Monday, April 30, 2012

They have been warned ...

Do not underestimate foraging. In our area there's thimbleberry, sorrel, Oregon grape, salmonberry, wild onions, morels, chanterelles, fiddleheads, chickory, lambs-quarters, miner's lettuce, dandelion, wild mustard and asparagus, along with wild plums and abandoned apple, pear, and walnut trees -- along with billions of blackberries. We catch the occasional trout to go with all this bounty as well, and are familiar with original Brunswick stew. Nutrias are next, if they keep raiding the potato bed.

Books or some good websites can help you establish what's good to forage in your area. Best is an experienced guide. Be careful, especially around mushrooms.

Friday, April 27, 2012


When not doing anything else, haunt used book stores and free boxes for old how-to manuals and garden guides. Google Books has it down and I know you love your Kindle, but there could come a time when neither is readable -- paper is your fall-back. Many guides from the Seventies, as John Michael Greer points out, are more robust than the stuff that's coming out these days, and they go for from cheap to free, like much of my farm library, shown here.

You like to print out and bind from online? Feel free -- here's a site you will love: Support them -- wonderful folks.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Maybe not ice cream

Consider growing all your own seasonings! We make ours by drying the side leaves of collards, kale, cabbage, spinach, turnip greens and the like with rosemary, marjoram, cilantro, oregano, chives and sage, then crumbling it all up, removing the stems, and air-blending or grinding in our Corona mill to the desired consistency. Use on and in everything -- breads, soups, souffles, quiche, pizza, green drinks, stews. Maybe not ice cream. ^_^

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The key is patience

Not a carpenter? Me neither! But the key is patience. Act like you have all the time in the world, and use freely or cheaply available freecycled materials so it won't matter if you goof, and you can always try again. In time you can furnish a home with attractive pieces of your own design.


Build a ventilated cold room in the basement or part of the coolest room in the house, or, better, if your water table permits, in a free-standing cellar. Load it with, to the extent possible, things you've grown yourself. If nothing bad ever happens, you've still got a terrific hobby.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

And then rest

A fun thing to try is aim for simplest. Eat in the garden. If you feel you should bring it in, do, but maybe prefer having right away over stored or refrigerated or preserved. What's good raw, have raw. If you need it cooked a bit, try a five minute steam. Not ready yet? Try ten. When mixing densities, add each to the steamer at the best time. Try seasoned with herbs from the same garden. Chase with filtered water in the same bowl. Wash your knife, chops, bowl, and steamer, and then rest. 

Sunday, April 01, 2012

On the cheap

Foraging, you get to eat without a) having to work (slave) for money which b) will be taxed, and then c) given to someone in exchange for food which has been d) farmed badly, e) processed to death and f) transported all over creation so it can be sold to you by g) the middleperson. The savings can be applied to getting out of debt and stocking up for resiliency, yes?

A small repost for you:

Pennies on the dollar

At this time every year, the big-leaf maples (acer macrophylum) will bud, and produce their flowers. Most people I've talked to don't seem to know this, but the pendulous, lime-green bracts can make an edible and nutritious meal. Good tasting, even, if you don't have it every day. I'd describe it as broccoli with a hint of wood smoke.

We have a fairly large one over the driveway, just in front of the garage, which shades our annual orgy of firewood-splitting, and for about a week -- maybe two -- I'll climb a ladder daily and collect a colander full.

I give the bracts a thorough immersive washing, as they attract a small black beetle-y insect that's not as tasty (don't ask).

Here I'm making up my lunches for the next work week.

At right, maple blossoms. At left, kale, leeks, elephant garlic greens, walking-onion greens, chard, and a broccoli leaf, all from around the winter garden. In the steamer there is short-grain whole rice, which takes about forty minutes.

I'll mix all but the rice with home-dried Amish Paste tomatoes, local tofu, and hard-boiled duck eggs (left over from the annual egg hunt).

We'll steam the diced-up stems of the alliums with the tofu and eggs, for about ten minutes, then add everything else, shredded, with three minutes to go, seasoned to taste.

Refrigerate separately from the rice, combining in a container some half-veg mix, half rice to go, each day. Refrigerate at work, zap for lunch. The rice seems to go yucky faster if pre-mixed, so that's why I wait to add it each morning. If I want my rice even fresher, I'll make half as much and make another batch come Wednesday.

The leftover steamer water goes into a pitcher to dole out for soups, breads, dressings, gravies, hot drinks, souffles, pancakes, and lattkes. If too much of this veg-water accumulates to keep well, I pour off some into the compost.

People tell me I'm not a very good cook, and it's true; I don't have much of a knack and seem to resist learning to do better. But I'm fascinated with low-to-no-cost cuisine and feel that we're possibly coming to a time when we may, most of us, need to know how to eat for pennies on the dollar.