high altitude Archives

Wild Edible Notebook—December 2014 Release!

WEN December2014 cover 800 Wild Edible Notebook—December 2014 Release!We’ve had more than 95 inches of snow here in Colorado’s high country in the last two weeks, which means it’s official—foraging season is over, and the season for enjoying so many preserved wild flavors is upon us. In preparation for this day, I spent some time preserving wild flavors in vinegar. Boy, was it worth it! I was also happy to enjoy chickweed for my last wild green of the season. These stories and more can be found in the December 2014 edition of the Wild Edible Notebook, just released. Here’s an overview of this month’s edition:

  • Vinegar, Untamed – Vinegar. It’s wonderful. And the possibilities are endless. Ferment your own with wild-foraged fruit, or flavor store-bought stuff with your leftover scraps from wild jam and jelly-making. Then add a fruit-kissed, vinegary twist to every dish you can imagine, from sodas and sauces to vinegar pie.
  • Cosmopolitan Chickweed – We found a bounty of common chickweed in Breckenridge, Colorado, this year during an early November thaw. For now, the snow has covered it back up, but in some regions chickweed can be found all winter long. It makes a nice green for salads and spring rolls, even a healthy green drink.
  • You Are What You Eat – This story is a review of Durango, Colorado-based forager, raw food lover, and activist Katrina Blair’s new book, The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival (Chelsea Green, 2014), which has a forward by fermentation guru Sandor Ellix Katz.
  • Vinegar Splashed Squash – This recipe takes a traditional holiday baked acorn squash and adds a twist of fruity fermented feral vinegar.
  • Fruit Shrubs: Don’t Fear the Vinegar by Wendy Petty – Ever wondered what a “shrub” was, let alone how to make it? Here, Hunger & Thirst blogger Wendy Petty breaks it down for us, and provides a handful of sample shrub recipes to get you started on your mixed drinks.
  • Dried Apple & Rosehip Tea – It’s simple, sweet, sugar-free, and full of Vitamin C, a perfect warming drink for the cold season.
wild plum vinegar 299x450 Wild Edible Notebook—December 2014 Release!

There are many ways to consume wild flavors in winter, like this spicy wild plum vinegar.

Read this issue by subscribing to the Wild Edible Notebook for $1.99/month. The Wild Edible Notebook is an always-photo-filled, 50-page monthly magazine available in two subscription types:

  • OPTION #1: Your Choice of PDFs – We create 3 different PDF versions of each month’s Notebook and post them here on the Member Profile & Downloads page. The versions are: 1) a screen reader formatted to fit an iPad or to be viewed on any monitor; 2) an “Android-friendly” version that is tall and skinny; and 3) a print-and-fold, to be printed 2-sided on legal size 8.5”x14” paper. Subscribers can download one or all of these formats. When you sign up, you get access to the past 4 or so issues plus each new issue as it comes out. Back issues are removed from the subscription periodically, but you can keep permanent copies if you download the files to your machine before that happens. Go to Wild Edible Notebook to subscribe to the PDFs via Paypal.
  • OPTION #2: iPad/iPhone App – We also have an iPad/iPhone app version of the Wild Edible Notebook, available through the App Store in the form of a Newsstand magazine. Permanent downloads are not available with this option, but it’s easy to use, and you will be able to access a year’s worth of content and counting as long as you are subscribed.
  • FREE SAMPLES - Check out a few free issues by joining the email list (scroll to the very bottom of this page and type your name and email address). You will receive an email with a link to the free download area (check your spam box if you don’t receive the email), where you can get a couple of the past Notebooks for free.

Sprouting Flour with Quinoa’s Wild Kin

zuni steam bread Sprouting Flour with Quinoa’s Wild Kin

Zuni Steamed Bread dumplings, made with sprouted lamb’s quarters flour, prior to steaming.
Photo by Gregg Davis.

I’d been eating a lot of store-bought quinoa while staring longingly at the seeds of its relative, the ubiquitous weed, goosefoot. In fact I kept a jar of the black seeds in my pantry for more than two years before attempting to eat them. Truth be told, I was stumped by them.

