Green

Fall Foraging and Quincely Woes

Well it’s creeping into fall once again. That lovely time of year following summer, where all kinds of harvest fruits are usually available for preservation and nomming.

To that end, there is a bumper crop on my quince tree this year. This would usually be cause for celebration here, as we pick, clean, slice, and freeze the fruit for use over the winter.

The problem is that the weather has been very odd all year. Whilst this has resulted in beautiful fruit up until now, it’s now hot when it should be cold.

It’s 83 degrees and very wet today, and will also be thus tomorrow. In October. In Pennsylvania.

Why is this a problem?

Because quince is a fall weather harvest fruit. The week plus of 80 degrees and extremely wet has meant that the ground is too soft to safely plant a ladder to harvest the fruit, and said fruit is rotting on the tree from the heat instead of being all nice and preserved as it should be by cooler temps. The first week of October is usually the first time I pick any fruit from this tree. I’ve had tons of fruit drop on their own over the last two weeks. And it’s ripening unevenly. One side will be shock green and the other side will be literally rotten. Not cool. Literally.

The next semi dry day here is forecast to be four days from now. At that time I’ll be harvesting all I can. They have to be hand picked. If they fall the impact bruises them very easily and ruins wherever it impacts.

The warm weather has also put the kabosh on fall mushrooms thus far. I’ve only found a half dozen mushrooms the past month. The only things that have been coming up have been either unknown or toxic varietals. No boletus. Well, there was ONE stray slippery pine boletus, but it was so bug eaten by the time I found it that I didn’t bother. Slippery pine boletus usually require shade of some kind to come up in any kind of proliferation, and it’s typically in the form of leaves that fall from other trees. When the leaves from the neighboring maple falls on the area of the roots of the scotch pine, is when these things will be popping up en masse. But the leaves haven’t fallen yet. The warmer temps mean that all the trees in my yard (save the barren walnut tree that got the clue early as usual…), haven’t dropped very many leaves at all yet. Two of my maples are still 100% green! The one closest to the house, the oldest one, has gotten the hint and the leaves are starting to slowly turn yellow.

So what’s it like in your neck of the woods, and has the weather been good or horrible for your local foraging preferences?

Categories: Foraging, Green, Mushrooms, Nature, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tabula Rasa – A Clean Slate

A significant change is coming soon to Wild Cookery!

Yes, we’ll continue to be about foraging and cooking up all things delicious and wild.

But we’ll be adding to our ‘menu’ so to speak.

In the past, there have been various other topics covered here, but I still strove to keep it focused primarily on foraging topics and the cooking of wild foods. Times have changed.

We’re going to be going a bit more ‘broad spectrum’ instead of ‘highly focused’.

There is a very important reason for this…Everything is interconnected. The audience for a 100% foraging focus is very slim indeed. In fact most people who prepare for other things unfortunately have learning foraging on the bottom of their list. I mean to change that through cross-exposure by discussing other topics that are important to people.

I’ve heard it many times that I should keep Wild Cookery! strictly about foraging, to the exclusion of most other topics. I disagree.

Here’s why…

Foraging is very interconnected to many other things. Or rather, a ‘lack’ of foraging is. Because most of us no longer forage for our food, we are very disconnected from nature. Nature is something which, to us, exists in isolation of, and removal from, the human condition. By encouraging discussion of other somewhat related topics, we will segue into discussion of foraging with people that would otherwise have not sought out information on foraging. We will reach a much higher number of people than we ever would just by continuing to endlessly ‘preach to the choir’.

The more good people who know the basic skills of foraging, the better off the whole of humanity is. And no worries, we all know that the number of foragers will never exceed a fractional percentage of the population. So fears that people will ‘over forage’ the world en masse if ‘everyone’ knows this knowledge are statistically unrealistic to the extreme.

So, fear not. You aren’t going to be training your competition if you teach a few more good folks how to forage.

There are many valid topics in these tumultuous times that deserve in depth discussion. If all I do is talk about foraging, then the many and varied topics of our time that need to be talked about get completely missed. I think this is a disservice.

I also think that most of the foragers I know personally will applaud this move, as the vast majority of them are very intelligent and dynamic people. They have wide and varied interests. In other words, they aren’t just interested in foraging. They’re interested in what’s going on in their world and how to make a positive difference. They also don’t oft get a chance to discuss these topics as they are afraid to talk about them in other places for fear of being ‘off topic’, or considered ‘fringe’.

I would like this blog, and the corresponding Wild Cookery! Forums to eventually become such a springboard for open and honest discussions.

