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Just Peachy

We had a lovely 4th of July. We went over to the inlaws for the day, and Dad bought some fireworks. The kiddos were very excited and insisted on picking out which one was to be shot off next.

An old family friend of theirs, a lady from Gambia stopped over for the celebration and to watch the fireworks.

She has fruit trees at her house and brought us something I hadn’t had in over 20 years… fresh, off the tree PEACHES!

Peach

The kind lady also extended the invitation that I could go over and pick some more off of the tree, if I so desired. If I can find a way to store them in my extremely limited storage space, I may take her up on the offer, as they are quite delicious.

Huzzah for peaches!

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Half Year Check In

Lesson learned. Never, ever, trust the WordPress app for your phone.

Twice I typed out a big long post. Twice it ate it. I should have typed it into some kind of notepad app.

It showed something like several hundred words, then I hit publish, and it shows 0 words. Quality app.

Anyway…

The original post(s) were somewhat ranty, so I’ll try to be a wee bit less ranty in this third incarnation.

Long story short, still in hell. That’s Central Valley, CA for the rest of you lucky enough to not live here.

It’s dry, it’s hot, it’s full of idiots. I don’t know which is worse. 105 – 112 the past two weeks here.

It’s like living next to a forge or a kiln that is always on and is super-heating the air.

Foragables have pretty much been zero, as it’s super dry here at the moment.

What edibles I did find were minuscule. Tiny, itty bitty dandelions half the length of my pinkie finger. Taraxacum officinale has never looked so sad. ‘Tis a far cry from the 9” to foot long monsters that grow in my yard back home in Pennsylvania.

And what little precious wild food I found was growing on tainted, chem-agro polluted land. Can’t exactly feed that to the children, so that was a big no go.

Still looking to move up North. Little progress has been made on that front, and unless major changes are made across the board, it’s not going to happen.

I moved to CA to improve things financially, and have only gotten mired in an endless black pit, from which there seems to be little escape.

So, that’s the update. Life sucks, zero foraging here.

Post Scriptum: THIS is what a fucking dandelion should look like!

Dandelion

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Not Quite Another Year.

Well, as the title says, it’s not quite been another year since I last posted here on this blog.

I haven’t done any foraging whatsoever since I moved last fall. Zero, zip, nadda. I moved from the verdant forest which was my backyard, to the armpit of Hell.
Foraging opportunities have been nonexistent.

But all is not lost!

Over the next year plans are to move North, into a much more temperate environment. Think pine forest and mountains. There shall be foraging opportunities a plenty there, as well as a much more pleasant environment in general.

Then, maybe I can get back to doing some foraging articles and write ups. It’s kind of hard to write about foraging when one is not foraging. Also, the dead Latin names for a lot of lesser utilized plants are starting to fall out of my head. If I don’t start foraging again soon, I won’t know my Asclepias from my Ascot.

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David Bowie, is dead at age 69.

David Bowie is Dead at 69

I originally thought this was yet another hoax. It is not. Confirmed by his son, Duncan Jones.

He just released his new album Blackstar TWO FUCKING DAYS AGO!!!

I have not the words…

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Another year, another beer.

That would be nice, actually. Mmm… beer…

Not very good for you, but damn if good beer isn’t an awesome thing.

Well, again, a very long time has lapsed since my last post on this blog.

I’d pretty much given it up for dead, with the lack of actual foraging that I’ve been doing, or rather, not doing, over the past year or so.

Due to unforeseen circumstances I’m no longer in my little green garden of foraging goodness, and local foraging areas are incredibly inaccessible to me at the moment.

And, my wife and my health have suffered quite a bit for it. She’s put on about 30 pounds and I’ve put on about 40 pounds.

I weighed myself the other day and I’m the heaviest I’ve ever weighted. Not the ‘fattest’, as I’ve put on some upper body muscle since that time, but the most actual weight I’ve ever been.

I’ve felt sluggish and tired.

The holiday season was brutally stressful, and having everyone bring over and offer every sweet thing imaginable didn’t help either.

But, enough of all of that.

Starting three days ago, we started to change our eating habits to me more in line with what they were years ago, when we lived in a greener and more forage-friendly place.

Finding a place to forage around here will be the challenge, but it needs to happen.

I’m also reading Mark Sisson’s ‘Primal Blueprint’, which I bought yesterday in kindle edition so I could start reading it immediately. Most of what he’s covering so far is stuff I already know, but haven’t put into best practice. I’m only on chapter 2 though so far, so we’ll see how it goes.

Seeing has how it’s been so long since I’ve posted or had an actual following of fellow foragers, I don’t expect anyone to really read and/or comment upon this, but it’s more as a cathartic for myself to type my thoughts down and be able to reread them at a later time for reflection and to track my own progress.

