high altitude Archives

fireweed fall 350x233 11 edible plants on North Tenmile Creek trail in Frisco

Fireweed is a little tough for outright consumption right now, but the fall leaves make a decent tea.

Last week I led my first-ever wild edible plant hike, from the North Tenmile Creek trailhead in Frisco. The hike was done through Colorado Mountain College, and instead of announcing it here or on Facebook, Gregg and I just went with it. Everyone was local and nobody had heard of this website before.

I marched the crew like a drill sergeant to 20 or so wild edible plants and regaled them with my vast knowledge on each one as we traveled up the trail a short way to the dam at the creek and back, for a total round trip of 1/2 mile in 1.5 hours.

Overall I think it went pretty well. On my feedback sheets I got mostly 5′s with a few 4′s. The chief complaints were that the participants wanted a handout, wanted the tour to go longer, or wanted it to have taken place during peak foraging season. Read the rest of this entry

Is Rocky Mountain Porcini Season Over?

porcini bounty 2012 233x350 Is Rocky Mountain Porcini Season Over?

A small porcini bounty, found mid-August around 11,500 feet in the Colorado Rockies.

Since late July, my dear friend Butterpoweredbike has been emailing me about finding pounds upon pounds of porcini.

Meanwhile, in the last month and a half, I moved to a new home and a new job while trying to finish up my old jobs, working 100 hours per week or more, ad infinitum. What a change from the fancy-free wild food forager I formerly was!

So I lived vicarously through her finds, and this year, Butter did it right—she figured out the favorite forest conditions of the Rockies’ prize fungus, then consulted her maps and with a little help descended upon prime locations that rendered unto her a porcini windfall of staggering proportions. (This is in great contrast to the awkward fumbling we both did last year in the early days of our mushroom hunting obsessions, which were, coincidentally, the early days of our friendship.)

Still, despite being embroiled in a staggering amount of work at my new job, I made a point to search my spots when time permitted, generally one morning per week—but came up empty handed each time.

That was until two weeks ago, when Gregg and I found seven or eight young kings at our favorite porcini place.

Interestingly, the timing coincided with Butter’s pronouncement that porcini season was over. Read the rest of this entry

Wild Mustard Potato Chips

wild mustard potato chips 350x344 Wild Mustard Potato Chips

As close as I got to oven-baked wild mustard potato chips.

“They’re practically potato chips!” Gregg exclaimed, helping himself to more of the thin-sliced, seasoned, golden-brown oven-fried potatoes until they were gone. I’m not sure which enthralls him more—my recent food inventions, or the fact that I am cooking at all.

Now that I can stand up on my own two feet (after 5 weeks off I am now to start putting weight on my injured leg), it is a joy to be in the kitchen. I cook, I clean; I must be a housewife.

The chips didn’t come out as crunchy as I’d hoped. I did them on a cookie sheet in the oven because I didn’t want to deep fry, although online recipes say to use a rack so the hot oven air can circle them entirely. Then there’s a bit, too, about flipping them manually, with which I didn’t want to bother.

So, I used a food processor to slice the potatoes fine, stirred in a mixture of olive oil and wild mustard, and stuck them in the oven on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for an hour, unsticking and stirring with a spatula occasionally. The ones that turned golden were crunchy indeed, the others just a bit chewy. It was enough to ensure all were eaten in one sitting regardless. Read the rest of this entry

Dock Time is the Right Time

dock cream cheese spreads2 350x264 Dock Time is the Right Time

Two dock cream cheese spreads–one with garlic, the other with salmon.

I never would have thought it was already dock (Rumex sp.) time of year again were it not for my friend Butter and the pristine metro-Denver-area suburbia full of wild green vegetables where she resides, in contrast to the still snow-covered High Country in which I dwell. But on March 7 she wrote to me: “Knock knock! Who’s there?” and then answered her own question: “Dock!”

“It was close to 70 here yesterday, which melted the last of the snow from the ground,” Butter wrote. “I took a ride today (once again in the 30′s and snowing), and surveyed the ground. The dock plants in the sunnier areas of the fields have leaves which are 1-2″ long! I estimate that in about 2 weeks, they’ll be long enough to pick the first leaves.” Oh, Front Range Denver, I sighed. It’s like the Garden of Eden.

Sure enough and earlier than predicted, Butter picked her first batch on March 14. I know because she squealed happily to Facebookland about it, announcing plans for “a nice coconut-laced dock curry.” Honestly I am more excited than jealous.

For those who do not yet know, Butterpoweredbike mans a monthly wild food recipe-sharing event and this month she’s chosen her beloved Rumex to star in it. Send in your dock recipes or post about them and send her a link to participate, or just check back at the month’s end for a wealth of cooking/foraging ideas. Even wild food greats like veteran foraging-vegetarian, Wildman Steve Brill out of NY, sometimes participate. Read the rest of this entry

Confessions of a Pine Nut Nut

Nevada pine nuts 350x262 Confessions of a Pine Nut Nut

Heavenly Nevada pine nuts.

Okay so first off I have a confession about my new found pine nut obsession, which I decided to find a worthy subject for the blog despite the fact—and here comes the confession—that I did not forage them myself. No, rather, my parents purchased them for me from the grocery store.

It says “New Crop Nevada Pine Nuts” on the small label, along with a cute pine tree and a PO address. This is all I know for certain of the purveyor of this fine pine product, who send me manna from heaven in this my time of greatest need. They cost $10 a bag at City Market in Breckenridge and already mom’s bought five for me, despite what seems an exorbitant price. I love them love them love them love them.

