In my post about the bananas I mentioned that with an Edible Forest Garden sometimes you don't have to cook - you just give the products away and they come back to you as food. Well, this post is about how sometimes you don't have to grow things. You just treat your neighborhood as your garden, and forage away.
We live in an urban neighborhood, downtown Holyoke, so if you can do it here, you can do it anywhere. Jonathan got the ball rolling the other day. He loaded up his truck with some empty spackle buckets and went out into the world. I was out playing violin and when I came home the house was loaded with foraged goodies. In a shopping center parking lot, he found a cache of King Boletes! At a city park he found Berkeley's Polypore! At the side of the street he found loads of Concord Grapes! And over at the cemetery he found two apple trees!
My parents gave us a juicer last year for Christmas, so we brought it out and proceeded to make some fabulous grape juice and apple juice. All for free! I cooked up some of the King Boletes. I sliced them to about 1/4 inch thickness, and sauteed them in olive oil and butter with some chopped garlic. Finished them off with a dash of sea salt. Wow. So good. No wonder they call it the King. We had a simple dinner of sauteed mushrooms and fried eggs (thanks, girls!) with parmesan cheese.
The information we found online about Berkeley's Polypore was not so inspirational as far as cooking it. One article Jonathan found was talking about how you need to marinate it well in lots of oil, bake it, and then squeeze out all the oil. Somehow that doesn't sound that appealing to me. So, it's still in our fridge.
Jonathan's foraging has rubbed off on me. Yesterday I went for a run on one of my usual routes - to the Dunkin Donuts and back. I was running through a local park when something caught my eye. Could this be Chicken of the Woods? I decided to keep running till my turn around and then come back for it on my return trip. When I got back to the spot, there it was, nestled at the bottom of an oak tree. There was a big (20 inches in diameter) one and then a smaller pup (8 inches). The pup seemed to be more tender, plus I was still 10 minutes from home and thought it might be hard to jog carrying a giant mushroom. So I picked the pup and ran home, ipod in one hand, mushroom in the other (too bad I didn't get a photo of that to post here!). I got some interesting looks, but hey, it's free, tasty food! The plan for this afternoon is to make a chicken pot pie with wild mushrooms. I can't wait.