Archive for March, 2013

Pine nut shell vodka sauce with pasta

pine nut vodka sauce 350x344 Pine nut shell vodka sauce with pasta

Pine nut vodka sauce over pasta with side salad and small, breaded venison chop.

I wrote perhaps one of my most ridiculous, albeit in-depth, posts — on the subject of pine nuts —  while loopy with pain meds last year after I blew my knee. During that time I made the acquaintance of a colorful character, the purveyor of pine nuts and conservation activist Pinyon Penny, who told me about infusing vodka with pine nuts. Though I can only imagine how good pine nut infused vodka would taste had I left the nuts in there (but of course I had to eat them), the shells worked well for the purpose, resulting in a quite piney vodka a few months later. The pine nut shell vodka is the star ingredient in this vodka tomato sauce. It’s strong, flavorful, and forest-kissed.


  • 4 cups crushed, roasted tomato
  • 1/2-1 cup pine nut shell vodka (or pine nut vodka) to taste
  • Wild oregano (Mondarda fistulosa) or regular oregano to taste
  • Wild garlic (Allium spp.) or regular garlic to taste
  • A splash of olive oil
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 3/4-1 cup Greek yoghurt


Mix everything together except the Greek yoghurt and simmer for a while so the flavors meld. Mix in yoghurt to desired color and taste. Serve over pasta.

Black birch experiment

black birch twigs CT 350x262 Black birch experiment

Black birch twigs can be used for tea. Note the horizontal lenticels that look like dashes, as Steve Brill describes them.

It’s now a week into this month’s wild recipe challenge at Hunger & Thirst for Life, and can I just say, I’ve been out of it for eight months and all of a sudden, this game has gotten way harder.

This month, Wild Things is a “Tree Party,” which, despite the fact that it conjures up happy tree house imagery for me, is not as simple as it sounds, because the following tree parts are disqualified, reserved to grace a later contest on their own merits: leaves, needles, fruits, and nuts. So much for the pine nut vodka I was thinking I’d make into vodka sauce.

Instead we are left with “sap, bark (including cambium), pollen, catkins, and resin,” explains Butterpoweredbike, head cheese of the wild recipe share. She expects to receive monographs or recipes for herbal remedies that use tree bark, and syrup from folks who tap trees, in addition to her own culinary experiments with ponderosa pine bark. Read the rest of this entry

wild food 030 350x262 Bent on pulverizing Short stemmed Slippery Jack’s bad rap

Wild chicken stew with slippery jack powder.

Lately I’ve been powdering my dried wild mushrooms, batch after batch and species after species, then attempting to use the powders in various kitchen concoctions.

First were the porcini (Boletus edulis), from which I made a divine sauce, followed by not-so-bad hawks wings (Sarcodon imbricatus) venison marinade and cream sauce. Short-stemmed slippery jacks (Suillus brevipes) were a logical choice after that—in part because I have so many, and in part because I refuse to believe them inferior despite their reputation.

I went through a phase obsessing about Suillus brevipes this fall.

Said me on the Facebook: “Not to harp on the (short-stemmed) slippery jacks or anything, but I’m growing very fond of these guys. I’m tempted to say they rival Boletus edulis, but I think Butter at Hunger and Thirst might have my head for it.” (This because Butter is such a porcini fanatic as to pass up the short, slippery dudes.) Read the rest of this entry

Book look: Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas

Edible Wild Plants 232x350 Book look: Edible Wild Plants by John KallasThere’s a telltale photo of author John Kallas, Ph.D, in his 2010 book, Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate (Gibbs Smith). It’s a faded, 1973 shot of the then long-haired, bearded forager emerging from a swamp wielding cattail vegetables. John Kallas is the real deal. He’s been at the wild edible game a long time; he knows his plants well and has years of experience researching and eating them.

A visually appealing, glossy 400-page book with full-color photographs, Edible Wild Plants is the first in a planned multi-part Wild Food Adventure Series from Kallas, who founded the Portland, Oregon based Institute for the Study of Edible Wild Plants and Other Foragables and its educational branch, Wild Food Adventures (

The author is a salad lover, judging by all the salad ideas in the book. He also enjoys putting wild edible greens on sandwiches and adding them to myriad other recipes. So it makes sense that Kallas’ first book should centers on greens—specifically, wild leafy greens that love disturbed soil zones.

For readers with farmland, gardens needing weeding or overgrown lots that they hope to forage, Kallas’ book is a superb resource.

In keeping with the current trend among wild edible authors to provide more detailed accounts of less plants (in contrast to traditional identification guides) Edible Wild Plants includes for each plant a detailed and thorough chapter featuring stories of the author’s experience, plant descriptions, photographs of growth stages, and food preparation ideas.

Read the rest of this entry

A sumac and angelica summer cocktail in winter

sumac angelica 265x350 A sumac and angelica summer cocktail in winter

Tangy sumac and angelica liqueur

Just after posting my pinklog, I made something else pink by accident.

“Tangy angelica liqueur,” Gregg called it, and indeed, he guessed correctly because the base of this cocktail is a spicy angelica liqueur we made in the fall. I’ve been drinking it by itself, chilled over ice, and liking it—but not quite loving it, not like I loved the elderberry flower liqueur of this past summer, or the berry liqueurs before that.

Still, wild angelica (Angelica sp.) is a good friend of mine, one I made after much trepidation on account of how it resembles poison hemlock. This particular batch we gathered from approximately 11,000 feet in Colorado in the days just after Gregg proposed to make an honest woman of me.

Tonight, as I cleaned dishes piled in the kitchen from two days ago, I came to a saucepan of dry, abandoned sumac “berries” (Rhus glabra) from which I had extracted tea to use in a tangy butter sauce for fish, and my need for clean dishes inspired the cocktail. So I simmered the sumac leftovers down in a small amount of water to make as tangy a tea as possible, then let it cool and poured it over ice with the vodka-based angelica liqueur. Yum city. Read the rest of this entry