Allium triquetrum

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Allium triquetrum, also known as three cornered garlic or three cornered leek is coming through now. All parts of this plant are edible, its leaves, flowers and bulbs. It has a garlicy onion flavour and can be used anywhere you would use things like garlic chives or spring onions. No need to cook it, it can be eaten raw. Careful picking in public places as its a declared weed and will most likely be sprayed. In a few weeks it will be more obvious when its white flowers come through. This was growing along a creek.

Sour sobs dye

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Across South Australia right now is a sea of yellow. Oxalis pes-caprae also known as sour sobs is in flower. In our house we call it the love heart plant as its little leaves are in the shape of love hearts. These normally get pulled out in gardens due to them smothering and competing with plants around them. Before getting rid of them pluck the flowers and make a dye with them. This is a lovely activity to do with kids.

Kids seem to already know some of the secrets of this little plant because they will often pluck the stalk and suck the ends for the sour flavour hit. If you have a little person collecting flowers with you, let them eat the stems and leaves too. The stems, root and leaves are all edible. It has a lemony sour flavour and is harmless in small amounts. If you want to eat it in larger amounts just boil it first and discard the liquid before eating.

To make the dye collect a few cups of flowers. Fill and boil a kettle with about 1.5 litres of water. In a pot, add the flowers and boiled water and let steep. After 5 mins or so you will get a vibrant yellow water.

The fabric doesn’t need to be in the water for long to become dyed but if you leave it in for at least half an hour it should allow for the dye to be soaked up well by all the fibres and give a more even colour. Use natural fibres for this – eg cotton, wool, linen.

To make yellow, use either vinegar. To make orange, add bicarb soda. Now, I’m still trying to find an effective natural fixing agent for this dye as the yellow went orange after the first wash and vinegar and salt wasn’t strong enough to hold the colour after the wash.

 

 

Orange and fennel chicken

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This recipe brings together all the winter flavours of Adelaide into a super simple dinner. Fennel seeds, orange and lemon can be foraged fairly easily. The hero of the dish is the oil that’s been freshly pressed from a friends family farm, bringing all the flavours together.

1kg chicken thighs

2 oranges

1 lemon

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 teaspoons salt

2 large fennel bulbs

1/3 cup cold water

1 garlic clove, finely grated

2 teaspoons cornflour

Create the marinade by mixing together the oil, mustard, fennel seeds, salt, zest and juice of the oranges and lemon. Add the chicken, toss through so the chicken is well covered and marinate for a few hours or overnight if you can.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the tube bits off the fennel and then cut each bulb into 12 wedges. Place the fennel into a large flat baking tray and put the marinated chicken and marinade on top of the fennel. Toss the marinade through the fennel but make sure the chicken is sitting on top of the fennel when placing it in the oven. Give the chicken a last drizzle of oil and bake for at least 1 1/2 hours.

Take the baking tray out of the oven then place the fennel and chicken into a serving plate. Make a gravy out of the juices by putting the baking tray onto a high heat on the stove. Mix the water and the cornflour together until there are no lumps. Then add to the pan juices. Add the clove of garlic and using a whisk mix the gravy for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.

 

 

Beginners guide to pine mushrooms

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I took some friends for a picnic yesterday at one of my mushroom hunting spots. We spent a bit of time searching for mushrooms then ate a picnic lunch and fried up some of the mushrooms we’d found. We were searching for Lactarius deliciosus and hoping for Porcini which also grow at this spot. I realised at one point that I probably take what I now know about these mushrooms for granted so I thought I’d put together a beginners guide to these mushrooms.

So here’s the disclaimer. I’m not a scientist, mycologist, botanist, fungi expert of any kind. I’m just someone who’s interested in all things edible. If you’re thinking about eating your first wild mushroom based on this post think again. Do your research and head out with someone who knows what they’re doing and collect with them. Do some courses and get to know how to identify mushrooms and plants in general. It will give you a discipline to draw from when trying to identify the edible from the not so edible.

Lactarius deliciosus mushrooms are commonly called pine mushrooms or saffron milk caps in South Australia. There are no poison lookalikes that I’m aware of growing here. Mushrooms it might get confused with are Gymnopilus junoniusLactarius deterrimus, Lactarius semisanguifluus, Lactarius torminosus. Be aware that not all people holding workshops or courses are 100% correct all the time. They might say the wrong thing by mistake or have the wrong idea about a particular mushroom. Check and triple check the information you have been given.

The main features are a round orange blotchy depressed cap with concentric circles. The cap can be anywhere from 4 – 15 cm.  As the cap gets older the edges turn up and it’s more bowl shaped. The gills are orange and close together. The stem attaches to the central part of the cap and has blotches of white on it. A few hours after picking it bruises green where you’ve handled it. When you cut the stem it exudes a orange milky sap. In the older mushrooms the stem is hollow.

Here are some of my rules when I go hunting for these guys:

  • If in doubt leave it out

Don’t pick it if you have any doubt in your mind about it.

  • Take children with you

They have eagle eyes and always find the best ones.

  • Don’t pick ones that look a bit deformed or have any weird growth on them.

The deformity could be because they’ve been pressing on a stick or other mushroom as they grow which is ok but other kinds of deformity could be from a disease.

  • Don’t pick bruised ones

These ones have been touched by something. That something could be anything. I don’t really want to imagine what that anything might be.

