My dear mentor, Marc Williams, came to my house to do his thing! Which is to lead us on a Forage to Feast wild foodie event! In 2009 I attended a wild feast Marc hosted with his mentor, Frank Cook, and that began a wild fire that has been blazing ever since! Marc is a renowned ethnobotanist, wild plant authority, author and teacher extraordinaire, world traveler, gourmet chef…to name a few of his virtues. 25 of us enjoyed his fascinating plant walk and then we all cooked up a storm with the wild edibles that I had been ‘buying’ from nature’s supermarket in preparation for this event in my wild kitchen.
First, Marc led us on a plant walk around our land. Each person was given a recipe to be responsible for and to forage for. Marc’s talk added a new edible possibility to my bucket list: making nut milk from my Shagbark Hickory nuts! After we garbled our catch (my term for sorting our weeds), we cooked our entree for the big meal. Finally, we feasted on nature’s bounty and enjoyed each other’s company as we sipped Dandelion root coffee, wild meads and enjoyed a Queen Anne’s Lace carrot cake for dessert.
Pretty sure that everyone’s horizons were expanded as we rediscovered the green gifts that God has so generously provided for our food and medicine… reconnected to our roots and reclaimed some knowledge that will feed our bodies and spirits.
Preparing for a Forage to Feast is a bit like giving birth to a unicorn. It is a LOT of work. Fortunately, I love this kind of work and I have an artist husband who is always willing to go ‘shopping’ with me to an organic farm of grocery store for the photo ops it affords him. And Max (our Jack Russel terrorist) likes the adventure as well!
I dug up Burdock roots at an organic farm in Valle Crucis, plucked Milkweed buds and pods from several Milkweed patches, snipped Plantain seed stalks from a lush patch along the New River, collected green Cattail cobs from the swamp with my new wild friend Louise Klein, dug up Wild Carrot first year roots at Molly’s Branch farm, gathered a bushel of Amaranth and Lambsquarter leaves at another nearby farm, clipped green Elderberry umbels, snipped a LOT of Purslane…and that is just the shopping part…
Once I am home with the free food the real work begins…. Garbling each wild edible, getting rid of buggy parts, a few bugs, yellowed leaves, anything that doesn’t pass my inspection. Then the roots need to be scrubbed, although this time I scrubbed the Burdock roots in the cool mountain stream which made it EASY!
Everything is gathered, inspected, sorted, cleaned, bagged and then comes the preparation. I made Elderberry capers with their green berries a week in advance of the Piccata recipe so they’d be pickled just right. Marinated the meat of the green cattail flowers. Destrung the stringiness of the Burdock stems, Parboiled the Milkweed flower buds and pods so they’d be ready to cook with, made Beebalm, Peppermint, and Goldenrod tea from last year’s tea stash, Elderberry, Beauty Berry and Kudzu Flower Spritzers with water kefir grains. Cheryl came over the day before and helped me make the Wild Carrot cake and the Wild Seed Crackers. Thank you Cheryl!
A cuisine theme of Mediterranean was chosen…so now to choose the recipes to feature the wild delectables in….all non wild ingredients need to be purchased…recipes need to be printed out for the cooks to refer to…stations need to be set up in my kitchen and porches to put all ingredients and utensils for each cook to have easy access to…. steeping teas need to be refrigerated…mason jars labeled with each name…the house prepared for guests…flower picked and arranged for centerpieces…table set…the welcome sign on the road…water boiled for the air pot… last minute phone calls of people canceling or asking it there is still room for a wild foodie to attend….
Are you tired yet? And to think I used to do these Forage to Feast events once a month! Phewww!
Wild Mediterranean Menu
click on the links for the recipes and some of Holly’s wild cooking tips
Wild teas: Beebalm, Peppermint, Goldenrod Punch
Wild Sodas: Kudzu Flower Grape Soda, Beauty Berry Soda, Elderberry Spritzer
Hot drinks: Dandelion Root Coffee
Wild Leaves & Edible Flowers
Purslane Quinoa Salad
Wild Carrot Cake w/ QAL Cream Cheese Icing & Edible Flowers
Plantain & Lambsquarter Seed Fudge
Thank you everyone for the lovely evening! We were a team!! Thank you Marc for your wild wisdom and caring heart! Thank you God for the variety of green gifts that you have hidden for us in plain view!
Wild Blessings abound!
“We all wait for You to give them our food in due season.
You give to us, we gather it up;
You open Your hand, we are satisfied.
You send forth Your Spirit, and we are created;
And You renew the face of the ground.” Psalms 104:27-30