I eat goosefoot greens all the time when they are in season. Nicknamed “wild spinach,” the plant is related to both spinach and beets. Common varieties in Colorado include Chenopodium album, also called “lamb’s quarters,” C. berlandieri, and C. fremontii, not to mention strawberry blite (C. capitatum) with its interesting red flower clusters.

There are several edible Chenopodiums commonly treated together as goosefoots. In Colorado, Cattail Bob Seebeck lumps C. album, C. berlandieri, and C. fremontii together, describing them as herbaceous, weedy plants with leaves that range from goosefoot-shaped to narrower, often with a light, mealy coating and red stripes on the stem, a frosty look on new growth at the plant’s tip, and green clumps of inconspicuous flowers.

Chenopodium berlandieri and C. fremontii are said to be native to North America, though there is some debate as to whether C. album is native or introduced. Even if it was introduced, however, its post-contact period use is likely to have been similar to that of the native species. Read the rest of this entry

Wild Edible Notebook—November 2014 Release!

WEN November2014 cover 800 336x450 Wild Edible Notebook—November 2014 Release!There’s nothing like finding wild edible bounty in your own backyard. Do you have a yard full of dandelions? Then you have a yard full of edible root vegetables. You might also enjoy sampling from a banquet of edible invasive species, and perhaps do nature a favor by eating them.

The November 2014 edition of the Wild Edible Notebook, just released, features:

  • An Homage to Dandelion Roots – I went to the backyard with a shovel and stick, dug up a bunch of dandelion roots, cleaned and prepped and cooked them into 10,000 dishes. Okay, maybe a few less than that. But this is the story of what I did, what I made, and what I learned. Hopefully you’ll appreciate dandelion roots as much as I do.
  • On the Hunt for Native Dandelions – When we think dandelion, we think of the common and often unwanted yellow flowering plant introduced to North America by early colonists. But did you know we also have native dandelions, and that they are edible too? One day maybe I’ll find one.
  • Eating Through the Invasive Canada Thistle Patch – Canada thistle. What a pain in the neck. You pull, pull, and pull but it comes back every time. Good thing you can turn all that work into creative nourishment.
  • Edible Invaders on the Menu for Sustainable Food Advocates – The national Sustainable Food Summit from Chef’s Collaborative, held this year in Boulder, Colorado, featured a panel on edible invasive species—from land-dwelling animals to seafood to plants. This story is a photo-filled recap of the event and information shared.
  • Who Are You Calling Invasive? Just because you call it a weed doesn’t mean it’s invasive. Just because you didn’t plant it doesn’t mean you should spray it with poison. What is an invasive species anyway?
  • Roasted Chicory Root Coffee by Wendy Petty – Wendy Petty is my go-to girl for anything cooking, and especially for lots of good ideas and instructions on wild edible foods. Here’s her take on how to make roasted chicory root coffee, plus a recipe for a dessert granita to boot.dandelion root rgb 241x450 Wild Edible Notebook—November 2014 Release!
  • Dandelion Root Kimchi by Tim Furst – Tim is one of a group of self-proclaimed “kitchen witches,” and a wild edible cook. One day he made some home-fermented dandelion root kimchi. This piece is lovely story with an open ending. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to try fermenting your own dandy root kimchi after reading it.

Read this issue by subscribing to the Wild Edible Notebook for $1.99/month. The Wild Edible Notebook is an always-photo-filled monthly magazine available in two subscription types:

  • OPTION #1: Your Choice of PDFs – We create 3 different PDF versions of each month’s Notebook and post them here on the Member Profile & Downloads page. The versions are: 1) a screen reader formatted to fit an iPad or to be viewed on any monitor; 2) an “Android-friendly” version that is tall and skinny; and 3) a print-and-fold, to be printed 2-sided on legal size 8.5”x14” paper. Subscribers can download one or all of these formats. When you sign up, you get access to the past 4 or so issues plus each new issue as it comes out. Back issues are removed from the subscription periodically, but you can keep permanent copies if you download the files to your machine before that happens. Go to Wild Edible Notebook to subscribe to the PDFs via Paypal.
  • OPTION #2: iPad/iPhone App – We also have an iPad/iPhone app version of the Wild Edible Notebook, available through the App Store in the form of a Newsstand magazine. Permanent downloads are not available with this option, but it’s easy to use, and you will be able to access a year’s worth of content and counting as long as you are subscribed.
  • FREE SAMPLES - Check out a few free issues by joining the email list (scroll to the very bottom of this page and type your name and email address). You will receive an email with a link to the free download area (check your spam box if you don’t receive the email), where you can get a couple of the past Notebooks for free.

