Steemit Iron Chef 2018 Act 01 Round 11: Wild Greens of My Childhood -- Curly Dock

I have been eating this wild plant as far back into my childhood as I can recall. Come into my post for a little reminiscing.

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Foraging Curly Dock

Dock is 1 of 3 wild greens I remember picking all through my childhood, as early as 7 years old. My dad would be driving the old station wagon, out in the countryside, and then pull off to the side of the road. We kids would get out and he would set out big paper grocery sacks. For us to fill with Poke, Dock, or Lambs Quarter, depending on the season. These weeds were real food for us.

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Dock is a perennial, so once you know where a good patch grows, that spot is your own personal grocery store. I'm only after the new leaves and stems.

I always enjoyed picking a big sack of wild greens. It felt good to be out in the countryside with my dad. It felt good to be doing something useful and appreciated by my parents. And it felt like I knew something special, too -- that plants were out there, just waiting for us, anywhere and everywhere.

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You can tell I picked these in the tall grass, where they have to grow tall and fast to compete for sunlight. Most of the time, I just cut the leaves at their base. But I can pull them, too. The pile on the right came from breaking off new offshoots from an old parent plant.

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See those papery sheaths around the base of the leaves? That's a distinctive feature about new growth of dock. Inside that sheath, the plant is slick and even a little sticky. The base of each leaf is a lot like rhubarb in how in breaks off from the plant -- check out that reddish base on the leaf in the very front. It looks like a miniature rhubarb.

Yes, dock is related to rhubarb. But it's even more edible than that respected garden plant. Eating rhubarb leaves is no good for anyone. But young dock leaves are fine to eat. Rhubarb stalks are really sour. Dock has a lemon tang, but it's not really sour.

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Left: For this dish, I'm just going to use the big leaves. I'll make use of the other parts later. Right top: I also harvested some Jerusalem artichoke tubers, wild garlic, and young elephant garlic plants. Right bottom: The wild garlic, cleaned before I trimmed off the green parts. And a ham hock.


Enjoying Curly Dock

This is such an easy dish to make. It's based on how I ate dock as a kid. How my dad made it, his mom before him, and her mom before her. And all the aunts and uncles, all from deep in the Ozark hills.

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I boiled the ham hock and wild garlic, until the meat fell off the bones. I sauteed the sliced bases of the elephant garlic in a little olive oil. Then I added the dock leaves, and just a splash of water after the leaves had cooked a little.

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Of course, folks back in the old days would have cooked the hock and dock in a big stewpot, and served it in big bowls. And they would have used onions instead of elephant garlic. But I tried to elevate the dish for the Steemit Iron Chef. I put the hamhock in the center of a nest of the dock greens, with thin slices of Jerusalem artichokes. And with the elephant garlic and wild garlic surrounding the greens. Topped with just a touch of black pepper. That's it.

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It's simple, but so, so good. I would match this plate of greens with any, at any restaurant. The dock leaves are so soft, even though they were cooked for only a few minutes. They have such a smooth, rich, deep lemon flavor. Not sharp or overpowering at all. A nice combination of greens, lemon, garlic, and smoked ham. It's magical!

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I had a wonderful childhood. Wild greens were part of that. And they still make me happy today! Thanks, Daddy!


What Do You Think?

  • Do you like cooked greens?
  • Have you ever had Curly Dock or any of the other Docks?
  • Do you ever forage wild greens?
  • Would you eat my small plate of curly dock?

I eat a lot of wild plants and show you how, because I believe that we can all have lives that are richer, more secure, more grounded, and more interesting by getting to know the plants and the land around us – in our yards, our parks, and our wild places.

Thanks @progressivechef for creating the Steemit Iron Chef contest series!

I try to make content that's interesting! If you found this informative and helpful, please give it an upvote and a resteem.


