It’s time to start watching the ground when I walk.

And sometimes, the trees.

I have been interested in wild foods since I was a very young girl. It absolutely amazes me that I feel like I don’t know more about the subject, by now I’ve certainly had enough time to become an expert. True, a lot of the time I can look down and point out one or two things around me that I can eat or use for medicine, but I know exactly how much there is that I don’t know. There are so many commonly mentioned wild foods and medicines that I have never tried, even though I know they are all around me.

I know part of the problem is that when I pick up a book on the subject and begin reading, I become overwhelmed with information. And I won’t put a wild food in my mouth until I’ve read several sources about it. So, a couple of years ago I decided I would learn one or two plants a season. This means looking in detail at look-alikes, growth patters, and ways to prepare the plant for medicine, food, and other uses. So instead of learning a little about a lot of plants, I have started learning a lot about a one or two at a time. This has helped.

Know what’s helped even more? Drawing them. Okay, yeah, I already knew that would help. I’ve already sketched several plants in my life. But this blog? The feeling of an invisible audience (even when it’s a very tiny one on this brand new speck of a blog), that puts the pressure on to start churning out some quality material. Know what I just now learned how to identify for an upcoming page? Poison ivy. I should have learned that years ago, given the amount of time I’ve spent running about in wild to wildish places. I just kept away from funny looking vines and left it at that.

Now I’m focusing on something that I wanted to try years ago, but never did. Pine. I was too worried that I might not correctly identify an edible species and was unsure what the risks were, so instead of looking it up I just kept putting it off. But now, at the tail end of a way too long winter, I’m getting itchy for dandelion season to begin but it’s slow to start. I want something, anything, to forage. Well, pine is forageable all year long, so it’s time to figure it out.

I keep seeing Pascal┬áBaudar’s photos in the facebook group Wild Fermentation. He’s working on a book that uses a lot of wild foods and wild fermentation, ever since I’ve seen his photos of a pine/fir wild soda I’ve really been into the idea. Yet I don’t even know how to tell you the difference between pine and fir, or how a spruce or cedar might be different. I have no clue. How can I have been eating spring lawn greens every year without really “branching out”. Heh. Anyway, this urban chickie with a wild heart is going to start tackling more woodsy and less “park across the street” stuff soon.

Anyway, my dandelion page is finally up, and the grass is starting to look green. I’ve got more pages in progress, but more importantly I have a plan for this spring. If I can keep the mice and birds out of my indoor plants, I want to forage for seeds whenever I can. I’m thinking that in order for me to get to an area where I don’t have to worry about city pollution on my food, I have to ride my bike for several miles. In the meantime, if I gather seeds for microgreens (especially dandelions), I should have a relatively tiny amount of contaminants. I already sprout, so I’m hoping this year works well.

By the way, I had kefir ice cream after dinner. With cacao powder, orange zest, banana, allspice, and blackstrap molasses. My new ice cream maker is so cool. I’m also playing around with cheese molds and stumbling through developing a few new recipes.

Quick Safety Warning: Jelly Jar Glasses

Okay, so on this corner of the web we all prefer to buy things in packaging we can reuse, right? I’m going to say avoid this brand of jelly jar.

The bottom keeps falling off of my jelly jar.

This is the second time this has happened to me in just the last couple of months. I had two drinking glasses from this brand of jelly jar, and the bottom just fell right off. The first time I was doing the dishes, I think there was a mug involved, I’m not sure what happened, but the bottom became separated from the glass in a nice clean cut.

Last night, I was filling it with water. That’s all. I have no recollection of any banging against a counter or being dropped and put back in the cabinet. Both of these glasses are about a year old, I’m starting to think this brand may have something wrong in the design in the bottom where it doesn’t hold up very long, or if it’s knocked at just the right angle…

Thankfully I’ve already switched to something with a handle on it because the lids screw on and look more like I might be able to do a smoothie on the go or something with it.

Save the Ocean: Wear Natural Fibers

Synthetic fibers in your laundry may be polluting the water stream.

