Steemit Iron Chef 2018 Act 01 Round 14: Rice Gone Wild

Even plain white rice turns into something special with conifer needles, pollen, flowers, and wild mushrooms! Come into my post and enjoy my rice and some amazing wild flavors! On a rock!

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So often, when I cook with rice, it seems like the rice can simply disappear in a meal. For this Steemit Iron Chef challenge by @progressivechef, I didn't want to hide my rice. Instead, I wanted to feature how rice is so incredible at carrying flavors, but in a way that kept the rice as the main ingredient.


Gathering!

The conifer trees are starting to wake up for spring. They all have timing that's a little different. So I'm featuring 3 conifers that have really different flavors right now. The new needles of the Western Larch with it's light lemon tang. The Colorado Blue Spruce still has only older needles, with a bold resin and some bitterness -- an acquired taste, but so good once you're hooked! And it's got new male cones just opening up to release their pollen, with a slight nutty flavor. And the Grand Fir, always good for a light orange-minty kick.

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Left to right: Grand fir, Slippery Jack mushroom tubes, Western Larch, Colorado Blue Spruce pollen cones, Colorado Blue Spruce

Those Slippery Jack mushrooms are only the tubes, from underneath the cap. You can read more about the Slippery Jack in these two posts - 1 and 2. I dry the tubes separately, because they have their own flavor and texture.

I picked some flowers that have flavor, too. I used the wild field mustard last week, but in a different way. I've used Maple flowers in salads for a long time. But I only recently learned how the center of the flowers, at just the right stage, tastes like maple syrup! I never appreciated that's where their sweetness has been coming from. Focusing just on those specific flowers makes that maple flavor more pronounced. Redbud flowers have a sweet-sour tanginess. Yellow Deadnettle flowers have a spark of nectar at their base, just like a honeysuckle flower.

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Clockwise from upper left: Wild field mustard, Norway maple, Eastern Redbud, Yellow Deadnettle


Cooking!

I used my coffee grinder to pulverize the different conifer needles. I separated the flowers from their stems. I mixed the Grand Fir with some salt, because that is just so incredibly delicious. This link shows how I used it on a Wild Shaggy Stalk mushroom for an earlier Steemit Iron Chef round. I mixed the spruce needles with sugar to balance the bitterness.

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Left: See how some maple flowers are glistening in the center? That's maple syrup! Upper right, left to right: Grand Fir, Colorado Blue Spruce, Western Larch. Lower right: the same flowers as in the previous picture, in the same order. Can you recognize them?

I like to toast my rice in a little butter before I add water to boil it. I think it brings out the rice flavor. I used one pot of rice for the conifers. But I made a special pot of rice with the mushrooms. I put the mushrooms in the water as the rice was cooking.


Eating!

Each one of these stacks of rice tastes completely different! And they taste even better off this 12-pound rock, lol!

Many Steemit Iron Chef rounds ago, @progressivechef encouraged me to serve my wild food on something natural. It seemed hard to do with sauces. But with this plate of rice, I can use a rock. I foraged this rock from the Finger Lakes National Forest in upstate New York, years ago. That's the smallest National Forest in the United States, just over 16,000 acres. After traveling to some meeting in nearby Ithaca for work, I went backpacking for the weekend and found this slab of slate. I brought it back in the overhead bin of the airplane, no problem!

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I'll be eating off my slate slab more often now. Thanks for the idea, @progressivchef!

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Western larch, yellow deadnettle, and maple flowers. Nothing else! Lemon, maple, and honeysuckle, all mixed together! So good!

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A orange-mint salty flavor, with a light mustard kick. This is amazing! The flavor lasts and lasts. So incredibly good!

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The nutty pollen and an umami mushroom flavor brought out with a touch of salt. Those mushroom tubes melt in your mouth, completely disappearing into flavor. It's really something!

