Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The rains are falling...and things are a-growin!  I have noticed lots of Erodium starting to poke well as miners lettuce.  A couple of my favorite greens.  I love the Erodium cooked up in an omelette.  It is very spinach-like.  I also drink lots of Miners lettuce smoothies. 

I've sampled various species of Geranium.  The texture seems to be a lot more palatable when it is young.  It can have a peppery kind of taste.

I have also been having a great time finding various mushrooms and figuring out what they are from ID books.  After 100%...beyond a doubt...I would testify in court...ID'ing of a species of "milk cap"...I took a small bite of it as outlined in Mushrooms Demystified.  If it is "acrid" (peppery)...then it should not be consumed.  IT WAS!  Boy...I had to wash my mouth out.  Almost like eating a hot pepper.  One of the things that is really blowing my mind with regards to mushrooms is the rainbow of flavors that are found in mushrooms.  They don't all taste like the bland button mushrooms from the store!  Flavors of lemon...licorice...maple hots...etc...can be found in mushrooms!  As well as all sorts of flavors that are uniquely theirs.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A note regarding mushrooms...

Tell people that you are eating wild mushrooms...and expect to have people afraid for your life!  Kind of like telling people you just bought a new motorcycle!  Few things strike fear into peoples hearts as much as wild mushroom eating.  While many cultures the world over have enjoyed mushrooms for eons...public opinion in the united states has generally turned against the practice.

I can hear them saying..."Pick the wrong one...and you will die!"...

So true!  That is why wild mushroom consumption is not for the careless.  Misidentify...and you could could jack up your liver...or make you see strange new worlds...etc.  That is why proper identification is of paramount importance!

"But I've heard of experts that pick wrong and die!"...

I'm sure it has happened.  Even the "experts" can make mistakes.  Thankfully...those kind of mistakes are the ones that have added to our knowledge regarding what can and can't be eaten...and it gets put into the next book.

It is interesting to note that of the 1000's of mushrooms in the US...David Arora who wrote "Mushrooms Demystified" states that only 5 or 6 are the kind that will drop dead kill you.  Alexander Schwab who wrote "Mushrooming Without Fear" adds to that point by saying that those mushrooms all have gills.  This knowledge can help to curb the fear associated with wild mushroom consumption.

So why do "experts" die?  Well...more than likely because they venture off into consuming varieties that are not as easily recognized.  For example...eating the "Springtime Amanita" purported to be one of the most tasty mushrooms...which bears a striking resemblance to the "Destroying Angel" which is one of the the worlds most deadly mushrooms.

Now...can you tell the difference between an elephant and a zebra?  How about a carrot and a radish?  A  Golden Retriever and a Chihuahua?  While there are mushrooms that look very similar...many of the best ones to eat have...have easily recognizable features...that with some patience and can comfortably harvest them and eat without fear.

So why go through the trouble to harvest wild mushrooms?

Here are a few reasons...

1.  Most people generally think of "mushrooms" as only the flavor of the button mushrooms they can get at the store.  In reality they come in all kinds of flavors!  As well as textures.  It is because of this that many of these mushrooms are served at the fancy expensive restaurants.

2.  It is fun to look for them.  It's like a treasure hunt that gets you out experiencing nature.  It gets you to slow down and really look.

3.  Wild mushrooms do actually have valuable nutritional value.  I had long believed otherwise until I read reports of varieties having more potassium than bananas...trace minerals...and other good stuff.  They also can have medicinal value.

If you are interested in getting into harvesting wild mushrooms I would suggest a few things.

1.  Check out a bunch of books from the library on the topic and learn.  If you find you are serious about will want to have some of those books as a part of your collection to take with you to help ID the specimens you find.

2.  Approach it with complete caution!  Don't eat anything!  Just learn for a while.

3.  Go out with mycologists that can teach you!  Here is an event coming up in my neck of the woods that I will be attending.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shaggy Mane..Coprinus comatus

Haven't been posting a lot lately.  Not that I haven't been foraging...just I haven't had a lot of extra time to write about it!  Perhaps you can identify.
One of the most reoccurring questions that people ask who are interested in foraging is "How do I know what is in season?"

While some books do in fact have lists of what to expect and when...a lot of knowing what to look for comes with practice over many seasons.  It also is very helpful to get to know one area really well as you can remember where something grew the season before and watch for it to poke up and follow it through its life cycle to see what it looks like at every stage of its development.  

It is helpful to have people that are local to you that forage...let you know what they are gathering!

As I don't have a lot of time presently to write in depth articles...I plan on just giving blurbs about the things I harvest so that people will know that the same may also be available in their area.  I'm in Northern California...but others may have similar conditions based on climate...elevation...etc. I harvested Shaggy Mane mushrooms from my sisters backyard!  I was helping her move and spotted them by a willow tree along a barked border.  I cut them close to the ground with my pocketknife that I always keep in my pocket then put them into a damp cardboard box that was sitting out in the rain.

I do not consider myself very knowledgeable about the world of mushrooms...but the Shaggy Mane is one of a handful of mushrooms I am not afraid to harvest and eat.  I hope over time to become more proficient ID'ing other mushrooms.