Plant List

  • Curly dock - Rumex crispus
  • Jerusalem artichokes - Helianthus tuberosus
  • Wild garlic - Allium vineale
  • Elephant garlic - Allium ampeloprasum
  • Poke - Phytolacca americana - special processing required
  • Lambsquarter - Chenopodium album
  • Rhubarb - Rheum rhabarbarum - leaves not for eating, stalks are good

Haphazard Homestead

foraging, gardening, nature, simple living close to the land

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i do not know identify right now this green plant near here, but rhubarb here is usesfull for when a child are bad and angry, people say give a tea of this plant and the child change their situatión and be less angry, i think is because it is very dark and the child say well is not good idea stay angry because the adult people give me this ugly and dark plant.
well it is nice to know another endible plants for enjoy itWow it's great to know that those adventures with your father collecting plants now yield their fruits, and bring back great memories, and can collect the same plants as with the collection in previous years, the truth is that these people are the ones who they have taught most of what we know, thanks to the fact that their wisdom has been transmitted from generation to generation,
It hurts that these plants can not identify them I have already done a search for the scientific name and none of them sounds like having seen it in the local fields of El Salvador, and the riubarbo as I mentioned would love to get it because if it is very good to decrease anger in children and that they are less grumpy.
I do not know where I saw a recipe using riubarbo, it looked very, very good, it hurts that I lost it among so much information here.

The archichoke of Jerusalem was unfortunately not the one I thought it could be, the one we have locally, but we will continue looking for food.
Thank you for sharing so beautiful recipe, luck with the contest,
happy foraging
Best regard @galberto

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I had to laugh at the idea of a child getting rhubarb when they have been in trouble - that is sour! Too bad about the plant-that-is-not-Jerusalem-artichoke! It makes me feel so fortunate to have so many books and other resources for identifying plants. When I was younger, information was a lot more difficult to find about so many plants, too. I was fortunate to have people to teach me some plants, like this Curly Dock. You are that person for your community, I think -- and for us here on Steemit! But I have learned so much more from books over many years, too.

You might be interested in this resource about Curly Dock from the Invasive Species Specialist Group. They say this plant is in the top five most widely distributed plants in the world. And maps I have seen show it being all through Central America -- and it is on plant lists for Costa Rica and Panama. Here are some other names -- maybe you will recognize one:

acedera crespa (Spanish), acedera crispada (Spanish), romaza crespa (Spanish), gualtata (Spanish), vinagrillo (Spanish), acelgas (Spanish), lengua de caballo (Spanish), romaza (Spanish), lengua de vaca (Spanish)

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Thank you very much for the descriptions and beautiful information I have for sure that if it is here I will find it and try it, maxime if it is an invasive plant it must exist here by our means.
The one that I recognize and that is familiar to me is the following:
Cow tongue sounds like I've heard it at some time
Thank you for your support a hug.

This is really magical as you said my friend! I do love picking up wild greens when they are available in my region, always so fun and so yummy when cooked!
Cooked greens is very famous in Mauritius!
Great entry as usual with full of info! I love that comparison with rhubarbe btw!

Never heard of this one but we love our greens. So nice that your dad taught you to pick your own food. I remember going to the woods with my dad to collect stinging nettle for soup when I was a small kid.

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That's a nice memory you have, too, @amy-goodrich! I've learned a lot more plants as an adult - and now my dad eats some of those, too. There's more wild plants to appreciate than any of us can learn in a lifetime, so the more sharing the better. I'm looking forward to what your local folks have to show you in your plot of land! :D

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For know a lot of fruits, lemongrass, manioc, wold chilis, and galangal, which are easy to recognize. Then some kind of a red berry that makes everything sweet... studying hard to get my language skill up to go to the jungle with them.

I really love how you served food on plate;) I also remember what I ate when I was little :)

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It's amazing how important food is, from our childhood memories! It was a good category for @progressive-chef to choose for the Steemit Iron Chef!

It reminds me of spinach dish I had in Barcelona ... spinach and bacon. Went remarkably well together. Your posts really are educational. I look forward to them. I am learning a lot about the plants that grow around me:)

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I think we do have a lot of plants in common -- especially the weeds, lol. So many weeds like the West Coast! At least with weeds, it's OK to harvest a lot of them. :D

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I see most weeds as subjective ... unless they are invasive ... weeds that are edible are okay by me. Love dandelions, for example:)

I love cooked greens of any kind. Now I will be on the search for a good patch of curly dock and harvest for a delicious meal. Great post dear.

