Savoring the Seasons: Mulberries and more

  • Trouble Mandeson holds kohlrabi from her CSA share at Laura Timmerman and Robin Creamer’s Sweet Morning Farm, Leyden

For The Recorder
Published: 7/12/2016 1:31:56 PM

Thanks to everyone who told me how much Martha looks like me after seeing her photo in my column — and who appreciated her recipe for crustless spinach pie.

One of the great things about that recipe is that you can vary the types of cheese and greens.

Here are Melinda Baughman’s variations: “I didn’t have most of the ingredients. I used collards, wild arugula and a big bunch of mixed herbs, including dill, toasted pine nuts, 3-ish ounce of chevre, a bit of aged cheese, garlic and five eggs. The recipe I usually use for spinach pie calls for sauteing greens with onion until shiny with oil, so I added that step because I’m used to it. I like how easy, tasty, and flexible it is, and no soggy phyllo dough on the leftovers. I’d skip pine nuts and use feta next time.”

Also, thanks to David Fersh for the mulberry tale below. And, thanks, especially, to Trouble Mandeson for responding to my request for photos of you at farm stands, farmers markets, CSA farms and your gardens, along with your recipes.

This week we’re eating …

Trouble’s Kohl-slawbi (using kohlrabi)

By Trouble Mandeson of Greenfield

Cut thicker outside skin off kohlrabi. Use veggie peeler to remove remaining green or purple skin down to lighter inside. Cut in thin julienne strips (a mandoline is great for this chore). Peel and julienne radishes, turnips, carrots, beets, any other hard veggie you’d like. Add 1/4-1/2 C. each of mayonnaise and plain yogurt (more or less depending on desired coverage). Throw in 1/2 cup golden raisins (or nuts or other dried fruit). Season with salt/pepper. Dash of rice vinegar. Squeeze of lemon juice. Stir well, refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, then serve as you would coleslaw or other salad.

Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush

By David Fersh of Charlemont

My bush is actually an enormous tree sitting halfway back in my yard. Old and weathered, its longest thick trunks stretch horizontally, propped up by large boulders. What appears to be it’s “mate” is on the other side, fruitless, but partly responsible for the female’s bounty. In early summer as weather heats up I have a view of intense activity as catbirds, warblers, cedar waxwings, grackles, orioles, robins, etc. are drawn to the feast. Like dive bombers, squadrons of birds swoop into the tree, pluck tasty berries and return to perches with their “just desserts.”

Things I have learned about picking: since they are plentiful, focus on the ripest as these berries are tarter than most — when in doubt leave it for later or for the birds; use a good-sized pot which can sit on the ground, freeing hands; as you pull higher branches down with one arm, take the good ones in clusters than drop into the pot; move behind each branch to find those hiding; work your way methodically around the tree; take breaks to rest achy body, drink water, eat a few for fun and energy. Be sure to wear an old hat to protect you from bird poop.

Some other things I’ve learned: find a friend or more to help — better yet have them do all the work while you direct and doze in the shade, as Tom Sawyer did with whitewashing the family fence. Offer them the excitement of the search and plenty to take home. Before embarking on any of the above, remember to scour the ground first — tons of perfectly ripe jewels are there, having fallen by themselves or been shaken by the birds’ feeding. They are easier to gather, though us older folks find bending a chore. This is where children can be saviors! With proper direction they will happily forage endlessly like Easter egg hunters.

Finally, sort and clean your crop, leaving a good amount for the freezer. Eat the rest as they are or with some sweetener (bananas are perfect). This activity can be repeated the next day or even sooner, since new droppings appear each time you work your way “round the mulberry bush.” But despite the old song’s lyric, don’t venture out “early in the morning” as that’s the bird’s favorite time and we must share, plus the dew makes for damp pickings.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer brand promoter and writer/editor. Send column suggestions and recipes to mmcclinto@yahoo.com.


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