Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at
Hello you sexy cow parsnip, you! (Heracleum maximum) Frisco, 5.20.13
It’s been funny weather up here in the high country lately. Where we live at 10,000 feet, it has been snowing fat, clumpy, wet flakes for days. Then yesterday, late morning, I headed to Frisco through pouring rain to survey some trails.
At my first stop, it was snowing and blowing and cold, so I donned my coat and hat before poking around. There were big snow patches across the trail and not too much in the way of edible spring growth. But then at the second and third stops—both uphill hikes through trees—it was warm enough that I had to shed both, and the sun peeked out, sending rays of dappled light to illuminate the freshly sprinkled plants.
I found spring—and the best diversity of edible, wild, high country plants—at Meadow Creek Trail #33 in Frisco, accessed from the I-70/Highway 9 traffic circle. It’s a somewhat strenuous uphill hike that takes you through an aspen grove to Lilly Pad Lake if you go far enough. I’d almost skipped it, not relishing the idea of hiking up, up, up, but then made a last minute decision to stop anyway. I was happily surprised to find so many of my wild edible friends had sprouted—some “wild” in the sense of native plants that belong to the forest, and others introduced species gone wild but growing in such a healthy state that they looked good enough to eat. Read the rest of this entry
Monday, May 20th, 2013 at
Curly dock chips on the docket for snack time. The was my first batch, when I went through the effort to remove the midribs from the leaves.
Who needs kale chips when you can have dock chips? For this project—a bastardization of two online recipes for kale chips (Food Network, Allrecipes), I used young curly dock leaves (Rumex crispus) foraged a couple days ago in the outskirts of Fort Collins, Colorado. With the recent rains the dock is looking good, especially if you catch the young, light green leaves shortly after they unfurl, before the bugs have a chance to get to them.
Unlike kale, which is a mustard, dock is in the Polygonaceae family, which includes buckwheat and rhubarb—so the chips are bound to taste different than kale chips to some palates. To my simple one, both give the sensation of a melt-in-your-mouth crisped vegetable, which I find appealing.
One of the kale chips recipes I followed said to cut the leaves from the leaf stems, and to then rip the leaves into pieces. For my first trial I removed them from the midribs but didn’t rip the strips into smaller pieces, which made it easier to flip once they were in the oven. I tossed the leaves in oil and spruce salt and laid them out, not touching each other, on a cookie sheet, baking for probably six minutes at 275 degrees before flipping them over, one by one, using a spatula and my fingers. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday, April 14th, 2013 at
Good news! After nearly a year on hiatus, the Wild Edible Notebook is back!
This first-time April edition centers on everybody’s favorite wild food—dandelions. Though snow still covers the ground here in the Colorado high country, the dandies have been up in Denver for a while now, and it seemed a safe bet for foragers in other locations too. I also included a piece I wrote on spring foraging in the Denver area last year. Although the season’s change is taking its time this spring (thank goodness), my hope is that this will at least get you thinking about all the delicious wild food that awaits. There’s a review of first-time author Rebecca Lerner’s recently released book, Dandelion Hunter, a wild edible poem from correspondent Brad Purcell, and a handful of recipes to boot.
I’m not going to lie to you—this issue contains recycled blog content, so if you’re an avid reader of this site, some of the text may strike you as familiar. Still, I included a bunch of as-yet-unseen photos to sweeten the deal while I wait for my own local wild food to sprout.
As with all other Wild Edible Notebooks, if you want to read it, you have to download it—and that means joining the list if you haven’t already.
How to Join the List
If you go through the process to join the list you will receive one (at most two) emails from me a month. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. To join, scroll to the bottom of this page and fill in your info. You’ll receive an email asking you to click on a confirmation link, and after doing that, you’ll get another email with the download link for the latest issue of the Wild Edible Notebook—in your choice of either a handy print-and-fold booklet or a file you can breeze through onscreen or print out one-sided. You’ll be able to access a few prior notebooks as well. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday, April 11th, 2013 at
A nummy granola bar square made with oats, rosehips, and evening primrose seeds
For two years I bugged my friend for her grandmother’s granola bar recipe. “Erica! I finally found my granola recipe!” she emailed one day, and that was two years ago.