All legal and lawful topics should be up for discussion in a healthy society. A mutual interest in foraging should be the start of an intelligent conversation, not the end all be all of a conversation.

Categories: Economy, Education, Food Health, Foraging, Green, Health, Preparedness, Social Unrest, Survival, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYC School Unveils Toxic All Vegetarian Diet

I like to call things as I see them, as the title above highlights.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/02/health/new-york-vegetarian-school/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

New York (CNN) — Asked which school meals were their favorites, students at a public school in the New York borough of Queens don’t say chicken fingers or meatballs. Instead, they name rice and kidney beans, black bean quesadillas or tofu with Chinese noodles.

“Whoever thought they would hear a third-grader saying that they liked tofu and Chinese noodles?” asked Dennis Walcott, New York City schools chancellor.

Walcott was at the Active Learning Elementary School this week to celebrate its move to all-vegetarian meals five days a week. The school of nearly 400 students, from pre-kindergarten to third grade, was founded five years ago on the principle that a healthy lifestyle leads to strong academic achievement.

We decided on a vision where health and nutrition would be a part of educating the whole child,” school principal Bob Groff said.

Epic fail.

That’s what we need, more effeminate males. Made so by gobbling down estrogens from that toxic junk known as unfermented soy.

Oh, and it also states that ‘rice’ is a staple of many of these student’s home foods.

This is where I have a problem. Absolute rot like this being promoted as ‘healthy lifestyle’, when it’s the total and absolute opposite.

And what’s linked in the middle of this ridiculous article? You guessed it… ‘Study: Too much red meat may shorten lifespan’

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/12/health/red-meat-shorten-lifespan/index.html

Categories: Education, Food Health, Government, Green, US News, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tasty Treats Wandering Into My Woodland Realm

Today I figured I’d share a collection of just a few things that have decided to make my yard and surrounding area ‘home’.

First up we have a ‘hare’ raising photo. There are a bunch of these around. I’ve identified at least four separate individuals. The largest of which will likely be in the stew pot come fall.

(Note: All pictures can be clicked on for a full sized version!)

Rabbit

Second, we have a rather snarky looking groundhog that loves to meander about and eat the tops off of my orange hawkweed. Considering those are my wife’s favorite flower, she has a special vendetta out for this creature and has made it known to me in no uncertain terms that the beast shall not survive the winter, even if she has to get out her bow and do it in herself. πŸ˜‰

Groundhog

Next up we have a slither. Why did the slither cross the road? To end up battered and fried!

Eastern Rat SnakeEastern Rat Snake 2Snake and Wild Garlic

Also, being a bit of a wildlife haven, my yard tends to attract some of these fine folks:

Deer

They are always welcome on my property. Get fat, eat well, and come winter time they are a resource if I need them, right outside my back door.

Also not too far away, I found some of these the other day:

Geese 2

I love geese. Both on the table and as an animal in general. They’ve got personality. My favorite goose I ever had was named ‘squeaky’. He was awesome. I raised him from a tiny gosling swimming around in my bathtub to a full sized gander. He never once hissed at me and was very protective. He was also the only goose I couldn’t bear to eat. Had it been life or death survival, I’d have eaten him of course, but as it stands this was about ten years ago and availability of other food sources wasn’t an issue. This picture is of course just for illustrative purposes, as you can’t take deer, geese, and the like without all the proper permits, paperwork, and all that modern nonsense. Thus the geese were not on the menu, sadly. One would almost think that it was deliberately engineered to make it nearly impossible for you to find and dine on your own free wild food…

These however, were on the menu, and were taken from the same waters. (Yes, legally, proper licenses and all.) And they fried up lovely. First is a Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), and below is a Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatum). Most people are confused as to what a Black Crappie is. A Black Crappie will have black SPOTS . A White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) has stripes, or ‘bars’.

BluegillBlack CrappiePanfried Bluegill
I also have a full on herd of squirrels in my yard. They wouldn’t sit still long enough this morning to get a proper picture though. The idiot neighbor’s idiot dog likes to chase them to hell and back so they’re very skittish and they bolt at the slightest sound. (Such as the sound of a window opening to get a clearer picture…)

UPDATE: I finally got one to sit still for half a millisecond!

Squirrel

So, what’s in YOUR neck of the woods? πŸ˜€

Categories: Animals, Fishing, Food Health, Foraging, Green, Hunting, Nature, Nature Photos, Organic Meat, Uncategorized, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Eat the Weeds videos now available on DVD!

After a long struggle and many hurdles, the world’s most watched foraging videos are now available on DVD!

