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Leaves of Three, Strawberry!

wild strawberry gregg davis 450x399 Leaves of Three, Strawberry!

Wild strawberries look like diminutive cultivated strawberries. If you know one, you should be able to recognize the other. Photo by Gregg Davis.

I bolted upright in bed at 2 a.m., awakened by loud, forceful hail pouring down on the roof. It was June 28, just a week into summer. I got up and walked across the dark living room to peek out the sliding glass doors and watch it come down in the pitch black night. Despite the cold, hard nature of those icy pellets, the hail meant a welcome respite from a recent dry spell that had the flowers drooping in the fields and forests, starved for something to drink.

The next day dawned with a thin coat of white on the mountaintops. A patch of calypso orchids bloomed in my friend’s yard. And I found my first wild strawberries of the season.

Ditch Berries

Last year, the wild strawberries surprised me. I had become accustomed to them fruiting in the beginning of August at 11,000 feet where I previously lived in the dry hills of Fairplay, Colorado. Now we live lower at 10,000 feet in Breckenridge, where the breathing’s free and easy and the strawberries ripen sooner, compared to our old mountainside.

It was early July and I had been circling our Peak 8 neighborhood on foot when I nearly tripped over a plentiful fruiting in the road bed atop a ditch near my apartment. Climbing down into the ditch yielded a good perspective up its steep side, and a hidden world of bright red gems hiding under the low foliage. Forget all those hours spent seeking small glimpses of red at our old place. These were the real deal, many tiny handfuls as reward for climbing down into the ditch to get at them. Read the rest of this entry

Wild Edible Notebook—July 2014 Release!

July2014 800 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—July 2014 Release!I can hardly believe we will be passing into berry season soon, but it’s true, it has been foretold by a wild strawberry I spotted the other day at 10,000 feet in the Colorado high country where I live—though I imagine some of you at lower elevations or regions where they fruit earlier have been picking wild strawberries for a little while now. To celebrate nature’s progress, we collected a small handful and let them macerate in sugar to use as a sweet pancake topper.

Intrigued by wild strawberries? For that story—along with glossy photos, how-to’s, scientific names, and first-hand accounts of stalking the wild strawberry—check out the July 2014 issue of the Wild Edible Notebook, released today. Subscriptions are just $2 a month, and for the first $2 you get access to six issues, including the current one.

Featured in the July 2014 issue:
  • Wild strawberries – These occur in most regions of the U.S. In some areas, strawberry season is starting to wane. In others, it is just beginning. Learn the plant to find the berry, especially if it will make you merry!
  • Twisted stalk – Twisted stalk is common to high country locations and northern latitudes like Canada and Alaska. It bears edible berries, though they make some folks flatulent. The shoots are where it’s at. They are a tremendous veggie. But they should only be collected, judiciously, where they are plentiful and the deer density is not too high. Also, one needs to take care to distinguish them from the poisonous false hellebore nearby. The season is probably past for these, but it’s a good time to ID them and take ecological and toxic-lookalike information into consideration with the help of this illustrated story.
  • Fireweed – I know, I know. I wrote about fireweed last time. But it got taller, and I decided to scrape out the pith and use it to thicken soups while reserving the fibers for cordage. I get the feeling this is an ongoing journey.
  • Wild Berry Master Recipes from Dina Falconi – Author and herbalist Dina Falconi was kind enough to share two of her wild berry “master recipes,” which can be used with a variety of berries, for this issue of the Notebook. She is based in New York’s Hudson Valley, and in 2013 published Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook on Botanical Arts Press (www.botanicalartspress.com). The book is part botanical illustrations by Wendy Hollender, and part master recipes for edible wild plants by Falconi. The two raised $115,000 on Kickstarter to pay for production and printing costs so that their beautiful hardcover identification guide and recipe book could become a reality.
  • Wild Salad Recipe from yours truly – I dare you to attempt this salad. There are far too many wild ingredients. Dare to dream, wild foodies!
Subscription worth the money

