Monday, May 25, 2015

Wild Food Fun








Garlic Mustard

Stinging Nettle


Mother Nature moves at her own pace, slowly and simply, accomplishing what needs to be done. There is no hustle or bustle, she doesn't know what busy means, there is just the present. We have been working over the years to slow our lives down to the pace of nature, to allow Mother Nature to guide us, wrapping us in her arms and leading the way. It has been a pleasant journey, one that has opened our eyes to so much beauty around us, beauty we might have missed if we weren't moving at the pace of nature.

The spring season is in full swing in our part of the world. Migrating birds are returning, some just stopping over for a week or two before they head further north, some coming to stay for the summer. Butterflies and bees are fluttering and buzzing about, flowers are blooming, and the days are getting longer. We spend most of our days outside, in the garden, and find our way to the forest, both close to home, and a little further away, every day.

At the moment the forests we visit are coming to life. Trees are bursting forth with new leaves, ferns have unfurled and are reaching to the sky, wild flowers are peeking out, and wild foods are everywhere, free for the taking. Over the last few weeks we have been harvesting a variety of wild foods, for both medicinal purposes, and for eating. Dandelion leaves have been harvested and added to salads and smoothies. Dandelion flowers have been made into dandelion jelly, as well as set to infuse in oil on my kitchen windowsill. Plantain is there too, on the windowsill, infusing in oil, and will soon become a healing ointment. Our yard, and home is filled with the intoxicating smell of lilacs, and last week as we picked some to bring in the house, we also put some aside for lilac blossom jelly. Coltsfoot is infusing in honey for a lovely coltsfoot honey, which will be be stored away for those winter coughs and sore throats. Ramp season is finished, but we enjoyed it as best we could, and managed to tuck away some ramp pesto in the freezer. We have moved into garlic mustard season, and this weekend batches of pesto were made, and stored away with the ramp pesto in the freezer. And the nettles, goodness so many nettles. We have been enjoying them daily in smoothies, in our eggs, on our pizza, in our soups, and today there are five trays of nettles dehydrating, ready to be added to the apothecary, to be used for nettle tea.

Our yearly rhythm has been closely entwined with the pace of Mother Nature, and as we move into the beginning of Mother Nature's bounty, I feel like we are truly in sync with her, and her cycles, witnessing and enjoying the finer details often missed by most. It is a blessing to notice her, to sink into her rhythm, and allow it to lead us.

38 comments:

  1. I'm ashamed to say I've never tried dandelion or nettles and I didn't even know lilac was edible. I'd love to learn more about wild food because I really want the children to be aware of the seasons rather than the supermarket everything all the time approach- do you have any books or other resources you'd recommend?

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    1. Awe Carie, no need to be ashamed, a lot of people haven't tried these things, and many don't know they are edible or medicinal. It is knowledge that has been put aside in favour of other things. The good news is there a small movement to bring it all back, and therefore making it accessible to everyone who is interested.

      Resources, hit the library or bookstore and find a wild food field guide for your area. It will have pictures, descriptions, and sometimes ideas for preparation. Also check your area for a wild food walk. A lot of people are hosting them now, and it gives you the opportunity to head into the woods with someone who is knowledgeable and experienced. And the ones I have attended always end with us taste testing all the goodness we found, or making infusions and tinctures.

      When you start, start with the easy things. Our foraging began with wild strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc years ago, and the more we did it the more interested we became in discovering what else was edible.

      One note of caution, some wild plants are dangerous, so always make sure you are 100% positive you have properly identified a plant before eating it :)

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    2. thanks Kim - I'm hoping some of the local wild parks might have something so I shall have a good hunt around!

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    3. No problem, always happy to share. I can almost guarantee they will, foraging is a big deal over there :) Have fun!

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  2. I think one of my greatest joys is walking my property and foraging for things to bring home. I have dandelion oil steeping in oil, and I made a few jars of dandelion root tea, but I've never made dandelion jelly....it's going on my list.
    Have the best day Kim!

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    1. It is wonderful, isn't it Tracey, to have all that goodness right at your fingertips. The dandelion jelly is delicious, almost like honey.

      Thanks Tracey, you too!

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  3. So beautiful said: slow our lives down to the pace of nature, to allow Mother Nature to guide us, wrapping us in her arms and leading the way. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. I'm in awe of all the good things you are making! I have never tried dandelions or nettles, my only experience is falling into a huge patch of stinging nettles when I was around 10. I've tried to stay away from them ever since then... ;-)

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    1. Well thank you Anke, that is sweet of you to say. Yeah, falling into a patch isn't much fun, but you should definitely give them another chance, just wear gloves and long sleeves when you are harvesting them :)

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  5. Such a beautiful post Kim. The pace of nature is a beautiful thing and as I hit my birthday month in June and as I get older I enjoy the slow pace and beauty found in it.

    On a side note I received your hand written note the other day. Thank you for sending it. I enjoyed reading it and I did not know you lived in Canada.

    Janet

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    1. Thank you Janet. It is funny how as we age, we tend to enjoy that slow pace of life a little more, eh?