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Thanks, @sunscape! You know what's good eating with cooked greens! :D
I hope you have plenty of tender, young, fast-growing dock in your area. I bet you do, in your part of New York. It's such a common green. If you give it a try, let me know what you think. I'm always happy to get a taste review from someone else. Here's to spring greens! :D

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I will be looking for the greens after the snow melts. We got a new storm yesterday. Soon though.

you had an awesome childhood and learnt some useful skills. there is something so satisfying about foraging, i guess its that basic human instinct that literally takes us back to our roots. so these are the dock leaves you rub on your sting? no idea they were good to eat? beautiful display :)

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I had an absolute awesome childhood, for sure! And as a kid, foraging gave me a chance to contribute to the family. I know my dad talks about that -- when he was 8, he was running around by himself fishing and shooting game to bring home for dinner. It sure builds self assurance and responsibility. I've never tried rubbing Dock on a sting. @karenb54 says that's how she has used dock leaves. I'm going to have to find a patch of stinging nettles and try it myself. : )

I never had dock, but I do have French style green beans with most meals now as a filler.

Such cool memories of you dad. Glad you shared them.

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Good for you with the green beans -- and all fancy with French Style! ; ) Fresh-picked garden greens are one of my favorites! I've been eating fresh hop shoots this week, too -- they taste like mild green beans when they are raw. : )

I was a fortunate kid, for sure. I spent a lot of time with my dad. It was easier for people to take their kids to work back then. He took me along a lot, out in the field investigating fish kills at ponds and lakes. So now I love the smell of dead fish, lol. It's easier to share my love of wild plants with other people than an appreciation for dead fish! ; )

Um! You know that I don’t like green dish but I like the way you decorated the food like a nest….good idea!

I know now that you like wild plants as your father. It’s very great memory during your childhood indeed. ;)

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I think you would be surprised at this green dish, @tangmo. If you like the flavor of lemons and garlic, I think you would like this Curly Dock. It is so smooth and not bitter at all. I am so glad my father taught me my first wild plants to eat. He taught me gardening, too. And all of his relatives. Eating from the land was just a natural thing, as common to do as eating itself. But then I learned a lot more plants on my own -- and now he eats some of those! :D

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Ah! I like the flavor of lemons and garlic and as far as it's not bitter, I would love to try this dish, for sure!

It's good to hear that you learned a lot more plants on your own and now your father eats some of those! That's very great! ;)

Looks delicious , I'm going to try to make some.

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Young, tender, fast-growing Curly Dock is so good cooked this way. It will fit in well with all the other wild food that you enjoy! :D

Sure I would eat it!
You know I would eat any of those wild things you cook :D Never had it, but the foliage looks kind of familiar.

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This Curly Dock is a native of Europe and an invasive weed everywhere else. I saw a reference that said it has the 5th widest distribution of any plant across the globe. We all better start eating it -- a Global Dock Cook-off! :D

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Oh my... I guess I definitely saw it :p
The thing is I am never sure if something is really good to eat, or just looks like the one is good to eat. Unless I am really sure :D

We used to use dock leaves when we got stung by a nettle, we used to rub it on, it took away the sting

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That could be handy for me to know! Maybe I'll have to try that out. I can find some stinging nettles around here, down by the river. ; )

Amazing! I grew up just picking fruits and vegetables from my mama's garden but I've never had any experience with wild greens. I have my own family now, and my husband and I try to show our kids how we can utilize even a little patch of land. I will try to study more about wild greens and see if they're here in my country.

This is a wonderful post, and most helpful! Thank you!

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I wonder if there were weeds in your mama's garden that were good to eat. So many of my garden weeds are just as good to eat as what I'm growing! It's great that your mom had you help in the garden -- and that you are giving your kids an chance to enjoy the land, too. Helping my dad gave me a great sense of self assurance that served me well all through my childhood and into adulthood. Knowing how to get my own food just by looking around, or having a garden, has been worth a lot over the years! Happy gardening!

I so want to learn more about foraging and making use of what's around me. This is beautiful! Thank you.

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There's some good eating in your area this time of year! Here's a post about a wild salad I made at a hotel in Colorado last spring. I used Curly Dock and 3 other plants that are common along Colorado's Front Range.

I like cooked greens but haven't had any of the above mentions. I have a lot of spinach, a green leaf veggie for lunch quite often and it is super healthy!

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Spinach is great! So I think you would like this dish, too. It would be really good in a palak paneer, too. There are so many great cooked greens! Enjoy your greens! :D

You never cease to amaze me @haphazard-hstead

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There are so many great plants out there. I've been fortunate to learn some of them when I was young. I'll have to share stories of some of the mistakes I've made while learning more, on my own, too. There are some lessons and laughs there, lol!