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A Walk Through Frick Park

General Posts
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Getting ready for our walk this Sunday at Frick Park Earth Day, I decided to check out the area where the walk is scheduled.

This year Earth Day is in a NEW location, Lower Frick Parking Lot.

Sign in near the parking lot a half hour before the walk, and you will be directed to our walks which begin at Falls Ravine Trail at 1 pm and 3 pm.

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I saw lots of amazing plants and animals today walking around there…we are sure to have an amazing walk on Sunday. Hope to see you there!

Deadnettles, Lamium purpurea

Deadnettles, Lamium purpurea

Creeping Charlie/Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea

Creeping Charlie/Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea

Mayapple, Podophyllum

Mayapple, Podophyllum

Plantain, Plantago major - just coming up

Plantain, Plantago major - just coming up

Cleavers, Galium aparine

Cleavers, Galium aparine

Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara

Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara

Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica

Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica

Violet, Viola

Violet Leaves, Viola

Violet Flower, Viola

Violet Flower, Viola

Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata

Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata

Cutleaf Toothwort

Cutleaf Toothwort

Dutchman's Britches

Dutchman's Britches

Trout Lily

Trout Lily

Broad Leaf Dock

Broad Leaf Dock

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Burdock

Burdock

Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris

Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris

And many many more (edible) plants! It is going to be a great walk - plenty to discuss!!

And as if plant life isn’t abundant enough, check out  some of the animals we saw today:

Big Black Rat Snake

Big Black Rat Snake

Red Winged Blackbird

Red Winged Blackbird

Robins: the male's head is darker than his back, the female's head and back are the same.

Robins: the male's head is darker than his back, the female's head and back are the same.

There are all kinds of walks to choose from, on the hour from 12 to 4 (last walk at 3.) Our wild edibles walks are at 1 and 3.  Get there early to sign up! The full list of walks is here.  Our walks at 1 and 3  are called Wild Edibles Walk, there’s another wild walk at 12 and 2 called Foraged Flavors, which I’m sure will be lovely as well.

If you can’t make it this Sunday we will be going again in two weeks - on a two hour excursion through the park identifying wild edibles and looking for morels! Find out more about that walk here.

See you soon!

~ Melissa Sokulski

Food Under Foot

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April Walk Through Schenley Park

General Posts, Identification
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I took a little walk through the woods of Schenley Park today. Here’s what I saw:

Bunch of Garlic Mustard

Bunch of Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard Getting Ready to Bolt and Flower

Garlic Mustard Getting Ready to Bolt and Flower

Burdock

Burdock

Burdock with Ground Eroded Away, Exposing Taproot

Burdock with Ground Eroded Away, Exposing Taproot

Burdock with Taproot

Baby Burdock with Taproot

Dandelion Leaves

Dandelion Leaves

Flowering Dandelion

Flowering Dandelion

Japanese Knotweed Shoots

Japanese Knotweed Shoots

Row of Japanese Knotweed Shoots

Row of Japanese Knotweed Shoots

Motherwort (medicinal)

Motherwort (medicinal)

Forsythia (medicinal)

Forsythia (medicinal)

Broad Leaf Dock

Broad Leaf Dock

Tomorrow I’m going to Frick…I will bring my camera and let you know what I find!

Be sure to join us on our upcoming walks, scheduled for April 19 and May 3 (Morel Hunt + wild walk!)

For more pictures of April wild edibles, including nettles and chickweed, see my April Showers blog post.

Festive Foraging!

~ Melissa Sokulski

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Great Walks This Weekend!

CSF Newsletters
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We had wonderful walks this past Saturday and Sunday at Frick Park in Pittsburgh - thanks to everyone who attended!

