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Friday, 26 August 2011

Keeping it American!

So I have, to use a nautical expression, changed tact slightly. Rather than perhaps trying the different wild food every day I thought that perhaps a bit like Dulcie i could have several wild foods on any given day that would cover several days, especially if aim having salad for example. That said Saturday i was still on the hunt for the days food. We had been told that we should find something called sassafras in the garden and that it could be used to make tea or root beer. The plant has three distinct leaf shapes so is quite easy to spot,one is just an oval shaped leaf, one looks like a mitten and the third has three sections (clearly I haven't read the botany book that I brought with me as yet!) anyway you get the gist of it. We saw some of these at the top of the drive so removed several of them. However the lemony smell of damaged leaves or the root beer smell of the root wasn't there but I took them anyway.

I made a simple tea with the leaves and tried it but it wasn't all that so after reading on my app about trying to get the caduim of the plant out I was a bit stumped as I didn't know what that was. Apparently it's the gooey bit just under the bark that transports nutrients around so I dug that out and put it on to boil with some of the bark. It was at that point that Jory arrived as we we're having a proper Maryland crab feast that evening. She looked at my concoction and told me it wasn't sassafras and we went into the back garden and found the proper stuff which instantly smelt of root beer and the leaves smelled lemony. The tea from both was lovely but I am still stumped as to what the other was as it had the three different leaves on the same plant. Still I know now what to look for. Oddly enough the day after I was first told about sassafras it was mentioned in Gone with the Wind which Dulcie is currently reading - how odd!

The new app is proving very useful as I would never have found Sunday's plant without it. Asiatic day flower which as it's name suggests only flowers for a day. There are lots of them at the top of the drive so I am having them in a salad today (Friday) and will report on the flavour later.

Monday was more fishing. I hadn't been up early enough for a few days with some spare time to go and have a go but this morning Dulcie was still snoozing and showing no signs of rousing so I thought a spot of fishing would be a good plan. I set up the night line but that wasn't attracting any attention so got on with some casting with the lure. The first cast brought me a baby striped bass which went straight back. Then a few minutes later when I was fiddling about with the lure just under the jetty something bit and we had an interesting little struggle before I brought it up on the jetty. Well it wasn't a bass or a perch it was longer than they were with a long head. It was on later inspection that i confirmed it as a chain pickerel. I knew it belonged to the pike family and must admit was a little wary of it due to the number of very sharp teeth it had and the reputation that pike have for being viscious. Even if I couldn't eat it I was going to have to kill it to get the hook out that it had swallowed. Well I also vaguely remember that they are difficult to dispatch and that was true enough. At this point Dulcie arrived and we both donked it on the head in order to speed up the procedure but it still kept twitching more than other fish that l have previously dispatched. The teeth were also putting me off. Anyway obviously it eventually stopped moving and removed the hook and carried on. Not long after I caught another perch so was happy with my morning catch.

Tuesday we went to Washington DC to be tourists. For the capital city of such a big country its not that big a city but very different to NY which is the only major US city I have to compare it to (I fell asleep on the drive around LA!!). We took an open top bus tour and saw some of the famous memorials. Unfortunately the long reflection pool you see in Forest Gump that runs from the Washington memorial up to the obelisk was being dug up so no reflecting going on there. We then went to the White House and got some of those great at arms length photos of both of us outside.

I saw some wild spinach - that is what they call fat hen over here but with the heat it would have been a little buggered by the time I got it home. There were a few other common edible weeds along the National Mall but today was not a foraging day.

The big news though is that while we were sitting having lunch we experienced what I initially thought was the guy sitting next to me being annoying and tapping his feet rather heavily but turned out to be a 5.8 scale earthquake!!! OMG. Well obviously this was big news so suddenly the calm background music that had been playing in the restaurant disappeared and a very loud CNN came on which then continued to play through the rest of our lunch and until we left.

Washington went into pandemonium and buildings were being closed left right and centre so of course by about 3 pm a very premature rush hour had started. We wandered back to pick up our sightseeing bus as we wanted to go to George town but basically the place was in grid lock. Most of the normal buses that came by were out of service and our sightseeing bus was no where to be seen. We then walked alot, found out the underground was still running but very slowly and eventually got home a little later than we had planned.

Wednesday we took Charley (the dog we are looking after) to Greenbury point with lots of foraging opportunities. I gathered mile-a-minute which is a creeper that had almost symmetrical triangular leaves and amazing barbs on the stalks but had a lemony almost sorrel type flavour. I also got some red clover for my salad and some young Greater Plantain. Finally as a bit of an experiment I got some foxtail which is a grass with this funnily enough foxtail like seed thing at the top (really should read my botany book it would make me sound so much more knowledgeable). Anyway the idea is you grind the seeds and can mix them with flour to add a nutty flavour.

I mixed the mile a minute with onions and flaked pickerel ( which is a labour of love bearing in mind how many small annoying bones they have ) and that was lovely, and then had the clover in with my salad. The foxtail seeds are drying in a bowl on the window and I will attempt to do something with them today.

Finally we get to Thursday and it was time for more seafood. We drove toSalisbury to see a friend of mine who has lived out here for about 11 years. Charley came with us for the trip and we sat outside in 85 degrees and had lunch! I had clams which I was bit dubious about but actually covered in a bucket of butter and several buckets of garlic tasted lovely. I would quite like to try clam chowder but Dulcie reckons it's more of an autumnal thing so that may have to be another time.

So we are pretty much up to date now. I will report on the Asiatic dayflower and the foxtail biscuit experiment in due course but will leave you for now and hope to return after surviving hurricane Irene which is making it's way up the east coast of the US!

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