Bear grease is a wonderful thing. Anyone who knows me knows my enthusiasm for evangelizing this all natural, all free product. In Camp Cookery, Horace Kephart says, "All of the caul fat [of a bear] should be saved for rendering into bear's oil, which is much better and wholesomer than lard." Made right, it has almost no flavor.
Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) is an evergreen shrub native to the southeastern U.S. Yaupon holly produces small white flowers in the spring followed by red berries on female plants that remain through fall. Its small dark green ovate to elliptical leaves are scalloped and occur alternately on the stem. Ilex vomitoria may reach heights of up to 25 or 30 feet. The leaves contain more caffeine by weight than both coffee beans and green tea and it has the highest caffeine content of any plant native to North America. Yaupon holly is also high in antioxidants and less bitter than green tea. It's a close cousin of the South American yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis) and its tea is similar in flavor and quality.
Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), or sunchoke, is a wild sunflower native to the central United States. Sunchokes grow up to 12 feet tall. Leaves may be up to three inches wide and eight inches long, while the yellow flowers, occurring in August and September, are generally between one and a half and three inches in diameter. The tubers of jerusalem artichoke have been used as food by Native Americans since before the arrival of Europeans. They have been planted throughout much of the U.S. and Europe and are generally considered invasive.
Plantain, (genus Plantago), is a common weed that originated in Europe but has naturalized throughout the U.S. Common plantain (Plantago major) has rounded leaves, while English plantain, or Narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata) has elongated lance-shaped leaves. Plantain has a vast history of medicinal use and has long been considered an important herb. Emerging in early spring, it may be harvested and used until freezing weather kills it.
I won't lie. You aren't gonna win any favor serving these at your stuffy cocktail party.This is something you share with your best friends - the ones who won't lie to your face and tell you that your dirt-like decoction is to die for. They're the ones who would as likely say, "Ew, this is gross... let's go get some beers." Don't get me wrong... it's not unpalatable. It's not even gross if you're accustomed to earthy herbal tea.
Fresh stinging nettle is one of our most nutritious wild foods and makes a great cooked green, and it's also a perfect addition to fresh hand-made pasta. Since it keeps its bright green color after cooking, it makes a beautiful and healthful pasta.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of our most nutritious wild food plants. Originally from Europe, stinging nettle has naturalized throughout most of the United States. The stinging hairs that cover its leaves and stems impart a painful sting and rash that can last hours or days. Stinging nettle grows 2 to 4 feet tall and has opposite, toothed leaves that can be several inches long. There are several kinds of nettle including wood nettle (Laportea canadensis), which is native to the U.S. and has fewer stinging hairs. All nettles are edible.
One of the best ways to eat ramps is with cheese and I believe this may be one of the best ramp and cheese recipes I've eaten. It's usually the first thing we eat after we dig ramps and it's something I look forward to all year. Ramps and white cheddar soup is fairly easy to make, doesn't require a lot of ramps and makes use of both bulbs and greens.