Backyard Foraging

Backyard Foraging

One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was a calendar. A wall calendar called “Backyard Foraging.” Hostas, dandelions, lilac, and daylily are among the plants common to many a garden.

They can be eaten.

I have to confess it never occurred to me that the young shoots of hosta can be ‘ roasted whole and served simply, with or without sauce, or chopped, stir-fried, and served over pasta and rice.”

Nor did I have any idea that lilac wine, or that lilac flowers “infuse well in cream and can be used to make ice cream, panna cotta or custard.”

My characters in the hippie commune in my novel Joyous Lies would probably know all that. Pity they didn’t tell me earlier.

The calendar does not align the plants with the months in which they bloom or are best eaten. That’s because it covers all climate zones. Here in Arizona, I’ll harvest dandelion leaves in early March and nopales (prickly pear cactus) in August.

Actually, just thinking about those prickles gives me goosebumps. Investing in heavy work gloves and a very sharp knife makes it easier just to buy a bottle of prickly pear syrup. I’ll mix it with the liquor from another desert succulent to make a prickly pear margarita. I think this recipe is fairly forgiving, so experiment as you like.

Prickly Pear Margarita
2 oz tequila blanco
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 tsp prickly pear syrup
Soda water to taste
Salt to trim glass if desired