 

A Fall for Thick, Rosy Hips

Rosehips Pence 2013 Gregg Davis A Fall for Thick, Rosy Hips

Red rosehips stand out against the yellow fall foliage and white aspen trunks in the Colorado high country. Photo by Gregg Davis, 2013.

Legions of soft, plump, frost-kissed rosehips hang heavy upon their slender, prickly stems. Many are perfectly ripe, slipping off the ends of their branches with a soft, orange gush, leaving a sticky paste to be licked off the fingers.

First I made rosehip sauce, by cooking the hips down in enough water to cover and then mashing the softened fruits through a screen to save the liquid paste while discarding their itch-causing seed hairs. I sugared the filtered stuff gently and cooked it down to thicken.

But the rosehips continued to call to me after that, so we headed out under overcast skies for a second batch, visions of whole dried rosehips for wintertime teas dancing in my head. Plus I wanted to de-seed a small batch to dry for use as rosehip “raisins” in granola, and to cook down another fresh batch into my first attempt at rosehip soup, a popular dessert in Scandinavia and Iceland (Hahn, 2010) that I read about in a couple different books.

rosehip ripe 450x337 A Fall for Thick, Rosy Hips

After a frost or two, rosehips often turn a translucent red, a sign that they are ripe and ready for harvest.

We had the forest to ourselves that day due to the inclement weather. Gregg busied himself putting his camera away every time the skies opened to release short bursts of light drizzle, and then pulling it out again when the rain let up. But the views were gorgeous nonetheless, the floor of the aspen grove dappled with the yellow leaves of the season’s change, while more fluttered in the breeze—green, yellow, and red in contrast with the backdrop of so many tightly-packed, tall, white trunks.

The rose bushes were interspersed, a few still green but most turning yellow and gold, making the bright red hips all the more evident upon them. Some hips were tiny, others nearly an inch in length. Some bushes were tall; other came up only to my calf. These traits varied as we walked, as the aspect of the hill and growing conditions changed from dry slope to wet gulch, shade to sunny exposure.

I aimed mostly for soft hips, plucking them from branches and depositing them into my bag as we walked, leaving more hips upon the branches than those I picked, and spreading out the harvest so as not to denude an area. In total, I got maybe a gallon—enough to dry a couple pints and still have some left over to play with in the kitchen.

By the end of the hike, a light snow was falling. This truly is a magical place. Read the rest of this entry

Wild Edible Notebook—October 2014 Release!

WEN cover October 2014 800 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—October 2014 Release!We clambered through the underbrush in an overgrown lot and parted the spiny branches of wild plum to glimpse a wonderland of apple trees plump with every size, shape, and color you could imagine. These were not trees bearing malformed, feral apples grown from seed, but a forgotten orchard of once carefully tended apples—plump red apples and tart, juicy green ones, tiny candy-like red-and-yellow striped apples and big, spotted red ones. It boggles the mind that these heirloom apples, far more special than the commonly cloned varieties you find in the grocery store, could be free for the taking. We tasted each variety, marveling at the myriad flavors, and giggled as we gathered the fallen fruit.

This month’s issue of the Wild Edible Notebook, just released, features adventures with found, free, feral apples. Next is a piece on the wild mustard peppergrass, followed by a review of Langdon Cook’s book, The Mushroom Hunters. As always, wild recipes conclude the magazine. Here’s a closer look at the October 2014 edition:

apples feral orchard Colorado 450x337 Wild Edible Notebook—October 2014 Release!

