Organic

Crème Fraîche

Creme Fraiche 3

Many of you may be saying “What the heck is crème fraîche?” (Pronounced: ‘Krem fresh’)

I’m glad you asked. If sour cream had a sexier, less sour, more amazing twin that was better at almost everything, it would be crème fraîche.

If you don’t care for sour cream, you may still like crème fraiche. I don’t much care for sour cream, but find crème fraîche to be delicious.

It’s also used in omelets and scrambled eggs and many other things to an amazing effect.

The simple recipe is below

Crème Fraîche

Ingredients:

16 oz heavy whipping cream

1 oz buttermilk

Equipment:

Wooden spoon

Glass jar with a screw on lid to store crème fraîche in.

A coffee filter

A rubber band

A cool, dark place.

Pour the whipping cream into a glass jar with a lid large enough to hold 17 oz of liquid with a bit of space on the top so that you can get the wooden spoon in there.

Pour in the buttermilk on top of the whipping cream in the glass jar, and stir gently, but thoroughly.

Place the coffee filter over top the jar, and secure with the rubber band.

Creme Fraiche 1

Put in a cool dark place for a full 24 hours.

After 24 hours your crème fraîche is ready to rock.

Remove the coffee filter and rubber band, and taste the crème fraîche with a spoon to sample the awesomness you’ve just created.

Creme Fraiche 2

Screw on the lid and store in your refrigerator.

Sources and opinions vary, but you should be able to store it for at least a few weeks, refrigerated.

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Categories: Food Health, Food Storage, Modern Cooking, Organic, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Hand Whisked Mayonnaise

Finished_Mayo

Today was the first day I attempted mayonnaise. It came out what looked to be perfect. It made great peaks, it tasted fantastic. We put little dollops on our soft boiled eggs, and sprinkled a tiny bit of Maldon finishing salt over it all, and it was heavenly.

Softboiled_Eggs_Mayo

However, by the time we finished breakfast, our mayonnaise looked like this:

Broken_Mayo

I knew there had to be a way to fix it, and sure enough, one way to do it is to start over with 1 tablespoon of water, dribbling in a little bit of the broken mayonnaise at a time and re-whisking it, adding water as needed once it gets too viscous. It worked.

You can see here the broken mayonnaise on the left spoon vs the fixed on the right.

Broken_vs_Fixed_Mayo

An hour later at room temp the mayonnaise has not budged in it’s form, so I stirred it, and put it in a container in the fridge. Another hour in the fridge, and it’s still good to go.

Time will tell whether it decides to break down again or not, but so far so good.

If it does break down again, I’ll repeat the process until it stays together.

I used an egg yolk, ‘Plochman’s Original Stoneground Dijon Mustard’, water, white wine vinegar, canola oil, lemon juice from fresh lemons from our lemon tree, and kosher salt.

The basic recipe is below, and is Chef Thomas Keller’s recipe:

Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

1 Egg Yolk
Dijon Mustard – 5 grams
White Wine Vinegar – 7 grams
Lemon Juice – 7 grams
Canola Oil – 350 grams (Any neutral flavored plant based oil will work, I used canola)
Water – Several tablespoons. Just get a small bowl and put a tablespoon in it, use as needed once it gets thick.

Equipment:

Mixing bowl
Whisk
Damp kitchen towel
Spatula
Cutting board
Paring knife
Glass jar to store Mayonnaise in.

You will be whisking constantly in this recipe, but the end product is well worth the effort.
Dampen the kitchen town, wring it out, then fold it over into a triangle and roll it into a turban shape. Form a crown around the bottom of the mixing bowl to stabilize it.

Turban_Towel

Whisk the yolk in the mixing bowl, then add and whisk the dijon mustard into it. The dijon mustard helps with emulsification. Continue whisking with your dominant hand as you S L O W L Y whisk in oil. I put mine in a condiment squirt bottle, and it works great. As the mayonnaise starts to thicken add a tablespoon of water. Keep whisking and add the vinegar and the lemon juice. Keep slowly adding oil.

If the mayonnaise breaks aka separates and turns into runny goop, the oil has overwhelmed the yolk’s ability to bind it, and you can do one of two things.

1.) Add more mustard to help it re-emulsify. (This will also make it more mustardy tasting.)
2.) Start in an empty mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of water and whisk the broken mayonnaise into the water a drop at a time until it re-emulsifies, then slowly mix it back in about 1 tablespoon at a time, adding more water, also 1 tablespoon at a time, whenever it gets too thick and harder to whisk.

