Archive for February, 2013

Pretty in wild pink

prickly pear syrup light 350x262 Pretty in wild pink

In the glow of the prickly pear syrup I see…

I don’t know why suddenly all of my wild edible concoctions are coming out hot pink—maybe it’s because pink is the color of love and it’s February? Regardless, here is some pretty-in-pink wild edible fun if you’re game:

Prickly pear & grapefruit syrup

Butter and I foraged these small, wrinkled prickly pears (Opuntia sp.) in the Denver area in fall, and every day of my time-sucking job after that they sat out on the counter, waiting for me to cook with them, until one day they were fully dried out.

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How we ate prairie dog

White tailed prairie dog 2 350x282 How we ate prairie dog

We at prairie dogs, though I’m not certain what species. This is a white-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys leucurus) photographed in Colorado by John J. Mosesso , NBII. Licensed for reuse by Wikimedia Commons.

Allow me to fall from grace a bit and tell you about an unusual project from last summer. Until now I’ve kept mum on the subject, as my take on it ranges from awesome to repulsed, and I played an integral part.

It all started last spring, when, while gimping about in the confinement of our home with my newly repaired ACL, I received a call from the UK—an assistant producer, Richard Grisman, then from Fresh One TV, asking about wild food foraging in Colorado. Where could they bring 16 chefs to survive— hunting, fishing, and foraging—in early June? Were there any concerns that would need to be addressed?

There was only to be one episode (Episode 3: Kill It, Cook It, Eat It) in Chef Race: UK vs. US for BBC America—a reality TV show that would pit a team of eight British chefs against eight American chefs in a series of 10 quasi-cooking-related challenges to take place on a road trip across the US from Southern California to New York. Read the rest of this entry

Creamy powdered wings and blood sauce

wild mushrooms 350x316  Creamy powdered wings and blood sauce

A fall mushroom hunt yielded, clockwise from top left: hawk’s wings (S. imbricatus), porcini (Boletus edulis), Albatrellus confluens, and various puffballs. The sauce in this post is made with hawks wings.

This next mushroom sauce is the stuff of deep, dark forests and shady places, featuring flavors so strong and wild as to cause disquiet to a delicate palate while satiating those of us who desire to delve so deep.

For the second in my mushroom sauce series, then, I present venison soaked in a marinade of hawk’s wings (Sarcodon sp.) and wild red wine vinegar, topped with a Sarcodon cream sauce.

The hawk’s wings came from a two-year-old jar labeled “mature fruiting bodies” that I collected in my early mushroom hunting days. Back then I was more nervous about Vera Stucky Evenson’s advice in Mushrooms of Colorado and the Southern Rocky Mountains (1997): “Only mild, young fruiting bodies should be eaten, as this fungus makes some people slightly ill.”

That year, like I did with many mushrooms, I collected the healthy hawk’s wings specimens I found—including mature fruiting bodies—but then sliced, dried, jarred and labeled them for later use. Read the rest of this entry

Foraging for fantasy football fanatics

The League highway foraging 304x350 Foraging for fantasy football fanatics

This is what foragers do–collect wood sorrel and other edibles on the side of the highway, right?

I had to hear a lot about fantasy football in the newsroom where I worked for the last eight months, but I didn’t take the time to understand what it was all about until foraging figured into it. Go figure.

Explains Wikipedia: “Fantasy football is an interactive competition in which people manage professional football players versus one another as general managers of a pseudo-football team.” Hence my lack of interest. That was until a friend with a mutual interest in both miner’s lettuce and snowboarding turned me onto the FX show The League—specifically the 2011 Yobogoya episode (Season 3, Episode 6).

The League is a remarkably foul-mouthed sitcom that follows a group of friends in a fantasy football league. From whence the writers pulled out a foraging subplot is beyond me, but they at least picked some appropriate plant names to drop.

The forager is Andre, the awkward plastic surgeon with the gap tooth who the friends constantly make fun of. The episode opens with Kevin and Taco having a “brother’s lunch” that Andre interrupts, carrying his own “lunch” of greens and what look like Amanita buttons in a plastic container. Read the rest of this entry

Freedom in mushroom sauce

wild food girl pantry 350x252 Freedom in mushroom sauce

A two-bedroom apartment doesn’t leave a lot of room for a wild pantry, but there’s enough in these jars to keep me entertained.

Hello, jars of dried leaves. Hello, pickled stonecrop. Hello there, you acorns and hickory nuts that mom mailed from the east coast, you vodka concoctions flavored with every which wild thing. Hello, jars of sliced, dried mushrooms.

It’s been a long time—eight months exactly—since I paused in the pantry long enough to consider the wild and wonderful bounty therein. Instead, I’ve been off in the real world, making a go at a professional writing career.

But two mornings ago, on the first day of my newfound liberation (read: I quit), I found my way there and stood and stared awhile before sojourning to the computer to see what’s been going on over on the other side of the internet where my dear friend Butterpoweredbike maintains her foraging weblog, Hunger & Thirst for Life, and reading her own account of pantry pondering. Read the rest of this entry