WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE LUMMI ISLAND

A few weeks ago we headed to Lummi  Island off the coast of Seattle to teach a photography workshop. The premise was visual storytelling and reportage with a heavy dose of wild and gathered ingredients as our base for inspiration.It was our first workshop and we thank all those involved for their patience and inspiration. it was a lovely weekend, with students from the United States, Portugal and Dubai! It was completely pulled together and organized by Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle and Vanille. The spark to this this idea started a couple years ago  with a quick conversation with Aran and the timing finally seemed right!The stars aligned with all our schedules and we forged ahead. Aran was the perfect co-partner and host! She and local Seattle based photographer Charity Burgraff kept us well fed and all the pieces moving in unison. ( look for Charity's new book  Sea and Smoke a collaboration with Chef Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn out this October, it is gorgeous and SO very inspiring!) Charity thank you for so graciously sharing the island with us!

We were't sure what we would find for wild foods once we got to Lummi but luckily it was bountiful. We gathered rose hips and roses and herbs for the weekend from Riley Stark's Nettles Farm where some of the students stayed. He had one of the most fragrant and wild gardens I have been to in quite some time! there was something extraordinary about the way the scents hung in the crisp salty air. Riley's farm and all it's beauty will stay with us for some time. a day or so into the workshop we started brainstorming dinner plans and realized we could grab a couple chickens  from Riley who raises the most beautiful organic Poulet Bleu. We added some wild oregano, whole quince thyme, rose hips, fennel blossom, olives, and local salt from Jim Henken's shop Marine Area7 and voila, dinner was born. the chickens were braised then finished off in the oven.

 

Everything we made to eat that weekend was in some way seasoned with things we gathered from Jim's farm. We had a huge basket of gathered edibles that we kept returning to for a little snip of this or that.My favorite seasonings of the weekend were the fennel blossom, the wild oregano and the celery seed. we there together a salad on our last night that was mediterranean inspired but whole from the island.we used Riley's organic perfectly ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced onions from the farm, whole large caper berries,  crushed green olives, fennel blossom, celery seed,  wild purple oregano and blossom,local sea salt, a good dose of cold pressed super green olive oil, wild mint and tiny bit of wild mustard blossom.

 

I will try to recreate it soon and post a recipe. It was one of my favorite salads of summer.

 

The workshop itself was held at the beautiful Lummi Island home of Seattle based Photographer and shop keeper (Marine Area7). Thank you Jim for letting us take over your very special space! Jim not only went crabbing for us once but twice! We were really spoiled with those dinners!

Jim's house is filled with luminous light and as you can imagine being the proprietor of the new Seattle based shop Marine Area 7 it was filled with props and surfaces that were spot on. I was coveting my share of goods for sure! Jim, I am still dreaming about that smoked salmon you made so effortlessly in that beautiful smoker! If you haven’t checked out his shop which he runs with his wife you must do so!

 

We met up on our last day with Rob Gold, sous at the Willows Inn to do a little woods and beach gathering. We found black berries, sorrel, pine, German Chamomile, Rose hips and so much more! On the beach we gathered sea lettuces for our poached egg dish. We quickly blanched the seaweed and added pea blossoms mustard flower and dill and fennel fronds and put an egg on it, hit it with a drizzle of olive oil and some pine salt and breakfast was done. thank you Rob for letting us point all this e cameras at you!

At night we snuck away to The Willows where we drank dark  smokey house roasted tea and had amazing wine and local cheese. Next time We will return for a proper stay there! Thank you Blaine!

We left the island full, happy and exhausted! So glad to have met all of you involved. Keep pushing yourselves!

 

 

 

 

Tammy at Running with Tweezers pulled together the list below if everyone's work sites!

Thank you Tammy! I snagged it from your post. Check out everyone's work when you get a moment.

And huge thank you to Monique Baron photographer and assistant/tech extradorniaire for  filleting salmon and pulling together power points and for the Capture One tutorial.

xx

Below are a few of our favorite moments.

 

 

 

150910_LUMMI_ISLAND_Card7-2205.jpg
150910_LUMMI_ISLAND_Card2-1019.jpg
150910_LUMMI_ISLAND_Card1-160 1.jpg
150910_LUMMI_ISLAND_Card4-692.jpg

where the wild things are. nettle and ramp butter.

I have declared it nettle week in our house. So, while shooting a job at our place yesterday, I decided some nettle snacks were in order. We roasted some ramps with olive oil and sea salt and slathered some finish rye bread with some homemade nettle and ramp butter and topped it with the roasted ramps. It was the perfect afternoon treat, maybe the most perfect sandwich ever!

Recipes to follow on the weekend! (BUTTER RECIPE COMING SOON!)

 

 

Roasted Slightly Charred Ramps

 

1 bunch ramps

olive oil

sea salt

cracked black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degree.

Rinse the ramps under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.

Gently peel back the  lower outer most layer of the ramp and discard. Sometimes if the roots are on the ramps the outermost layer can be a bit transluscent and slimy. This is what you want to get rid of!

