Monday, May 30th, 2011 at
Cook stinging nettles before consuming lest you get stung in the mouth.
Accounts of stinging nettles are far from uncommon in the wild foods literature; likewise, stinging nettle soup is sold in more than a few restaurants—such that some wild foods neophytes like Gregg’s little sister Caity have more experience with the plant than I do, isolated as I am in high-mountain Colorado. For me, then, finding a small colony of nettles growing out of a culvert in Woodstock, New York last week was cause for great celebration.
I tried nettles on one other occasion three years ago, when, at the end of my cross-country journey to Colorado, I found myself alone and foodless save for a grocery bag full of nettles (which miraculously made it four days without refrigeration in the back seat of my car from State College, PA where it was gifted to me by a friend). This was before my newfound obsession with wild edible plants, and I worried about getting sick as I stripped and boiled the prickly leaves in the unfamiliar kitchen that has since become my own. (Everything turned out fine, though I can’t honestly say I relished the nettles at that moment. Funny what fear can do to the taste buds!) Read the rest of this entry
Friday, May 27th, 2011 at
Wild foraged fiddleheads and morels purchased from a health food store.
It’s been a number of years since I made it out east in the spring—and what a spring it is! Apparently it’s been raining more than usual, such that the outdoors is carpeted in lush new green growth the likes of which I seldom see. Coming from the Colorado high country, where snow still covers the forest floor, I have to admit I’m not sure where to begin.
Gregg and I headed first to Woodstock, New York, to visit my friend Aurora. The Hudson River Valley where Woodstock is located is truly an Eden of wild foods, a fact that she pointed out has been the case for thousands of years—and the reason so many native people relied upon this area for hunting and gathering. Granted, many of the plants that now flourish in these parts were imported by early settlers, but I am overwhelmed by the abundance of wild edibles I have an encountered.
In the Hudson River Valley we found the following plants ripe for the picking (in addition to many other that are not in season): stinging nettles, garlic mustard, mint, clovers, cleavers, goosefoot, mallow, burdock, several varieties of dock, a few late fern fiddleheads, sorrel, wild carrot, dandelion, plantain, and milkweed shoots. I helped Aurora weed some of these plants out of her garden and ended up with a cooler bag full of wild edibles. Later, on the forested grounds of my Alma Mater, Bard College, we found wild ginger, mayapples not yet fruiting, spicebush, and sweet cicely. Read the rest of this entry
Friday, May 13th, 2011 at
Juniper and coriander steeping in vodka to make gin.
Perhaps one day I’ll get into distilling my own spirits, but until that day comes, I did find a lazy’s man’s gin recipe on Ehow that involves wild edible plants.
According to the website of the now-defunct Gin & Vodka Association, gin flavorings (referred to as botanicals) include juniper as the mandatory and dominant flavor, in addition to any or all of the following: coriander, angelica, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, cinnamon, grains of paradise, cubeb berries, and nutmeg. Additional gin botanicals are listed at Tony Ackland’s site on the home distillation of alcohol.
The wild edible plant I used in my gin is juniper, of course. We have tons of it growing in the back yard and I’ve collected juniper “berries” (which aren’t berries at all, but rather cones) on numerous occasions, so I have a collection of these dry, hand-picked “berries” in the closet. (Another botanical on the list—angelica—also grows in parts nearby, but I have yet to positively identify and harvest any on account of the similarities it bears to poison hemlock and water hemlock, both of which are highly toxic. So, I’m biding my time until I’m 100% positive about angelica.)
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Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at
A whole spring dandelion dug from the Denver dirt.
Yesterday another foot of snow fell at the house, which lies at 11,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies. So much for the few hints of green that were beginning to poke out of the dirt. Fortunately, Gregg and I scored some small spring dandelions last weekend at his parents’ house, which lies much lower at 6,100 feet in Aurora, on the outskirts of Denver.
Weeding Dandelions with Love
Gregg’s step-dad Jim was kind enough to let me weed dandelions from the part of the back yard where he doesn’t spray poison due to its proximity to the fish pond. We have a symbiotic relationship in that way—he needs edible weeds removed from his carefully tended landscape, and I want to eat them.
Have you ever weeded dandelions out of a lawn by hand? It’s not so bad if the soil is soft. Between the soft soil and the long metal hand weeding tool Jim supplied me, it was simply a matter of carefully extracting the dandelions—taproots, leaf stalks, leaves, buds, and all. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at
Wild strawberry plants peep through the May snow high in the Colorado Rockies.
The traffic at Wild Food Girl is on the rise, which I guess means it must spring somewhere in the world—just not here. This was a record snowfall year for the Colorado high country and many of the wild edible plants I would write about (now that my winter responsibilities have finally ended) are still covered with several feet of snow.
It is now year three of my informal blogging-about-wild-edible-plants project. During the summer of 2009, I learned to design/manage/write in blogs and launched www.etmarciniec.com, which contains 57 entries on wild edible and medicinal plants along with other samples of my writing. During the summer of 2010 I created this website so that all subsequent wild-edible-food-related entries could have a home of their own, and proceeded to write all of the entries that appear on it. Read the rest of this entry