So last night, approximately four years after the idea’s inception, my long-hewn plans finally came to fruition when I recreated the bars—with much adaptation due to the lack of traditional foods in the house, and a couple of new wild ingredients added in, of course.
These chewy wild granola bars have some stuff in them that’s real good for you, and other stuff that’s not so much good for you—but they make a ridiculously delicious pocket snack. And of course they can be adapted for all manner of wild seeds, fruits, and nuts.
Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 at
Acorn squash, nettle, and beer soup, perfect for warming up after a wet spring snowstorm. I won’t be putting the seeds on top again, however, because they lost all their crunch in an instant.
I’ve had a request so I hereby present two squash nettle soups, both made with ingredients that are out of season here at 10,000 feet in the Colorado high country.
The first—a pumpkin, nettle, and beer soup—I made in November after receiving the gift of a pumpkin on our doorstep after a friend in possession of one needed to unload the big squash so as not to leave it in his car while he flew out of town. I am certainly not one to kick a tall pumpkin fairy in the mouth.
The idea of pairing stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) with squash came to me originally from Rebecca Marshman, the youngest chef on BBC America’s Chef’s Race, whose acquaintance I made during the filming of the third episode. She made a divine nettle minestrone with nettles gathered by her teammate, Sophie Michell. To make something like it, she told me to start by sautéeing onions and garlic, then to add small chunks of pumpkin to the pan for “a beautiful color,” and to put all that into the soup along with chicken bouillon, chopped potatoes, carrots, and some kind of beans.
So my recipe borrows from Rebecca’s idea, but is a creamy soup, with Parmesan cheese and a few brewskies to boot. It is an adaptation of an adaptation of a Moosewood Cookbook recipe followed by another one from the internet. I thought the nettles would make a good substitute for chicken broth. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 at
Mountain parsley, or biscuitroot, gathered near 11,000 feet in Fairplay, Colorado last summer.
This summer, I’ll be drying more leaves.
Last season’s nettles were a no-brainer, and they disappeared from my pantry shelves fast—in the form of tea and a much-loved pumpkin nettle beer soup. But what of the other leafy greens I enjoy all summer long? Could they help to tide over a fanatical forager during the long winter months?
Inspired by Maria’s post on Lessons from the Pantry, I piled my few bottles of dried leaves on the counter last night and set to work experimenting in the hopes of determining which dried leaves merited the effort.
Here’s what I came up with:
Salted Bluebell Leaf Chips
A recent insinuation of cheesy kale chips into my life from multiple directions inspired this attempt to recreate leafy green veggie chips from a wild edible angle.
I painted the light-green, dried smooth bluebell leaves (Mertensia spp.) with a thin coat of olive oil—though a spritzer would have been ideal—then sprinkled black Hawaiian lava salt on top in the hopes of drawing out the leaves’ oceany flavor. Then I crisped them on low heat in the toaster oven—actually I crisped them at high heat and a few of them burned before I turned it down—and served to the curious fiancé. Read the rest of this entry
Monday, April 1st, 2013 at
Dried hawks wings (Sarcodon spp.) slices for the crumbling & reconstitution.
Don’t be deceived. I did not make this soup with tiny mushrooms. Rather, I made but a tiny amount of soup.
“Tiny Mushroom Soup” is my new strategy for making something worthwhile with what remains of my dried wild mushroom bounty from the last two summers. That way, if the soup comes out awful, I haven’t wasted a gallon of mushrooms in the process.
Truth be told, I don’t know much about mushroom cookery. It has taken some serious experimentation to get where I am now, which isn’t very far, and more often than not I find myself completely baffled by icky, gooey mushroom sauces and omelets that are so mushroomy weird that Gregg has to eat them because I’ll hurl if I attempt another bite.
Still, it appears luck was on my side tonight, because this soup came together naturally and turned out to be a hit in our house, the cause of repeated, emphatic utterances of “Mmm!” by the one-day hubbie. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday, March 7th, 2013 at
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
Friday, March 1st, 2013 at
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 spp.) 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
Saturday, February 16th, 2013 at
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