      Sending you an early happy birthday. I am happy to hear you received the note, and yes, full Canadian here, and proud of it :)

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  6. I haven't tried either of those jellies but I bet they are good. I enjoy this time of year, the sting of winter weather is over mostly and the flowers just keep coming!! Oh and everything is GREEN.

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    1. Oh Karen, they are so good! We are thoroughly enjoying them. Isn't the green just stunning. We we were in the forest yesterday morning and between the trees, the ferns and the flowers, it was amazing!

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  7. Oh wow... all looks amazing, especially the lilac jelly. The only thing i've ever forage from the wild are berries and apples. So much to learn and do - and you my friend are such a great resource!!! Have a wonderful week Kim.

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    1. Thanks Erica. The lilac jelly is divine, just a slight hint of lilac, so smooth and sweet. Hey, we all have to start somewhere. I guarantee there are some wonderful foragers in your part of the world that do guided walks, you should check it out. They are always a good day, and you learn so much!

      Thank you, you too!

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  8. Gosh this is exactly what l needed to read this morning. Peacefulness and consciousness oozes from your words. Thank you friend xx

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    1. I am so happy my words touched you this morning Chrisy, that makes me smile. And thank you for those lovely words, they mean a lot coming from you. xo

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  9. It is so interesting to read about what you do with common plants, dare I say 'weeds'. I've still yet to try eating much beyond what I plant in the garden. But, the more I read, the more inspired, and motivated I become to branch out and really forage. For right now we are happy bringing in a few lilac and enjoying that wonderful smell of spring.

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    1. Hehe, they are weeds, and they are so good :) Enjoy those lilacs. Oh and if you decide to step into the foraging, be warned...it is addicting.

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  10. What does dandelion jelly taste like? Does it have that earthy flavor like the tea?

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    1. No earthy flavour, as you are using the flower, and not the root. It honestly tastes like honey. The lilac jelly is the same, but has the slightest hint of lilac...it is our favourite of the two.

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  11. Lilac blossom jelly sounds so delicious!

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  12. Both those jellies sound so good. We've got Harry's Aunt and Uncle staying with us at the moment and we're cooking dandelion leaves, to then mix with olive oil and lemon, it's one of their favourites but they have no dandelions in their London garden! It's hard to imagine a garden with no dandelions, we have plenty to share! Unfortunately none of us are keen on them, all ours go to the guinnea pig usually.

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    1. They are delicious Sally, although we are all partial to the lilac jelly, it is so good.

      I can't imagine a place without dandelions. They are lucky to be visiting you :) Hope they enjoy them.

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  13. It all looks so wonderful. I'm trying lilac jelly for the first time this year! Would you share your recipe? Also, I was wondering how late in the season you can pick nettles? I'm asking because I finally found a forest that has them but I don't see myself being able to go back for a little while.

    Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Yanic. It all tastes pretty good too :)

      Recipe for the lilac jelly, I just searched online. Basically, 2 cups of petals, no green bits at all, place in a mason jar and cover with 2.5 cups of boiling water. Let infuse overnight. Strain. Add the strained liquid to your pot with your pectin, bring to a boil, add sugar, and stir until it thickens. Ladle into sterilized jars, and water bath for 10 minutes. All of the recipes I found called for 4 cups of sugar, which is just too much for me. I used a low sugar pectin, and only 2 cups of sugar, and it was perfect. We can't imagine how sweet it would have been with 4 cups of sugar.

      Nettles should be harvested before they flower, which will be anytime now. Mine are just starting to bud, and should flower in the next few weeks, if not sooner. I am harvesting like crazy.

      Hope that helps.
      xo

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    2. Thank you so much, it does! And I agree... YIKES! So much sugar!

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    3. 4 jars of jelly made! I have a feeling I'll regret not making more but our lilacs went from glorous to shriveled in 2 days with the cold we got this passed week. Ah well, they will be a welcome treat. Thank you again.

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    4. That is awesome, enjoy!

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  14. so much great herbal remedy making! I love it!

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  15. There is so much I love about this post Kim...the slowing down, being in sync with nature, eating and preserving foraged foods and especially your apothecary! I'll be picking your brains on those infused oils...I do make elderberry tincture at home but I would love to learn more!
    Yesterday was my husbands birthday and we had cake with fresh lilac flowers and blueberries - it was delicious and so easy as I only had to step into the garden to get most of the ingredients :)

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    1. Thank you Em. Pick away my friend, I love talking about this stuff. Maybe we need to have a phone chat one of these days :)

      Happy birthday to your hubby. Goodness that cake sounds just divine, I bet it was well enjoyed.

      Sending you all much love and hugs from across the pond. xo

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  16. Lilac jelly - I've never heard of that - does it taste as good as the flowers smell?
    Love hearing how you use and store all those 'wild' foods.

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    1. It has the slightest hint of lilac, just the perfect amount as far as we are concerned.

      Thank you Emma, I so love the variety of wild foods available to us, and if I can find different ways of using them I am game!

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