Saturday, June 12, 2010
Old Tricks for New Dogs.
These are wild greens, grasses and bulbs that sprout everywhere. Once upon a time, I would have foraged here, looking for onions, dandelions, malva. I then would have parboiled the greens before tossing them in a pan with sizzling olive oil, garlic and peperoncino. My dad, all through my childhood, would come home with things he found every time he went to the farm. For us, the farm was one of a few plots of land we cultivated. Dad seemed to find something to bring home for supper rain or shine, winter or summer. What he brought home became the star ingredient.
Mother didn't cook from recipe books. She would peruse the finds Dad brought home, add what she had on hand, be they beans or cheese, or something she had canned or pickled, and we had supper, with crusty bread and a jug of wine.
She spent her entire day sometimes preparing food. A rabbit or a wild boar would need plenty of time to simmer and get tender before it became fit to eat. She had scores of jars with specialties she had conserved, from pickled eggplants to salted olives. She would put a dash of this or that, depending on what she thought would enhance the dish.
I have no trouble doing the same improvisations when I cook. I know what taste I'm looking for in the final stage.
There are people here in Oregon who can still do that: go into the woods and forage for a variety of mushrooms, leeks, fern heads, etc. There are people who could live off the land with no trouble at all. I met a young Eugene nurse, at the city's premier hospital, the other day, who hunts all his meat. He uses a bow and arrow, in some cases, to be more sportive, more fair minded about his prey. He may have to buy the condiments at the local supermarket, but the meat he'll barbecue will come from his labors. Elk, deer, cougar. There are limits to how many animals he can catch, and when he can hunt, and he knows these rules. He also knows how to get around them, if he needs to.
We all need to maintain these skills, have the practical knowledge to survive and to provide for our sustenance.
My mother had two concoctions for getting rid of colds. Here they are for your enjoyment.
1. Hot Water, lemon and orange slices, honey. Drink often and within 24 hours your cold will be gone.
2. Hot wine, preferably red, orange slices, honey. Sip slowly and your chest will clear up in no time.