As many of you know, these videos are put together by my friend, and mentor, ‘Green’ Deane Jordan of Eattheweeds.com

Eattheweeds

Current pricing is very affordable at $1 per episode, with 15 episodes per DVD, shipping included. You can’t beat that deal with a stick!

The DVDs can be acquired here:

Categories: Education, Foraging, Green | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forage! Episode III: Proper Identification

Ever wonder what happens to all those cavalier folks who think that nature is just another harmless and safe grocery store?

Forage 3 Proper Identification

Categories: Comedy, Education, Food Health, Forage!, Foraging, Funny Stuff, Green, Nature, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Dream of Blueberries

I woke up this fine June morning thinking about blueberries. Those lovely crown berries of deliciousness that make the perfect compliment to a bowl of cream, or the perfect addition to everything from cereal to muffins, to eating out of hand.

As such, I figured I’d go take a walk into my back yard and see how they were doing since I hadn’t checked on them in a few weeks.

Northern Highbush Blueberry – Vaccinium corymbosum

Blueberries 1

Blueberries 2

Blueberries 3

All crown berries are edible, and with 35 or so different varieties in North America, there’s sure to be one near you.

They are far from ripe yet, but they soon will be in the next month. And when they are, I’ll have to fight the birds to get them, as always. Or maybe I’ll just eat the birds. πŸ˜€ Double win.

But not just blueberries are on my mind today.

Also, some black raspberries that were seeded by birds a few years ago seem to have a bumper crop coming as well. I intentionally dropped most of the berries the last two years into the soil, and was rewarded with loads of new canes coming up.

Black Raspberry – Rubus occidentalis

Black Raspberry 1

Black Raspberry 2

These are absolutely loaded with berries this year. I’ve included a few pictures of both close ups and further out so you can see what the plant looks like. You can click on any picture to make it larger.

Black Raspberry 3

Black Raspberry 4

As you can see, the berries are very happy this year, with the brambles being the clear winner volume-wise. Those with keen eyes will be able to pick out a slew of other edible plants amongst the canes as well.

Pear – Pyrus spp.

Pyrus

I did see a few pears on my pear tree, but only a few. It’s to be expected. Last year was a bumper crop, so this year will have very few, and then next year should be a heavy harvest again. We’ve also not had nearly as much rain this year as we should have had, and spring came very late to Pennsylvania. Whilst not ‘berries’ they are still quite tasty when in season, if a bit hard. They are much better cooked and cut up in something like oatmeal.

Categories: Education, Food Health, Food Storage, Foraging, Green, Nature, Nature Photos, Organic, Plant Photos, Uncategorized, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Janos’ Plant Profiles, Part I: Spiny Sow Thistle

The full profiles will be posted to, and updated, on the Wild Cookery Forum. I have planned to do these for at least the past year, but have never quite gotten around to it. So without further ado…

Janos’ Plant Profiles, Part I: Spiny Sow Thistle

Common Plant name: Spiny Sow Thistle

Hoity Toity (Dead Latin) Name: Sonchus asper

Classification: Choice Edible Plant

Identification: This plant, a member of the Asteracea Family, has spiny, serrated leaves that curl along and around the stem of the plant. When in bloom it has yellow flowers which look dandelion-like superficially. It’s quite spiny, and prickly to the touch, and you may mistake it for an actual thistle if you aren’t familiar with the two plants. But it’s spines are softer and nowhere near as rigid as a real thistle. The spines are also part of the leaves, and not separate from it and detachable such as with an actual thistle. You can eat the smaller leaves raw without any problems. The older ones however, may be prickly enough that they need to be trimmed or cooked before consumption.

Juvenile Plant Photos

Here are some little guys:

Sonchus asper - Young Juvenile

Sonchus asper – Young Juvenile

Sonchus asper - Juvenile

Sonchus asper – Juvenile

Sonchus asper Juvenile comparison

Sonchus asper Juvenile comparison

Sonchus asper - Juvenile plant in nature

Sonchus asper – Juvenile plant in nature

Flowering Plant Photos

(Pictures to be added when in season)

Plant in Seed Photos

(Pictures to be added when in season)

Uses: You nom it of course! The leaves, buds, flowers, new shoots, and upper part of stem are all edible. Young and tender here is much better than old, tough, and rank. Especially on latex exuding plants. The leaves can be eaten at any time equally well, though younger is typically more tender and less bitter. I like to get the flower buds before they open and use the top section of the plant as kind of a ‘sonchusparagus’ I’ve also cooked and eaten small roots before along with the greens, but can’t officially recommend that as I haven’t been able to find any reference material on it’s use.