Cut the hairy root ends off the cleaned ramps and discard

Pat the ramps dry with a paper towel and lay them out on a roasting sheet. Thye can overlap one another.

Drizzle them with  extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Roast the ramps until just tender. 12-15 minutes at the most. Some of the leaves will brown and crisp a bit but don't worry! They still taste fantastic even when a bit charred!

Serve them with scrambled or poached eggs or on buttered toasts. If you feel iinclined and you pobably will; eat them straight off the baking sheet because they are just that good!

120402_HGFT_NETTLE--31024.jpg
120402_HGFT_NETTLE--31079.jpg
120402_HGFT_NETTLE--31103.jpg

where the wild things are no. 13. stinging nettle and spring garlic soup.

NETTLES

According to one of my very favorite books, The Dictionary of Gastronomy 1969 which offers concise little blurbs of information of all things gastronomic; “Nettles are a troublesome weed sometimes called stinging nettle. They are nourishing enough to eat if picked when young and tender. Country housewives cook nettles as spinach and in Eire, nettle soup is a specialty. Nettle beer is also made in some countryside districts in Britain."

 

 

Though I won’t be attempting Nettle beer anytime soon, nettles have been on my mind since encountering the nettle and pecorino pizza at Pizzaiolo in Oakland last month. Nettles are not unfamiliar to me. My relationship with them, however, has always been a bitter one. As a country kid, left to my own devices, I had more than the occasional encounter with the tiny stinging welts that cover your flesh once you come into contact with them. In the summer, we kept several bottles of witch hazel on hand to combat just such encounters. Nettles grow in the tall grass, at the woods edge, in abandoned building lots and surround blackberry bushes as though they are standing guard against little hands of intruders.

 

Nettles, have a long history as both a food source and a medicinal plant. Perhaps you have the fairly common nettle tea or a nettle pesto? Nettles, which must be blanched to be used in cooking in order to remove the toxins from the stinging hollow needle like hairs, taste a lot like  spinach and are full of vitamins and minerals. Why not just eat spinach you ask? The whole process of battling this wild plant is fun. It is a challenge. Why not get to know some of your wild edibles, especially those that are abundant not endangered, long seasoned and often free. I do admit that my first sip of nettle soup was taken with a great deal of trepidation. I waited for my throat to sting wildly. It did not. Nettles are one of the first plants to show up in the early spring thereby making them an attractive and green food source after long winters for settlers and Native Americans. There are many benefits to this little weed that outweigh it’s stinging reputation. As well as from being good for you, the fibers of the plant can be used to make a textile similar to linen, it’s roots can be used to make a  vibrant yellow natural dye. Nettles are rich in nitrogen,  which makies them an excellent compost activator and of course they taste good!

Wear long pants and long sleeves to harvest your nettles and always wear gloves! Clip the top tender most leaves of the plant, throw them into a brown paper bag for transport. When you get them home put the gloves back on and throw them into a salad spinner to wash away any dirt or little critters. When you transfer them to the pot to blanch them wear gloves! They are not safe to touch until they have been blanched or if making  tea after they have been put in the boiling water.

 

These days, Nettles are popping up on menus all over the country. You can most likely find them, if you prefer to be less adventurous than gathering them yourself, from a local forager or wildcrafter or local green market.

I might just declare this nettle week here at hungry ghost and shoot them all week long!

I did not gather these nettles myself as the weather upstate is still a bit cold on our side of the mountain. I got them both from a wild food gatherer and from a stall at the Union Squre Green Market. Because nettles shrink so much, like any green when cooking, you will need much more than you would think you would need. I look forward to gathering some near my own blackberry bushes once the sun finally shines on delaware country.

 

Keep in mind if you gather in the wild to always positively identify a plant before consuming it!

 

 

Stinging Nettle and Spring Garlic soup

15 loosley packed cups of nettles

1 spring garlic

Three small shallots

3tblspoons butter

1 qt. of organic chicken stock

8 cups of water

bowl of ice for plunge bath

 

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh ground nutmeg to taste (optional)

Nettle blossoms for garnish (optional)

 

Method

Set 8 cups of water in a large pot to boil.

When boiling (with gloves) add your stinging nettles to blanch.

Quickly remove them once blanched and plunge them in an ice bath.

Squeeze the excess water from the nettles and set them aside ( they will be  a mere shadow of their former self at this point. greatly reduced in volume.

 

Chop the spring garlic bulb and the shallots into small pieces.

Add the butter to a medium size soup pot and melt over a low heat.

Add the onion and the garlic to sautee until just translucent and soft.

Remove from the heat.

 

Chop the ball of blanched nettles into coarse pieces.

Add the chopped nettles to the melted butter and sauteed onions and return to a low heat, Cook for two minutes stirring constantly.

Add the quart of chicken broth and simmer the onions, garlic, nettles and broth for twenty or so minutes until the nettles are very soft.

Remove from the heat and puree the whole mixture in a blender.

Run the soup mixture through a fine sieve o remove any large particles.

Return the soup to the pot and heat to serve.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with garlic mustard blossoms and fresh cracked pepper.

Serve with a hard boiled egg and some ramp butter on your favorite bread!