Top Ten free foods
After a vacation, and then two busy weeks back at work, my vegetable garden kind of got away from me.
The Pink Beauty and cherry tomatoes are doing great, but so are the weeds.
I felt bad about that until I read a recent discussion on the Google group Baltimore Food Makers. Someone was seeking the identity of the mystery vegetable that had arrived with her weekly CSA allotment. She sent along a photograph of the unknown greenery.
Purslane, a tasty and healthful weed good in salads, came the answer.
Turns out that's my weed. Or one of them anyway.
I tried my first bite yesterday, a little wary that it might turn out to be a highly toxic purslane lookalike. I survived the nibble, and found it pleasantly crisp and peppery.
Which brings me to this week's list:
Top Ten free foods
No. 1: Purslane
No. 2: Dandelion greens
No. 3: Mushrooms
You have to know what you're doing with this one or you'll wind up dead.
No. 4: Blackberries
My husband, kids, a niece and I had a memorable feast on wild blackberries we came across on a bike ride two summers ago. The fruit was so wonderful that I went out and bought two blackberry bushes the next spring. One of them hasn't done much, but the other has grown like crazy. I picked a good-sized bowlful of berries the other day and they're still coming. I know those blackberries aren't exactly free, since I paid for the bushes, but considering what the fruit cost in the market, they're a deal.
No. 5: Raspberries
My neighbor has a bush. We only have a few, but they're wonderful right off the bush. The ones in the supermarket package always seem to have mold.
No. 6: Apricots
Another neighbor had a pair of apricot trees. Unfortunately, one of them died, and for some varieties of apricots, it takes two to tango. (More about tree sex here.) Now my best shot at free apricots is to go to the West Baltimore MARC station farmers' market just before noon on Saturdays and buy the fruit from the vendor. He usually throws in extras free because it's closing time and, sadly enough, there haven't been many customers all day.
No. 7: Figs
Yet another neighbor has a tree. The neighborhood fox gets in on the free fruit, too. We saw him get up on two legs one time to have a munch.
No. 8: Whole Foods/Trader Joe's trash bins
I couldn't do it, but the high-end Dumpster divers are out there.
No. 9: Wild onions
They're all over the yard. Why not?
No. 10: Mixed drinks
I have an expert-mixologist neighbor who puts out a flag emblazoned with cocktail glasses whenever he's out on his side porch having happy hour, which is pretty often.
My purslane, I think. (Unlike George Costanza, I don't have a future as a hand model.) Photo by math-hubby