Although we did not find morels, we found plenty of Dryad Saddle (also called Pheasant Back):

Dryad Saddle Mushroom, An Edible Polypore

Dryad Saddle Mushroom, An Edible Polypore

We also identified and discussed many wild edible and medicinal plants over the past two days including:

  • Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota
  • Mugwort, Artemesia vulgaris
  • Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca
  • Mulberry, Morus
  • Lamb’s Quarters, Chenopodium alba
  • Garlic Mustard, Alliaria pettiolata
  • Onion Grass
  • Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis
  • Violet, Viola
  • Chickweed, Stellaria media
  • Nettles, Urtica dioica
  • Deadnettles, Lamium purpurea
  • Cleavers, Galium aparine
  • Plantain, Plantago major
  • Burdock, Arctium lappa
  • Broad-leaf Dock, Rumex obtusifolius
  • Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum biflorum

chickweed

chickweed

We identified some poisonous plants:

  • Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  • Poison Ivy, Rhus radicans

We also discussed how to find and identify elm and tulip poplar trees (which helps in searching for morels.)

We are working on the dates for more 2014 walks and workshops…they will be posted soon.

Hope to see you!

~ Melissa and David Sokulski

Food Under Foot

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18 Reasons Not To Be Impatient About Your Garden

General Posts
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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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Yum-mazing Morel and Mashed Potato Muffins

Recipes
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Yum-mazing Morel and Mashed Potato Muffins

Yum-mazing Morel and Mashed Potato Muffins

As stipulated in the 5th annual Morel Recipe Challenge, this recipe had to be baked. And what better way to bake than with muffin tins?

These Morel Muffins came out AMAZING. I have never baked anything in muffin tins, not even muffins. We only have the tins around to sort buttons and mix paint. But after today I may actually use them for savory recipes! I’m definitely making these again!

Dried Morels from Marx Foods

Dried Morels from Marx Foods

I used the wonderful dried morels sent to me by Marx Foods. To reconstitute them I simply poured boiling water over them, covered the bowl with a dish and let stand about 20 minutes. I then used that morel soak water to cook the potatoes, so make sure to save it! (You could also cook the quinoa in it…just make sure to use it, yum!) You could also use fresh morels in this recipe.

4 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled/steamed in the morel soak water. Then mashed. Add extra water when cooking if necessary and mash the potatoes and the cook water together at the end. You will need 1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes for this recipe.

And I added garlic mustard because, well, it’s that time of year and I love using wild ingredients! But you can either omit this altogether or substitute arugula or chives. I picked some garlic mustard leaves, washed and dried them then chopped them very fine and small.

garlic mustard
garlic mustard

Yum-mazing Morel and Mashed Potato Muffins

An original gluten-free dairy-free vegetarian recipe by Melissa Sokulski for the 5th Annual Morel Recipe Challenge

You will need a muffin tin for this recipe.

  • 2 oz dried morels, reconstituted as above and chopped. You could also use one cup of chopped fresh morels.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (it will be about 1 cup chopped onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or butter, to saute morels, onions and garlic, plus a bit more to oil muffin tins
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (see above)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup flour, plus a bit more to flour muffin tins (I used a mix of almond meal and buckwheat flour to keep the recipe gluten free, but you can use whatever flour you like.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic mustard (you can also use arugula, or chives, or omit, see note above)
  • 1 Tbsp brown mustard
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg

Tip: I made this recipe gluten-free and dairy-free so my family could eat it. However, I KNOW it would be DIVINE with your favorite cheese grated and mixed into the batter!

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Oil muffin tin with olive oil and sprinkle with flour to make it easier to remove “muffins” after cooking.
  3. Reconstitute dried morels (if using dried) by covering dried morels with boiled water. Cover bowl and let sit at least 20 minutes, until mushrooms are soft and able to cut. SAVE soak water to cook potatoes or quinoa.
  4. Boil (in morel soak water) and mash potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Boil 1/2 cup quinoa in 1 cup water (or morel soak water) for 15 minutes until quinoa is soft and water has been absorbed.
  6. Saute chopped morels, onions, and garlic in olive oil (or butter) for at least 10 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Mix sauteed morel mixture with mashed potatoes, quinoa, and all other ingredients.
  8. Divide mixture evenly into the 12 muffin cups.
  9. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool at least 5 minutes to help it set and make the muffins easier to remove.

Enjoy!!!