The Wild Edible Notebook is available for iPad (best) and iPhone as a subscription in Apple’s Newsstand application. (Open the Newsstand app on your iDevice; then search for Wild Edible Notebook and follow the instructions to subscribe). Or you can subscribe here at the blog for access to three different formats of PDFs—a screen reader that fits the iPad perfectly, a skinny, tall version that is meant to be decent on an Android, and the original format of the print-and-fold. (You need to know how to operate your printer, or take a PDF file to a copy shop, to get these printouts to work. Also it’s extra tricky but extra lovely now on the 8.5 x 14” legal-paper size printout. Print two sided and fold for cute, reproducible booklets).

Thanks so much if you decide to support this for $2/month. Your contribution helps to make this work possible.

How to get free issues

Check out the two 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, so watch out the auto-generated email doesn’t get stuck in your spam filter. If, after you read the two 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.

Wild Edible Notebook—June 2014 Release!

Fireweed flower 450x337 Wild Edible Notebook—June 2014 Release!

Fireweed is the featured edible flora of the June 2014 Wild Edible Notebook!

June2014 cover 800 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—June 2014 Release!Everywhere I look, there is fireweed shooting up. It’s so common, you might think it were a weed, but in fact fireweed is native to high country Colorado, as it is to mountainous regions and northern latitudes around the world. Fireweed, also known as great willowherb, is edible, though in my opinion the culinary value of most parts is a tad dubious. Still, that doesn’t keep me from trying, and there is much to be learned from this beautiful, tall, fuschia-flowering plant. Please, join me on a journey through time and space with fireweed, a lovely wild plant whose mysteries we can perhaps unravel together. Subscribe for just $2 a month to the Wild Edible Notebook for the full story.

$2 for 6 Issues including this one

For the first $2, you access six Notebooks. That’s pretty cheap. You could cancel after just $2 if you really wanted to. Or, you could read six colorful, well-researched, slightly snarky issues and decide $2 is a small price to pay to get these photo-filled glossies in three different formats each month. Thanks so much if you decide to support this. It is a lifestyle choice to which I find myself compelled despite many more practical decisions I could be making. Instead I fill my time researching, hunting, photographing, picking, cooking and eating, and writing about edible wild plants. So your contribution helps to make this work possible. I spend about 80 hours per month on these and draw a very small monthly paycheck. Currently I gross $2.75 an hour for my work on these. I am not like so many others who made their money in the real world and then retired from it to chase their dreams but with full pocketbooks. I retired from it before making much money. Good move, WFG. Anyhoo, the money goes towards life expenses as would a job, also to the web expenses. The programmer gets paid with wild dinner and kisses. I hope to pay cash money to the contributors one day.

How to Get Free Issues

Check out the two free issues by joining the email list (scroll to the very bottom of this page and type your name and email address). After that if you cannot afford it but are enamored of the Notebook and vow to read it every month, I sometimes give offers via email for how to get a free subscription. But just remember, I’m making $2.75 an hour, covered head-to-toe in poison ivy. Just kidding. The poison ivy is only on my arm. But seriously.

Screenshot TOC1 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—June 2014 Release!June 2014 Wild Edible Notebook
  • Fireweed -Fireweed is the cover story for the June 2014 issue of the Wild Edible Notebook.
  • Three-Leaved Sumac, Sumacs, & Poisonous Relatives - Next is a piece on three-leaved sumac—which produces tart, edible, red “berry” clusters earlier than its cousins, staghorn and smooth sumac—along with a nod to those cousins and their poisonous relatives poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac too. As if the universe thought the timing appropriate, one of those three is currently itching the heck out of my left arm.
  • Book Review: Ellen Zachos’ Backyard Foraging -There is a review of Ellen Zachos’ book, Backyard Foraging, a colorful, easy-to-follow guide to edible garden ornamentals and common weeds that would make a good gift for the wild-edible-curious gardener in your life.
  • Poem -I have only ever featured two poems in the Wild Edible Notebook—two awesome ones by my sometimes-muse, Brad Purcell. But this time, I wrote one. Please enjoy my reflective ode to mud. And by all means, send me your wild poems.
  • Recipes -Each issue of WEN concludes with recipe ideas using wild food. In this issue, there are a couple for smooth sumac from my dear friend and fellow bloggist, Hunger & Thirst. From me there is a bit on wilted wild greens, a rework from the blog with a few new pictures. Even though that story has run here already, I find it’s nice to have the recipe in portable format.
Final Pitch (Just Read It)

