Eating the forest

cattails, credit: Julie Piper CC BY-NC 2.0

Inspired by Conor Mihell’s article, “The Bountiful Forest” I found a recipe book entitled “The Edible Wild” by Berndt Berglund and Clare E. Bolsby in Ontario Nature’s library.

The Edible Wild is both a cookbook and guide to wild plants that you can eat and cook with and which can be found throughout North America, including Ontario and the boreal forest.

Each chapter describes a different edible plant, then provides a variety of delicious-sounding recipes like this one.

By Noah Cole

Cattail pancakes filled with apples

Filling
3 pounds crabapples or wild apples       4 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter                                     2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Peel and core the apples and slice into ¼ inch wedges. In a heavy 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over high heat. When it gives off a nutty odor, reduce the heat and drop the apple slices into the skillet.

In a small mixing bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon thoroughly. Sprinkle the mixture over apples and cook, stirring gently from time to time. Set the skillet aside and let it stand overnight.

Alternatively: Fresh berries such as raspberries or blueberries could be substituted for filling.

Pancakes
8 eggs                                                                    6 teaspoons sugar
2 ½ cups milk                                                    ½ teaspoon salt
1 cup cattail flour                                             6 tablespoons butter

Scrape and clean the cattail roots, place them on a cookie sheet and then into a 175° Farenheit oven overnight. Skin the roots and remove the fibers. Using a blender, pulverize the roots until fine. Let stand for a day in a cold oven.

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes. Combine the eggs and milk in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wire whisk. Mix the cattail flour with the sugar and salt and add to the egg and milk mixture a little at a time. Mix well.

Line a heavy 10-inch skillet with foil, being careful not to puncture the foil and bringing it all the way up the sides of the skillet. Place the skillet over moderate heat and melt a tablespoon of butter in the foil. With a pastry brush grease the bottom and sides well and pour ½ cup of batter into the pan, tipping it from side to side to spread the batter evenly over the bottom. Spread ¾ of a cup of apples evenly over the batter and let the pancake cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour a second ½ cup of batter on top of the apples, covering them carefully.

Slide the skillet under the broiler and cook until the pancake is golden brown on top. To prevent burning, place the pancakes 7 to 8 inches from the element.

When cooked, place a large platter on top of the skillet and holding firmly to both, invert them together. The pancake should come out easily.

Remove the foil and put it back on the skillet, melt butter and proceed with the next pancake in the same manner as the first.

If you wish, just before serving sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar on each pancake.

Serves six people.

Alternative: Instead of using skillets, you could also use oven-safe pans.

The Edible Wild. Berndt Berglund and Clare E. Bolsby. Pagurian Press Limited. Toronto. 1971.

Photo credit: protoflux

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