Last night we made a green pea soup and apart from the Hablitzia (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde), I used perennial vegetables growing in a wild part of the garden. With little or no help from me there’s a bounty of wild edibles in this area under wild hazels (Corylus avellana) and this made for a delicious pea soup with masses of greens. Campanula latifolia is documented as used in spring soups in the 16th century in my area in Norway and Heracleum shoots are also a tradional soup ingredient, in particular Russian borsch now thought of as a beetroot soup was originally made with hogweed shoots.
It’s that time of year that Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) goes all floppy and needs help to go upwards rather than sideways! The floppiness you see here has nothing to do with the weather which habby loves although it’s never expereienced being snowed on for 5 days in a row in the middle of May in its short 18 year lifetime!
I noticed yesterday that the ostrich ferns (strutseving) in the forest garden had put on a spurt despite the cold weather and were almost past the harvesting stage. This is the main disadvantage of this great vegetable. The harvesting window is very narrow. I quickly harvested some, taking care not to take more than 1/3 of the shoots. Together with Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach), a bit of sea kale (strandkål), ramsons (ramsløk) and sand leeks (bendelløk) this made a delicious green pasta sauce. See the video before I picked below!
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere I eat more Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) than any other spring vegetable and have eaten it every day now since the beginning of March (70 days). A friend mentioned on Instagram that she would love to see my plant! Well, I’ve just counted them and I have 36 harvestable plants and many different accessions now and more on the way…spread around the garden. About time then for an overview. They grow back so quickly even though we’ve hardly had a single day above 10C this spring that you wouldn’t have guessed that I’ve cut most of them right back! They regularly self-seed but they only see to succeed in naked soil where there is little competition. All the plants I tried in the forest garden area didn’t make it (in competition with ground elder, Aegopodium).
Presenting yesterdays greens used on a veggie 100% whole grain barley/spelt/rye sourdough pizza were: Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach /stjernemelde) (eaten now every day since the beginning of March and there’s more to harvest now than at any time since I started!) Crambe maritima (sea kale / strandkål) Allium ursinum (ramsons / ramsløk) Levisticum officinale (lovage / løpstikke) (I call blanched lovage “spring celery” as it’s not that much stronger than celery…and much easier to grow than celery organically) Ligularia fischeri (Gomchwi; Fischer’s Ligularia / Koreansk nøkketunge) (King of the Sannamul: see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=3114) Rumex patientia (Patience dock / Hagesyre) Bistorta officinalis (Bistort / Ormerot)
A wonderful birthday dinner yesterday! As is the tradition since I left home, my birthday dinner has been Macaroni Cheese with rhubarb crumble for dessert. Mac Cheese was the first veggie dish I ate back in the 60s – Mum took us to Edwin Jones in Southampton (the superstore of the time) where they served it in the restaurant. We loved it and it became a traditions for Mum to make this every Tuesday! Nowadays, we use whole grain spelt macaroni with masses of greens…Hablitzia or Caucasian spinach ( stjernemelde) and dandelion (løvetann). On the top, we used dried alpine bistort (harerug) bulbils! This one time rhubarb crumble is the only time I eat sugar each year, something I’ve kept up now for the last 20 years. Dedicating this to my dear Mum…it’s after all her 65th birth day too!
Here’s two favourite companions of the edible woodland garden: Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) and the climber Caucasian spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides). The plant is for the waterleaf to gradually fill the gaps between the Hablitzia plants.
Last night’s Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) and Allium paradoxum pesto was of course delicious with golpar (Heracleum spice), garlic, chili, sunflower seeds, parmesan, salt and pepper.
I think that we ate Hablitzia (fondly known as habby) shoots every day this March as the mild winter and largely unfrozen soil brought them on about a month earlier than normal, even the plants in the shadiest parts of the garden, where frozen soil normally lingers longer, have been harvested regularly this year. They’ve been used in all sorts of dishes from pizza to quiche to salads to a soba dish, stir fry in green pasta sauce, in curry, in vegetable patties and baccalao. Tasty, adaptable and nutritious! We’ve had 3 or 4 heavy snow falls which have melted again in a few days but the Caucasian spinach (stjernemelde or star orach in Norwegian) is hardly affected. HABBY EASTER TO ALL MY FOLLOWERS :)