This seems a good time for a plug. The Wild Edible Notebook is available for iPad (best) and iPhone in Apple’s Newsstand application. Or you can subscribe here at the blog for access to three different formats of PDFs—a screen reader that happens to fit the iPad perfectly, a skinny, tall version that is meant to be decent on an Android, and the original gangster print-and-fold format. You need to know how to operate your printer, or take a PDF file to a copy shop, to get these printouts to work. Also it’s extra lovely now on the 8.5 x 14” legal-paper size printout. Get the right paper, print two sided, and fold for cute, reproducible booklets in full color if you want. There are even coloring pages for the wild edible kiddos in your life!

The print-and-fold is still my favorite–I print it in black and white–because then if I’m cooking and want to refer to recipe without turning on my electronic devices, I can just consult my wild edible library of printed Notebooks. See Wild Edible Notebook for details on the different formats available, and to subscribe. You know you wanna. Tee hee. Thanks for reading this far. You rock. Happy foraging!

edible summit county wildflowers 450x337 Edible Plants Class Starts June 9 at CMC Breckenridge

Where they grow in enough abundance, bluebells can be eaten.

cow parsnip furled 450x337 Edible Plants Class Starts June 9 at CMC Breckenridge

Any idea what this high country vegetable is? We just had it for supper.

Just a heads up to interested parties–I will be teaching an intensive 3-week section of Survival Plants in Summer at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge from 6/9/14 to 6/28/14. The course covers edible, medicinal, and toolcraft uses of local wild plants, with a practical emphasis on edibles. Most sessions will be held in the field.

After a successful first class last summer, I have a lot of creative hands-on ideas in store for this second go-around, so I hope very much you’ll join us for what at present seems to be a relatively small group of eager plant enthusiasts.

Class sessions take place from 4-6:50 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of each week, at the college and at different meeting places throughout the county. There will also be two full-day Saturday field sessions that run from 8 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. on 6/21 and 6/28.

This course was created by Cattail Bob Seebeck, who teaches seasonal sections at several Front Range community colleges. In Summit we are offering just this one section, and it will cover plants in season during the class, in Summit County as well as at field trip locations to be determined.

The class can be taken for college credit or just audited. CMC’s prices are among the most affordable in the country, especially considering the number of hours in the field you get for your money. The course code is OUT-156-BK01 and registration is through the college: http://coloradomtn.edu/campuses/breckenridge_dillon/class_schedule.

Please sign up by June 2. I will be in communication about the textbook and plans. Hope to hear from you!

-Erica aka WFG

Tumbleweed Salad

tumblemustard salad ID 450x299 Tumbleweed Salad

A close-up look at wild salad.

Just when I think I know everything there is to know about wild mustards, I find another one to eat and then do happy kicks about. This time, I am excited about tumblemustard (Sisymbrium altissimum), which you might know better as tumbleweed, because at maturity when it dries out it detaches from its stem and tumbles on the wind, spreading its seed about.

