This time of year there is not much coming from the farms. In the Northeast, once the frost starts arriving at night, the farmers begin to harvest and put up the last of their storage crops. Foods like potatoes, onions, apples, beets, rutabagas and winter squash start showing up on the lists for the next few months. Now is the time we dig in and start enjoying a heartier fare. Gone are the summer nights with crisp, field grown lettuces with succulent tomatoes and herbs. For the time being, some of the studier, cold loving greens are around such as kales and mâche.
As far as wild edibles go, the pickings are quite sparse. One thing you can pick pretty late into December is staghorn sumac. You may have seen this shrub lining the side of the road while driving on the highway or on back roads. Sumac is a shrub that grows a beautifully deep, red colored cone which you can harvest and grind into a fine seasoning. The easiest way to detach the berries is to hold the red cone in your hand and rake the berries with a fork over a bowl. At this point, grind the berries in a motor and pestle or blender.
Taking a cue from mother nature, I wanted to make a dish that reflected this transition of seasons.
This recipe focuses on the balance of sweet, salty, sour and earthy. I have been told for a while now that I need to find more balance. Seems the only place that I can actually find that is in seasoning the dish.