More to follow.

 

 

Categories: Primal/Paleo, Uncategorized, Wild Cookery | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Wild Cookery 3.0. Hmm… More Upgrades, Part I

It’s been almost two years since I started this blog. Time for some upgrades and massive revamps.

“What IS ‘Wild Cookery!’ ?”

Years later, I still get this question quite a bit.

‘Wild Cookery!’ includes not only what most people immediately think of when they hear the term ‘wild’, usually imagining wild game, but also a large part of it is learning how to safely and effectively forage for wild plants and mushrooms as well.

It’s also not about 5 star fancy gourmet wild food dining, though after you’ve collected and prepared your own food from nature for a while, you may definitely feel like you’re dining in a top class establishment. Nature is typically superior when it comes to quality and flavor.

But you won’t typically find fancified pictures all dolled up for professional presentation.

You’ll see real pictures of real ‘Wild Cookery!’, made in REAL kitchens.

But ‘Wild Cookery!’ doesn’t stop there. It’s also about having the proper tools and skills to build a fire and cook upon it. As well as knowing as many ways as possible to start a fire, and to carry multiple means of starting a fire in your fire kit. After all the ‘Cookery’ part isn’t very useful without fire!

What ‘Wild Cookery!’ is typically not is a ‘How to’ manual when it comes to cleaning fish and game. There are a very large number of books (and videos) out of there by very experienced authors, who cover that topic quite well.

‘Wild Cookery!’ for me, has always been a labor of love. I’ve never made a single dime off of any of the articles I’ve written, or the small video series I made a few years back, or the instruction and advice that I’ve given to thousands of people. I’ve also taught people foraging one on one for years, but I largely do not do that anymore. I can no longer do it for free, and I can’t bring myself to actually charge people for what I consider basic life skills that their parents and/or grandparents SHOULD have taught them, as my father and great-uncle taught me.

This is not to bash folks who charge a little bit for a foraging class. It’s usually worth every penny. There are costs associated with teaching such, including their time and fuel to get to the foraging locations. It’s just not something I want to do. But I do salute those who are still willing to do so.

There are plenty of people who offer foraging classes, (some who even do it well), where you can learn all about wild plants and foraging in general, firsthand, from someone who knows what they are doing.

‘Wild Cookery!’ exists to be a supplement of, not a replacement for, one on one personalized, high-quality foraging instruction from a knowledgeable forager.
It is also handy for when there ARE no qualified local foragers in your area to train under. It’s certainly better than a poke in the eye, and currently, it’s FREE.

So, the compromise, is that I still teach for free, via articles, my forum, and this blog. I’ve also been looking into ways to help finance the site, at no additional cost to the readers and members. To that end, I’ve partnered with Amazon to be able to bring you an awesome assortment of Wild Cookery recommended items, all at no additional cost to you. You just go through the Wild Cookery Amazon store link, and buy whatever you’d normally buy on Amazon anyway, and the site here gets a very small percentage of that, at zero cost to you. It’s awesome.

More on that aspect in a later post.

When appropriate I will link you to other quality foraging blogs or forums. I’d also like to start featuring write ups from actual foragers. Real people in the foraging community who talk about whatever interests them. They may write an article once a week, once a month, or once a year. But they’ll be talking about what’s near and dear to their hearts, and from real actual experience, sharing with you some of the struggles and triumphs that they’ve encountered in learning how to forage.

More to come soon!

As always, I can be reached at Wildcookery@yahoo.com with your questions, comments, awesome wild recipes, and kittens.

Categories: Uncategorized | 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. 😉

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? 😀

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

The Modern Voodoo of Nutrition, Part I: Heart Healthy

This series will take a look at what I consider to be many of the modern misconceptions about nutrition, cholesterol, and what really is and is not ‘bad’ for us in regards to our diets.

The common and pervading wisdom is that a ‘low fat, low protein, high carb diet’ is ‘good’ for us. Meats and animal fats, and dairy fats, are all demonized as horrendously ‘bad’ for you and ‘heart breakers’.

So let me get this straight… we are told that the healthy fats that mankind has eaten for hundreds of thousands of years (or more), are actually ‘bad’ for us, and the fakey chemically extracted stuff that tends to mostly be in processed foods, are good for us. In other words, don’t eat eggs, because they’re ‘bad’ (again), and don’t eat butter because it’s bad, eat more margarine with vegetable oil in it instead. Like corn oil, for example. As stated in the movie ‘Fat Head’, when you press corn, you don’t get corn oil. It has to be chemically extracted. It’s an aberration of nature. Is such a thing truly ‘good’ for us? I don’t think it is.