Baked Morel Muffins

Baked Morel Muffins

Festive foraging,

~ Melissa Sokulski

Stay in touch! Make sure you sign up for our free newsletter (green box in the upper right margin.) Also, visit our sister blog at Birch Center for information on acupuncture, natural wellness and more great healthy recipes.

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Week 5 of Community Supported Foraging

CSF Newsletters, General Posts
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This week’s share:

  • morels
  • garlic mustard
  • red clover flowers and leaves (new this week!)
  • violet leaves and flowers (violet leaves are new!)
  • black locust flowers (new this week!)
  • apple mint (new this week!)
  • lemon balm
  • burdock stalks
  • nettles
  • chickweed

Blooming Black Locust Tree

Blooming Black Locust Tree

Yeeehaaa!  The sweet smell of flowers is in the air. You may have noticed the black locust trees in bloom - either by sight or smell. These delicious flowers are the only part of the tree that is edible. They smell magnificent and taste like honey. I enjoy them as a snack as is (raw) and added to a smoothie. One Food Under Foot follower emailed to tell me she enjoys them tempura style! My favorite fermented soda ever was made with black locust flowers! See newsletter 3 for info on making the ginger bug starter. Then pour boiling water over the locust flowers, add some sugar, when it cools to room temperature strain and add some of the ginger bug starter. Cover and let sit a couple days for a fizzy fermented healthy beverage.

Black Locust Flowers

Black Locust Flowers

Red Clover flowers and leaves are also new this week! I never realized how amazing red clover flowers smell until I had them all the table dividing them into shares this week. Wow - yum!

Dividing Red Clover Flowers into 9 Shares

Dividing Red Clover Flowers into 9 Shares

These are gorgeous large blooms! One thing you’ll notice about these flowers are the oval leaves underneath the flower in sets of three. There is a look-alike to clover (which is not yet blooming, but it will be soon) called Crown Vetch and you definitely do not want to eat it! Crown Vetch contains high amounts of nitro-compounds that can cause heart attacks. Not only is it unsafe for humans but for horses as well (ruminants such as cows can safely eat it). Crown Vetch was planted all along Pennsylvania highways and is extremely common and invasive. Vetch leaves are very different from clover, however. Clover leaves occur in sets of three, vetch leaves are in pairs: 15 to 25 pairs of oblong leaflets. The picture below shows white crown vetch, which could be mistaken for white clover, but there is also purple, which is similar in color to red clover.

White Crown Vetch (Poison)

White Crown Vetch (Poison)

Ideas for Red Clover include:

  • Raw in Salads
  • Saute in stir fry
  • tempura style!
  • pull petals out and add to cookie or pancake batter
  • smoothies (of course)
  • soup
  • dried - blossoms can be dried and used to make a tea which balances hormones (mainly women)
  • dried - blossoms can be dried and ground into flour (mix with regular flour in recipes…adds protein!)
  • fermented soda - see week 3 newsletter for information on making a ginger bug starter. Then add the starter to sweetened red clover tea to make a naturally fermented soda.

Violet Leaves are new also, though you have gotten the flowers before. This little mix is great in salads or smoothies. Violet leaves and flowers are both very high in vitamin C.

violet flowers and leaves - high in vitamin C

violet flowers and leaves - high in vitamin C

I believe apple mint is new to your share as well. Doesn’t it smell just like apples? Mmmmm. You can dry this mint to save and have later as tea, or make tea with it now or add to salads or dishes which call for mint. It’s great in smoothies! I love adding apple mint to smoothies almost as much as I love adding lemon balm (also in your share) along with other greens such as chickweed.

This may be the last week for morels! We have been out there looking high and low for you, every chance we get! Phew! Many people have reported this is a slow year for morels but we have done ok. Just multiply what you have gotten in your share ten times - not too bad! I hope you have enjoyed them! And who knows…maybe it’s been “slow” because they are not even fully out yet - it’s only the beginning of May! We will still be out there scoping the forests and hills for morels until at least mid-May, so hope is not lost for a banner amount in your share! *Remember to always cook wild mushrooms before eating!*

We found this awesome morel today...it is in the shares!

We found this awesome morel today...it is in the shares!

