Yesterday was busy. First off, got the chickpeas ready for thermal cooking. Two cups soaked chickpeas, half and onion, some tomatoes and chipotle peppers, other herbs and spices and enough water to cover. I boiled the chickpeas on the stove for 10 minutes or so. Then I transferred the pot with a cover to an insulated cooler that was lined with baby blankets. Once the pot was safely in the cooler, I wrapped the blankets around it, stuffed in some newspapers to insulate it even more, then closed the cooler. By end of day (about 5 hours later), I opened the cooler, unwrapped the pot and checked the chickpeas. They were still just a bit hard, so I removed the pot and simmered them for another hour or so on the stove. I could have heated them up again and put them back in the cooler for further cooking, but didn't. Chickpeas take a long time to cook. They are, however, delicious! And it is neat to have another cooking method if the power is out.
Our hunter neighbor was cleaning out his freezer a while ago so he could put in all the deer meat he had just processed from the deer he got hunting. We benefited with loads of venison, fish, and random game meat. Pheasant was one of the gifts, so yesterday we had roast pheasant. I used the crockpot for this: 2 pheasant breasts, rolled in flour and browned in the fry pan. Cut up an onion and put that in the crockpot, added the browned pheasant breasts, and 1 cup dry red wine and 2 cups chicken broth. Threw in some rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Let it cook all day, and by dinner, the meat was falling off the bones! We had it with baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. A royal feast!
In the afternoon, I couldn't stay inside any longer, and the weather permitted so I went foraging. I've been really hungry for wild food, so I went looking for fresh greens although I knew there wouldn't be much or any yet. Our wild foods start coming up in March, which is still a tad early. I found no greens--even my favorite chickweed patch hadn't yet recovered from the snow and ice it had been buried under for nearly two weeks. Sigh. I did find some wild chives and harvested those. I'll use them with the chickpeas to make a salad.
So I dug roots instead. A friend has asked for some sassafrass roots. She grew up in Ohio and loved sassafrass tea, but hadn't had any in years since she nows lives out west. So, I dug sassafrass roots--well, wrassled them out of the mud is more like what happened. I went for the little saplings who had come up in the shade of a large pine and which were unlikely to grow up anyway. It was very messy, digging in the mud, but at least it was mud and not hard packed earth as it was last time I dug them. Got a goodly store of roots, enough for my friend and for us. The inner bark of the root is what you use to make the tea traditionally, but I just simmer the roots for 20 minutes or so. Makes a fine tasting, reddish-brown tea that is excellent. It's a good tonic and blood purifier.
I also found the old dead poke plants and managed to dig up bits of the roots. A poke plant simply will NOT give up its roots, you'd have to use elephants to drag them out of the ground. But I could chip off pieces of it and got enough for something or another. Poke root is quite poisonous so I'm not sure if I'll use them or not. I'll research this more before I do anything with them.
After digging the roots I went and visited Fred to see how he was doing. He's recovering nicely from his broken elbow, but his rheumatism is acting up. We had a glass of wine and commiserated.
All in all, a busy fulfilling day. I can't wait for those wild greens to come in though! I'm hungry for 'em!