There I was weeding away in the Netherton Community garden and Tommy says to me - 'you can eat that'. He called what I was pulling up 'goosefoot' but I took some home and it was listed in Food For Free (by Richard Mabey) as Fat Hen. I took the top shoots and flower heads and steamed it a bit like asparagus. It tasted great as a green side dish - very similar to spinach really and a treat along with an omlette.
Of course I then started to look out for it at home and soon spotted it growing on a piece of waste land near the house. What a great free addition to the diet.
Posted 12/7/2010 15:26 (#209 - in reply to #207) Subject: RE: Eat Fat Hen
Fat hen is fine for most people but anyone with osteoporosis should eat it sparingly as it contains high amounts of oxalic acid which requires calcium to be digested and will remove calcium from bones if sufficient is not eaten along with the fat hen.
Spinach and Rhubarb also contain oxalic acid but not as much as fat hen I think. Calcium is usually obtained from dairy products
Posted 14/7/2010 02:14 (#217 - in reply to #207) Subject: Boiled Fat Hen
Apparently the vikings called it 'lambsquarters'. Anyhow here's a recipe (if boiling a green vegetable needs such a thing)...
Lambsquarters are found today as weeds at the edges of ditches and gardens. They have several near-relatives, such as orache (Atriplex patula) and spear-leaved orache (Atriplex prostrata), which are also good to eat. All these plants may be boiled just like spinach or used in salads. To make four servings:
1 lb. fresh, very young, tender lambsquarters
2/3 cup water
dash or two of salt
Rinse the lambsquarters. Add the salt to the water and bring to a boil. Add in the lambsquarters and boil for about 5 minutes. Pour off the liquid and allow the lambsquarters to drain. Serve with a little butter.
... I would be inclined to boil older fat hen for a bit longer, then drain it and sweat in a little butter over a low heat for a couple of minutes. My south asian friends use it as a substitute for saag (and they insist that spinach is not saag), they seem to boil it to death when cooking older plants.
and, just below the fat hen recipe, one for 'pancake with berries' which is similar to what I'd call a clafouti - basically a baked sweet pancake with fruit in it - an excellent dessert to make when you just have a handful of fruit:
Pancake with Berries For four servings. Ingredients
2/3 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup lingonberries or bilberries
Turn on the oven to 425°F (225°C). Whisk the batter together without the butter and stir in the berries. Melt the butter in a heat-resistant baking pan and pour it in the batter. Bake it in the middle of the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the pancake has a nice color. Cut it into pieces and serve with some jam.
- I'd add sugar and an egg yolk or two and let the batter stand for 30 minutes. Search out clafouti recipes for batter etc variations but don't be seduced by over elaborate ones - simple clafoutis are usually the best.
We should start compiling information on local & wild ingredients, recipes, useful links. Scandinavian sources can be good, some of their ingredients and recipes are very appropriate for the Highlands.
Posted 15/8/2010 23:36 (#304 - in reply to #207) Subject: Re: Eat Fat Hen
Thanks. I identified fat hen last year but didn't know what to do with it. I have also found sorrel in the garden, so weeding can end up being quite productive. The long leaved sorrel makes a good lemon substitute but sheep's sorrel is best left to the sheep. Wood sorrel seems to be a completely different species. It also tastes lemony but eat sparingly. Good remedy for constipation!