16 posts tagged with “foraging”

  • The Canadian Food Experience Project: Five garden weeds to put on your plate

    My garden is barely a postage stamp.

    Right now, it’s mostly a barren swath of soil, home to a clematis that keeps hitting the snooze button on the growing season and some early rising rhubarb that’s up but barely at ’em.

    I love it, though, for the gifts that it provides. Sure, I feel grateful when the herbs and vegetables I plant each year grow and thrive and reward me weeks and months later for what little effort I put into their upkeep.

    It’s the surprise gifts that I love more, though. The ones I don’t plant.

    The weeds.

    Yes, what other gardeners despise and work out the day’s frustrations by pulling, I take delight in letting grow. I don’t fret about these herbaceous squatters competing  with perennials who have seniority in my plot or annuals who lease prime real estate for a season. The reason is simple. Most of the weeds in my tiny plot are edible. They pack a health kick and more flavour than some of those invited guests we go to great lengths to make comfortable. I’m looking at you green leaf lettuce.

    Ever since the province imposed a cosmetic pesticide ban in 2008, lawns and gardens everywhere have become virtual salad bars. They’re filled with roots, leaves and blooms that had been all but banished from existence by those poison-carting tanker trucks  homeowners once hired to spray weeds into oblivion. And for that we should be grateful.

    Some food security advocates lobby for insect farming to feed the world. I say we should eat more weeds. They’re plentiful and effortless to grow, so why not take advantage of what’s on offer? Just forage for edible weeds where you know the ground isn’t contaminated (your backyard is a safe bet) and refer to a field guide to help you identify plants.

    Here are five common garden weeds that we should be putting on our plates instead of the compost heap:
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    Category In the Garden, In the Wild

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  • Peach Tree
  • Rose hip cordial reflections

    Rose Hip Cordial

    A good friend of mine once joked that she’d never worry about me going hungry should I ever find myself homeless.

    She was spurred on by my boasting of finding more wild purslane spreading over someone’s lawn or crawling out of a sidewalk crack. It’s no secret I love to forage and though I’m still learning a lot about wild edibles, I do love being able to go for a walk anywhere in this city and spotting something to eat that others pass over or write off as pesky weeds.

    Still, while the mean trails and sidewalks of St. Catharines might be no match for my stomach, homelessness is a fate that scares the hell out of me.

    I have the security of a regular pay cheque and a home that I own. I have a husband with a regular pay cheque, too. And family nearby if need be. But this week, I came face to face with dozens of people who aren’t so lucky.

    Long on my list of places to visit, San Francisco was our holiday destination this year. I have dreamed about seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, standing among the redwoods, riding a cable car and eating Rice-A-Roni, where it’s apparently a treat, since I was a child. And last week was finally my chance to do it all.
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    Category In the Wild, Recipes

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  • Peach Tree
  • 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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    Category In the Wild

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