I didn’t want it more mustardy and so I chose option #2, and so far so good, it’s holding after an hour+ at room temp and the first time it broke completely after about 15 minutes.

Keep whisking and adding oil until you get to the viscosity you want and see peaks form. Taste and add salt and lemon juice a little at a time to your own personal taste.

Mayo_1

Trust me when I say this: Leave it in the mixing bowl for half an hour at room temp. Then come back to it. It’ll be easier to fix if you don’t have to take it out of a jar and put it BACK into the mixing bowl.
If it holds after 30+ minutes, you should be good to go to put it into the glass jar to store it in the fridge.

In hindsight, I think the coarse mustard may have been the source of my emulsification issues, vs a much smoother mustard with more actual ground mustard in it. I will note this and use regular dijon mustard next time.

Plochmans Mustard 2

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Wild Cookery 4.0: The Rebranding

 

The name remains the same, but the purpose and content shall be very different from here on out.

Wild Cookery shall refocus more on cooking in all it’s forms, and not just using foraged cooking ingredients.

A large reason for this, is since moving to my present location, it’s extremely difficult to locate even basic forageables to use, and thus my main daily cooking has shifted away from that into more ‘conventional’ cooking.

The good news is, you’ll be in for some of the best cooking techniques and recipes of your life, as you join me in my journey of Epicurean delights.

We’ll be working with a few basics to start with, and moving onto a few more complex things later on, as well as using tools of refinement.

However, in my opinion, even the basics have been vastly overlooked by the majority of people.

For example, I’d been taught to make hard boiled eggs a certain way by my parents and had been overcooking them for 35 years, and thus did not care for them. The ones I made yesterday and today would blow your socks off.

Hardboiled_Perfect.jpg

Sometime in the future, I’ll likely do a few more Wild Cookery videos and share some fun recipes.

You should still strive to get the best food that you can. Sometimes this means Organic. Sometimes this means NOT Organic. It all depends on if you know the source of the food. Some people produce perfectly organic food and have for generations but simply haven’t gone through the rigmarole of being ‘certified’

Know your source, and you can make wise and informed decisions about the food you prepare for yourself and your family.

More to come soon!

As always, I can be reached at Wildcookery@yahoo.com

Categories: Modern Cooking, Organic, Uncategorized, 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. 😀 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

Obesity, Welfare, and the Health Epidemic of America

Waiting in the grocery checkout line and looking into someone else’s shopping cart and seeing a load of GMOs and prepackaged processed toxin-laden crap in there from bottom to top, does tend to bring forth a bit of righteous judgment from my family.

Is there any wonder that little Timmy is wearing clothes 4 sizes bigger than he should be? What are you feeding him? Bread with HFCS and soy lecithin in it, ‘fruit’ drinks that are mostly sugar and corn syrup, frozen pizza with gods know what in it, chips, soda, the worst possible quality of lunchmeat you can find (also with soy and HFCS), and a case of fluoridated and chlorinated ‘water’. Oh yum.

I don’t call the people out on it of course. I do maintain at least a shallow veneer of social politeness. I have no problem if people wish to slow kill themselves. I just wish they’d stop doing it on my tax dollar.

But no one is forcing this so called ‘food’ down their throats, either. Especially people on government entitlement programs. If I can eat semi healthily on a pittance of a food budget out of my own pocket, these people can sure as heck eat healthy on $600 a month for a family of 3! (That also doesn’t include any ‘cash assistance’ they get. Just foodstamps.)

There’s only so much ‘passing the buck’ that can go on, for so long.

Yes, the government and corporations promoted this stuff about carbs being good and all fats being bad, and pushing for HFCS to be in nearly everything, and told us all bold faced blatant lies about it. So what? How is that any different than anything ELSE the government and corporations do? All they DO is lie. All the time! 24/7/365 pure unadulterated BS. All the time, all channels, all stations, all languages. If I ever heard a word of truth from any of them I think I’d keel over from the shock!

So it’s not like this is exactly unexpected.

Not unless someone is so totally out of it that they actually believe the lies. And if that’s the case, they’ve got naivete to add to their list of problems.

Any parent feeding their children these vile toxins, in my not so humble opinion, needs their head examined. Either they can’t read the ingredient labels, cannot comprehend them, or they simply don’t care.

The typical excuse is that they can’t ‘afford’ better food. Excuse me? That’s so laughable as to be worthy of knee-slapping. They receive hundreds of dollars a month in free food credits, and they somehow cannot ‘afford’ better food? Even the folks who are NOT on the public dole, can certainly afford better food. A little education goes a long way.