Nutrition: Sonchus asper are quite rich in Fiber, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Copper, and Manganese. Equal to, or more so than most common domesticated vegetables.*

Preparation: Typically I’ll boil these, no matter what part it is, for 15 minutes or so, drain, and then use like any other foundational green. In fact one of the spring delicacies my family looks forward to every year is fresh spiny sow thistle greens mixed with wild garlic greens and mushrooms over rice. It’s a seasonal spring treat that everyone raves about.

Preparation Photos

Sonchus asper and Dandelion leaves

Sonchus asper and Dandelion leaves

Wild Greens Noodle Medley - Two kinds of sonchus, dandelions, wild garlic, chicory, plantain, thistle, dock, and sprinkled with ox-eye daisy petals

Wild Greens Noodle Medley – Two kinds of sonchus, dandelions, wild garlic, chicory, plantain, thistle, dock, and sprinkled with ox-eye daisy petals

Cautions:

There are some unreliable sources that classify this plant as a ‘Noxious Weed’. That’s fair enough, as I classify those sources as pretty darn noxious myself.

I’m sure it’s possible to get a rash from this plant. Maybe even a severe one if you’re that one in a million who has such an allergic reaction. But let’s interject some reality here. Will it likely happen to you? Probably not. You’ll probably be struck dead with a micrometeorite first, or hit by lightning. I collect these barehanded, and even eat them raw from time to time. Guess what? Nothing happens. If someone has issues, they are probably also allergic to other ‘milky’ latex exuding plants, such as dandelions and wild lettuce. I highly doubt most are allergic to this plant in particular.

But that doesn’t mean that one in a zillion people won’t be affected by something like this, so use caution.

There’s the token safety disclaimer. Use caution when picking if you are allergic to other latex exuding plants. Some people are allergic to peanuts too. For the rest of us, it’s a fantastic nutrient dense wild food.

The vast majority of all people will find this plant to be delicious and nutritious.

References:

* Dr. John Kallas, PhD, β€œEdible Wild Plants” – Pps 358 – 359.

Categories: Food Health, Foraging, Green, Janos' Plant Profiles, Nature, Nature Photos, Organic, Organic Gardening, Reclaimed Edibles, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Joys of Foraging

Ah foraging. Yes, foraging…

That most wondrous of activities that allows us to share in nature’s bounty whilst at the same time being a part of (as opposed to distinctly removed from) nature.

Though, I haven’t been foraging anything for quite a few months. Foraging Pennsylvania in the wintertime is not exactly a pleasant activity. It’s possible, if need drives such a thing. Just not very ‘joyful’. Hunting on the other hand, is wondrous in Pennsylvania over the winter. I haven’t hunted for years, but there is a plethora of big and small game here that is a hunter’s dream come true.

But we are slowly nearing the end of winter.

Springtime is just around the corner. Though most here wouldn’t believe it. We’re still getting snow and twenty-degree weather here at night, and the ground is still frozen solid.

But like the slow march of inevitability, Spring must finally break, sooner or later.

Two months from now the forest floor will be carpeted in verdant greenery like one reads about in fairy tales and stories of olde.

Forest Floor

Life shall spring anew from the dormant soil, and shoots will push up through the now frozen ground to breathe new life into a world now in stasis.

And during this time of rapid growth, is perhaps the best time to be learning about, and foraging for, wild plants. Especially greens. There is nothing in the world like fresh spring greens, both in quality and quantity. They are typically more tender and, depending upon the plant, much less bitter, than older plants. Remember: rapid growth = tender and delicious when it comes to edible plants. Spring greens are no exception.

For me, there is nothing in the world like that first dish made with fresh spring wild garlic (Allium canadense), dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), and dock (Rumex crispus/obtusifolius). It’s a yearly spring ritual at our house. All fried up in olive oil, with a dash of cracked black pepper and ancient sea salt, and served over a nice bed of rice.

There are few culinary pleasures that it can compare to after being frozen solid for typically five months from late November to mid to late March or April.

But those first delicious wild garlic greens are likely still two months off.

What will come up first are the garlic mustard. (Allaria petiolata)

Garlic Mustard Groundcover

As well as the mustardy wintercress greens (Barbarea spp) and other Brassicacea. Whilst nowhere near as delicious, in my opinion, as the wild garlic, they do provide some much needed spring nutrients after a winter of dormancy and being cooped up in the house all season long. So, even though less delectable, they are still very highly desired.

Brassica 2

As spring unfolds here in the Frozen Northlands, I’ll be sure to post some pictures as things thaw out and provide that first delicate snack of the season!