But who’s the pusher of this particular brand of nonsense? None other than the American Heart Association.

A recent visit to their site was eye opening, to say the least. But not for the reasons you may think.

They go on to demonize ‘Sat’ their cutesy little name for their Saturated Fat character, as ‘artery clogging.’ They actually say, and I quote:

“The more time you and I spend together, the better chance I’ll have to clog your arteries and break your heart. But don’t think about that.  Let’s just sit down and eat.”

And for ‘Trans’ their cute little name for our Partially Hydrogenated ‘friend’ that they first said was ‘good’, and was promoted by the industry as heart healthy, now they say is ‘bad’. (And it is.) It says:

“If you eat, I’m your guy.  I’m even more interested if you’re the naïve type – one of those people who haven’t heard about me in the news and don’t know where to watch out for me.”

Naïve type. Yea, that about sums it up. You’d have to be pretty naïve to believe these people to begin with considering the line of bull they’re spreading.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that anything with trans fats in it is bad news. But they lump saturated fat and trans fat together as the ‘bad fat brothers’.

This is incredibly misleading. Find me ONE reliable study that proves that saturated fat is bad for you. But don’t hurt yourself searching too hard… you won’t find one. All the data points to the exact opposite. That your body NEEDS saturated fat, and a diet that is high in saturated fat is actually GOOD for you. Anyone who’s done a shred of research knows that it’s not fat that turns into fat in your body. The fat is absorbed much slower and has a chance to be burned off as energy. It’s the sugars and carbs that get turned into fat from the action of the insulin response. You eat sugars or carbs, your sugar level spikes, and your body produces insulin and converts it into fat.

The voodoo, and it really can’t be called anything else, comes to us straight from the AHA (American Heart Association) website…

These idiots actually say that Canola oil is ‘healthy’ for you. Uhh… Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, over? Canola oil is one of the worst things you can cook with, especially as it is a carcinogen when aerosolized under high heat.

Also, the site has Canola manufacturers and such as sponsors. Hmm. Not a conflict of interests there, is there?

Kind of like McDonalds supporting a study that says fast food is good for you. You’d never believe it in a million years would you? Of course not. But yet millions believe what the AHA has to say as though it’s the word of God.

Well that’s not too far off, because it’s certainly enshrined and entrenched dogma, that’s for sure.

But what really ticked me off are the following ‘facts’ that they have on their site. A fact is something that is proven. A fact is not a theory or hypothesis. One flawed and cherry picked study by Ancel Keys does not a fact make!

Text underlined by me to highlight a point in each image.
(All screenshots and images used under fair use laws.)

Let’s take a look at the first one, shall we?

Fats 1
Here it demonizes saturated fat as a ‘bad’ fat. Really? And why is that? It’s not a fact, it’s an opinion. And an incredibly flawed one at that.

Fats 2In the next image, it proceeds with the assumption that you are now properly schooled on the ‘fact’ that saturated fats are bad, and thus urges you to eat less fatty meat. Chicken with the skin on, butter, and full fat dairy products. You know, the things which are actually healthy for you.

Fats 3Next, it urges us to use liquid vegetable oil (such as canola, soy, etc…) instead of butter. The only way this would be acceptable on any level is if it was virgin pressed olive oil. But I solve that problem. I use BOTH butter AND olive oil! Yum!

Fats 4Next, they state that if you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. This can only be so if  they continue the BS lie that ‘a calorie, is a calorie, is a calorie.’

I lost 60 pounds doing almost nothing. All I did was cut the sugars out of my diet, and ratcheted down on the carbs. I ate meats and fats and butter and olive oil and eggs like they were going out of style. I was taking in thousands of calories a day, and yet was chained to a desk for my job most of the time. I did a very little minor walking here and there. In the morning I did a set of push ups every other day or so. That’s about the extend of my physical exertion. And I lost 60 pounds sitting on my rear. So much for that little so called ‘fact’ about calories in, calories out, eh?

Fats 5Last is yet another warning about saturated fats. That’s funny. As I stated above, I lost 60 pounds eating a very heavily saturated fat diet, and all things considered, felt pretty good.

The problem is that all of this flawed research is now very deeply entrenched dogma. History shows that the only time such things change is when the baton is passed to a new generation who does not share the previous generation’s prejudices or mindset. Such is the case here. Nothing will change in the industry until those who are in high positions and keep pushing these lies retire, or kick off from following their own flawed and scientifically unsound advice. Thus, any real change, may be many decades off.

Categories: Education, Food Health, Health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

I Like Fishes ‘Cause They’re So Delicious

I really do like fish. I like catching them, but mostly I  like eating them. But in order to eat a wild fish, one must first catch a wild fish.

