Archive for 'mustard'

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.

Old Places, New Head Spaces

pock marked porcini 450x392 Old Places, New Head Spaces

Pock-marked Fairplay porcini, their colors ranging from red to light.

Yesterday we revisited one of our old, favorite hikes on the shoulder of Pennsylvania Mountain above Fairplay, Colorado. We must have done a variation of that hike—sometimes ducking into the forest on game trails to encounter still-open mine holes and long-abandoned cabins, others taking the old road high above treeline only to descend via questionable routes down dry, crumbling couloirs—more than 100 times in the 4 years we lived over there.Those were the days when slippery jacks (Suillus brevipes) and field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) were the most exciting things ever, back during my big life change when this latent wild edible food obsession was reawakening.

In all those years hiking there, I found only one porcini (Boletus edulis).

But yesterday, as we were driving the long dirt road to our old spot, a familiar feeling came upon me. So while Gregg parked the car and took his sweet time organizing this and that into his backpack, I ducked into the trees for a look around, only to emerge a minute later with a medium-sized porcini button I spotted poking out of the duff. Read the rest of this entry

More Whitetop Kitchen Experiments

whitetop tops 450x360 More Whitetop Kitchen Experiments

Whitetop flower bud clusters, used as a substitute for broccoli.

The one nice thing about invasive, edible plant species is that there are more than enough specimens available for kitchen tests, and you don’t feel like you’re dishonoring nature’s gifts when something goes wrong.

Like in my recent countertop honey infused with whitetop flowers (Cardaria spp., Lepidium draba or related Lepidium sp.), which I was hoping would make for a nice, spicy honey mustard condiment. Instead I got icky, pungent, planty goo that Gregg says is smelling up the house.

Fortunately, a few of my other experiments came out pretty good, which is nice considering that I jumped on the whitetop bandwagon a little late this year, collecting one batch in Fort Collins at its prime, pre-flowering, broccoli-like state before the pickings were no longer quite so good. Still, we got a few more meals out of the plant after that, and as the green continues to emerge up here in the high country, there might be another opportunity.

Read the rest of this entry

Foraging for fantasy football fanatics

The League highway foraging 304x350 Foraging for fantasy football fanatics

This is what foragers do–collect wood sorrel and other edibles on the side of the highway, right?

I had to hear a lot about fantasy football in the newsroom where I worked for the last eight months, but I didn’t take the time to understand what it was all about until foraging figured into it. Go figure.

Explains Wikipedia: “Fantasy football is an interactive competition in which people manage professional football players versus one another as general managers of a pseudo-football team.” Hence my lack of interest. That was until a friend with a mutual interest in both miner’s lettuce and snowboarding turned me onto the FX show The League—specifically the 2011 Yobogoya episode (Season 3, Episode 6).

The League is a remarkably foul-mouthed sitcom that follows a group of friends in a fantasy football league. From whence the writers pulled out a foraging subplot is beyond me, but they at least picked some appropriate plant names to drop.

The forager is Andre, the awkward plastic surgeon with the gap tooth who the friends constantly make fun of. The episode opens with Kevin and Taco having a “brother’s lunch” that Andre interrupts, carrying his own “lunch” of greens and what look like Amanita buttons in a plastic container. 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

Tale of a Golden Foraging Opportunity

golden colorado hillside 254x350 Tale of a Golden Foraging Opportunity

Forager on a Golden hillside. Photo by Gregg Davis.

On our way home from Denver last Friday, Gregg and I made a detour up Golden Gate Canyon Road to check out a 93-acre ranch that Marilyn, who I met when she commented on a post, invited us to forage. (Actually, truth be told, I invited myself and she was generous enough to accept.) The canyon is breathtaking and so was her land, 93 acres of very steep hillside accessed by a potentially gnarly dirt road and then slowly through the cattle gate to where her family’s oasis is nestled.

She gave us a quick tour of the property, pointing out all the wild edible plants (even though I though that was my job), and then directed us up the hill. “Make a good hike of it,” she said, sending us on our way. 

Well, a “good hike” it certainly was—straight up, up, up, between the rocks, through the scrub, baking in the hot sun—and this after just completing three hours of skate camp in Highlands Ranch, also in the hot sun. So, for the first half of the hike (read: the up part), I was sweating profusely and frustrated with myself for my lack of excitement about the adventure, as I’d looked forward to it the entire week prior. It was all I could do to collect a few edibles while Gregg took photos. “We’ll come back when we’re less tired,” I said, trying to justify my attitude.  

But then, near the top of the hill in a ditch right before the well, something wonderful happened that snapped me right out of it: Gregg stuck his hand right into a patch of stinging nettles!  Read the rest of this entry

Tiny Cornucopia of Colorado Wild Edibles

colorado cornucopia 350x262 Tiny Cornucopia of Colorado Wild Edibles

A cornucopia of Colorado wild edibles. From left to right, mustard, peppergrass, red clover, pennycress, white clover, wild strawberry peeking through, yarrow, and dandelions.

It’s a treat to be home to the quiet of the mountains again. I awoke today to the sweet, silent obscurity of the early morning dark followed by a sunrise of pale yellow behind bulbous, deep purple clouds left over from last night’s rainstorm. It must have rained hard while we were gone because the rains near washed out the driveway again. In exchange, however, they left us a cornucopia of lush wild edibles among all the other beautiful weeds, a warm welcome back to the house and to writing about wild edible plants after my long hiatus.  

Our wild discoveries started yesterday evening with tiny wild strawberries—not hanging from the strawberry plants in our yard (which in two years have yet to fruit), but from plants on the dirt roadside lining a short stroll around the neighborhood that we enjoyed in the dimming light in a misty rain under the shelter of Gregg’s Pop-pop’s red two-person umbrella. We picked 18 strawberries the size of my pinky nail (and I bite my nails) while ruminating on the decimation of the bird feeders during our absence by what we can only imagine is an errant bear in the neighborhood.  Read the rest of this entry