Last night was our second annual Hill town Sustainability Foraged Food Pot-luck Dinner. I ate so much, I waddled. I had dandelion Tempura, Steamed Milkweed Pods with Hollandaise Sauce, Knot Weed Crunch, Stuffed Grape Leaves, Burdock Root, Bishop’s Weed Sauteed with Garlic, Lilac Infused Yogurt, Fiddlehead Pickles,  and Chive Butter. There were a lot of local greens in a couple of salads too. We drank Lemon Balm/Honey Tea, Wild Grape Juice and Knot Weed Ade. There was a lot more I am forgetting. People brought plant identification books, recipes and, in many cases, the plants themselves.

It was a terrific evening with lots of laughter and community. The church vestry where we held it was magically cleaned up and most people contributed a dollar or two to pay for the use of the room. The amazing thing was how good the food was. With few exceptions, we tried to stick with food we gathered as the main ingredient and food produced locally for the rest. There was some rice and a few spices that were bought from outside but at least they were purchased in bulk. The variety of food and the creativity of the cooks was astounding, especially when you think that most of what we ate would be considered weeds. It’s all in perspective. I just think of all the people who have gone hungry or complained that they couldn’t afford fresh vegetables when the makings for a cheap, healthy meal were in their backyards.

I contributed a Nettle Soup. I am including the recipe. I hope you will try it. Nettles are springing up everywhere right now. Just be sure to wear heavy gloves when you harvest. They aren’t called Stinging Nettles for nothing.

Saute 1/2 cup wild leeks or onion in 1 tablespoon butter until limp but not brown

Add about four medium potatoes, cut in chunks, and 6 cups of stock, chicken or vegetable and boil for 12 minutes.

Add 1 pound washed Nettle leaves. This is a colander full if you pack it tight. I did not have quite enough so I added 8 stalks of asparagus. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Lift the solids into the bowl of a food processer and pulse until smooth, then return to the pan.

Add 1/2 cup heavy cream. 1 teaspoon salt, some ground pepper and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and heat through. Do not let it boil.

Serve with a swirl of yogurt or sour cream.

This was a fabulous soup for a cold night. I think it would be excellent chilled as well. I think it could also include a handful of Lamb’s Quarters with no change to the flavor.