Wild-foraged pine nuts I go back four years to California’s Eastern Sierra and evoke several memories. In my quit-smoking days I would purchase them at Mahogany Smoked Meats in Bishop (which makes the best teriyaki jerky in the world, IMHOP) to consume in lieu of cigarettes on the endless trip from Mammoth to LA and back again. Once in those days I went with my roommate to wild-forage some ourselves, only to be beaten to the crop by legions of tiny insects. Read the rest of this entry

salad rosehip ginger vinaigrette 350x269 Salvation in the Form of Salad with Ginger Rosehip Vinaigrette

Last week’s spinach, iceberg, and sauteed tofu salad with Ginger Rosehip Vinaigrette.

Why didn’t anybody tell me how much pain follows surgery? Here I’d pictured a scary hospital visit followed by a rosy home-bound ever-after in which I didn’t have to work and played with my toys, happy as a wounded clam.

No so much. Visits to the bathroom on crutches have felt like a knife slicing flesh and bone in my inner knee region, accompanied by a dull ache in the place where some deceased angel’s tendon now acts like an ACL for me. Mealtime means crackers because I can reach them from the bed and they settle the stomach from this bottomless cocktail of oxycontin and vicodin I’ve been imbibing.

The crackers are starting to get to me, the crumbs itching my bum in the bedsheets where I lay. Crackers from breakfast to dinner for 4 days straight—until last night, when I finally ate a big dinner topped off with a bowl of ice cream and then popped a pain pill only to wake up near-vomiting in the night.

Surely all this talk of pain and vomit is getting you in the mood for my yummy Ginger and Rosehip Vinaigrette? Read the rest of this entry

Nothing Left to Do but Self-Medicate

willow bark 350x262 Nothing Left to Do but Self Medicate

Probably not enough dried willow bark for pain relief.

This is great—not only did I jump off a bush (on my snowboard) in an attempt to skip over some rocks to a mogul that turned out to be solid ice and hear my knee go “crunch,” such that I am suddenly confined to home awaiting an MRI, but I am also coming down with a cold, sore throat and cough and all.

But, please, don’t read “This is great” as sarcasm. I honestly feel blessed by the universe—for now, jobless once more, I have opportunity to test my wild medications upon myself, not to mention the free time to write about it.

I figure I’ll start with the cold today and save the knee for next week. After all, it seems a little foolish to mend bones and ligaments until one is certain they are arranged in the right place. At present my right knee cannot straighten to save my life (though in landing that leap three days ago it did flex very much in order to do so). Read the rest of this entry

Wild Black Currant Brandy Voted Best in House

wild black currants fairplay co 350x262 Wild Black Currant Brandy Voted Best in House

Rain-kissed wild black currant goodness.

It’s wild booze month at Hunger & Thirst and again I have Butterpoweredbike to thank for motivating me to the computer to write something. That—and for getting me into the liquor cabinet for a night of distraction from my many winter obligations.

Fortunately, Gregg and I were good little alcohol squirrels over the warmer months, storing wild foraged ingredients in bottles of booze now and again. One batch of our prized bathtub gin—made from vodka flavored with juniper “berries” and wild angelica—remains, but as of the other night there were also a few experiments yet to be tried: wild grape vodka, wild black currant vodka, and wild black currant brandy among them. Read the rest of this entry

There’s No Foraging Like Snow Foraging

colorado rockies october 2011 262x350 There’s No Foraging Like Snow Foraging

October snow hovers in the high country.

It’s mid October and it just keeps snowing here in the high country at 11,000 feet in Colorado Rockies. You’d think foraging season were over, but it’s not.

Two days ago I awoke to a steady snow and found myself unable to focus on work. By noon it stopped but the wind kicked up; the way it whipped around the house inspired Gregg to curl up by the fire and swear he’d stay inside all day. I felt exactly the opposite, however: I needed to go outside.

It’s hunting season so the hand-me-down pink bell bottom cords and orange puffy vest were in order. It was hat and gloves weather too with all that wind.

The mining road was vacant and the snow plentiful. I reveled in getting fresh tracks as I hiked through 3”- 4” deep swaths of pow. At a switchback I clambered over the fallen tree trunk that obscures the footpath to the secret meadow, which I descended brushing snow off the low bushes as I went.

There were many non-producing low juniper shrubs en route but eventually I found the one I was looking for, which I’d spied a few days prior. It is the most fruitful creeping juniper shrub I’ve ever found, and despite the snow it was still laden with plump, blue berries.  Read the rest of this entry

Wild Edible Notebook—October Release!

wen oct2011 640 226x350 Wild Edible Notebook—October Release!Halfway through October I am once again honored to present the Wild Edible Notebook, my journal-style tale of select plants. This fifth issue is about acorns. It includes an entry about my own experience processing and preparing a bounty of Colorado acorns (yes, we have acorns) as well as a Wisconsin acorn neophyte’s adventures with her back yard bur oak. The accounts feature interviews with none other than wild food guru, Samuel Thayer. There are also reviews of Thayer’s two books, Nature’s Garden (2010) and The Forager’s Harvest (2006) as well as Hank Shaw’s recently-released book, Hunt, Gather, Cook (2011). As you can see from the cover at right, I went hogwild with InDesign’s  pencil tool for this issue.

The procedure for downloading the Wild Edible Notebook has changed. Please visit the Wild Edible Notebook page for information on subscribing to the iPad/iPhone or PDF versions for $1.99/month. Your support makes the continued development of this publication possible, both on the content and technical sides.

To download a free issue of the Wild Edible Notebook and stay abreast of future developments, please join the email list by filling out your info at the very bottom of this website. Thanks!

EDITED 10.7.13 to reflect the new download procedures.

 

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