Ready for a new foraging cookbook? Acorns & Cattails: A Modern Foraging Cookbook of Forest, Farm & Field is a real wild foodie's treasure. I've been thumbing through it for a week or so and it's got me champing at the bit to try some new recipes. Rob Connoley, the author, is a James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef-Southwest--his book was born of a deep passion for making good food along with a lot of sweat and blood.
Learning about edible wild plants has allowed me to see the natural world from different, unique perspective. I love meeting new plants and I've always held a deep appreciation for their beauty, but the context of "usefulness" makes them so much more fascinating. It's exciting for me to discover that a plant I've known for years--Devil's walkingstick for instance--happens to be edible. It's like getting a more intimate glimpse of an old friend.
Foraging edible wildflowers is probably one of the more fun aspects of eating wild food and it's a great introduction, especially for kids. Flowers are a lot easier to see than wild greens so foraging them can be a simpler task. Some are sweet, some spicy, and some almost tasteless, but wild edible flowers are perfect for adding color to salads and other foods.
Warm March wind, flowering redbuds, and the greening of the lawn: all suggestions of spring. Finally! Early spring is when some of the most prolific, most accessible wild edibles make their first appearances of the year. It's when edible plants are at their tenderest and tastiest. And your own backyard might just be the most convenient and most productive place you'll find to forage this time of year. Here are a few of the more common edible weeds that are likely lurking in your yard and garden.
Drinks made from wild edibles: an awesome idea for a book! That's why we were so psyched to get our copy of Emily Han's new book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails: Handcrafted Squashes, Shrubs, Switchels, Tonics, and Infusions to Mix at Home.
Wild mushrooms + pasta + cheese = nirvana! Could food get any better??? I may be a bit biased since I'm a fungus freak. Mushrooms are the stars on this plate. We happened to have a wild oyster mushroom flush about the same time we had a good flush of inoculated shiitakes. The morels were dried.
Elderberry syrup is an old standby for the herbal apothecary. It's been prescribed for ages to help treat cold-weather maladies like cold and flu. Every year as summer is ending, Cindy whips up a batch to keep on hand as a remedy and an immune-boosting tonic. This is her own secret recipe--it's a supercharged version of classic elderberry syrup. We take a teaspoon three to five times a day if we have cold or flu symptoms and a teaspoon a day for regular maintenance. We skip a day here and there because echinacea is most effective when used intermittently.
This is a great recipe for using all of those extra chanterelles and pieces that may not be in the best condition - the dregs at the bottom of your foraging basket, the older ones that have been hanging out in the fridge, etc. They do need to be clean, though. Making chanterelle pâté is a nice way to feature the natural color and flavor of chanterelles. It's super rich, so it only takes a little. We eat it on crackers and bread and freeze what we don't use immediately.