The Best of Hunger and Thirst 2012

Just-born Rocky Mtn Boletus edulis (porcini) buttons

My friends, I hope the end of the year is treating you right, and that you are enjoying feasts and festivities and ample good cheer.  It is hard not to look in the rear view mirror at this time of year.  As you might have guessed, all of my best memories are from the mushroom-hunting season.  But there were a lot of other highlights last year.  In honor of the year 2012, I'm sharing some of the best posts from here on Hunger and Thirst.  Of course there are a lot of recipes made from wild foods, but I've also included advice regarding preserving, and a list of my favorite wildcrafted medicine.  Enjoy!


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Here is some practical advice on assessing and stocking your pantry, based upon years of my own experience.  I used to make myself nutso bananas with my preserving efforts, and end up a frustrated ball of nerves by the end of the summer.  Now, my pantry is better stocked, and with a wider variety of foods, all in a manageable way that doesn't make me explode with rage.



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A few years ago, one of the main ways that I preserved herbs and fruits was as syrups.  The problem with that was that I never wanted to actually eat syrups.  Then I discovered how to make shrubs, and it was as if my world had been turned upside down.  Shrubs are like syrups, only they have the extra element of vinegar added to the recipe.  Over time, the vinegar mellows and melds with the other ingredients to make something delightfully refreshing, both sweet and tangy.  Now I pass by making boring old one-dimensional syrups and instead make their zippier cousins. Here, I've shared my recipes for Elderflower-Rhubarb Shrub and Elderflower-Lychee Shrub.


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I've been collecting cattail pollen for a few years now.  Over time, I've refined my technique, and learned how to maximize the amount of pollen I can collect from cattail flowers.  In this post, I've shared some of what I've learned about harvesting cattail pollen, and hope to save you from learning it the hard way, like I did.



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Sometimes I can't for the life of me figure out why certain posts are popular.  I didn't think many people would be interested in this gelatin flavored with queen anne's lace.  But it remains one of the most viewed posts on Hunger and Thirst this year.  Even if you aren't interested in making a sparkling herb-flavored gelatin, this one is worth reading to learn the difference between queen anne's lace and poison hemlock.



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I'm not an herbalist, but over the years I've learned to make a few medicine cabinet staples out of local plants I see when I'm out foraging, some are even the very same plants I use as food.  Read this article about my Forager's First Aid Kit, and learn how to make the medicines I use for bumps and bruises, burns, colds and flu, and more.



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If you forage for fruit, it is a good idea to dry some of it, rather than taking up all of your pantry space with jars of jams and jellies.  Adults and kids alike adore fruit leather.  This year, I went off the deep end, and started getting a little wild with my grown-up fruit leather flavor combinations - from ditch plum/guajillo chile to apple/smoked paprika and beyond.



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These ain't yo grandma's snickerdoodles!  Juniper snickerdoodles are bright, light, and gin-tastically fragrant. 



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If you like your desserts to be rich, tangy, and complex, then you are probably in danger of eating these Goat Cheese Blondies in one sitting.  I've made them extra wild with the addition of foraged amaranth and black walnuts, but you could just as easily make them without.



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By my tastebuds' vote, Porcini Ramen is the tastiest thing I've made all year.  A bowl of steaming hot ramen, swimming in rich porcini broth, and topped with a soft-cooked egg is my idea of heaven.  I suspect I'm not the only one.



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My recipe for homemade Porcini Bouillon Cubes has, at this point, only been up for two weeks.  But it is already among the most viewed posts in the history of Hunger and Thirst.  I've got to admit that I'm really proud of this recipe.  I spent months developing it, and can tell you with certainty that porcini bouillon cubes make a terrific and intensely savory soup.



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Thank you for visiting Hunger and Thirst.  I look forward to sharing more foraging, feasting, and adventures with you in the year to come.  Here's to a wild 2012!

Comments

  1. I've read all of these, never miss a post. But my favorites were the fruit leather (I now put chilis in my fruit leather) and the bouillon cubes. Such a solid site, always excellent.

    Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by regularly. I sincerely appreciate it!

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  2. I missed the first aide kit. Glad to have been given a second chance there. Lots of good info. You really use these homemade medicines and they work? I want to try.

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    1. Oh yes, I have one knuckle that gets quite swollen and sore. One application of cottonwood salve, and ten minutes later, it will bend with ease and without pain. Amazing. Also, nobody in my family endures a cold without elder elixir. Use it early and often, and can often avoid a full-blown attack.

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  3. That's it! I'm going to try to collect cattail pollen!!!!!!!!

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  4. Great list. Tahnk you! Ready to go back and see them all. Happy new Year!

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  5. If I had put together this list, I would have included at least 4-5 entries that included your best writing. I'm most certain that I'm not the only one who comes here to read your beautiful words as much as for the foraging.

    Nonetheless, I really enjoyed these entries you've shared. Darn it, I want to make shrubs!!! LOL

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    1. Thank you, Teresa. That is very kind of you.

      Do make the shrubs. Make them of everything and anything you please, and enjoy them after the season, let them bring back the memories. Tasty tasty.

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  6. Good reads! Happy New Year to you.

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  7. Thanks for the list. I can't believe I missed some of these.

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  8. Wow - you did a lot this year!! I love the fruit leathers...you inspired a mushroom bacon. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

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