If they simply educated themselves as to the reasons for obesity and the like, and changed their diets accordingly, then we would see huge swings in the obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes epidemics in this country.

But here’s the rub. They don’t WANT to change. Not really. If they did, they would. They don’t, so… they don’t. And I find that disturbing, and disgusting. These people will stay the exact same way they are until some outside force moves them to change. Literally FORCES them to change, by some alteration of rules or regulations. They’ll never, in a million years, change of their own free will and accord. Ever.

It is my opinion that people should be free to eat what they want… and pay the price accordingly.

We should not bankroll their healthcare. You want to eat at places like McDonald’s six times a week and/or drink yourself into a soda coma? Have at it. Just don’t look to other people to fund your healthcare when you are on death’s door.

I feel very strongly about this. I feel that people need to take responsibility for the health decisions that they make, and not expect others to pay for their 40 years of excess when they ignored the warning signs and good advice everyone around them has been giving them.

 

Categories: Food Health, Health, Organic, Preparedness, Wild | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Paleo Day 6

Last night was a lovely dinner of crappie and bluegill with wild garlic (and a little salt and cracked black pepper and olive oil).

The night before was slither, prepared the same way. (More on that at another time, perhaps.)

Either dinner, or supper today, depending on how hungry I am and when I am hungry, will consist of the remaining bluegill that I didn’t make yesterday. Probably made the same way, but likely without the wild garlic as it’s been raining cats and dogs today.

I’ve also pretty much eliminated legumes. I’d add them primarily to soups, and by switching from the ‘winter/spring’ diet to the ‘spring/summer’ diet, soups are naturally eliminated from my diet until the colder months anyway, so that one was pretty easy, as I’m used to eating near zero legumes during the summer anyway. Thank goodness for small little gifts, eh?

Breakfast today will be oatmeal (real whole oats) with cinnamon and half of a real apple cut up.

I’d like to eventually cut out the oatmeal, but I have nothing I can consistently replace it with yet that won’t bankrupt the tribe’s monthly food budget.
We’ve been eating the same thing for breakfast, nearly every day, with only the fruit being changed out for quince when it’s in season, or occasionally a few raisins or shredded carrots in lieu of the other fruit, for a few years now.

And considering that when I cut out milk and cereal for breakfast, and went to the oatmeal every day, is when I went from 215 pounds to 160 pounds in the course of one winter.

So, yea, it’s a carb. But honestly I don’t think it’s the most egregious of them out there. Though I also cut out most processed foods as well, and totally cut out HFCS.

None of us are fat. None of us are overweight. Hell, if anything, I’m a bit underweight. Though this could be because of my very high metabolism, and because I’m the most active member in my family. (I do get a bit of walking in when foraging, of course.) I’m a bit over 6 foot tall, a size 32, and currently clocking in at 154 as of this morning. By reducing carbs and massively reducing my sugar intake (down to 1/10th what it was 6 days ago!), I’ve lost about 3 pounds in the last 6 days. Pounds I didn’t need to lose, in my opinion. To be honest, I’m petrified of losing any more weight. It was a long and rough winter, and for a while there, I was down to 145 pounds and not feeling good at all. I’m in no great hurry to ever go back there. I need to put weight ON, not take weight OFF.

And that weight loss over the winter was even whilst I was eating high carbs (two bowls of rice a day plus oatmeal, plus bread, plus crackers) and high sugars, about 10 teaspoons worth all things considered, per day.

I’ve always had a very high metabolism. Since I’ve gotten rid of 99.9% of processed foods from my diet, my old metabolism has kicked back in, in SPITE of the sugars and carbs that were still part of my diet.

And all of this is with a minimum of actual ‘exercise’. It’s not like I’m expending massive amounts of calories. The most calorie burning thing I’ve done during that time was doing some walking whilst fishing and standing in place for 6 hours whilst fishing. (Which did quite a number on my back, as I’m not used to standing in one place for that long.) I typically do pushups in the morning most days, as does my wife, and she does some stretching and crunches and other exercises.

So, we’re shedding sugars and carbs a bit at a time. We’ve also not baked any bread in 3 days. And if it doesn’t exist, it’s a lot easier to not eat it.

It’s quite likely, the oatmeal will be the last thing to go. Of all the carbs I’m currently eating, I feel it’s the least offensive of the various carbs. It’ll go, it just won’t go all at once.

The white rice, on the other hand, is likely the most offensive, next to the white flour. And we’ve already started massively ratcheting that back by simply not baking bread. Which is really a kick in the grapes, I must say, because I bought eight bags of flour for our monthly food budget like two days before we started going Paleo/Primal! (Talk about bad luck.) Oh well, we’ll eat them eventually. Just very spread out, instead of all at once.

