Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Young Japanese Knotweed Crisp & Blueberry Maple Ice Cream
because it just so happens that sometimes a vital component of dessert can be found in a riverbed

So, it seems that the inevitable day finally comes when you find your arms overflowing with japanese knotweed that you recently wildcrafted near local roadsides and ponds. And you stumble home with it all, and you enter your front door only to trip over a cat and spill the stalks this way and that, and you suddenly find yourself becoming quite invested in searching for recipes that will utilize lots of the stuff in an incredibly appetizing way. 

This is an exaggerated re-hashing of the situation at hand, with the words "cat" and "stumble" added to grab your attention, of course. The truth of the matter is that my friend Simon recently brought home a bag filled with japanese knotweed he had harvested. And we needed to do something with it. What happened next is history. Delicious and well documented history.

Japanese knotweed is an incredibly invasive species, which can be a blessing to anyone hoping to utilize it, but a nightmare for someone who regularly thinks "oh dear, i wish that stalky bamboo-like plant wasn't there, and i wish it wasn't multiplying as it is." You can decide what camp you are in, how about that! If you choose to be indifferent towards good ole polygonum cuspidatum, your life will probably see no alterations at its existence and slow invasion of the entire planet. And if it does happen to invade your world, try making jam out of it! Isn't jam great?

So, Simon is an all around rad human being, a sentiment I am at great risk of being branded "a broken record" for repeating yet again. But he is also a plant medicine knowledge geyser, because that is a really common term that is used to describe those who have studied the field of botanical medicine extensively. Wildcrafting herbs and plants for use in medicinal tinctures, teas, and in this particular case, fruit crisp desserts, is his scene, and I am slowly learning things here and there when I can about plant species, what is good for what, where to find things growing, and how to treat and harvest the plant when you do find it. This recipe is his brainchild! In fear of botching some information, I will await a real-time japanese knotweed description/run-down (if it is to happen) from Simon, and spare you all my horrible memory's remnants of discussion.

These ingredients made for two huge pans of crisp. Half the recipe if you're feeling shy, feeling like you just don't have enough japanese knotweed, or if you're just plain scared of excess. 

8 cups cut up japanese knotweed
8 cups cut up strawberries, pears, apples, whole blueberries all mixed together
3 cups oats
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 grade C maple syrup (can substitute A or B, but really, let's be honest. C is tops.)
1 rad mixtape made with love and a great ear for all things music, to be played throughout the process

For the blueberry maple ice cream:

2 cans coconut milk
a bunch of blueberries
a bunch of grade C maple syrup (to desired sweetness/flavor)
some vanilla

Let's begin! It is so simple! You are already impressed with yourself!

To make your ice cream, follow the more specific directions a few entries below, and also cruise down there to hear me rant and rave about ice cream makers, give you my personal ice cream history, see a picture of me on Cheryl's shoulders, and to see a more decadent ice cream recipe. This one is rather simple, and simply incredible! Mix all those above ingredients together until you think they're in good shape. They'll be a beautiful lavender if you've played your cards right! Pour the mix into your ice cream maker. Churn away. Freeze a little more. Eat. Rejoice. Repeat the process until your family intervenes. 

Grade C maple syrup is the stuff dreams are made of, okay? I say this with no hesitation. A subject of some controversy, it is difficult to find, not not legal for the sugarhouse to label and sell as "grade C", and therefore must be found where it can be found. Our local source gets it delivered unlabeled, and labels it at the store, to our excitement. Find Grade C soon, taste what you've been missing, if you indeed have been missing it.

And if you don't want ice cream, don't make it! Use your agency, okay? The crisp will still taste fantastic. And here it is:

Get your young japanese knotweed all cut up. It should be harvested when it is 6 inches tall. it will taste like a mild rhubarb, and we sort of used it as such!

Mix all your fruit and berries together after they are all cut up.

Mix the knotweed and fruit together in the pans. 

Cover them with the oats, add vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup! Mix it all together with everything else!

Throw it in the oven! Bake it at 350 degrees for about an hour. As long as you think it needs, really. 

Eat your crisp and ice cream together because it just seems like the responsible thing to do for yourself. We made this at night, and couldn't resist eating it immediately after it was all finished, post-midnight, making it supremely difficult to sleep due to heightened blood sugar and general dessert-y excitement. The leftovers of both came with us to the rooftop of a campus art building a few nights later, to be shared with other friends under the stars. See? Look how romantic this recipe is! Make it right away and watch your life begin in front of your very eyes.

I'll soon need testimonials to back up that last statement.


  1. yum! I'm sure it was very delicious!

  2. beautiful! i am so curious about the taste. yum.

    teach me your cooking and magic-plant knowledge kate and simon. :)