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.

 

 

Broccoli budda bowl

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I recently did a Growing Great Veggies course taught by Nat Wiseman from Village Greens and Steven Hoepfner from Wagtail Urban Farm. They both very generously shared their knowledge honed through experience running market gardens using organic methods. Well worth attending if you get a chance. The course was held at the Glandore Community Garden and growing in one of the patches was this gorgeous broccoli.

Broccoli is a favorite in our house and the whole plant can be eaten. The seeds can be sprouted. Leaves can be used in salads, juices or cooked. Stalks can be cut finely and used in stirfries or diced and put in stews and sauces. The heads can be chopped into florets and can be eaten raw or cooked in dishes like Gado Gado. The flowers are also edible. It’s such a versitile plant and fairly easy to grow through Adelaide’s wet winters.

A simple way to prepare broccoli is use it in a budda bowl. Budda bowls are a great way to put together simple seasonal produce into a nourishing meal. Braise the broccoli florets in stock, cook until tender. Roast some pumkin seasoned with oil, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Assemble the bowl by adding broccoli, roast pumpkin, wild or salad greens (mallow, chickweed, cooked nettle), saukraut, and cooked chickpeas. Garnish with dandelion petals. For a simple dressing put together 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

Mushroom foraging

porcini

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.