The reward of weeding my lawn by hand this afternoon (rather than spraying #*$&@! ChemLawn like some of my neighbors) is getting to eat dinner from my own yard. I felt a tiny wave of shock and blinked to make sure I wasn't daydreaming when I saw 2 perfect morel mushrooms, whistling innocently with their hands in their pockets, lounging in a forgotten corner. Finding those odd little space aliens inspired me to finally try cooking some of the many dandelions I have been pulling up by hand. We had a little yard-food extravaganza for tonight's dinner.
I believe I have one yellow and one gray morel in the photo here. I looked up photos of false morels to make sure I wouldn't be killing us and learned that a main indicator of a true morel is a completely hollow stem. Let the frying in butter begin!
This was obviously an accidental treasure discovery, but I've been thinking for a while about how to be intentional about eating what's in the yard. Edible landscaping seems like such a better use of space. And I would love to have a PawPaw tree. Ever since learning about the Edible Estates project initiated by Fritz Haeg several years ago I've been experiencing edible landscaping envy.
The Edible Estates project proposes the replacement of the domestic front lawn with a highly productive edible landscape. It was initiated by architect and artist Fritz Haeg on Independence Day, 2005, with the planting of the first regional prototype garden in the geographic center of the United States, Salina, Kansas. Since then three more prototype gardens have been created, in Lakewood, California; Maplewood, New Jersey; and London, England. Edible Estates regional prototype gardens are planned for Austin, Texas and Baltimore, Maryland for 2008, and will ultimately be established in nine cities across the United States.
And now I see that there is a book on Edible Estates! And the AA Library even has it!
"Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn" documents the first four gardens with firsthand accounts written by the owners, garden plans, and photographs illustrating the creation of the gardens, from ripping up the grass to harvesting a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Essays by landscape architect Diana Balmori, garden and food writer Rosalind Creasy, Fritz Haeg, author Michael Pollan, and artist and writer Lesley Stern set the Edible Estates project in the context of larger issues concerning the environment, global food production, and generating a sense of community in our urban and suburban neighborhoods. The book also includes reports and photographs from the owners of other edible front yards around the country, and helpful resources to guide you in making your own Edible Estate.
What's even more exciting is that Fritz Haeg is going to be the featured guest for Avalon Housing's Fall Fundraiser on November 9 and speaking at the Library on November 10th this year. I might get to actually see him! And of course we are looking forward to Avalon's great Hometown Hootenanny with its local food auction on May 16th....but I digress.
Back to dinner from the yard. Fettucine with a handful of asparagus from yesterday's farmer's market, steamed, and the morels sauteed until golden with a little spring onion, then cream to bind it all together and a little parmesan on top. The dandelion greens I sauteed in butter with a bit of garlic. The pasta was fantastic, but I'm going to have to figure out a way to make the dandelions less bitter. They must be very nutritious.
Even with the rising popularity of Victory Gardens and books like "Food Not Lawns," I'm not sure what will convince the neighbors to eat their dandelions rather than spray them. I can only say that the morels were fabulous.