Tag Archives: bull kelp

August is foggy a lot.

So many mornings the sun does not come out until late. But I picked the last of my Elephant Heart plums this week, and the first two figs of the season the week before. Just now I wandered around the garden (noon and sunny) and cut three zucchini.

I’m trying to get back to my habit of going to the beach once a week. It’s been foggy on the coast, too, but pleasant enough that I can wear just a thin linen shirt. Last time I saw an unfamiliar bird, a little smaller than the usual sea gulls. There were many parties of a dozen or so, mostly sitting together and looking out to sea. When I got home and researched, I discovered that they are Heermann’s Gulls.

There were also lots of the charming Godwits out there fishing.

Sea Palm

Every person in a large family at church was sick recently, which gave me the opportunity to have fun in the kitchen, making dinner for them one day. Most of the time I am trying, usually in vain, to cook for one, and eat for one. It seems impossible to learn, and not that enjoyable. So I made the most of this occasion to cook big batches of lots of dishes, enough for leftovers. It was the perfect day to make lemon curd, and I roasted both onions and Brussels sprouts, keeping back half for myself.

The giant sunflower plants in front are dangerously close to breaking their branches and/or falling over, so I pruned them and cut some of the blooms to add to the dinner box.

This is the first year I’ve ever grown a tomatillo. My neighbor gave me a seedling that he had started. It is branching out everywhere with yard-long stems, and the husks that will house the fruit, as yet unformed, are tender lime-green lanterns. In this next picture it’s climbing over a tomato vine so there is a confusion of types of leaves.

Wikipedia says, “The wild tomatillo and related plants are found everywhere in the Americas except in the far north, with the highest diversity in Mexico. In 2017, scientists reported on their discovery and analysis of a fossil tomatillo found in the Patagonian region of Argentina, dated to 52 million years BP. The finding has pushed back the earliest appearance of the Solanaceae plant family of which the tomatillo is one genus.”

I asked a man from Oaxaca, Mexico what his family does with tomatillos, and he didn’t know of any use but salsa, which is also the only thing I had ever heard. Does any of you have a good recipe for tomatillos, or another use? They don’t look like they’ll be ripe anytime soon, but I should be ready with a plan!

Stained glass sea vegetable.

This morning I further prepared and ate my several leaves of kelp gathered yesterday. I had left them in water in the fridge overnight. First I drained the water into the cooking pot, and then cut up the leaves into bite-sized pieces.

As I drew each long blade out of the tangle,
many configurations, colors and textures were revealed.

The “slimy” stuff that comes off or out of the seaweed is part of itself and its goodness. It gives the broth substance. I ate some of the fresh kelp to make sure it wasn’t already very salty; it wasn’t salty and the flavor was fairly bland, compared to other seaweed I have eaten. So I went ahead and cooked all the pieces in water with a little salt. I could have made a raw salad with some or all of it, but because I rarely eat cold salads in the winter, that didn’t occur to me until I was already in the process of cooking the vegetable.

I fried firm tofu with sesame oil and tamari,
and combined half of that with about half of the kelp
to make a yummy breakfast bowl.

Tomorrow I’ll eat the rest of the kelp in its broth, and call this a successful experiment. I’m planning to take a knife with me to the beach in the future, in addition to the plastic bag I had handy this time, so I’ll be equipped for whatever foraging opportunities.

Thank you, Bella!

 

Bullwhip kelp on the beach.

Another beach day! I took my friend Bella this time, as a co-breather of that medicinal air, a person I knew would ooh and ahh and thank God along with me. The sky was clear blue, and there was barely a breeze. The dry sand under our feet was warm.

As soon as we arrived at the shore and Bella set her eyes on the bull kelp, she made plans to take some home to eat, because she was pretty sure it was edible. But we left it lying on the sand because it was too heavy to lug up and down the beach. After walking and picking up shells for a while, we sat on a log and ate lunch, including some gingerbread I’d baked, and apples wedges washed in lemon juice.

Then back to the kelp, where as neither of us had any other tool, Bella used a stick of driftwood to hack the bulb and leaves from the “rope” of the sea vegetable, and we put the parts we wanted in a plastic bag. We stopped by my house to wash the sand off outdoors, after checking online about the edibility of it. This Nereocystis is also known as bullwhip kelp, ribbon kelp, and bladder wrack.

I kept a few leaves here, but they are waiting in water until tomorrow, because I ran out of time tonight to experiment with making soup. What took priority was writing here about my latest beach adventure!