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The tang of the redbud flowers comes through the bitter-resin of the spruce. So good with the sweetness of the added sugar. But that resin keeps swirling all through your head. Once you learn to like this flavor, it's wonderful!


What Do You Think?

  • Have you ever eaten your food off of a rock?
  • Have you ever used needles off conifers as a spice?
  • Which stack of rice would you like to eat?

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

  • Western Larch - Larix occidentalis - tender, young needles
  • Colorado Blue Spruce - Picea pungens - needles and pollen cones
  • Grand Fir - Abies grandis - needles
  • Slippery Jack Mushroom - Suillus luteus - tubes from under the cap
  • Norway maple – Acer platanoides - flowers with sap in their center
  • Eastern redbud – Cercis canadensis - flowers
  • Wild field mustard - Brassica rapa - flowers
  • Yellow deadnettle - Lamium galeobdolon - flowers

Haphazard Homestead

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

All content is 100% Haphazard Homestead!
My YouTube channel: Haphazard Homestead

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Your dishes are always such a really different and special addition to the steemit-ironchef, to every other competition here and to the steemit -foodies-community in general. This time you surpassed yourself again. This dish is such a pleasure to the eyes, it sounds wonderful and I can only try to imagine the amazing tastes. Wow! You put so much effort in this. Congratulations to the result!

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Amazing rice! These must be healthy rice, for sure. Those flowers that you use for cooking and decorating are very beautiful. Well done! ;)

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Thanks, @tangmo! Flowers make everything prettier. I'm glad there are so many kinds that are good to eat!

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You're welcome! Yes, I absolutely agree with you, "flowers make everything prettier", indeed! :)

This is unique, friend @haphazard-hstead ! Do you eat flowers of celandine? Bravo!

I have never eaten off a rock on purpose, but, I have eating things that have fallen on a rock. Does that count?

I have used conifers for seasoning and I will admit it is an acquired taste, but, one that should be tried.

I think I would like the second one down. Looks yummy!

Upped and Steemed

Tip!

Oh wow my friend! I still remember the early days where I told you about using some natural plates for your awesome wild food...and here we are! Simply wonderful!

It's amazing what nature can provide! I've never tried any of these ingredients (apart from rice) so enlightening!

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After I made this, I got to thinking. Besides the basic ingredients (rice, butter, salt, sugar), I don't think any of these ingredients are for sale, anywhere at any price. But there they are, out in nature, completely free. It really is pretty amazing, what's out there just waiting for us!

MMMMMM now I understand why mom also sofrie the rice before putting it to boil for about 3 minutes, only in ascetic, not in butter like you, but I think this gives less chance of sticking and gives ease.
I have loved seeing the different combinations that have been prepared with rice, the most abundant ingredient we have around here, and maybe all over the world.
I was impressed by your work trip to get a rock, that concept has not yet been implemented here but I think that a stone plate should know a lot mmmmm robust, and the diner will feel like he is tasting a modern dish served at the age of stone.
How about if you serve that dish in a cavern, it would be great.
The ingredients I see well that there are also plants in bloom, just like here in fact there are some sprouting shoots of all kinds that many plants, which for lack of knowledge we are not using.
I love your rice, I suppose those combinations of maple, mushrooms and flowers should make it taste spectacular, its appearance and color combination has even whetted my appetite, I am a lover of mushrooms, although only pure mushrooms that we have and pseudofistulina radicata, which we will soon have to enjoy, it occurs to me that the rice would sit well if you use izote flower or yucca, too.
I hope to make a rice like yours just using the next shoots of yam that are beginning to emerge at this time.
thanks for such a beautiful recipe,

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We can all be so fancy with eating off of rocks, lol. So modern, so old, haha! Next, I will have to take my stone plate with me when I travel. To a cavern! :D

I'm looking forward to the return of your pseudofistulina radicata! I remember your earlier post about it. I am excited about seeing all of your plants and mushrooms, @galberto. I will definitely try rice with the izote flower this summer. But it is still over 4 months before they will bloom here! :O Happy foraging!

