I've spent the last two months pouring over pear recipes, trying to decide how best to preserve the crop. You see, two out of the last three years, there's been no fruit to harvest in autumn thanks to our erratic spring weather. I always think that I don't much care for fruit until we go a year without. This year, I could see early on that we would have a decent amount of both apples and pears. Fearful of going another year without fruit, I knew that I'd put up as much as time would allow. But how? Especially given that sweet sauces, jams, and jellies languish on my pantry shelf because I'm missing a sweet tooth. I briefly tinkered with the idea of doing a juniper-spiked pear sauce to serve with meat. It was so-so, but I wouldn't want to preserve more than a few half pints that way. I scoured the internet for delicious-sounding recipes like Mrs. Wheelbarrow's caramelized pear jam. Weeks and weeks passed, and I tired myself out from running around in circles in my head.
1

A few months ago, I watched a fellow forager make a post about milkweed on Facebook. All they intended to say was that they had picked and enjoyed some for lunch. But the post was preceded by an elaborate explanation of all the care they'd taken to harvest sustainably. I had to laugh to myself because I understood well that without doing so, there would be a least one furious comment or email about how having a single meal of milkweed would spell the end of monarch butterflies. I've gotten those comments and emails, too. I'm guessing most people who speak of eating milkweed have faced the same, no matter how careful their harvest practices.
2

I created the menu for my July workshop around the theme of a taco party. Creating agua fresca out of wild ingredients seemed like a natural fit, and they were particularly welcome on that 100˚ day. For the class, I made three varieties - rose/cherry, linden/pineapple, and pineapple weed/coconut water.
2

I've gotten out of the habit of posting here regularly. It's not because I'm no longer foraging or cooking with wild foods. On the contrary, I'm more consumed by these topics than ever. Part of the problem is that when a plant comes out, I want to make my old standbys recipes. Purslane just got big enough to eat, and the first thing I want to make with it is purslane potato salad because I've been craving and eating it for years. The other part of the equation is that I only want to post recipes here these days if they are truly something to get excited about, the kind of dish that I want to eat every single day until the season runs out.
2

Dock (Rumex crispus) is almost always the first plant up here in great enough quantities to more than nibble. This year was no exception. In fact, I wandered into a particularly fine patch of dock while looking for cottonwood buds, and have been harvesting that spot with delight for nearly two weeks. I have a theory that shady spots are best for picking dock, especially this time of year. Shade both keeps the dock from getting too tough, and keeps the bugs too cold to nibble it.
1

The idea for making acorn sticky toffee pudding has been floating around in my head for years. This fall, I finally set to work testing the recipe. This turned out to be quite challenging, as the traditional sticky toffee pudding desserts I tried were fiddly, requiring multiple steps and individual ramekins and water baths. All this made for a big complicated mess when trying to also substitute in acorn flour for regular flour. Five separate tries came out too dry and hard.
1

Dock crackers are a recipe I've been monkeying with for years. In the beginning, every batch I made was capable of breaking teeth. Last year, I went through a phase where they were always crumbly. At last, I've settled upon a recipe that strikes the right balance of being strong enough to dip or be swiped with cheese, with just the right amount of crispy crunch.

It turns out that popping tiny wild amaranth seeds (Amaranthus spp.) is not as simple as throwing them into a pan and treating them like popcorn. The general principle is the same. Without more specific guidelines, however, I can assure you of failure.
3

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.
2

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.
2
Loading