There are numerous species of plants that do this and are referred to collectively as tumbleweed, so don’t just go eating any old tumbleweed just because I said I like it in salad. Tumblemustard (S. altissimum) is a mustard family member, related to broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and other mustards. It starts from a spirally basal rosette of long, many-lobed leaves that are quite different in appearance from the frilly, smaller leaves that appear higher up when the plant bolts. They are mustards so the flowers, generally lemon yellow, are four-petaled. Read the rest of this entry

Wild Edible Notebook—May 2014 Release!

WEN May2014 cover800 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—May 2014 Release!The May 2014 issue of the Wild Edible Notebook is finished and ready for download! This edition starts with a new story by Samuel Thayer. Not only is he one of the foremost experts in the foraging field, but a great writer and storyteller too. His piece is many things—a story of land and family; a tale of weed migration and world plant use; and a wild edible discovery. Have you heard of chufa? If not, you might want to read this issue.

The stories I penned for May 2014 include one on orache—a goosefoot relative with salty, arrowhead-shaped leaves—along with a few of its desert-loving, woody cousins. After that I revisit, update, and illustrate a piece I wrote a while back for the blog on cattail hearts—the shoots or cores of cattails, known also as “Cossack asparagus”—which come into season in spring. Last, there is a reflection on what it means to be a weed, including an interview with a local weed sprayer that explores herbicide application practices and their implications for foragers. As always, this issue concludes with a handful of recipe ideas using wild food.

The Wild Edible Notebook is an ongoing project, started in 2011. It is now available for iPad and iPhone in the Apple Newsstand, or in various PDF formats including screen-reading and 8.5×14” print-and-fold versions at www.wildfoodgirl.com/wild-edible-notebook for $1.99/month. Your support makes the continued development of this publication possible, both on the content and technical sides. Big, squeezy, wild hugs to those who have already purchased a subscription in support of this effort.

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

Wild Edible Notebook—April 2014 Release!

WEN April 2014 cover 800 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—April 2014 Release!Here in the offices of the Wild Edible Notebook we are starting to get very excited for spring—for all the wandering and wondering to ensue as the snow melts and the green plants push their way forth once more. The April 2014 issue is special in a number of ways. For one, it’s longer, including four feature stories in place of three, two of which are by fabulous guest authors.

First is a song of almost-spring by none other than Wisconsin forager Samuel Thayer, who begins each season in the sugar woods, tapping maples and hauling buckets of sap through the snow to make syrup. If you take your foraging seriously, you know his books—Nature’s Garden (2010) and The Forager’s Harvest (2006)—and you know that he is not only a master forager and serious scholar, but also a great writer.

Then, because spring happens a little later here at 10,000 feet in the Colorado high country than it does in parts lower, I decided to focus on a few early plants to be found in Denver and comparable locations. My stories include a tour of some wild mustards as well as an expanded bit on wild lettuces. Members of both groups are found here in the West but also throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Next is a piece on the many edible parts of evening primrose by my BFF (Best Foraging Friend) Wendy Petty, whom you might know as Butter, the blogger behind Hunger & Thirst. Butter penned this story special for the Wild Edible Notebook, on the condition that I hurry up and finish my winter work season so we can get on with our foraging adventures.

As usual, a handful of recipes for wild food cookery round out the magazine.

The Wild Edible Notebook is an ongoing project, started in 2011. It is now available for iPad and iPhone in the Apple Newsstand, or in various PDF formats including screen-reading and 8.5×14” print-and-fold versions at www.wildfoodgirl.com/wild-edible-notebook for $1.99/month. Your support makes the continued development of this publication possible, both on the content and technical sides. Big, squeezy, wild hugs to those who have already purchased a subscription in support of this effort.

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

Wild Edible Notebook—March 2014 Release!

March 2014 cover 800 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—March 2014 Release!Wild sea vegetables are hard to come by here in the Colorado high country, so for the March 2014 issue of the Wild Edible Notebook I decided to travel through space and time to coastal Connecticut via several jars of seaweed—Irish moss (Chondrus crispus), sea lettuce (Ulva sp.) and sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima)—that I collected last summer and dried in my parents’ house.

