooked pork chop, and stewed it in water for a while — easy as hell); the soup was tinted red, as you can see.
The best part, at least because of the holiday it was meant for, is that miners' lettuce has beautiful little leaves cuter than any old valentine.
Darn, my mind has more holes in it than Harry Whittington's face. I wanted to talk about this new book I bought yesterday, "Edible and Useful Plants of California," by Charlotte Bringle Clarke, a little guide more useful in the field than a pack of tissues in ragweed season, especially if you're hungry (and no, ragweed is not edible or useful, and is not in the book, and don't forget to take your Claritin). I learned that miners' lettuce is in season possibly through May — which happens to be the Eat Local Challenge month — so that's better than learning (in the new book) that even though wild celery looks and smells like domesticated celery, I probably better avoid it, because it also resembles poison hemlock, and you can never be too sure.
(Count the similes, and call my mom if I don't post for a few days...)