Meals lately have revolved around one theme - refreshment. Most of the last two months have been consumed by mushroom hunting. Though my love of mushrooming exceeds that of most every other activity, it's left me a tad worn out, a feeling that is intensified by returning home to the heat of the city. Nearing the end of summer, it's that time when even a forager is tempted to survive on cherry tomatoes and slices of cucumber alone. If I had the spare time and ice cream maker, I know I'd also make many of my meals entirely of elderflower buttermilk sherbet. Even without the ice cream maker and free time, I've managed to satisfy my craving for that collision of sourness and delicate elderflower cordial by making a lassi.

The story of how I came to eat salsify (Tragopogon spp.) buds is nearly identical to that of how I learned to eat burdock stalks. Like burdock, salsify is a plant best known for having an edible root. For years, I extracted spindly little salsify roots from our hard clay soil and was reluctant to admit that I didn't much enjoy them. It wasn't until rereading Sam Thayer's Nature's Garden that it clicked that all parts of salsify are edible so long as they are tender, and that the flower buds offer a nice bite of food that is no trouble to harvest.

Chanterelle mushrooms - exquisite to behold, ambosial on the tastebuds. When you are in possession of one of the most heavenly foods on the planet, the directive is clear, keep it simple. In the past, I've been guilty of ignoring this advice. Yep, I made a chanterelle cake. I'll tell you, though, these golden girls are officially my favorite food. I'm done messing around with them, doing things that mask or dull their flavor.

Over the years, I've cooked cattail flowers (Typha spp.) every which way. I've even made cattail flower ice cream. This season, one recipe stood out as my favorite, and I made it nearly every other day for as long as the crop would allow, cattail flower breakfast tacos.

Wild Food Girl jokes that whenever we ponder digging up burdock (Arctium spp.) roots, I hand the shovel to her. This is because I find digging burdock roots from our hard clay soil to be an unpleasant, if not nearly impossible task. Worse, the burdock roots harvested from here are not long and fat. They are gnarled and spindly. For the most part, I've given up burdock roots as a food not worth the effort. I realize I probably get bad forager points for saying that out loud.

I got inspired to make crème de violette by a friend who aspires to try one classic cocktail per week. While sitting on the bank of a ditch after foraging together, she told me about the Aviation, a cocktail that combines gin, maraschino liqueur, and lemon with crème de violette. At once, I knew that crème de violette would be my big violet recipe for season, and went home and started infusing violet petals in vodka.

Even though knotweed is a List A invasive species, and clearly has a presence in Colorado, I'd not worked with it before last year. You know how it goes with plants, you read about a particular plant all the time, but it isn't until you see it with your own eyes and learn to recognize its pattern that you start seeing it everywhere.

As a forager, I never look at food magazines or cookbooks for what they are. Instead, I see how the recipes contained in those publications can be transformed with my favorite wild foods. I don't see straightforward dishes. Rather, I envision ways to tweak almost every recipe so that it can use my beloved local wild foods. For the purpose of this post, I'll walk you through the process of reading recipes with the eyes of a forager using the April 2015 issue of Bon Appétit magazine and one of my favorite cookbooks, Bar Tartine.

I seem to have developed a pattern for the foraging off-season. Each winter, partly out of a deep love of cooking, and partly to satisfy the urge to interact with wild foods even when few are growing, there is a theme ingredient that I experiment with over and again. Two years ago, without a doubt, my winter cooking experiments consisted of all things porcini. Last year, I got good mileage from prickly pears. This year has been crowned the year of the acorn.

Here's what I've learned this year. Acorns aren't just good for making bread and sweets. They stand up well in all manner of savory dishes. I've had particularly good luck using acorns in place of some traditional corn recipes like tamales and arepas. The first time I tried to use acorn meal instead of corn for polenta, I wasn't certain it would work. Sure enough, though, it pulled together after a lot of stirring, just like any good polenta.