The key here is that we replace the carb foods with non-carb foods, once they’re depleted with our pantry. In other words as we use the rice and flour and oatmeal, we replace it with something ELSE.

Unfortunately, all our food for this month has already been pre-purchased, so no change out of any kind is going to happen until July. All I can do until then is add more meats and good fats to the diet, and reduce the portions of the carbs.

Update: This was dinner. Yum! The garlic greens were fried in coconut oil and served over a very small sliver of rice. About 1/3rd of what I’d normally eat.

Panfried BluegillSauteed Wild Garlic

Categories: Animals, Fishing, Food Health, Foraging, Nature, Organic, Wild, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Greens Medley!

Springtime means fresh Spring greens. And fresh Spring greens means FOOD!

I did make a smaller dish a few days earlier, but this is the first real, substantial, spring greens dish of the year, so I went all out and gathered a nice medley to mix and prepare for the family, and to share with you.

The following went into my Spring Greens medley.

(Click pictures to enlarge.)

Wintercress – Barbarea vulgaris, is a member of the Brassicaceae family.

Wintercress

Raw, they are a bit bitter and so-so. Cooked, they become absolutely mouthwatering. This was definitely the champion green of the dish. Everyone raved about it. It really does become a foundational green when boiled, but with a very delicate and delicious flavor.

Garlic Mustard – Alliaria petiolata, is also a member of the Brassicaceae family.

Garlic Mustard 2

Raw, they are a bit meh, in my opinion. Cooked they become less meh. Good, but not as good as Wintercress. 😉 The stems can be stout and a bit stringy as they grow, so take only the first few top inches of the stem. Unless of course you don’t mind the stringy aspect. It all cooks down fairly well when boiled for a few minutes.

This is the amount of Wintercress and Garlic Mustard I collected to use for the meal I made. A lovely mess of greens, isn’t it?

Mess of Greens

Wild Garlic – Allium Canadense.

Wild Garlic

I like to use the greens from these more than the bulbs. The bulbs will grow new greens, and I rotate the area I collect from so as to be sure to never over-harvest. As such I’ve maintained (and expanded) my patch of wild garlic exponentially over the past few years. All the garlic taste you love, with none of the commercial product’s signature ‘garlic breath’.

Dandelion – Taraxacum Officinale

Dandelion

What wild spring greens dinner would be perfect without a little bit of dandelion? I gathered a whole decent sized plant from the tip of the root up, and it was enough to impart it’s goodness to the whole dish. Every part of the plant was used and later chopped up. Leaves, buds, crown, and a tiny bit of the root. Delicious!

Thistle – Cirsium spp.

Thistle

An ‘unknown’ but delicious thistle made it into my Spring Medley. I say unknown, although that’s really not the case. I’ve been eating it for over 30 years, and my father ate it for 50 years before that. I just don’t have the stupid Latin name for it pegged as of yet. More on that later.

So, the wifey and I took a nice little walk and collected these greens as we went. It’s mighty handy to carry a plastic grocery bag in your pocket, and a folding pocket knife. You never know when you are going to run into wild food that you want to bring home with you!

This is a picture of all the greens that went into the dish:

Greens Board 2

The greens (sans wild garlic) were boiled for a few minutes. I boiled them longer than I would have since they were a ‘mixed’ greens, and some were more bitter than others. Probably about 10 minutes, tops.

The garlic greens were chopped and sauteed first, and then the boiled greens were also chopped and sauteed in some olive oil, and given a dash of ancient sea salt and cracked black pepper. The meat was given identical seasoning in it’s own separate pan. The key here is to not overcook the meat, and to use a lid so that it comes out nice and tender.

I call this dish, ‘Brassica and Bambi’.

Brassica and Bambi

Delicious was not even the word for it. It has to be one of the top five meals that I’ve ever prepared, in any medium, wild food or otherwise. Mouth watering delicious. Almost better than sex, delicious. Yea, it was that good.

Total cost? About $1 worth of rice and 75 cents worth of salt, pepper, and olive oil. And that’s to feed three people. Otherwise, free. The bambi was donated by a friend specifically to give this dish a more ‘wild’ aspect. Thanks M! 🙂

Thistles, Continued.

For those who are interested, regarding the prior unknown thistle, read on. Otherwise, the article ends here. Thanks for reading! 🙂

When is it OK to eat an ‘unknown’ plant? When the only way that it’s unknown to you is that you don’t have it’s specifics tacked down, but in which there are no non-edible or toxic family members or toxic look-alikes. In other words, if the whole family of plants is ‘safe’, then it doesn’t really matter much, now does it?