So I got up to go fishing today at 5:20 AM. All my gear was loaded in the car already the night before, and was ready to go. In addition, I’d found a very small amount of nightcrawlers as well, though not nearly as many as I’d have liked to have found. My compost pile isn’t producing the worms it should. Quite likely because my idiot neighbor’s idiot dog that they let loose to roam the neighborhood every single day, despite all the local ‘leash laws’ comes over and eats whatever we put in there within hours of it being put out. (This family’s progeny is one of the high ranking public servants in this town, so they get away with things that others would be enforced upon, no matter how many times people complain. The laws don’t apply to THEM, you see. Special class of citizen.) That stupid mutt will even eat the egg shells and banana peels, I kid you not. It’s no wonder no nutrients are getting into my compost pile to entice worms to be there. Two years ago I’d turn over a shovel full of compost dirt and find dozens of lovely worms for fishing. Last night, I found THREE. And they were all super tiny. Not cool at all. This is something I’d not counted on for fishing season. I’ve NEVER had to buy bait before, and I haven’t figured that in financially. It cost enough in gas just to get there to fish at the reservoir, 25 mile round trip, at least. I don’t need any additional expenses.

Anyway, I get up and get ready to get dressed, and then I touch the outside window. It’s like ICE cold. Whoa… whiskey, tango, foxtrot, what’s going on here… So I look up the temp. 40 degrees.

Nope, not happening. Windchill across that lake is about 15 degrees cooler than ambient, so we’re looking at fishing in 25 degree in near constant wind gusts. Not happening. There’s no enjoyment in something like that for me, and they don’t let you have a fire anymore there, so that was a double no-go.

I’ve postponed my fishing trip until late afternoon/early evening. Which is fine by me. I’d have had to cut it short as I have some things that need done mid-day anyway. Now I’ll be able to go afterwards and fish as long as I want without worrying about being rushed. So, it’s all good.

Hopefully, I’ll find some more nightcrawlers between now and then. I’m going to go turn over my compost pile to help entice some worms to take up residence.

In the meantime, It should warm up to about a high of 74 today. The panfish like it much better when it’s warmer, and are very sluggish at cooler temps.

In other foraging news I did find some escaped cultivar grapes. They’re of the variety with two-forked tendrils. Native muscadines have non-forked tendrils. (Many thanks to Green Deane for the clarification between escaped and cultivated varieties.)

Here we have an overview of the vine, with it’s signature dual tendrils very visible.

Grape Escaped Cultivar

The next two pictures, we have are the raceme of growing fruit, which will eventually turn into buckshot sized little grapes.

Grape Escaped Cultivar Fruit 1

Grape Escaped Cultivar Fruit 2

Lastly we have a picture of the leaves. The leaves are great after they are boiled. I use them to wrap things such as rice dishes in. Just boil the leaves a few minutes, and when they turn an olive color, pull them out, wrap your favorite rice and meat dish in them. If the rice dish is pre-cooked, then you can serve immediately. This is what I like to do, as the leaves won’t dry out by being in the oven.

Grape Escaped Cultivar Leaf

I also found a fruiting but not-quite-ripe mulberry tree. I knew the mulberry tree was there, and went in that spot specifically to check on it. There were two, when I was there last, two years ago in 2011. Someone cut one down sometime between then and now. Not cool at all. This looks like a White Mulberry – Morus alba. The leaves underneath are glabrous -smooth- thus ruling out the Red Mulberry – Morus rubra, which has fuzz on the bottom of the leaves.

White Mulberry 1

Even though it’s called a ‘white’ mulberry, the fruit on these mulberries will be ripe when it’s black.

As always, I never pretend to be an ‘expert’ on Dead Latin, and learned (most of) my plants from my father growing up. So, if anyone sees that I ever have the wrong name or Latin label on something, by all means, speak up. We weren’t concerned with such things when I learned plants and foraging all those decades ago. Hence, we simply called these ‘Mulberries’, and knew they were safe and edible.

Also, mulberries easily hybridize. This could easily be a White/Red Mulberry hybrid combo with simply White Mulberry features.

White Mulberry 2

Either way the fruit is all equally edible. These will be sweet, with a hint of tart when ripe. I find them delicious to eat out of hand, and I baked a ‘sweet loaf’ with them a few years back that was just divine.

White Mulberries tend to be less sweet than Red or Black mulberries. (And therefore, probably better for those of us trying to go Primal/Paleo, where less sugar is typically a good thing.)

You can learn more about the differences of mulberries near you, here: http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/FNR/FNR_237.pdf

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