One who camps early in the season can add a toothsome dish, now and then, to his menu by gathering fresh greens in the woods and marshes.*
As a salad (watercress, peppergrass, dandelion, wild mustard, sorrel, etc.): wash in cold salted water, if necessary, although this abstracts some of the flavor; dry immediately and thoroughly.
Nearly a hundred edible wild plants, besides mushrooms and fruits, are discussed in my Camping and Woodcraft, Chap. XVII.
Break into convenient pieces, rejecting tough stems. Prepare a simple French dressing, thus:
1 tablespoon ful vinegar,
3 tablespoon fuls best olive oil,
1/2 teaspoonful salt,
1/4 teaspoonful black pepper.
Put salt and pepper in bowl, gradually add oil, rubbing and mixing till salt is dissolved; then add by degrees the vinegar, stirring continuously one minute. In default of oil, use cream and melted butter; but plain vinegar, salt, and pepper will do. Pour the dressing over the salad, turn the latter upside down, mix well, and serve.
Greens may be boiled with salt pork, bacon, or other meat. To boil them separately: first soak in cold salted water for a few minutes, then drain well, and put into enough boiling salted water to cover, pressing them down until the pot is full. Cover, and boil steadily until tender, which may be from twenty minutes to an hour, depending upon kind of greens used. If the plants are a little older than they should be, parboil in water to which a little baking soda has been added; then drain, and continue boiling in plain water, salted.
Some greens are improved by chopping fine after boiling, putting in hot frying-pan with a tablespoonful of butter and some salt and pepper, and stirring until thoroughly heated.
Poke stalks are cooked like asparagus. They should not be over four inches long, and should show only a tuft of leaves at the top; if much older than this, they are unwholesome. Wash the stalks, scrape them, and lay in cold water for an hour; then tie loosely in bundles, put in a kettle of boiling water, and boil three-fourths of an hour, or until tender; drain, lay on buttered toast, dust with pepper and salt, cover with melted butter, and serve.
Jerusalem artichokes must be watched when boiling and removed as soon as,tender; if left longer in the water they harden.
Dock and sorrel may be cooked like spinach: pick over and wash, drain, shake, and press out adhering water; put in kettle with one cup water, cover kettle, place over moderate fire, and steam thus twenty minutes; then drain, chop very fine, and heat in frying-pan as directed above.