Feral heirloom apples foraged from a forgotten homesteader’s orchard.

  • Feral Apples – This story features “wild” apples—from a romp through an overgrown Colorado homesteader’s orchard, to feral apples (Malus spp.) across the country and how they came to be. There is also a nod to our native and introduced crab apples.
  • 5 Peppergrass Mustards – In this piece, we peruse peppergrass (Lepidium spp.), which you might know as “poor man’s pepper.” While many authors recommend using the green seedpods of this plant, this story centers on the dry mustard seeds, which I used to make an Oktoberfest sampler plate of tasty mustard condiments.
  • Recipe: Spicy Beer Mustard with Peppergrass & Pennycress – Of all the mustards I made, this one came out best. Make it as is, substitute store-bought mustard seeds, or add your own spicy twist.
  • Review of The Mushroom Hunters – Those of you pining for mushroom season, as I am already, may find respite in The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America (2013). For his second book, Langdon Cook turns investigative reporter, joining pickers on dangerous missions to “hostile” patches, sellers on their day-to-day business, and chefs and restaurateurs in forage-friendly kitchens from Seattle to New York, to paint a picture of the wild mushroom trade from deep, dark forest to pricey plate.
  • Recipe: Pico de Gallo Fruit Salsas – I love chips dipped in freshly made pico de gallo salsa, but fruit adds an entirely new element. We tried this recipe with foraged pears, found apples, and leftover scraps of wild black currants, all with great results.
  • Recipe: Sweet Pickle & Apple Relish – This recipe uses Grandma’s icebox pickles, plus apples, for a yummy sweet relish you will relish.

Read this issue by subscribing to the Wild Edible Notebook for $1.99/mo

The Wild Edible Notebook is an always-photo-filled monthly magazine available as an iPad/iPhone Apple Newsstand magazine; a screen reading PDF; a tall, skinny, “Android-friendly” PDF; and my favorite, the 11×14” PDF print-and-fold booklet. The subscription is $1.99 a month through Apple for the Newsstand magazine, or for access to all the PDF versions here at the blog. When you subscribe, you get access to 5 or so back issues in addition to the current and future editions. Here’s how to do it: Read the rest of this entry

Wild Edible Notebook—September 2014 Release!

WEN September2014 cover 800 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—September 2014 Release!Last night we had the in-laws-to-be over for dinner and I set out two jars of jam to accompany the chicken, each made from a different species of wild-foraged gooseberries. One was red, mild, and sweet; the other deep purple, tart and tangy. In the fridge we have two more jars—one syrup and one sauce—each made from a different species of wild currants.

There are approximately 200 currants and gooseberries of the genus Ribes in the world, all native to the northern hemisphere, including 55 species in North America, about 15 of which are scattered across the Mountain West, Thomas Elpel explains in his new book, Foraging the Mountain West (2014). Not all have wonderful flavors, and some have sharp spines on the berries themselves, such that gloves are required to process them. But there are five species of currants and gooseberries that I enjoy on a regular basis here in the Colorado high country.

golden currants gregg2 450x299 Wild Edible Notebook—September 2014 Release!

Golden currants along the Blue River, yum.

The September 2014 Notebook, just released, features my photo-illustrated excursion to collect, process, taste, and eat these berries, followed by a similar foray into edible wild mushrooms. Here are some details on this month’s contents:

  • Currants & Gooseberries – This story features five species of currants and gooseberries I enjoy on a regular basis here in the Colorado high country—the spiny, red-berried mountain gooseberry (Ribes montigenum); the spiny, purple-berried whitestem gooseberry (Ribes inerme); the non-spiny wax currant (Ribes cereum); the non-spiny trailing black currant (Ribes laxiflorum), and the non-spiny golden currant (Ribes aureum). I hope you will find the pictures particularly helpful.
  • Coastal Black Gooseberry by T. Abe Lloyd – Then, for you West Coasters, there is a piece by wild-edibles blogger, teacher, and author T. Abe Lloyd, whom you might know as “Arcadian Abe,” on the coastal black gooseberry (Ribes divaricatum).
  • Ribes RecipesRibes recipes in this edition include Gooseberry Syrup and Gooseberry Sorbet, made by wild food writer Hank Shaw from spiky Sierra gooseberries (Ribes roezlii); and another of my dad’s famous marinades and glazes, this one made with wax currants.
  • Mushroom Foray – August was a good month for hunting mushrooms in the Colorado high country, and it looks like we’ll have some fun with fungi in September too, so I also included a mushroom foray in this edition. I undertook this most recent journey with my parents as houseguests, and it was interesting to see how they did in the field identifying and field dressing mushrooms, so they are an integral part of this piece, which aims to introduce new mushroom hunters in particular to four wild mushrooms. The photo essay is a major part of this story, which starts with a quick look at the many species of mushrooms lined up in my fridge and laid out to dry on nearly every surface of my apartment, before diving deep into short-stemmed slippery jacks (Suillus brevipes), Rocky Mountain porcini (Boletus edulis), large and small puffballs of the Calvatia and Lycoperdon groups, and brown-scaly hawk’s wings (Sarcodon imbricatus).
  • Porcini Recipe: The edition concludes with one of my favorite mushroom recipes—Porcini Roasted in Miso Garlic Butter by my favorite wild food cook, the blogger Butter of Hunger & Thirst. The recipe is rich and addictive, just like her writing.
placeit1 450x337 Wild Edible Notebook—September 2014 Release!

You can read the Wild Edible Notebook on your iPad/iPhone in Apple’s Newsstand, view a PDF on other devices, or print and fold the magazine into a cool booklet on 8.5×14 paper.

Read this issue by subscribing to the Wild Edible Notebook for $1.99/month

The Wild Edible Notebook is an always-photo-filled monthly magazine available in several formats including Apple’s Newsstand for iPad/iPhone; a screen reading PDF; a tall, skinny, “Android-friendly” PDF; and my favorite, the 8.5×14” PDF print-and-fold booklet. The subscription is $1.99/month through Apple for the Newsstand magazine; or $1.99/month here at the blog for access to all the PDF versions. When you subscribe to either, you get access to 5 or so back issues in addition to the current and future editions. Here’s how to do it:

  • Apple Newsstand magazine – Open the App Store on your iDevice; then search for Wild Edible Notebook. There are several free issues to read, and if you want, you can subscribe for full access to the most recent issue, along with five back issues, and the new ones that come out every month.
  • PDF downloads – Go to the Wild Edible Notebook tab at this website, scroll down, click “Subscribe,” and follow the steps to submit payment and create a username and password you can use to login to the Member Profile & Downloads page and start downloading wild edible content!
  • Free samples - Check out a few free issues by joining the email list (scroll to the very bottom of this page and type your name and email address). You will receive an email with a link to the free download area (check your spam box if you don’t receive the email), where you can get a couple of the past Notebooks for free. If, after you read the free Notebooks, you fall completely in love with them but cannot afford the subscription, I sometimes give offers via email for how to get a free subscription. If you do decide to support my project for $2/month, I send you many blessings and wild edible karma along with the subscription!

Dad’s Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup

porcini bun 2014 Gregg Davis 450x351 Dad’s Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup

A porcini bun pushes its way through the duff in a spot everyone doubted but me. Told you so, family!

My early porcini spot finally started fruiting a couple days ago, a full month behind last year’s schedule. My guess is that the mushrooms decided to wait for my parents’ arrival in Colorado. After so many trips to check for them, Gregg doubted I’d find any, but there they were, pushing their beautiful, bun-shaped, brown-red forms through the duff.

Last year, the season seemed almost past when my parents arrived for their annual summer trip, but there were still mushrooms enough for Dad to make his creamy mushroom soup. He made it with porcini (Boletus edulis) along with lesser mushrooms including short-stemmed slippery jacks (Suillus brevipes) and yellow, blue-staining Suillus tomentosus, noting that for best results, a mix of mushrooms is best.

Later, I adapted the recipe to use strong-flavored hawk’s wings mushrooms (Sarcodon imbricatus), both kinds of Suillus, and beef broth, with excellent results.

