Small Bounties


This afternoon, on the way home from work, I performed what has become a weekly ritual of late - picking wild plants to fill the fridge ahead of the next snow storm.  Despite the tumultuous spring we've had, I was able to come home with the bounty pictured above.

The photograph shows wild onions, violets, dock leaves, nettles, cramp bark, and a pile of dandelion leaves. You'd think that given the appearance of the photo I was foraging in Eden.  The truth is that I'm foraging from spots that still look like this.



I also picked food out of my garden before the storm - tarragon, more dandelion leaves, lovage, monarda, and motherwort.



Looking at my harvest, you'd imagine my garden to be quite lush, right?  Here's the reality.


It just goes to show you what is possible, even in the time before the green takes hold.  The wild foods I harvested today will be combined with dry beans, tortillas, pickles, preserves, and some scraps of meat and cheese.  It will be more than enough food to get through this next snow storm, and the rebound time afterward.

Foraging is so much more a dance than it is a conquest.  As I've become more seasoned as a forager, I've learned to waltz through the seasons, balancing a number of variables - the weather, what's growing, which foods I truly enjoy, how much I can eat, how much I can preserve, and more.  In turn, I've gained an even greater appreciation for the plants, for the tenacity and spunk they show in this place that sits at a high altitude, with a short growing season, an arid climate, and weather extremes.

Comments

  1. Annie K (very domestic)April 21, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    ok wow. I will admit that seeing all of your pictures of green stuff on facebook made me think you had much more growing there. wow. and you still eat. nature provides.

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    1. Just trying to give some perspective. On one hand, I like the glamor shots, showing the food at its best. On the other hand, I don't want to paint an unrealistic picture for people who desire to forage. You don't need to live in a lush, humid, temperate climate to incorporate wild foods into your diet. And even though I'm harvesting from little spots of green, I can do so without harming the plant populations.

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  2. You know what I'm thinking? I want to know what you are going to cook with all of this. I think I'd end up putting it in an ommellette at best. I know you are more creative.

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    Replies
    1. A friend sent me a recipe from the Canal House with pureed white beans topped with dandelions sauteed with chorizo sausage. That will be happening soon.

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  3. That is impressive. I live in a place that is always green. I'd look at that ground and think that I'd look to the grocery story for dinner.

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    1. Very soon, this place will be lush and green. It will last for maybe a month. Then everything will burn and turn brown in the summer heat. There will be fruit and nuts in the fall. Then there will be winter again, pine needles and withered rose hips. And yet, I eat well.

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  4. I love these posts; it totally dispels the myths and shows the reality of these things (half our hills are already brown; so little rain this year!). Also, MOTHERWORT!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Always the dilemma for me, the tug between wanting to make these food look desirable, and showing that foraging isn't glamorous. I think that so much of people's concept of food these days is built upon an agricultural model - plant, wait, harvest big crop - that it's hard to imagine picking a handful of a few different foods to get through the next few days, or how pleasant that can be.

      I'm pretty sure the motherwort is from processing it on the bottom step that first year I found it!

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  5. So much from so little.

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