Personally, I’ve always thought I was doing a good thing in my clothing purchases, from both a social and an environmental perspective. I mean, when I was growing up and became aware of things like slave labor, or pollutants that were produced in the manufacturing of clothing, I kind of felt overwhelmed and at a loss on how to help. Was I supposed to research every clothing manufacturer on the face of the planet before purchasing their products? That seemed like an awful lot of work, and the cost of purchasing from companies that were demonstrated to be ethical is frequently financially out of my reach. Especially when I was a teenage girl clothes shopping on an allowance.

So, I came up with a solution. Instead of obsessing over where my clothes came from and keeping track of everyone I was supposed to boycott, I simply shopped at thrift stores. Besides getting a large amount of clothing for my money, I also didn’t have to worry about giving my “voting dollars” to sweat shops or unethical environmental practices. Instead, I was giving my money to a charity of my choice. Plus, I was reusing. Happy hippie all around.

So now I’m hearing that I need to be more careful about what I choose at those thrift stores. I never really worried about synthetics, as my reusing them was keeping them out of landfills and preventing more from being manufactured. Unfortunately, careful and ethical decision was still leaking plastic wastes into the ocean. So, I’ll be checking those labels for more than sizes from now on.

Thankfully, thrift stores do indeed have a surprising variety of natural fibers. I’ve found quite a selection of treasures, ranging from pure silk business shirts to cashmere knit cardigans. My current favorite is a knit silk tank top, in a nice light brown with pure silk yarn. It doesn’t fit, but I can’t wait to make it into a teddy bear, one of these days.

Ahh yes. I was going to take my change from household goods down there this month, to look for sheets to put under the birdie play areas and for some sewing projects. Thanks for reminding me :).

This is so much fun!

I installed cookbook software on my laptop (Living Cookbook) and I’m still kind of stranded on the couch with horrid lungs (I get out of breath even doing laundry… then again I do it by hand with a plunger-looking “agitator” and a bucket) so I just finished entering in my entire Pintrest collection of recipes and am going through my bookmarks. I just figured out how to add photos to each procedure, this means I can totally put in icing and decorating tutorials. I figured out yesterday I can drag and drop so I don’t have to save every photo for every recipe. Now I can put notes on the recipes I use and will finally be able to fine tune my own recipes without having to hunt down all my scraps of paper with notes from the last time. Everything will be so much easier!

I open the recipe in my browser, copy the url and paste into the source section, drag the photo to the image section, and copy the recipe text and paste onto a clipboard on the program. Then I highlight the different parts of the recipe (like the name, ingredients, procedure) and the program automatically lists, numbers, and sorts for me from there. I have a cookbook for internet finds and made a separate cookbook for my own kitchen experiments and family favorites. One of these days I’ll export the favorites to a file and print it off to hand to my son when he moves out.

In theory there’s an online community that comes with this thing, with lots of recipe sharing and a huge database with one-click downloads for it, but I’m not ready to really go there yet. Sounds like I won’t be buying many cookbooks anymore, unless they focus on mastering a skill or something obscure (like you will never convince me that the internet can substitute for any of Peter Reinhart’s bread books, but that generic Mexican food cookbook debate I’ve been having with myself, I’m thinking not so needed).

I know, I sound like a freaking advertisement, but I’m loving this thing. I hate having my recipes all over the place. Some on Pinterest, some in bookmarks from before I was on that, some in cookbooks, some in my handwritten notebooks. I probably won’t transcribe them all, but if I simply transcribe the ones I use it will still make it so much easier.

This thing has a glossary of cooking techniques, a monthly meal planner, links ingredients to nutritional information automatically, and if you’re even more detail oriented than I am, you can input your pantry to generate shopping lists. It has collaboration features to make cookbooks with other people, allows you to export to Microsoft Word for editing and publishing a cookbook, and a ton of other features that I just don’t think I’m quite ready for yet. Maybe the meal planning, maybe. Right now I’m just happy that my recipes will be searchable, I can flag them in different colors and resort by the colors, so if I’m browsing this makes it easy to click something to find quickly later.