Sunday, June 1, 2014

Foraging Sundays

Wendy and I have been learning and growing over the last few years.  I have bemoaned the fact on many occasions that progress is slow and finding time to go out and see what is happening is difficult.  So, we decided (well, I decided and Wendy agreed to tag along ... the girls have opted out) that we would eat only foraged foods every Sunday for the summer.

I don't normally like to participate in "challenges", but Wendy does.  She seems to thrive on them.  As such, she kept asking me about the "rules".  For me it was simple ... only foraged food, but she wanted to know about cooking fats, spices, drinks, etc.  So, here are the three rules we've agreed upon.

  1. Beverages are exempt.  This means that if we are drinking it, it does not have to be foraged.  So, we can have coffee, store bought teas, milk (only as a drink not added to food), etc.
  2. Dressings, spices, and cooking oils are exempt.
  3. Everything else must be foraged - food we grow does not satisfy this requirement.
Our initial intent was to begin last weekend, but we did not remember until half way through the afternoon. So, today we began.  While Wendy fixed breakfast for the girls and their sleepover friends, I took a stroll to gather a brunch salad.  I did not venture far and that which I gathered provided only a smallish salad for each of us.  It included dandelion leaves and flowers, common blue violet leaves and flowers, plantain leaves, dock leaves, jewelweed leaves, and  a few bits of wood sorrel.  I ate my salad dry ... no additional dressing. Wendy chose a lavender vinegar that she made last fall to top hers.  We both expected to be very hungry before dinner ... and we were.

Thankfully, our son-in-law had delivered some trout to our freezer a few weeks back.  We planned this for dinner.  For sides, we decided that we would have steamed stinging nettles and japanese knotweed.  We figured we might also add some more salad if need be.

By 17:00 or so, after a busy day, we were both very hungry.  Before I dashed off into the woods, Wendy pulled some frozen blackberries from the freezer.  I have never been so happy that we had put up food.  She drizzled a bit of maple syrup over the berries and handed me a spoonful.  Whoa!  I needed that.  Then, I was off into the woods for some nettles.

I picked a bit ... enough for us to have for dinner ... and then, I got distracted.  I noticed some bittersweet vines nearby.  I picked a few from the trees, initially thinking to protect the trees from the choking vines, but ....

After a few minutes, I found myself starting a vine basket.  This is my second attempt ever, but quickly found myself engrossed in the task.  Seeking more vines.  Weaving the ends.  It is only a small basket.

About 10 minutes into it, I heard some rustling in the dry leaves on the ground.  I turned to see a gray fox walking toward me.  It did not see me immediately and got to within 10 yards (meters) or so.  It was then that it came to an abrupt stop and swiveled its head in my direction ... panic was the only message in its posture.  I spoke reassuring words, which must have sounded like "blah, blah, blah, I am human and you'd better run", although I was trying to allay any fear it had of me.  As as quickly as it appeared, it turned and fled, my eyes following the arrow straight path.

At this point, I figured that I should go home so that we could cook dinner.  I must point out that I was no longer thinking of my hunger.  Upon my return, I lit the gas grill.  Wendy and I wrapped the fish in foil with butter and lemon balm leaves and put them on the grill.  Wendy them blanched the nettles and turned them into a wonderful soup ... butter, water, nettles, salt, pepper, and some chives.

When everything was ready, we sat at the table and feasted, rounding out the meal with more sweetened blackberries.

So ends our first Foraging Sunday.  While we do not expect others to follow suit, we are quite satisfied with this and are eager to see what the summer holds.  Be sure to check back next week to see how we did and, if you chose to play along, be sure to share your stories.

Thank you, Earth Mother, for the beasts and plants to sustain me.  Thank you, Great Spirit, for guiding my feet on the path to wisdom.  Thank you, Friends, for helping me to learn and grow and supporting me through both.

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