- sustainable harvesting
- preparing as food and medicine
- medicine making
- oils and salves
One of Gandhi’s favorite foods was a weed: purslane! He urged his followers to learn about wild plants and eat the weeds that grow around them as a way of empowering the people. In honor of Gandhi and purslane, I created this delicious Indian spice inspired salad: Purslane Kachumber Salad. I’ve used a spice blend called “Chaat Masala,” which is available in Indian grocery stores and is largely dried mango, salt, cumin and other spices. If you don’t have access to this spice, you can substitute cumin, coriander and cardamon (amounts below) or leave the spices out entirely. This salad is delicious with just salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.
This is one of the recipes from the upcoming ebook, Raw and Wild, which you can preorder on our Indiegogo funding page. All the money will be used to make Food Under Foot as fantastic and user-friendly as possible! Just go to the funding page and choose the Raw and Wild ebook perk.
Thanks and enjoy!
Purslane Kachumber Salad
Whisk lemon juice and spices (if using) together, and add olive oil. Whisk until mixed well.
In separate bowl, mix purslane leaves and stems, tomatoes, cucumber and onion.
Top with dressing, add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well and enjoy!
And please consider the ebook, Raw and Wild, which can be chosen as a perk in our Indiegogo funding campaign. Thank you!
~ Melissa Sokulski
Food Under Foot’s Jason is truly amazing, to have worked out the huge crash and gotten the website up and going!
However, it is obvious we need an overhaul of the site, in order to keep this information available and free for all!
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our Indiegogo fundraising campaign, in which we are raising money to bring a better web experience to you! Thanks to Jason we aren’t in as dire straights anymore, but it is still running as a fundraising campaign, to keep Food Under Foot free and as good as it can be!
In the meantime, you may have noticed this amazing weed cropping up in your garden beds or through the cracks in sidewalks. It’s purslane (Portulaca oleracea), reportedly Gandhi’s favorite food! This amazing edible weed is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which is unusual for a green vegetable. Omega 3 fatty acids are also found in things like salmon and flax seeds. This is a delicious weed to eat raw or pickle (the stems can become quite thick and substantial.) I love to add it to tomato salad, and I will post a recipe for kachumber salad (an Indian salad of cucumber, tomatoes and onion – in honor of Gandhi) in the next few days. I was planning on making a video but, sadly, my camera decided to take a swim in Lake Ontario on a recent trip North.
Technical difficulties all around!
Thanks so much for all your support. Also, check out the great “perks” we are offering on Indiegogo – from handmade wild mugwort smudge sticks to new ebooks and wild walks, you may find something there you’ll want to snag before the campaign ends.
Thanks so much!
It’s berry season in the Northern hemisphere (at least in my little section of the northern hemisphere: the Mid-Atlantic). Here are three deliciously edible berries you can find out and about in the Pittsburgh area right now:
Mulberries! (Morus species.) But get out there soon, while these delicious sweet berries literally grow on trees, their season is just about over here.
Black Raspberries (Rubus occidentalis). These native berries are just cresting in abundance right now, but also may be a little on the “almost over” side of their season, so get out there!
Wine raspberries/Japanese wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius) are just getting ripe! You can identify these red berries by the amount of thorns on their twigs: so much the twigs look like they are covered with red fur! These berries grow on bushes like black raspberries, are deep red when ripe and so very delicious!
Wild blueberries (Vaccinium species) are also beginning to ripen now…berry season is truly upon us!
Food Under Foot
Wild grape leaves are a fun delicious ingredient to use. Wild grapes can often be found growing, well, everywhere. The actual grape is not yet ripe, but it is a perfect time to gather grape leaves. For a review of identification, check out Green Dean’s description on Eat The Weeds. One thing to double check is that grape leaves have jagged leaf edges, whereas the poisonous look-alike, moonseed leaves, have smooth leaf edges.
Grape leaves are delicious…you may know them from eating stuffed grape leaves or dolmas you find in Mediterranean markets and restaurants. You can look up recipes online…some are very simple, stuffing with rice, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt and some have more elaborate stuffing.
Here’s my favorite recipe. It’s simple and delicious. I use cooked rice to stuff the pre-cooked grape leaves. You can actually use raw rice in raw grape leaves, cover with water plus an inch, weight down and boil for 45 minutes to an hour. Then your grape leaves and rice will cook together. But this is how I do it:
Pan Fried Stuffed Grape Leaves
Boil the grape leaves until soft (about 5 minutes).
Cool in the water, then remove the stems.
Saute onions in olive oil with a bit of salt until translucent. Add cooked rice, pine nuts and mint and toss to mix. Turn off heat. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
* salt, olive oil and lemon juice seem to be the key to yummy grape leaves! *
** if you are going to boil the stuffed grape leaves instead of sauteing, you do not have to cook the rice or the grape leaves first. Stuff and roll grape leave and place in pot, cover with water plus an inch, place something on top of the grape leaves (like an overturned heat-resistant lid weighted down with a clean rock) and gently boil/simmer for 45 minutes.
Boil grape leaves: The green one on top is the wild grape leaf. The ones under are cultivated, they turned dull almost immediately while the wild grape leaves stayed vibrant green:
Lay the grape leaf out top down (underside with veins up):
Saute in olive oil for a few minutes, then flip to saute other side.
Drizzle with extra lemon juice and ENJOY!!!
Other ways to use grape leaves:
Join acupuncturist, herbalist, wild foods educator and founder of Food Under Foot Melissa Sokulski in exploring wild plants as food and medicine. We’ll learn to identify local plants, forage them and use them as food, explore Western botanical medicine as well as touching on Eastern traditions of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, and talk about the energetics of the plants we have growing at our feet.
The intensive will run one Saturday in July, then one Saturday and Sunday in August, September and October from 10 am to 4 pm. Each day will include some or all of these activities:
You won’t want to miss this amazing opportunity!
*Dates and topics are subject to change.
Saturday July 25, 2015:
Saturday August 22, 2015:
Sunday August 23, 2015:
Saturday September 26, 2015:
Sunday September 27, 2015:
Saturday October 24, 2015:
Sunday October 25, 2015:
**If you have to miss a day or a portion of a day, we can schedule a time to meet (in person, phone, Skype or Facetime) to go over anything you missed.**
Full Intensive: $600
If there is room, you can pick and choose days to attend, each a la carte day costing $125, or $250 per weekend.
Download Registration Form here:
**If you are coming from out of town, we are on the South Side of Pittsburgh, zip 15203. There are many great hotels, please let me know if you need the information.**
Summer/Fall is such a fun time to forage wild plants for food and medicine! We’ll likely find:
Fill out the registration form and send in your deposit to secure your spot today!
If you are looking for more specific instruction, you may want to consider doing a wild food and/or herbal apprenticeship/mentorship. Apprentices are taken on for a month of study at a time, and the program of study is created entirely by the apprentice! You will receive guided wild edibles/identification walks, and you will learn what you choose. If you want to focus on learning to cook with whole vegetarian foods and incorporate wild foods into your diet, that is what we’ll do. If you’d like a deeper understanding of herbal medicine, we will focus on that. If you are interested in energetics of local wild plants in terms of traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda, we will focus on that. If you want to hone your diagnosing and prescribing skills, we can work on that. If you want to learn how to make teas, tinctures, vinegars, oils or salves we’ll do that. A combination or all of the above? You tell me! We will schedule time to meet throughout the month to walk, forage, create and study. You will have access to me through email and text for those times we are not together. You will be welcome to attend all walks and workshops that occur during your apprenticeship month(s) for free, and for half price for the next year.
Apprenticeship is $800/month and up to half can be worked off by work study. Work study options include website work, formatting, editing, publishing, video and podcast editing, house and office cleaning, pet sitting among other things, we will discuss terms when you take on the apprenticeship.
Download Apprentice Registration/Application Here:
We hope you are enjoying your summer, and are excited to see you soon!
Melissa at Food Under Foot
Thanks so much to everyone who joined us for our May Morel Forage today! And my sincerest heartfelt apologies to those who tried to come out and got stuck in marathon traffic. (And congratulations to all the runners out there who ran the Pittsburgh marathon and half marathon!!)
We had an awesome day, everyone found morels (Morchella semilibera). We also found some very young tender Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus) which should also be very tasty!
The inside of the half-free, just like that of other true morels (black, gray and yellow) will be hollow:
The stalk of this morel is much more tender and delicate than that of the other morels (which can be tough and rubbery), and is great chopped up and sauteed along with the cap, making for quite a meaty meal.
We identified lots of other wild edibles on our way to the morels, including our first sighting of Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) of the year.
In addition to the Lambsquarters, Morels and Dryad’s Saddle, other edibles we saw and discussed included:
Thanks so much to everyone who came! Get out there and look for morels…they are just coming up in Western Pa! The yellow morels follow the half-free, so we should have at least 3 more weeks of happy hunting!
More local information about mushrooms can be found with the Western PA Mushroom Club. You can attend a monthly meeting or go on one of their weekly hikes…if you are interested in learning more about mushrooms this is a great place!
And make sure to do a thorough “tick check” when you come out of the woods…there seem to be an abundance of ticks this year!
Happy hunting, stay safe,
~ Melissa Sokulski
It’s almost Screen-Free Week and here in Western PA it couldn’t have come at a better time! It’s FINALLY getting warm, morels are just popping up, cheery dandelions are everywhere, and bird migration is getting into full swing – tons of songbirds are making their way back to and through the area! Here are Food Under Foot‘s outdoorsy, nature-oriented suggestions for keeping you so busy you won’t even miss your tv/computer/social media!
Here are sojme ideas for ways to spend your screen free week from Food Under Foot. It’s what we’ll be doing this week!
1. Go Camping
We absolutely LOVE camping here at Food Under Foot – especially during morel (and dryad’s saddle) season! Last year we stayed in a yurt at Keystone State Park, where in addition to roasting morels over the fire we watched an osprey catch a fish in the lake, watched a hawk catch its dinner on land (both birds of prey flew their catches up into a tree just feet from the yurt to eat!), saw lots of colorful migrating songbirds flitting around in the woods, watched the gazillions of frogs and even took a dip in the lake!
2. Forage for Mushrooms/Hike with a local mushroom group
It’s morel season! If you are not sure how to identify this mushroom, look into going on a hike with your local mushroom group. If you live in Western PA, you are lucky enough to have the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Group nearby, if you don’t, check the North American Mycological Association for a group near you.
3. Have an Afternoon Tea, with Dandelion Tea Cake
Dandelions are easy to come by this time of year! Pick lots of the flowers from an unsprayed area away from the roadside, and follow this recipe for delicious Dandelion Tea Cake.
4. Go for a Bike Ride
Bike trails are great ways to see the country side! Here in Pittsburgh we are lucky enough to have the Great Allegheny Passage Rails for Trails, which goes along rivers and cuts through woods and countrysides, weaving through bike towns. Bring your camera to photograph all the lovely native wildflowers, such as trillium, which are in bloom right now.
5. Go Birding
Bird migration is in full swing! Check out your local Audubon, they are likely having weekly bird walks these days! Or just grab some binoculars and a bird guide book and head out to the river or the woods (or the feeder in your yard!) If you don’t have a bird feeder in your yard, you can make one out of pinecones, peanut butter and seeds, or use an old milk container.
6. Nature Journaling
Foraging is fun, but sometimes I like to head out with a sketchbook and pencils or watercolors and capture my experience on paper. This is a great way to hone your observation and identification skills, and get to know plants, mushrooms and animals a lot better. You don’t have to be an artist, just brave and adventurous!
7. Write…about Nature
Write a handwritten letter to someone, write a story, write a journal entry and if you need a prompt: write about the nature you have been observing this week, and your experience of being screen-free.
8. Read a book with great nature writing.
Some of my favorite include:
Elizabeth Enright: Gone Away Lake, Return to Gone Away Lake, The Four Story Mistake, And Then There Were Five….well, just anything by Elizabeth Enright!
The Penderwicks in Spring, Jeanne Birdsall
Walden Pond, Thoreau
Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey
Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury
Red Tails in Love, Marie Winn
9. Cartoon Chronicle Your Experience of Screen Free Week
10. Go Foraging, of course!
Here are some things that are up right now where we are:
11. Make Dandelion Wine
Why not? There are plenty of dandelions out there. You can use our Dandelion Wine recipe. And while you’re at it, read Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. If you’re not into wine, you can try your hand at Dandelion Fritters, served with maple syrup.
These suggestions should keep you busy and happy and not even missing the tv or computer screen!
Have fun, and if you have other suggestions please post them below.
See you on the flip side!
~ Melissa Sokulski
Food Under Foot