  • Pick the young ones

These ones are the freshest and most likely haven’t been interfered with by people or animals.

  • Clean as you pick

Take a sharp knife, clean paint brush and damp cloth with you. Use your brush and hands to remove any pine needles from the cap. Hold the mushroom like a you would hold a CD so the cap doesn’t drop into the dirt when you cut it. Then cut the stem horizontally with your knife. Use the cloth to clean the cap and then place gill side down in basket. This keeps the gills clean so you don’t get grit in your mushrooms and also helps spread the spores around as you walk.

  • Always cook them

This should kill off any bad germs that may be on them.

  • Read the landscape

These mushroom grow under mature pine trees in the Adelaide hills. Think about the space these trees grow in and how the space is being used. Do people walk their dogs here? Would people use some spaces as a toilet spot if there are no public toilets around? Are they close to paths and roads that would see more traffic on it? Try to avoid picking in high traffic areas. Also, avoid areas near young pine plantations as these get aerial bombed with glyphosate to kill grasses and other plants competing with the young pines.

  • Eat that day

I’ll generally only pick what I’m going to eat that day. If you need to store them keep in the fridge in paper like you would a store bought mushroom. If you love them and end up eating heaps just be aware that your urine will go orange. Much like what happens when you eat a lot of beetroot. On that note, they are very nice but like all new food just eat a little at first you never know, you might be allergic. There are stacks of recipes on the web but I like eating them in mushroom pasta.

 

Beetroot top gozleme

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It’s beetroot season and they can be used in so many ways. I love them in borscht soup, beetroot dip, or baked and added to a hearty salad. The tops can be used like spinach and are best cooked, not eaten raw.

I pulled more beetroots out than normal to make room for some kale seedlings. I find the tops wilt quite quickly so need to be cooked up fairly soon after harvesting. These tops are perfect for my easy gozleme.

2 tablespoons b.d farm butter

1 red onion, finely sliced

2 gloves garlic, grated finely

1 teaspoon cumin, or fennel seeds depending on your flavour preference

8 beetroot tops, leaves and stems washed well and chopped

cracked pepper

1/4 cup water

4 large or 6 small wholemeal flatbreads

100 gm b.d farm feta, or swap out for a vegan cheese

40 gm walnuts, chopped and toasted

olive oil

Melt butter in large frypan on medium heat. Stirring regularly, add onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add cumin and cook for another minute. Add beetroot tops and water and cover for 10 minutes. check occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking or burning.

Take lid off and add pepper, using an egg flip press down on the mix and try to cook out as much of the liquid as possible. Once its fairly dry take out of pan and put on a plate. Crumble some feta into a bowl. Add the toasted nuts a bowl.

If you have a sandwich press put this together like a big giant toastie. If you don’t just use a frypan and prepare as follows. This will make 3 using the small flatbreads or 2 using the large.

Get a pastry brush and brush one side of the flat bread. Place the oiled side down then place a portion of the beetroot top mix, then some feta then some walnuts. Add another flat bread on top and use the pastry brush to oil the top. After a couple of minutes flip it over and toast the other side for a couple of minutes. Once cooked, place on chopping board and chop into quarters for serving.

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Mushroom foraging

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Over winter I finally got organised to get myself skilled up for some mushroom foraging. I did a workshop with the incredibly knowledgeable Bev Lane. She covered the principals of mushroom hunting and gave fantastic safety advice. I did some follow up research and brushed up on my plant identification skills and was ready to search out prime mushroom habitat.

I enjoyed having a good excuse to get out for bushwalks in the cold and sometimes drizzly weather. I found and tried Slippery Jacks (Suillus luteus), Weeping Boletus (Suillus granulatus), Saffron Milk Caps (Lactarius deliciosus) and Porcini (Boletus edulis). I did catch the Porcini bug once I found them and all I could think and dream about was Porcinis.

There are other varieties of edible mushrooms growing around Adelaide but I am happy with my finds for now. For example, there are plenty of field mushrooms but given they can cross breed with yellow stainers I decided against eating these.

I tried a few different ways to eat my finds but these recipes were the winners. The thing I like most about these recipes is that all the additional ingredients can be grown and sourced from South Australia.

Saffron milk cap pasta (adapted Kylie Kwong recipe)

8 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 red onions, thin sliced
1 tablespoon Murray River salt
750g Saffron milk caps
125g b.d farm butter, roughly chopped
1/2 cup South Australian extra virgin olive oil
black pepper, cracked
1/2 cup Adelaide Hills dry white wine
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Place garlic, onions and salt in a heavy-based pan. Cover with the mushrooms. Top with butter, olive oil and pepper and place, covered over high heat for 5 minutes, without stirring, to allow the flavours of the onions and garlic to penetrate the mushrooms.

Uncover. Add wine and remaining mushrooms, and stir to combine. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are just tender. Stir in parsley.

Serve with L’Abruzzese pasta or on top of a slice of sour dough toast.

Porcini salt

10 grams dried Porcini mushroom

1 tablespoon Murray River salt.

Dry the Porcini mushrooms on string for at least two weeks in a place in the house that doesn’t get too hot or cold. When dry put the mushroom and salt in a high speed blender and turn into dust. Use as seasoning on meat or in pasta dishes.