Archive for November, 2012

Venison meatloaf with sock berry glaze

venison highbush cranberry meatloaf 350x262 Venison meatloaf with sock berry glaze

Venison meatloaf glazed with an ornamental highbush cranberry tomato glaze.

Call me a “bitter-plant apologist,” but I’m pretty pleased with myself for this, my first foray into cooking with Viburnum opulus, the highbush cranberry that is the escaped ornamental cousin of the much-celebrated native species.

Says Sam Thayer in my go-to guide, The Forager’s Harvest (2006):  “The two native highbush cranberry species, Viburnum edule and V. trilobum, are generally highly esteemed for their flavor, while the introduced European V. opulus has terrible fruit.” And this: “The European species is extremely bitter, accentuated by other bad flavors, while the native type tastes very much like cranberries. In fact, European highbush cranberries are so terrible that I don’t even consider them edible, despite the claims of some bitter-plant apologists—and frost emphatically does not improve their flavor.”

That said, my friend Butter—who coined the term “stinky sock berries” to describe the stinky, foul-tasting V. opulus— is a convert, having once discovered their abundant, ripe fruit near-glowing on its branches when most everything else nearby had turned brown with the change of seasons. She’s collected them ever since. Read the rest of this entry

Late November foraging in the Denver low country

highbush cranberry CO 350x262 Late November foraging in the Denver low country

The stinkier of the highbush cranberries, these guys are turning into sauce whether I stink my fiance out of the house or not, by golly.

Well, Denver’s not low country exactly — Mile High City and all— and the part where my friend B and I like to forage is one of the higher points in said low country, but it’s still low compared to the upper reaches of Colorado where I live, even though we moved down from 11,000 feet to 9,800-feet or so this summer.

Still, it’s supposed to be winter up here now, and most of the plants think it is, so it’s not ideal for food foraging aside from cold weather finds like pine needles for tea and flavoring or willow bark to sooth the ever-present, new-job-related headache from which I suffer.

You’ll understand why I’m so excited, then, that—after hightailing it from work to Denver for Thanksgiving and driving home to Summit County the next day only to discover I left my computer behind and had to go back to the fiancé’s parents’ house for it —I had opportunity to visit and forage food with Butter B, wildcrafter extraordinaire, and wound up going home with sacks upon sacks of wild stuff to eat.

That’s right: It’s November, and foraging season down Denver way is still kicking. Below is what I came home with yesterday. It’s stuff you might be able to spot, right now—and, upon absolute positive identification (of course), get busy with in the kitchen yourself:

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