Hopefully you can enjoy this adaptable recipe with whatever mushrooms flavor your dreams. Read the rest of this entry

Lambs’ Quarters Pesto with Sunflower Seeds

lambs quarter Breckenridge 450x319 Lambs’ Quarters Pesto with Sunflower Seeds

Flowers and leaves of this common weed, lambs’ quarters, are edible. It is now in season in some Breckenridge locales. Seek weeds and you shall find.

The other day we tore ourselves away from our computers and headed out into the forest in the fading light to sneak in a brisk walk before bed. I have mushrooms on the brain, always, these days, so I was hoping to find some.

Our neighborhood at 10,000 feet on the mountainside at the base of a ski resort is crisscrossed with trails through the forest—some single-track, others wide enough for two to walk abreast—and most abutting gigantic micro-mansions that I think could make for stellar eco-villages come the apocalypse. But that’s beside the point.

We descended on a footpath first, then turned on a wider path across a bluff. The light was fading fast so I was eager to gain the road, but in that twilight, we were fortunate to come upon two frolicking fox pups. We watched them for a bit before I noticed the lambs’ quarters growing lush near some blue spruce trees, which must have been planted somewhat recently. The lambs’ quarters plants were happily escaping the property of the big house for which the spruces were planted to provide buffer. Read the rest of this entry

Colorado High Country Blueberries are a Go

grouseberries Vail 450x337 Colorado High Country Blueberries are a Go

Wild blueberries, genus Vaccinium, collected in Colorado on hands and knees in early August around 9,000 feet.

If you’re looking for blueberries like the kind you buy in the grocery store, look elsewhere. The Colorado high country “blueberries” I’m talking about are not those, but several related species of Vacciniums that are smaller, and grow not on a bush but in the groundcover under your feet in the high country. Whereas cultivated blueberries have round depressions surrounded by a crown, our small high country wild blueberries have a round stamp in the berry, but no crown. They can be red, maroon, dark blue, powder blue, purple-blue, to almost black, and they range from translucent to opaque.

I generally refer to these high country blueberries as “huckleberries.” There are quite a few names that people use for the wild Vacciniums up here— grouseberries, whortleberries, bilberries, huckleberries, and blueberries among them. But just the other day as I was trying for maybe the hundredth time to disambiguate a couple of our local species (having not, on hand, a best friend who is a local botanist though I would appreciate one very much), I read in Weber & Wittmann’s Flora of Colorado (2012 ed.) that it is not correct to call them huckleberries, and that “blueberry” is the correct common name. So I thought I’d try that name for this post and see how it felt. Read the rest of this entry

Hawks Wings Mushrooms – Free Download

wild food 162 450x337 Hawks Wings Mushrooms   Free Download

Hello, you giant hawk’s wing. I think I’ll make you into soup.

I find and eat a lot of hawk’s wings mushrooms (Sarcodon imbricatus) in the Colorado high country, and they have already started flushing this year. I’ve eaten them marinated and grilled, dried and reconstituted and sauteed with sauerkraut like my Polish grandmother used to do with her dried mushroom assortments, and best yet in my dad’s creamy  mushroom soup, with beef broth and hawks wings combining to create a rich, deep flavor.

Many people, however, experience hawk’s wings to be bitter and inedible. It seems likely, however, that not all hawk’s wings are created equal.

For one, you have to take a look at what trees they are fruiting under. Are they fruiting under lodgepole pines? Do they have a green stain at the base of the stalk? In that case, you might not be looking at Sarcodon imbricatus at all, but rather a related species.

Vera Stucky Evenson, author of Mushrooms of Colorado and the Southern Rocky Mountains (1997), told me last year that you have to be very careful to read the description and make sure you have the right species within the genus, and to steer clear of bitter Sarcodons. In her book she writes that members of the related Sarcodon scabrosus group (described by David Arora in Mushrooms Demystified, 1986, to be “unequivocally and indisputably inedible due to the awful taste”)—have “chestnut brown, less scaly caps; distinctive olive-black to dark bluish green coloration in the stalk bases; and a bitter taste.” Read the rest of this entry

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