Friday, April 19th, 2013 at
In Langdon Cook’s instructions, you boil the nettles briefly to remove the stingers. Photo by Gregg Davis.
It’s markdown season at the grocery store, now that the tourists are in absentia for a while, joined by the locals who migrate to parts warmer during mud season too. So it’s time for the good deals—such as the $1 bag of slightly soft “Red Skin Yellow Flesh Colorado Sunrise” potatoes that Gregg and I argued over in the grocery store last week.
“They’ll go bad,” he said.
“I’ll use them all once,” I countered, throwing them into the cart.
Everything gnocchi without moderation
A few days later, as the universe would have it, I came into a wealth of dried nettles and porcini. I won’t say how I came by them, but you can probably guess. So it was logical that I should decide to make nettle gnocchi. 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.
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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 sp.) 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 sp.) 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
Saturday, March 9th, 2013 at
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.
Friday, March 8th, 2013 at
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
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