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 Baudar’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.