Alyce Faye offers summertime recipes
In the beauty of the morning, may you walk along with me,
To the center of the garden to observe the little bee.
May you look at it closely, storing treasures in your mind,
As he visits every flower, no matter what the kind.
Compare this to the people you encounter every day.
Are their actions and appearance different in some way?
Do we treat each other kindly, greeting each with a song?
Do we wish each one happiness to last the whole day long?
For in the beauty of each morning may we strive to do our best,
To lighten the hearts of others and then we too will be blest.
By Stella Riffle
Summer days hum along like the buzzing of a bee. Along the roadside, black-eyed susans cast their dark eyes upward at each passer-by, while chicory weed waves tall stalks of amazing blue flowers with each wayward breeze.
Chicory is a unique weed. Hated by farmers for its habit of springing up in pasture fields, it is loved by wild food enthusiasts. It is a beautiful flower sometimes utilized in flower beds, but can also be used for medicinal purposes. Chicory is reputed to stimulate digestion and the pancreatic secretion, regulating the amount of glucose in the body. (I need to go dig some!)
Chicory is used to adjust the level of cholesterol in the body, and for digestive problems such as gastritis and hepatitis, gall bladder problems and a multitude of other ailments. The most popular use is probably for a coffee substitute.
Dig the largest roots you can find (you can also use dandelion roots) scrub well or peel. Slice in 1/8 thick slices and roast in a 350 degree oven until dark brown. Grind and add to your store-bought coffee for that old "New Orleans" taste, or use alone for a unique flavor.
When it is young and tender, chicory makes excellent spring greens. They are a lot like dandelion greens; they must be used early in the season. Lamb's-quarter greens are in season now, and they resemble spinach. Wash them, and you can cook them in a skillet with a tight lid with what water clings to them. Of course they must be seasoned with bacon grease (heaven forbid!) and salt and pepper.
The orange day lilies pop up all over the place, and there are many ways to prepare them. Day lily fritters are simple and easy to make.
Day lily Fritters
1/2 cup flower
1/4 cup finely chopped wild onions
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups fully opened flower heads
2 cups cooking oil for deep frying
Mix egg and flour to form a thin batter. Add finely chopped onion, salt and pepper. Dip flowers into batter, coating evenly. Fry a few at a time in hot oil until golden brown. Drain well on paper towels. Serve hot.
For dessert, omit the onion, salt and pepper. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with honey or syrup.
Here is a recipe that I definitely want to try while there are still buds in season. (One note of caution, however -- this wild vegetable has a laxative effect on some people; try only a bit at first. I found out the hard way!)
Day lily buds Oriental
1/4 cup oil
2-3 cups unopened flower buds-can be young and green, or orange and just ready to flower
1 clove garlic 1/2 cup wild onions, chopped
Soy sauce or tamari to taste Grating of fresh ginger (optional)
Heat oil very hot in heavy skillet. Add all ingredients and stir-fry until just tender. Season with soy sauce or tamari to taste. Serve over rice, if you like.
Our blessed Savior has blessed West Virginia with such a bountiful supply of wild foods, along with the climate to raise our garden crops. I am reminded of the verse in Psalms 68:19, which says, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation." I have been abundantly blessed.
We have had several requests for pickled products, and since this is the season to preserve food, I am including some recipes:
For pickled beans, (my sister Mary Ellen prefers half-runners, but I always favored Logan giants) you need the beans of course, canning or pickling salt (do not use table salt) and boiled water (not chlorinated.) Cook the beans until just tender, but still firm. Drain off water. Cool beans. Boil water and cool. Use 2-3 teaspoons of salt to each quart of beans. (She uses two teaspoons, but some people prefer three.) Fill jars with cooled beans. Put salt on top of beans. Pour boiled (cooled) water over beans. Seal tight. After a few days (or weeks) when beans are cured enough to suit you, they can be cold packed.
We promised a reader a brined pickle recipe, and this, too, came from Mary Ellen. It sounds complicated, and there surely must be a simpler one. It came from a very old Ball canning book, which belonged to her mother-in-law, Eva Friend.
Wipe, but do not wash cucumbers. Place in stone jar. Cover with cold brine made by dissolving one pint of coarse salt to a gallon of water. Cover with a board or plate. Use a weight heavy enough to keep the cover below the surface of the brine. The next day, put one pint of salt on the cover where it will dissolve slowly. Let stand one week, and then put 1/2 cup of salt on the cover. Put 1/2 cup salt on the cover every week for five consecutive weeks. Remove the scum as it forms. The cucumbers are cured and ready for use when they are a dark olive green color throughout and contain no white spots. Curing requires from six to eight weeks.
Cured cucumbers are called salt pickles and must be soaked to remove some of the salt before they are used for either sweet or sour pickles. To do this: Cover with cold water and heat to 120 degrees, or a little hotter than lukewarm. Repeat until desired amount of salt has been removed.
For pickled corn, cook ears for about five minutes, cool in ice water. Place in churn, and add 2/3 cup canning salt to each gallon of water. Weigh down with plate and add weight to push corn under brine. The ears of corn can be placed in a muslin bag or pillowcase before putting in churn. Remove scum as it develops.
Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 2556 Summers Fork Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.