While researching the story I was fortunate to tap into the expertise of Dr. Charles Yarish, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, who promotes the cultivation of sea vegetables as a means to clean coastal waters while also providing good food for the dinner plate. This edition also includes a lighthearted jaunt into wild jellies and things to make with them besides toast. The issue concludes with a handful of recipes using wild foraged seaweeds, including one by West Coast seaweed purveyor Louise Gaudet, as well as a recipe for serviceberry jelly pork glaze by the awesome cook that is my dad.

The Wild Edible Notebook is an ongoing project, started in 2011. It is now available for iPad and iPhone in the Apple Newsstand, or in various PDF formats including screen-reading and 8.5×14” print-and-fold versions at www.wildfoodgirl.com/wild-edible-notebook for $1.99/month. Your support makes the continued development of this publication possible, both on the content and technical sides. Big, super-squeezy, wild hugs to those who have already purchased a subscription in support of this effort.

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

Wild Edible Notebook—January 2014 Release!

January 2013 cover 800 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—January 2014 Release!The New Year arrived with more than a foot of fresh snow here in the Colorado high country, where we are under more than four feet and counting. Thus, for the January 2014 edition of the Wild Edible Notebook, I turned to wild seeds—from dock seeds and goosefoot to prickly pear—and the myriad joys of rubbing, winnowing, soaking, sprouting, grinding, and cooking them. Have you ever grown winter sprouts from wild seeds? Very exciting!

After the seed stories, we take a tour of Hank Shaw’s recently released Duck, Duck, Goose, a cookbook devoted entirely to the preparation of waterfowl. Hank was kind enough to donate a recipe to the Wild Edible Notebook, too, so if you can scare up the wild duck, wild duck eggs, bulrushes and hand-foraged wild rice, you might just be up to the challenge of making it. A handful of my own recipes with wild seeds concludes the January 2014 edition, along with one I sneaked in that uses domesticated seeds, but dressed in a rich coat of wild-foraged porcini powder.

The Wild Edible Notebook is an ongoing project, started in 2011. It is now available for iPad and iPhone in the Apple Newsstand, or in various PDF formats including screen-reading and 8.5×14” print-and-fold versions at www.wildfoodgirl.com/wild-edible-notebook for $1.99/month. Your support makes the continued development of this publication possible, both on the content and technical sides. Big, squeezy, wild hugs to those who have already purchased a subscription in support of this effort.

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

Wild Edible Notebook—December Release!

WEN cover Dec2013 800 343x450 Wild Edible Notebook—December Release!Thanksgiving has passed. Are you starting to think about Christmas? Because you’d be hard-pressed to think of a better gift for the forager in your life (no, really) than a subscription to the Wild Edible Notebook, a quirky monthly magazine about stuff you can eat in the wild!

To whet your appetite, the just-released December 2013 issue looks at two edible parts of Opuntia prickly pear cactus—the flat paddles or pads, and the prickly fruits that adorn them in fall—along with how to defuse the spines, both obvious and innocuous, before you put that cactus in your mouth. After that we peer into my dark pantry to see what wild alcohol infusions are a’brewing, followed by a virtual journey to the warmth and diversity of central Florida’s foraging scene, which you can follow up with an actual trip to this year’s Florida Herbal Conference if you feel so inclined. There is also an interview with Florida forager Green Deane of www.eattheweeds.com, who will be conducting plant walks at the conference. As always, recipes and classifieds conclude the month’s edition.

The Notebook is an ongoing project, started in 2011. It is now available for iPad and iPhone in the Apple Newsstand, or in various PDF formats including screen-reading and 8.5×14” print-and-fold versions at www.wildfoodgirl.com/wild-edible-notebook for $1.99/month. Your support makes the continued development of this publication possible, both on the content and technical sides. Big, squeezy, wild hugs to those who have already purchased a subscription in support of this effort.

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

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