All posts in category “In the Wild”

  • Serviceberry galette and insect-borne illness

    My previous boss was a good soul.

    Knowing how I eschewed grocery stores and occasionally found the makings of my meals in a nearby forest,  she would often send me links to stories about foraging adventures gone awry. You know, the ones about the poor schlep who decided to go mushroom hunting sans guide, using sketchy information to determine whether their find was edible, only to result in a tragic ending.

    We shared an office and if time and circumstance allowed, sometimes she’d spare me the trouble of opening another one of her emails and just read the news story to me instead.

    “Tell me you won’t eat a mushroom unless you know for sure it’s not poisonous,” she’d press me afterward.

    If I came down with a stomach illness, she’d grill me about what I’d eaten and whether I bought it or found it growing along a pathway somewhere in the city.

    We’d laugh about it and I’d promise her I’d never be a candidate for a Darwin Award, knowing everything she did came from a place of concern.

    Still, I was certain I wouldn’t get sick from foraging. I never put anything in my mouth that I don’t recognize with certainty.

    And that rule of thumb has worked for me so far. But eating a bad mushroom, leaf or tap root is clearly the least of my concerns.
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    Category In the Wild, Recipes

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  • Peach Tree
  • A spring foraging primer

    It pains me to admit this, but I experienced my first foraging casualty this week.

    No, I didn’t feed my husband — or anyone else — a bad mushroom or toxic leaf. Instead, I killed my mini-food processor.

    I watched as it and some garlic mustard roots got their roles reversed and instead of the sharp, high-speed blades pulverizing the weed’s tap roots, those tough bastards broke my blade to bits.

    I unceremoniously tossed the processor — one of my first kitchen appliances, donated to me by my mother eons ago because I couldn’t afford, nor had the room for, a proper, large processor. It was a bitter good-bye made even worse by the fact that I had now wasted the evening harvesting, scrubbing and peeling the pointy roots and their tentacle-like offshoots only to have to chuck my handiwork and, well, my entire evening on the compost heap.

    And I had so been looking forward to the results, hot like horseradish with a garlicky kick, much like I’d sampled at a foraging workshop just two weeks ago.

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  • Peach Tree
  • Of wild violet jelly and career-limiting moves

    My boss bought me a chocolate chip cookie yesterday.

    A kind gesture, yes, but don’t be fooled into thinking there was anything altruistic about this. I’m certain this was a pity cookie.

    You see, my boss has taken to teasing me about my dining habits of late. I often tell him that he could pick an entire meal’s worth of food on his way home from the office, given he traipses through a forest that’s akin to a wild produce section.

    There’s garlic mustard, burdock, wild garlic, ramps, mayapples and plenty of dandelions.

    He laughs when I tell him this. Pokes fun at me because that’s where I stock up on the makings of pesto, jelly, frittata and stir-fries. Inquires about the welfare of my husband and whether he’s still alive or has wasted away on weeds. I’m certain he thinks I come home from work and put myself out to pasture in my backyard, grazing the night away like a cow.

    In fact, he has not-so-subtly hinted that’s what he thinks when he said my name and “out to pasture” in the same sentence recently. I’m fairly confident he wasn’t talking about my career.

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  • Peach Tree
  • A Sappy Tale: All in favour of waffling

    Our syrup harvest with the silver maple that produced it, each colour representing a different point
     in the harvest and how long the sap was boiled.  The darker the syrup, the later the harvest, though
    the jar that’s second from the right wasn’t boiled as long as the one next to it.

    I never really got the waffle.

    Other than munching a toasted Eggo in all its cardboard-like glory on the drive into work on days when my love affair with my pillow prevented me from eating a proper breakfast, I never really got why people would want to eat them unless for a perfunctory bite to start the day.

    At breakfast spots, I’d hardly notice them on the menu, skimming over the strawberry-topped, crispy grids to get to the good parts. The pancakes.

    Yes, in a battle between breakfasts made of batter, I choose pancakes.

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    Category In the Wild, Uncategorized

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