"There are four kinds of wisdom ... giving, kind speech, beneficial deeds, and cooperation."

Saturday, November 06, 2021


 So, this is not one of my photos; I grabbed it off a bulletin board where the rice cooker shown, an oldie, is being offered for $15. You may also find these at thrifts, along with other necessaries.

Let's do a thought experiment.

You've gone through some things. Now you occupy a small room, and you've run out of unemployment. You're getting by, throwing bundles of advertiser papers out of the back of a van in the wee hours (I've done that), or doing setup for conventions (that too). It's enough for rent but not groceries and certainly not enough for the neighborhood restaurant. You're shy about panhandling.

But you saw this coming. So you bought a used rice cooker with steam basket, a couple of small bowls and a steak knife and spoon (consider chopsticks), and a fifty pound bag of rice and some salt while you could. 

Maybe oatmeal, potatoes, beans (or lentils!). Now, that's foresight. But this will be about the rice.

Since you don't really have access to the kitchen, you scrounge some two-liter bottles, fill them with water at the bathroom sink, and make rice. To save on trying to scrub rice glue off your cooker liner (which often has a nasty teflon coating, easily introduced into the food) put water into the liner, water and rice in your bowl, and just lift the bowl out after cooking. I use a pair of pliers to grab a hot bowl in such a tight place. 

Maybe there are more than one of you, in which case, scale up.

Okay, that bowl of rice by itself, with maybe a Mason jar of tap water for beverage, is a little stark, I agree. You maybe can't go forever on that.

What now?

You head for the yard, an alley, a park, a vacant lot, maybe the weed pile at the local organic community gardens (see if you can volunteer there; that would help a lot). Much of what is tossed by such gardens can be utilized, such as the big side leaves of cabbage or kale, squash leaves, and bean and pea foliage.

Look for (in season -- and seasons can be longer than you think):


Cat's ears (false dandelion)



Sheep sorrel


Curly dock

Wild garlic (we call this "wild chives," which it's not, but looks like it).

Wood sorrel

Wild lettuce


Money plant

Lamb's quarters (most nutritious)


Mulberry leaves

Garlic mustard

Wild geraniums


Red clover

Maple flowers (Bigleaf maple -- that has a narrow window of opportunity here)

Fuchsia blossoms

Linden leaves


You may find blackberries, and one or more abandoned plum, pear, apple, Asian pear, fig, or other trees. 

 Also keep an eye out for things like sage, rosemary, thyme, wild fennel.

This list is for what you might find around my nearby urban area (I am rural for reasons). Adjust for your location.

Learn from someone experienced or study some of the better websites -- there are many.

We won't talk about mushrooms here, due to the risks of misidentification, but you may eventually branch out into things like meadow mushrooms or puffballs, which are relatively easy to find, identify, cut up, dry and store.

If you are able to score real vegs from your community garden volunteer work, you're sitting pretty. But the edible weeds and surplus fruits can take you a long way.

Now: put a couple of cups of water in your cooker liner, cut up some greens (and maybe fruit if any), put them in your steam basket, hit the "steam" button on your old cooker, wait awhile (you need not wait till the red light says it's done), open the cooker, add your cooked greens to the rice, and season to taste as able. Pour the excess water from the cooker liner into your other bowl, or cup, glass, tumbler, small Mason jar, whatever you have scrounged). 

You could do this simultaneously with the rice making, but I'm agin' it. The greens will overcook, and you will want your "used" steam water.

The rice bowl has your dinner waiting for you. The hot greenish veggie water in the other bowl is your tea.

If you want to get fancy and have the means, procure a small coffee maker. Do the greens in the coffee filter basket (no need for filters) at the same time as you make the rice. Move the cooked greens from the filter basket to the rice, then pour your "tea" (It's a tisane) from the carafe. Or make a tisane from the herbs you gathered and dried.

This routine will prevent some aspects of starvation and malnutrition for months, if necessary, while you are looking for a new source or sources for stable and sufficient income.

I know it worked for me. Good luck.



I'm nothing but patched rags -- I get it.
Food is so hard to come by in these times,
And weeds have hidden my house.
So? I watch the cold moon
And speak poems into the night.
-- Ryokan


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Stony Run Farm: Life on One Acre