Brassica 1

A field of Brassicacea as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately by the time the flowers have opened they are super bitter. If you see a sight like this, remember where they are for next year and get them before the flower buds open!

 

Categories: Food Health, Food Storage, Foraging, Green, Nature, Nature Photos, Organic, Plant Photos, Preparedness, Survival, Wild | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go Green? NO! Faux Green!

Reading the GDF (Green Deane Forum) today and chatting with my lovely wife, I coined what I think is a ‘new’ term for the ‘Go Green’ trend, which totally encapsulates what it really is.

It’s not ‘Go Green’, it’s ‘Faux Green’.

Almost all of it, is complete and utter festering, stinking, putrid manure. Sorry if that’s a bit graphic, but that’s what the ‘green’ movement is in a nutshell. An off-colored bowel movement. It achieves exactly the opposite of what it purports to support.

It might as well be called the ‘ungreen’ movement.

So, unless someone else has claim to it, ye heard ‘Faux Green’ here first. πŸ˜‰

Think of what the typical ‘go-greener’ does:

  • Is typically a ‘modern’ American vegetarian and thinks of anyone who eats meat as cruel, uneducated, and unintelligent misguided brutes who are killing the planet. This from people who wouldn’t know their Dandelion from their Daucus carota. Which means that if I like a little burger in my stew from time to time, I’m a savage and not even worth talking to.
  • Eats large amounts of unfermented soy products, as they’ve been told, and bought the lie, that such is ‘healthy’ for them. Not so. It messes with the estrogen cycle of women, and introduces artificial estrogens into men which emasculates them. Also, people eating such things tend to be rail thin, as they are literally starving themselves and not getting proper nutrition, and I’ve got to tell you ladies, that is NOT attractive. No matter what pop culture tells you, thin as a rail and gaunt is not ‘hot’. It’s sickly. Oh sure, you’ll find a guy to take you for a test drive, if you know what I mean, but that’s probably about as far as it’ll get. No real health conscious man wants to marry a woman that looks like a walking skeleton. They don’t look right, they don’t feel right, heck, they don’t even smell right. And then women like that wonder why they can’t have kids and need fertility drugs after messing with their systems by slucking down 20 years of soy. Gee, I wonder…
  • Buys organic cotton clothing. Usually made anywhere but in the US, and usually made by places that pay their workers dimes on the dollar to make such things.
  • Purchases ‘Free Trade Certified’ chocolate and cocoa and the like. Because, you know, it’s the right thing to do. Those farmers deserve a fair shake. Yes, they do, and they should be adult enough to get it without you having to be their mommy. So you’ll buy Free Trade chocolate so that the farmer in, say, Ecuador gets a fair shake, but what about that poor factory worker in China making your organic clothing at slave wages? Double standard much?
  • Supports carbon taxes and carbon credits in order to reduce our ‘carbon footprint’. I don’t even really have words for what a load of pure crap this is – junk science at it’s best. The earth had a far greater amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the past, and both the plants and the animals thrived. You remember those dinosaurs and 30 foot ferns? And what are you going to do next, tax the volcanoes and undersea vents? Last I checked they were still steaming out, and those have nothing to do with people.
  • Tends to purchase ‘recycled’ products at the store, so they can feel good about themselves. Even though, in reality, most ‘recycled’ products have very little post-consumer content in them at all. Companies pull the ‘recycled’ scraps off of their own factory floors that they shove back into the scrapper anyway and call that ‘recycled’ and get away with it. Some of this has changed a bit in recent years, but it still goes on. (If you buy recycled look at the post-consumer content information.)
  • Fills their entire house with ‘green’ (deadly toxic) compact fluorescent bulbs. They have no idea that should one of these break in their house, they’d literally need a hazmat team to clean up the mercury properly. And yet they push how ‘safe’ they are and how ‘ungreen’ traditional (safe) incandescent bulbs are. If you use compact florescent bulbs, make sure they are nowhere that can be broken, or in anything that can be knocked over accidentally, like a lamp. Also make sure they are way out of reach of pets and particularly children. Never, never, NEVER, let your child handle a compact fluorescent bulb! And when you do, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water immediately and thoroughly afterwards. (Unfortunately you won’t find this good helpful safety advice on any go-greener’s website, I can tell you that!)

So, for those who refuse to do any real research and still insist that the modern, standard, American vegetarian diet a la soy is ‘healthy’, I only have one more thing to say:

Thhhhbbbbbbbt!

thhbt

Don’t be a Green Zombie!

Categories: Faux Green, Food Health, Foraging, Green, Nature, Organic, Preparedness, Wild | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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