Some tips for this week’s share:

  • try using garlic mustard leaves in place of lettuce on sandwiches and burgers
  • if garlic mustard or any green gets wilty, soaking in ice water revives (thanks Rhonda!)
  • If you find yourself with too many greens, remember you can dry them or freeze them
  • a great way to save garlic mustard is turning it to pesto and freezing the pesto in ice cube trays
  • you don’t need to peel the burdock stalks if you cook them: just boil them and they will get soft and the bitterness goes away
  • remember to always cook wild mushrooms before eating!

Here are links to some recipes we’ve posted previously using things that are in your share. (All recipes are vegetarian and gluten-free!)

And remember you can search our blog (search box upper left) or  check back to previous newsletters for ideas.

Enjoy this week’s share!!

~ Melissa Sokulski

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Frick Park Walk

General Posts, Herb, Identification, Poisonous or Toxic, Raw, Tincture
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Our first walk of the year was so much fun! We had great weather and lots of enthusiastic people. We identified at least 12 wild edibles (including Dryad’s Saddle, an edible mushroom that everyone got to take home.) Unfortunately we didn’t find morels…but join us on Saturday for our Earth Day walks and who knows what we’ll find!

discussing wild edibles at a wild edibles walk in Frick Park

discussing wild edibles at a wild edibles walk in Frick Park

We found and discussed:

Dandelion

dandelion flowers

dandelion flowers

Plantain

Plantain

Plantain

Chickweed

close up of chickweed

close up of chickweed

Japanese knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Dryad’s Saddle

Dryad's Saddle

Dryad's Saddle

Purple Archangel (Purple deadnettle)

Lamium purpureum, purple deadnettle

Lamium purpureum, purple deadnettle

Violet

violet

violet

Broad Leaf Dock
Burdock

Burdock

Burdock

Nettles

stinging nettles

stinging nettles

Cleavers
Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

May Apple

We discussed making:

Our next walks are this Saturday at the Frick Park Environmental Center for their family-friendly, free, Earth Day Celebration! The festival is Saturday April 21, 2012  from 11:30 to 4, and we will lead two walks at 1 pm and 2 pm.

Hope to see you there!

~ Melissa

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CSF Week 1 Newsletter

CSF Newsletters, General Posts, Recipes
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Week 1's share. Absent from photo: cleavers.

Week 1's share. Absent from photo: cleavers.

Welcome to week 1 of the Community Supported Foraging!

I am posting the newsletter on the blog so that if you are following (or foraging) along you can read about the suggestions and recipes of what is current wild and available.

Also, we may be able to make more shares available at some point so this way you can follow along and see if you would like to join in.

We had a couple surprises in this week’s share: young dryad’s saddle mushroom, which turns out to be delicious when it is young and tender like the ones we found and creeping charlie or ground ivy, which we found in abundance at Wild Red’s Gardens, who have graciously offered to let us forage there.

I am so happy to be able to include edible wild mushrooms in this week’s share. To me that makes the share extra fun! An important note about wild mushrooms:

Dryad's saddle

Dryad's saddle

WILD MUSHROOMS MUST BE COOKED BEFORE EATEN!

in other words:

DO NOT EAT WILD MUSHROOMS RAW

or:

ALWAYS COOK WILD MUSHROOMS

Ella serving some dryad's saddle, sauteed in butter

Ella serving dryad's saddle, sauteed in butter

I recommend when first trying a new mushroom to simply saute it in butter, making sure you like the flavor, before adding it to a dish. Dryad’s saddle is tender and delicious this early in the season, but later it will get tough and bitter. I’d never enjoyed its taste until finding these young ones in the woods. At this stage, they rival morels. They are in fact known in some circles as “The morel hunter’s consolation prize.”

In this week’s share:

  • Dryad’s saddle mushroom(fresh)
  • dried reishi mushrooms
  • stinging nettles
  • broad dock leaves
  • cleavers
  • Japanese knotweed stalks
  • purple archangel (purple deadnettle)
  • violet flowers
  • onion grass
  • creeping charlie/ground ivy
  • garlic mustard

Read The Rest of This Post »

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