From Forage to Feast

My WILD lunch

I like challenging myself to prepare wild foods for my lunches.  Unknowingly, my family eats wild all the time, though it is a hidden art to pull that off. I’ve written about my culinary deceptions before… http://wildblessings.com/2011/06/01/just-dont-tell-em/

When it’s just me… I go WILD!

Today was no exception. My wild menu included:

Sumac Lemonade

Sauteed Puffball Mushroom

Steamed Evening Primrose Flower Buds

Scrambled Farm Fresh Egg

Yellowdock Seed and Amaranth Bread

Autumn Olive Berry Jam

Goldenrod Tea

A truly gourmet lunch and simply off the charts with real nutrition. 

I got to wondering, “How much would such a meal cost at a nice restaurant?”

The Sumac lemonade is much higher in vitamin C than Orange Juice and it was free for the pickin.

Sumac Lemonade

The Puffball I served for dinner last night with our chicken fajitas and there is still more left for later….hmmm a side of tasty shrooms?  free.

Pufball Mushroom: Remove the outer brown portion , chop and cook

Evening Primrose, one of my favorite wild edibles and medicinals, I love steaming the flower buds and young seed pods as healthy freegreens.

Basket of more Evening Primrose Goodness

The Autumn Olive berry jam is my favorite wild jam, it tastes like a cross between cranberries and raspberries and being an invasive plant one can NEVER harvest enough berries to keep it’s spread under control…cost of sugar and pectin, the berries…free.  Did you know that Autumn Olive berries are 17 times higher in lycopene than tomatoes, which is the pigment that turns tomatoes red and is being researched as a deterrent to heart disease, prostate cancer, cervix and gastrointestinal cancer.

Autumn Olive Berries, Evening Primrose, Lobelia flowers (not edible)

The bread I made a few days ago, it’s wild ingredients are Yellowdock seed and Amaranth flour, my delicious tonic tea is Goldenrod and it not only tastes amazing but it is known as an alterative in the herbal world strengthening and cleansing to the system. FREE & abundant!

Goldenrod, Canadensis soldago, Pick Just B4 it Blooms

Except for the honey for sweetener (since we no longer raise our own bees), a slice of cantaloupe and the egg purchased from our Farmer’s Market, my lunch was FREE.

The whole earth is full of God’s riches”  Psalms 104:24!

The food might be free but obtaining it is not.

The cost of shopping in the wild can be fairly pricey: it is time consuming and there is that occasional bee sting, and ripping exposed flesh by blackberry brambles or wild rose is common, falling out of a tree harvesting the wild grape that dangles out of reach, being caught shopping in a flash thunderstorm, face to face encounters with bears or coyotes (I’ve only dreamed of this eventuality), poison ivy rashes, and there is that all consuming feeling that if I just keep hiking I’ll find a jackpot of some exotic edible that lures me further into the wild…

Though I am getting pretty good at riding Nature’s Wave and knowing what to harvest for when, I can never really know what will end up in my forager’s basket.  How would I know that God would put a giant puffball on the menu?  It’s kinda like shopping for what is on sale.

All this precedes preparation and consumption.  But in the process of wildcrafting and all it’s foibles I get sunshine,  vitamin D, exercise, adventure, a happy dog and I get to tell about the deals I got ‘shopping’!

Here are some pictures to show the process of shopping for, garbling and cooking with these wild edibles.  Bon Appetit!

Skipper tells Chippy the water is GREAT!

Yesterday, I took the puppies on yet another adventure this time to the island park here in Todd.  It is the perfect place for dogs because they can’t get off the island and get hit by traffic, it is also a perfect place to forage.  Being a hot day the dogs were eager to meander our way to the far side of the island where the shoreline is pebbly and shallow and a great place to wade about and drink the cool mountain river water.  The tall stands of Goldenrod have replaced the diminished mauve glory of the Joe Pye Weed giants but still stand in stark contrast to the magenta of Ironweed. I picked some to dry for Winter teas.  Each wild edible I eagerly greeted and felt thankful for.  Many are past their prime for picking but just seeing them there in their waning state clues me in for where to find them next Summer.

Lots of Yellowdock seeds looking brown as ever waiting to be picked and stored for cracker and bread making.

Yellowdock Seeds

A few mystery trees that captivated my attention, I’m hoping these are Black Walnuts.

Hey Marc Williams ethnobotanist king... is this a Black Walnut tree?

Seed pods of all shapes and sizes intrigue me even more than the flowers because of the promise of new life they hold for the future.

Another mystery to solve...

Almost stepped on a huge puffball! In to my foragers basket it went.  Mushrooms have been a reluctant frontier for me because I am fully aware of the consequences of nibbling on a poisonous mushroom, of which there are many.  It has been said that there are some foolish foragers for green plants but there are only dead foolish foragers of mushrooms.  So be sure you identify with 100% accuracy any wild plant or shroom that you intend to eat!!

Skipper and Chippy enjoyed the water immensely and I even played in it, shoes and all.  Felt good to my hot feet!

Back home I dumped out my foragers basket on the counter and GARBLED.  That is where one sorts by plant, tosses out bug eaten leaves, and anything that is not tasty looking or fresh.  This is also when I bunch with rubber bands the plants I intend to dry for Winter use.

Here is my counter top garbled and ready for a picture before making preparations.

Autumn Olive Berries, Goldenrod, Yeloowdock, Beech nuts, Maple seeds, PUFFBALL mushroom

I hope this virtual foraging adventure has taught you more about the wonders of God’s creation and what is free for the knowing and the taking.

Feeling WILDLY blessed!

Holly

PS.  More Puffball goodness for tonight’s dinner.  You can check out how to make wild bone broth from a previous blog.

more Puffball madness

Fresh and wild Tomato Soup

 

Comments

  1. Kristen Morrison says:

    After reading this post, I turned to my husband and said, “Holly is amazing.” I can’t wait to harvest my berries this weekend!

  2. First love your site. Secondly what is the recipe for the wild energy balls with plantain seeds you served to Linda Runyon ? i have been experimenting with purposely planting plantains. Appreciate any help. Thank You.

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