Yesterday, the people who own the empty house in front of us came to tidy the yard, the yard where my woodland strawberries grow! I was upset at myself for not harvesting the strawberries the day before, but I had already spent an 1.5 hour gathering milkweed buds*, lemon balm, and sour cherries.
The tablespoon is to give an idea of how big the buds are. Here is another article on milkweed with recipes for preparing the buds.
Soëlie was understandably tired by the time I finished, and to top it off, I was greeted by neighbors and invited in for chat when we got back home. So, because of my "laziness" there was a whole patch of berries ready to be turned into jam by a weedwhacker. I hesitated for all of twenty seconds and then went to ask the gentleman pulling weeds from between flagstones if he was going to harvest the berries. He looked at me as if I was a bit batty (or it could have been a look of concentration--I don't think he was French) then told me no. "May I pick them, then, before you mow?" I asked and he consented. I have a couple of cups worth of berries now, but I doubt any more will be forthcoming from that patch this year...and I hope we are gone by next year.
I think I'm going to make a clafoutis with them. I found a recipe that calls for pears, but I don't have enough on hand, so I'll sub with some strawberries.
* Whenever I'm gathering milkweed, I smile at any passing cars or pedestrians, if ever there are any--it's a tiny rural road--because I'm always hoping someone will stop and ask me what I'm doing so that I can share my knowledge; but they never do. On my way home, though, I met a gentlemen and exchanged greetings with him, the listener in this conversation.
He looked at my full plastic sacks and asked, "Coming back from the (river) beach or from buying cheese?"
"Neither," I said, smiling and lifting my spoils for him to see. At last, someone I can tell about milkweed! "I have sour cherries here and lemon balm and milkweed!"
"Yes, you can eat it." I dipped my hand in, ready to show him what the buds look like, saying, "I gather it just--"
He shook his head and interrupted me with; "We don't eat that here." (Here being France, I assume)
Sigh. More for us, I guess. But I don't mind sharing, especially not now that I've found a second patch right next to where I harvest grapes. I also found a plant that I saw at Loches, in the medieval garden, but silly me, I forgot to take a pic of its name plate. Anyone know what it is? It's edible or medicinal but I don't know anything else about it. It has a single stalk, and as you can see in the far right picture, the leaf-growth pattern is very distinct: