18 Reasons Not To Be Impatient About Your Garden

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Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

I LOVE this time of year.

I have my garden in…but nothing is up yet. In fact, the tomatoes, peppers, basil and zucchini are still seedlings growing inside, the temperature outside is not consistently warm enough. And of the things I have planted: lettuce, kale, peas, radishes, only the merest of sprouts have come up. But I am not sad or impatient. Here’s why:

The WILD garden is filled with bounty right now! While my garden edibles won’t be ready for at least a month for the earliest things, NATURE is providing me with hardy greens of a variety of flavors, a variety of veggie stalks, and gorgeous gourmet mushrooms! Here are some of the things I’ve been enjoying the past week from Nature’s Garden, which is full of glorious abundance:

  1. Stinging Nettles, Urtica dioica, they’re up and in my smoothies and soups!
  2. nettles

    nettles

  3. Japanese Knotweed Stalks, deliciously tart, great for steaming, juicing and nibbling as a trailside treat
  4. Deadnettles, flowering now, this gorgeous flower is going in the smoothies and stir fries
  5. deadnettles blooming in mid-winter

    deadnettles blooming in mid-winter

  6. Chickweed, love it in salad
  7. Garlic Mustard, flowering already! In salads and pesto
  8. Fiddleheads, use care not to overharvest this springtime delicacy!
  9. Ramps, again, please use care not to overharvest!
  10. ramps

    ramps

  11. Onion Grass, aka Wild Chives/Garlic/Onion, use as you would chives
  12. Burdock Leaf Stalks, boil, steam, stir fry or add to soup
  13. Burdock Roots, juice, use in coleslaw and sour kraut, or stir fry
  14. Dandelion Leaves, bitter yet delicious and great as a liver cleanse
  15. Dandelion Flowers - I have a batch of dandelion wine brewing!
  16. Dandelion Root, dry for tea or dry roast and use as a coffee substitute
  17. Mint, is popping up
  18. Asparagus - If you’ve found a patch of wild asparagus you are in luck right now!
  19. Hairy Bittercress, this was one of the first things up! Tastes a bit like radishes, adds bite to your salad
  20. Morel Mushrooms, depending on where you live these have been up for a week or two or just due to come up. Yum!
  21. morel mushroom

    morel mushroom

  22. Dryad Saddle Mushrooms, if you find these with/instead of morels you’re in for a treat! Young dryads saddles are delightfully delicious.
  23. Dryad's saddle

    Dryad's saddle

I mean, really, who could ask for more?

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Join Us Sunday For This Year’s First Wild Edible Walks!

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What: This season’s first two wild edibles walks!

When: Sunday, April 13, 2014, noon and 2 pm

Where: Frick Park Environmental Center, Beechwood Blvd

Cost: Free!!

Please join us on Sunday, April 13, 2014 when we will be leading two forty-five minute wild edibles walks, at noon and 2, at Frick Park’s annual Earth Day Celebration. There will be other free walks as well: mushroom walks, bird walks, animal signs, spider walks just to name a few! Arrive fifteen minutes early to sign up for the walks (20 person limit).

Spring is coming late this year but we will definitely find enough to talk about! Garlic mustard,  onion grass, deadnettle, dandelion, burdock…and we’ll keep a sharp eye out for early edible mushrooms: Dryads saddle and morels!

It will be great fun and I hope to see you there.

More information can be found at Frick Park’s Earth Day website.

Here is the entire list of walks…check them out, they look amazing!

See you Sunday!

~ Melissa Sokulski of Food Under Foot

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Heading Out West…With A New Field Guide

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On Friday we are taking Food Under Foot on a road trip…heading to Arizona!

After our long eastern winter here in Pittsburgh, I am excited to see some actual plants growing from the ground!

I am also excited about the desert…we will be heading through Colorado, Utah and Arizona, and I am less familiar with the wild plants in that area.

Because of my lack of familiarity with desert plants I was so happy to receive a copy of Guide To Wild Foods And Useful Plants by Christopher Nyerges today! The second revised and updated edition is due out in April, but I was privileged to get an advanced peek…and I am truly excited to have this gem in my possession for our trip!

I pulled the book out of the envelop and literally flipped it open to Prickly Pear…a great sign! This book is gorgeous, thorough and wonderful to read. It has excellent photographs to help with identification, and discusses everything from agave to chia, chickweed to manzanita, lambs quarters to nasturtium, horsetail to yucca. I know that is a lot of jumping around but I am excited by all the edibles included and I cannot wait to devour this book before we leave, and then keep it on hand as we trek across the country.

I hope you’ll follow along with us! I’ll be posting about our trip and the coming of spring we are expecting to see along the way. Maybe when we return to Pittsburgh in April we’ll find some spring here!

Onward foragers!

~ Melissa and the Folks at Food Under Foot

Note: this article contains affiliate links

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Top 5 Gourmet Wild Edibles and A Recipe for Palestine Soup

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Morel Mushrooms

Morel Mushrooms

Here on Food Under Foot, we celebrate the edible and medicinal qualities of wild plants and mushrooms, be they omnipresent dandelions, invasive Japanese Knotweed or hard-to-find morel mushrooms.

Some of these plants most people classify as weeds. Said columnist Doug Larson, “A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.

Some of these wild plants, including those omnipresent dandelion leaves, can be found at specialty grocery stores, with quite a nice price tag on them.

What are your favorite “gourmet” wild edibles? Maybe you live in the desert and Prickly Pear Cactus is your thing. Or morels from the woodland forests in Pennsylvania. Watercress growing from a stream is a good one…or how about bright yellow chanterelles? French chefs love those!

Here you’ll find an article with my list of my top five (well, seven…I added two more at the end.) It’s an article I wrote for Good Veg Magazine.

Is your list the same as mine? Different? Please let me know.

And don’t despair…one of these edibles is in season right now…in the middle of winter! In fact, Dave and I dug up 5 pounds of them the other day and had the most delicious Palestine Soup (recipe below) for lunch today! Did I give it away? You got it: Jerusalem Artichokes!

Sunchoke Tubers

Sunchoke Tubers

Recipe: Palestine Soup

And why, you may wonder, is this soup called “Palestine Soup”? According to infoplease.com, it is a case of a blunder begetting a blunder. You and I both know that Jerusalem artichoke is actually a native American plant, and the name came from the Spanish or Italian word for Sunflower: Girasol. The word Girasol sort of sounded like the word Jerusalem, and so this soup - made of Jerusalem Artichokes, is called Palestine Soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 - 7 tubers Jersalem Artichokes, washed well, peeled half-heartedly (don’t worry about getting all the peel off), and chopped
  • water or stock to cover vegetables
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, good if not using vegetable stock)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions

onions and sunchokes

onions and sunchokes

  1. Saute onion in olive oil.
  2. Add Jerusalem artichoke and continue to saute, adding some salt, to bring out flavors.
  3. Cover with water or stock and let simmer until sunchokes are soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Place in blender with cashews, nutritional yeast, sea salt and pepper. Whizz til smooth.
  5. Reheat and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

This soup is simple and delicious!!!

Enjoy!

~ Melissa

Top 5 Gourmet Wild Edibles page in GoodVeg Magazine

Also on Food Under Foot:

Jerusalem Artichokes

Sunchoke Latkes

And please make sure you sign up for our newsletter and receive the first five ebooks in our Wild Edibles Series completely free! (Green box top right: Join The Family!)

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“Cream” of Morel Mushroom Soup

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vegan "cream" of mushroom soup

vegan "cream" of mushroom soup

January is the coldest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Perhaps not coincidentally January is also National Soup Month!!!

So let’s see what wild edibles (dried or fresh from the tundra) we can scare up for some delicious soups this month.

dried morels harvested spring, 2013

dried morels harvested spring, 2013

Vegan “Cream” of Morel Mushroom Soup

Cashews and potatoes give this vegan soup its thick creamy texture.

Ingredients

  • dried morel mushrooms
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
  • 12 oz fresh mushrooms, can be button mushrooms
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots (optional because will give soup an orange color.)
  • 3 potatoes, cubed
  • 6 cups water, plus more boiling water to reconstitute morels
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Pour boiling water over dried morels to reconstitute and let soak for at least 20 minutes.
  2. While morels are soaking, saute 1/2 the onion, all the garlic, celery, half the fresh mushrooms and all the carrot in 1 Tbsp olive oil with salt in the bottom of soup pan.
  3. Once onion is translucent, add 6 cups water and potatoes, cover and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 15  minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and let soup cool a bit.
  5. Put soup, morel soak water, cashews and nutritional yeast into blender and blend well.
  6. Saute soaked morels, the rest of the onions and mushrooms in olive oil with salt in a frying pan.
  7. Return blended soup to soup pot, adding sauteed onions and mushrooms.
  8. Reheat and adding pepper and more salt as necessary to taste.
  9. As you reheat soup may thicken due to the cashews, so add water and adjust seasoning if needed.

Other  wild ideas for this recipe:

  1. if you have dried maitake/hen-of-the-woods mushroom around, then leave out the button mushrooms and add a handful of dried maitake when you add the potatoes. These will get blended to make a rich mushroom-tasting broth.
  2. You can substitute dried maitake (reconstituting them the way you reconstituted morels), or use frozen mushrooms like maitake or chicken mushroom.

Enjoy!!

~ Melissa


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    Questions Answers and Reviews

    General Posts
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    Hi!

    Thank you so much to everyone who who has bought my new book, Winter Foraging Wild Food Feasting. Winter is a surprisingly excellent time to forage wild foods! The kitchen craves being cooked in this time of year: what’s better than adding some dock leaves to stew or sheep sorrel to a salad? And I can’t get enough of the taste of Jerusalem Artichokes: delicious! Has anyone else tried the Sunchoke Latkes?

    Secondly, thank you so much for all the kind comments about the book! I really worked hard on it and I am so glad that so many of you are enjoying it! If you wouldn’t mind taking a second and sharing some of that love in a review on Amazon I would so greatly appreciate it! Which brings us to the first question:

    Q: Melissa, I bought a copy of your book from your website and I love it! But do I need to buy it again from Amazon to write you a review?

    A: First of all, thank you! You do NOT need to buy the book again, it is exactly the same book you already bought even though the cover and title have slightly changed. And also, no, you needn’t have bought it from Amazon to write a review of it on there. It would be awesome if you would write one, thanks so much!

    The second question is a slight variation on the first, but I have heard it a couple times so I will answer it here:

    Q: Hi! I bought your book in November and noticed this one go up on Kindle. Is it a different book?

    A: It is exactly the same book, though the title and cover have changed slightly. :-)

    Here is a (five-star) review you can find on Amazon I will share with you:

    I love this book! Ms. Sokulski draws you in with her warm and friendly writing style. I didn’t know there was so much foraging still to be done in the winter months. Ms. Sokulski brings it to you in a way that is simple with recipes that are not complicated. Simple, yet elegant dishes that could easily grace a holiday table await you in the pages of this lovely book. I want to make the pumpkin latte next and try some recipes with burdock. Enchanting!

    Thanks Jody!

    One more question:

    Q: I don’t have a kindle and would rather just download the book onto my computer. Is there a way to do that?

    A: Yes! You can still buy the book directly from our store at e-junkie. It is the same price as on Amazon . You will be able to download the book directly to your computer.

    Thanks so much friends!

    Happy New Year!!!

    ~ Melissa

    3dbookcover2The book can be found at Amazon here

    and on our own website here.

    Thanks!

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    5 Secrets for Successful Winter Foraging

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    An unusually chipper looking (for winter) burdock plant

    An unusually chipper looking (for winter) burdock plant

    Though winter seems barren, with these 5 secrets you will have a bounty of wild edibles in your basket in no time.

    1. Know What Is Out There

    One of the keys to foraging in the winter is knowing what plants are out and about in the winter weather…and there are more than you would think! Of course the red staghorn sumac berries are beacons on otherwise bare trees all winter long, but on the ground beneath our feet are some winter loving hardy plants which thrive in the cold and snow including chickweed, deadnettles, garlic mustard, onion grass, bittercress, dandelion, cleavers, clover greens, sorrel, and dock leaves.

    2. Know Where to Look

    Whether you live in the city, suburbs or country you’ll find one thing in common: edible weeds love people. Lawns, parks, lining trails in the woods: you’ll find abundant edibles in all these places.

    3. Take Advantage Of Warm Sunny Days

    It may be the very end of December in the Northeast, but if the sun is out chances are you’ll find a dandelion blooming, especially if the temperature makes it above 32 degrees (we call that a January thaw!) Dandelion, chickweed and deadnettles all bloom in the heart of winter, especially on those “warm” sunny days…so make sure you get out there if you see the sun shining!

    4. Use Dead Plants As A Clue For New Growth

    If you don’t find old burdock plants in the winter chances are they’ll find you…and you’ll be pulling the burrs off mittens, coats and dog fur. So keep your eyes open for them. You’ll also notice another thing: look down around those old dead burdock plants. You are sure to find leaves of the new plants all around. They are still small and tender at this point, and I am going to make some wild green crisps out of them one of these winter days…stay tuned because I will report back! (I’ve never eaten burdock leaves myself…the stems and roots yes and often, but not the leaves. But lately I’ve heard murmurings about them being edible and good, especially in winter. So of course I have to give it a try.

    5. Use Dead Plants As A Clue When Looking For Edible and Medicinal Roots

    Winter is a great time to harvest roots, especially when using the roots as medicine. During the winter all the energy of the plant returns to the roots. Japanese Knotweed, a very invasive species, is prized lately because of its possible use as prevention and treatment for Lyme’s Disease, and its high concentration of resveratrol, a substance beneficial to the brain and heart. The root is the the area of strongest concentration of these substances, and in winter the root’s energy is the strongest.

    Also, look for old dead Jerusalem artichokes flower stalks, and just below the surface you’ll find their delicious tubers. If the ground is not frozen sold you are in luck. A crow bar or strong metal spade will help break through the frozen surface to the buried treasure just below.

    And now for some super exciting news:

    Our ebook Winter Foraging Wild Food Feasting is now available on kindle!

    3dbookcoverwinterforagingFor more information about what is out there in the winter time (secret #1!), along with full color pictures of all the plants in winter, and over 60 delicious recipes, make sure you check out my new book: Winter Foraging Wild Food Feasting.

    The title and cover have slightly changed but the content is exactly the same so if you already have it you have it. If not, now is your chance to zoom on over to Amazon Kindle and pick up your very own copy today!

    And whether you bought it straight from us or you buy it on kindle, if the book was useful to you please let us know! We’d love to hear from you. Either comment below, send us a note by email (Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com) or write us a kind review on Amazon or Goodreads.

    Thank you, wonderful Food Under Foot family members who share so much with me - with at least as much enthusiasm as I share with you. It’s so much fun having a passion in common!

    Happy Foraging!

    ~ Melissa Sokulski

    Food Under Foot

    **Pick up Melissa’s new book, Winter Foraging Wild Food Feasting today on Kindle!

    ***If you have already bought the book and enjoyed it, please head on over to Amazon to leave a review.

    Thanks so much!!

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    Sunchoke Latkes

    Recipes
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    Sunchoke Latkes with Apple Sauce
    Sunchoke Latkes with Apple Sauce

    I have a new favorite wild food: Jerusalem Artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus), or Sunchokes!

    I know I say this every season, every time I get on a kick with a new wild edible. And I’m saying it again: I cannot get enough of Jerusalem Artichokes. I love their taste, I love their texture, I love them raw, I love how they cook up.

    Chanukah came (and went) early this year. Latkes (or potato pancakes) are the traditional food of the holiday, and we do have some latke recipes which incorporate wild foods on this website and in Winter Foraging Holiday Feasting, because chickweed and garlic mustard are great greens to find in the winter!

    Today I decided to make latkes without potatoes.  Though the ground was indeed frozen, we were able to break through and dig up some sunchoke tubers, a traditional native food which I used instead of potatoes.

    grated sunchoke tubers
    grated sunchoke tubers

    I grated the tubers and then grated 1/2 onion, mixed in some flour (my flour mix included black rice flour, which is why the potato pancakes came out darker than usual), an egg, salt and pepper. I sauteed the latkes in olive oil, celebrating the miracle of the oil lasting eight nights, which is why latkes are a Chanukah food!

    Latkes cooking up in olive oil to celebrate the Chanukah miracle (of the oil lasting 8 nights)
    Latkes cooking up in olive oil to celebrate the Chanukah miracle (of the oil lasting 8 nights)

    In my vitamix I whipped up some apple sauce (ingredient: apples) and there you have it: pure deliciousness.

    Sunchokes differ from potatoes in that sunchokes carbohydrate is mostly inulin, which is a blood-sugar stabilizing carbohydrate.

    So there you have it, latkes without potatoes, the way the Native Americans and pilgrims must have enjoyed their latkes on Chanukah (haha, not!)

    Ingredients

    • handful of sunchoke tubers, grated
    • 1/2 onion, grated
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1 egg
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • olive oil for cooking

    Directions

    • Mix grated sunchokes, grated onions, egg, flour and salt and pepper. If using non-wheat flour like rice flour (like I did) allow a minute or two for the flour to absorb extra liquid
    • Add 1 - 2 Tbsp olive oil to pan, to cover bottom. I do not deep fry my latkes.
    • Heat oil on medium until a drop of water sizzles on the surface.
    • drop pancake mix in 2 inch diameter thin circles
    • Allow to cook until bottom browns, about 6 - 8 minutes
    • Flip and cook on other side until browned, about 3 - 5 minutes
    • Remove to paper towels to absorb excess oil
    • Continue in batches, you may need to add more oil every couple batches.

    This only made 6 pancakes. If you have more tubers you can make more.

    sunchoke latkes with black rice flour

    Traditionally served with apple sauce and sour cream.

    Enjoy!

    Melissa

    3dbookcover2For more winter recipes, check out our newest book: Winter Foraging Wild Food Feasting, available now!

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