Saturday, October 16, 2010

South Carolina Food Foraging take 1, and Cherry-Strawberry Mousse!

Recently I moved from the Hudson Valley, which is along the Hudson River in New York. I truly miss the local food scene there, which is still at its toddler stage but is relatively large compared to the average US city or small region. There are local vineyards, breweries, distilleries, CSAs (community-supported agriculture...we'll get into a discussion about this very soon), small orchards, fruit stands, small farms, and co-ops. Not to mention all the wild edibles there! I gathered milkweed stems for steaming, milkweed buds to pickle into capers, bracken fiddle-head ferns, blood root (used medicinally), wild asparagus, wild apples, edible violets and tiger lilies, wild parsnip, pin-cherries, wild grapes, wild onion and wild garlic, wintergreen berries, chives (which grow EVERYWHERE!), black birch, chestnuts, thimbleberries, wild blackberries and raspberries, chanterelle mushrooms, and wild blueberries are all some of the foods I have had the pleasure of foraging for and later consuming. So, a part of me was quite sad to leave all of that in NY to come to South Carolina where there is very little to forage. However, I found a few things!

Agave Salmiana or White Agave. This plant will eventually grow a stamen that can reach over 20 ft tall. When the stamen is cut at the beginning of its growth, the wound will weep a sugary fluid called "aguamiel" or water-honey that, when evaporated, produces raw agave nectar.
Close up of the thick, spiny leaves of the White Agave that, although not native to South Carolina, thrives here.

Sweet crab-apples! I ate them all day! A polyphenol-rich food with a higher tannin content than hybridized apples.
Delicious (and beautiful!)
The green orbs are unripened dates from this date-palm! The black ones have a sugary paste on the inside surrounding a hard, light brown pit....the paste tastes like brown sugar and molasses!
Same date-palm tree that the close-up is taken from.
Prickly pear is the red fruit on top of this cactus, it is a delicious white-grape-and-strawberry flavor on the inside and a salty-cucumber-tasting crispy flesh around the sweet center. Once you get used to the combo  and learn to eat each part separately, it is an amazing experience, one of the most refreshing foods I have ever eaten on a hot, 90 degree South Carolina day!
  A prickly pear on the inside! Like art, can you believe that color??
All of these foods were so good! A wild foraging dinner! I am still eating some of the sweet crab-apples! I am waiting for the rest of the prickly pear fruit to ripen so I can take them home and make some delicious desserts! All of this food (in a busy city, might I add) was obtained for free! There are so many foods like greens, grasses, tubers, berries, and even cacti that we can eat for free from our own communities. A woman down the street from me even had a pomegranate tree which I picked some fruit from! And the day was spent in the sun, enjoying the adventure, feeling like a kid again instead of waiting in a line of grumps at a busy supermarket. Just for fun, check out some food around your area.....the rewards of finding even one thing is an exciting experience. Get out there in the sun and get that vitamin D to boost your immune system; it also discourages the "bad" genes from becoming stimulated (one more thing to talk about later; I'm really building up a list here!).


This recipe is for a mini 6" pie in a springform pan and 2 parfait glasses.

Strawberry-Cherry Mousse:
*2 cups clear Irish Moss dry, not packed down in measuring cup (more about this ingredient below)*
1cup of fresh or thawed black or bing cherries
1 cup fresh or thawed strawberries (wth tops cut off but reserved for a green shake! They are high in Vit C!)
6 drops of stevia liquid, 2 Tbsp honey, or sweetener to preferred taste (I like my tart). Keep in mind that the more liquid sweetener you use, the more coconut oil you will have to add to keep the firm texture and the more coconut oil you use, the more coconutty your dessert will taste. For this reason, I suggest using an herbal sweetener such as stevia liquid or powder for this recipe.
2 Tbsp liquid coconut oil
12 raw soaked and dehydrated cashews (the less liquid in the nut the better, which is why I dehydrate them after soaking. Soaking makes the nutrients in the nut more viable as well as increases it digestibility and makes the nut sweeter!)

-Blend all ingredients until very smooth in a blender, adding only a tiny amount of liquid if absolutely necessary. If you added too much to ease the blades on an older blender, add more soaked Irish Moss and more coconut oil or cashews to thicken 

*About Irish Moss: Irish Moss is rich in iodine, an essential mineral, which helps prevent mental retardation as well as helps support healthy thyroid hormone function. It is also rich in sulfur, the "beauty chemical" which helps create beautiful hair, nails, skin, eyes, and that "glow." It has significant amounts of protein for being a sea vegetable and provides a host of other minerals--minerals being a part of nutrition many people neglect and are thus deficient. Irish moss was used during the Irish potato famine as an emergency food by the poor. Since it had high amounts of minerals, vitamins, and protein, it helped many live that would otherwise have died from malnutrition. The purpose of Irish Moss in this recipe is to thicken. Many commercial foods like ice cream and salad dressing have an ingredient called "carageenan" and it is a processed form of this whole food. Irish moss thickens like gelatin yet no animals are harmed in the process and this is much better for you!

How to use Irish Moss:
1) Pull out the pieces of Irish Moss and wash them individually underneath running water, filtered preferable.
2) Put the Irish Moss in a jar filled with filtered water and shake the jar vigorously until the water becomes cloudy.
3) Pour out the water and refill with fresh water. Repeat step #2 a few times, about 3 or 4 or until water comes out completely clear and sediment-free.
4) Soak Irish moss in new water for 1 1/2 days before using it. WARNING: Over-soaking can a less gelatinous effect.

Crust and Parfait Crumble: 
1 3/4 c soaked and dehydrated cashews
1/2 c dried golden mulberries (or mashed dates without pits)
1/2 Tbs vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped and pods saved for tea
1 Tbs liquid coconut oil (I was out and used 1 Tbs olive oil, worked great too!)

-Grind all ingredients except last ingredient well in a blender or food processor.
-Transfer crumble to a bowl and massage with clean hands the coconut oil into the mixture so mixture sticks in balls when formed as one in the palm of the hand
-Line the bottom of a saran-wrap covered springform cake tin with 1/3" of crust, patting all around to ensure evenness.
-Put the rest of the crumble aside for parfaits.

Assembly for Mousse Pie:
-Fill the rest of the springform with filling and let rest in fridge for 12 hours or overnight until consuming to allow natural gelatin to set.
-Serve with sliced strawberries and cherries marinating in honey for 3 hours at room temperature (this makes the fruit "weep" juices, creating a juicer and more cherry-and-strawberry tasting sauce by infusing the honey instead of just simply mixing ingredients.

Cherry-Strawberry-Honey Sauce:
-1 cup of fruit to 1/2 a cup of honey.

Assembly for Parfaits:
-Layer 2 parfait glasses however you like with sauce, mousse, and crumble. My layering strategy was: crumble, mousse, sauce, crumble..... but layer however you like!!!

The mix!

The crust pressed into the Springform

Ladies and Gentlemen, be not afraid! It is only soaked Irish Moss!

The thawed cherries I bought from a local orchard when I lived in New York that I brought back to South Carolina and the strawberries a friend and I picked in New York in June.

The fruit, still frozen...

A truly raw cashew is whiter than a non-raw one. Some cheap ones labeled "raw" are not actually so. They are not roasted for a long period of time, but not sproutable either. The one I am holding has a little "tail" on the is the beginning of a sprout!!

Pouring the looks thinner than it really is but has not set yet.

The parfaits!


1 comment:

JJMBalogh said...

Wish this was done in the kitchen with me. Shame now I'll only get to see your creations on-line now. Cheers to you for getting this site up. I'll have to get one rollin soon. Smile on lil lady.