I’m not ashamed to say I haven’t really cared enough to narrow this thistle down to a specific species. Mostly because I truly don’t care. Not even a little. It’s food. End of story. I have bull thistles in my yard (Cirsium vulgare.) This isn’t one of those. I originally thought that it could be a Cirsium edule, but those are supposed to be confined to the West Coast, and now that I’ve actually found pictures of what the leaves look like, they look nothing like Cirsium edule. Pictures of anything other than a bull thistle are very hard to come by. It could be what they call a ‘pasture thistle’, but the bottoms of the leaves aren’t silver, just kind of green and shiny. Oh well… It would be much easier to ID if it actually bloomed, but it’s kind of hard to tell when the idiot city comes along and mows them all to the ground before they have a chance to flower. (They tend to grow along the SIDES of the fields, not so much IN the fields proper, around where I live…) However, all true thistles are equally edible, and this is a true thistle. Beyond that, the specifics are strictly academic and don’t really interest me. That might be an odd statement for a forager to say, especially from one who is usually interested in the academic end of things, but it’s absolutely true.

Basically, I think we tend to over complicate things when it comes to foraging. As I’ve always said, the Indians didn’t differentiate between different edible plants of the same species unless there was a real need to do so. If it was edible, that was that. Maybe one was choice and one wasn’t, and they’d certainly have had a preference if that was the case. And they’d know if one was ‘toxic’ and to avoid that one.

But they would not have cared one whit to differentiate between thistles that were all equally edible, and in my experience, pretty much all taste quite similar.

So, who am I to do so? Unless something is going to damage me in some way, I don’t care about the useless nuances.

Let me give you a modern example:

Do you really give a rip about the differences between a Fiji, McIntosh, Granny Smith, Red or Golden Delicious apple at the store, other than perhaps the difference in taste? No, you don’t. You don’t give a rip about it’s Dead Latin hoity toity name. In fact, not one in a hundred thousand of you could tell me that apples are Malus and pears are Pyrus. You know it’s an apple, and all apples are edible, and that’s about as far as your caring goes.

Doesn’t sound so strange when you look at it from that point of view, now does it? 😉

However, if anyone actually knows what this thistle is, I’m all ears. Or eyes, as it were.

(And I’m talking about actually KNOWS from hands on, REAL, personal knowledge and experience, not looking it up and best guessing using some friggin’ ‘key’ and saying… ‘Gee, I THINK it kind of looks like this one…)

So, if you’ve been eating this thistle, and know for sure what it is, send me a line. I suppose that finally knowing the official name for this thing would probably be better than calling it ‘unknown thistle’, as I tend to use it quite a bit, and it does grow quite prolifically around here.

Categories: Food Health, Foraging, Nature, Nature Photos, Organic, Organic Gardening, Organic Meat, Plant Photos, Preparedness, Recipes, Survival, Wild, 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, “Edible 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

Wild Cookery Forums are now LIVE!

Wild Cookery Forums are now LIVE!

I am proud to announce the official launch of the Wild Cookery Forums!

The forums may be found at: http://wildcookery.prophpbb.com/  http://wildcookery.freeforums.org/

Freeforums

This forum will be what YOU, the members help make it into. It’ll grow along the lines of your contributions.

This is your chance to make forum and Foraging history and create something great from absolutely nothing.

It’s also your chance to get in on the ground floor as a founding member of one of the very few Foraging forums in existence. This means that you’ll have a say in the direction of the forum, and can help make it into the kind of forum YOU’D like to see!

New boards can and will be created upon request, and if you have a specialized interest that you’d like to see represented and discussed, we can create a board or sub-boards to cover that.

*Please note that this forum will be geared to adults 18 years and older, and you must fit that category in order to officially join as a member. If you are under 18 you are still welcome to come and read the forum, as the content will be mostly publicly available, assuming that you have the express permission of your parents or guardians to do so.

The first thing after signing up would be to go to the Announcements and Updates page  and read the very brief documents listed there. That would be the Member Agreement, Moderation Policy, Legal Disclaimer, and FAQ.

Don’t worry, as I said, they are all very brief and straight to the point. No wall of text to read.

After which, if you plan on posting pictures to the forum, you can read the tutorial that I created on how to do that, here

Be sure to stop by the member’s only area Wayfarer’s Inn  once you have signed up and introduce yourself! 🙂

I hope to see you all there! 🙂

Categories: Food Health, Foraging, Nature, Organic, Recipes, Wild | 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

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