I love rice dishes, wouldn't mind testing these :)

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I think you would like at least 1 or 2 of these! Each one is so different. I'm going to make more of all of these, they were so good!

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My favourite dish is a Rissotto so these would def appeal to me :)

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Oh yeah, you would like these then. Especially with a good sauce. : )

So creative and beautiful looking. That is such a fabulous idea, grinding down the needles. You could start a spice line with this ... though technically they would be herbs. The maple syrup nectar is a wonderful discovery too.

Good to have you back up and posting, HH:) You have been missed:)

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Thanks on both counts, @prydefoltz! I've missed being here. Conifer needles are so interesting to eat, one way or another. Their flavors really are different from each other. And that resin flavor is so different than what most folks are used to. Tender, new needles are a lot more acceptable to most people, than the older needles. And some kinds of trees have better flavors than others. But it's like hot sauce, I think. Once you get a taste for it, then step by step, it's on to the stronger stuff, lol. Stronger-tasting conifers and older needles, lol. But that maple syrup in the maple flowers is something that everyone can enjoy! I hope you get to try that yourself!

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I like hot sauce. I might be able to harvest some maple flowers from around me:) I would just be worried about eating the wrong kind:)

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Any of the maples are OK for eating. Some will have more of a tannin taste as they get older, so they won't taste so good then. If you look at how branches come off of trees (look at the smaller branches first), there are only a few trees that have Opposite branching, where the side branches come off opposite each other, like our arms. You can remember MADHORSE -- Maple, Ash, Dogwood, and Horsechestnut. The maples are the ones with the pairs of winged seeds. Maybe you don't know maple flowers now. But you can find maple trees this summer, from their seeds. And those same trees will be there next spring. That's one nice thing about trees -- they don't move around like a lot of the weeds, lol. ; )

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True wisdom right here!

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Yeah, I've been watching for those trees to move around. They don't. They do disappear, though. Usually in a truck. In tiny pieces. ; )

I have to say this is fantastic and incredibly interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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You're welcome! There are so many cool plants. It's more fun than shopping at the store, lol! Thanks for checking out my post and commenting!

mmmmm i love this!!! fantastic idea to pulverize the conifer needles i have tried pine needle tea and just eating the various conifer tips (or brewing beer with them), but never this!! great idea. your meal looks so appetizing to me... i think i'd choose the mushroom one, just because i love mushrooms so much. great tip to braise the rice with butter first. ini does that and i love how it turns out.

have i ever eaten off a rock? i think i have used a rock as a plate before!! haha, love the elemental life style :)

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I'm glad you enjoy the conifers! They are so underappreciated and pretty easy for people to identify. And they have their needles for us all year long, lol, whatever the weather. Grinding them makes even older needles easy to use. You already know how each conifer tastes so different, in different stages of growth. They each take on a different personality with salt or with sugar, too. Here's to the conifers -- and the mushrooms and the rocks! :D Happy foraging!

This is simply amazing every single time! I am watching my blue spruce for some fresh soft needles. I think if my memory serves, didn't you make tea from them last year??

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You're going to be out there eating your trees before you know what's happened, lol! Yes, those Colorado Blue Spruce tips are great in Sun Tea. Just put them in a big glass jar, with other plants if you want, and set it in the sun for a few hours. Nobody sells that flavor, but it's great! That's the base for a great Spruce Tree Sorbet, too! And then used the soaked needles for Spruce Tree Cookies, too! There's no end to the goodness of the spruce! :D

It looks too pretty to be eat!!

wonderful ideas for elevating the rice

WOW !! It was amazing how you mixed many different natural flavor with rice. it was a great cooking creativity. I just became a fan of your. You are a real master chef !
I really love it and from now i will check your every new post. Thanks for sharing.

Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.

Great, delicious and unique dish. Thanks for describing about this. Waiting for your next one @haphazard-hstead : )

wow, so special, looks yummy!

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