By the time I got home (6 or 7 hours later!) they were visibly starting to get inky.  I rinsed them off.  There was a little dirt and some ants that seemed t find the mushroom desirable.  I cut off the inky parts and then sauteed them in a small pat of butter.  Guess what it tasted like!  A mushroom!  Perhaps my taste buds aren't that educated...and I'd be taken to task for by a mycologist for not being able to describe its distinct taste...but was good!...and free!  and it didn't have any of the garbage chemicals that I have heard are sprayed on the button type available at the store.

There is a lot on the internet about these mushrooms.  Poke around and you can learn plenty to help you be confident with the ID.  Happy mushrooming!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Palm Hearts...

I had a palm tree that was planted way too close to the side of our pool.  It started to crack the side and the tiles started popping off.  Though pretty...and a great accent to the look of the was time for it to come down.  Using my trusty pole trimmer I first took off all of the palm fronds...and then a chainsaw did the rest of the work.

The palm that I took down is what is called the Washingtonia filifera or California Fan Palm.  With all of the variety of palms one can currently see throughout might think that they have always been here...but it turns out that the CA Fan Palm is the only one that is native to the west.  Check out the two links for ID info and other facts.

Generally when the California Fan Palm is discussed in foraging or ethnobotanical literature they generally speak of the uses of the

1.  Palm fronds.

Which can be used for things such as...

Basketry material...fibers for cordage...windproofing and waterproofing shelters...stirring implements...and so on.

Otherwise the authors speak of the uses of the...

2.  "Date-like" fruit.

Which can be eaten fresh...made into a drink...ground seed and all into a flour...etc.  I have yet to eat the squirrels where I live always eat them first...and the my tree that produces them is probably 25 feet tall making harvesting very difficult.

What isn't generally mentioned is the...

3.  Palms Heart.

The flavor of which is mild...and yet distinctly palm flavored.  It has a good crunch to it.  It can be eaten raw...boiled...fried...whatever.  It also has some nutritional value.

I have eaten the heart of a tree 13 feet tall (the one I just cut down) and I have also eaten the heart of one the size shown in the photo.  If you have never seen a heart taken from a is the part nearest to where the young palm fronds are coming out of the top of the tree...right in the center of the tree.  The growing part.  The heart I extracted from the 13 foot tree was probably a couple of feet long...while the one from the tiny tree was under a foot.

To get the heart out of the large palm...I cut down the palm and then worked my way up the tree...cutting cross sections (a chainsaw made this quick work but it could be done with other tools)...checking the core of the tree to see if it was fibrous and hard...or soft and whitish.  When I found that it was soft...I cut the tree lengthwise about a quarter of the way through...and pulled out the soft core.

After snacking on a good chunk of it right out of the tree...I went ahead and cut up the rest...sauteed it in a stir fry...and had it for dinner!  Yum!  The leftovers were a welcomed additional ingredient in taco soup.

Chances don't have a bunch of these trees around that you can cut down for the heart.  Chances  are also that even if you had wouldn't cut it down because it is a pretty tree.  Perhaps it makes you feel like you are on an island vacation!  More likely will be that you can find "volunteer" trees like the one in the photo that have popped up and are ready to be processed and eaten.  These small trees do not require a chainsaw...and can be processed with a small hatchet...or loppers...or by someone who is knowledgeable with how to use a pocket knife.

My squirrels...while they don't save me any of the fruits...they do regularly unwittingly plant these small palms as they drop the seeds from the top of the tree.  As these seeds find their way into the soil...they spring up all on their own...and voila!...a great meal for my family!

If you want to try palm hearts before expending the effort of self can always pick some up in a jar from your local grocer. can't beat fresh hearts that you harvested yourself!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Elegant Clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata)

A showy flowering plant now covers the hillsides near my home in the Sacramento Valley in a blanket of pink.  The pink comes from the blossoms of Elegant Clarkia.Here is a great site that has photos and ID info.

I have heard it confused with Fireweed...and I can see how that would be as they are similar...and both come from the Onagraceae family and share similar characteristics.

A simple way to tell them apart is with the leaves.  Fireweed leaves have a vein that runs parallel with the margin of the leaf...while Elegant Clarkia veins extend to the margin.  Here is a fireweed leaf...

There are also obvious differences with the flowers...Clarkia has the 4 red stamens that stick out...and 4 that are less bright and are shorter.  Fireweed has what appears to me to be a lance shaped red calyx that sticks out almost like additional petals that Clarkia does not have.  The petals on the Clarkia seem to generally have a much more "paddle like" shape than the Fireweed does.

Here is a photo of Fireweed for comparison...

The Clarkia genus is pretty large...and has at least a few species that are similar in appearance to the unguiculata.  A perusal of some photos on Calflora should help you see which one you have.  It would appear that this species is the most widespread across the state...of those that look similar.

The scent is also quite intriguing to me.  To me it isn't a real "florally" scent...but seems like a scent of a plant from the desert.  Like a sagebrush or something.  I like it!

Now...for foraging value.

Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region (1933) by S. A. Barrett and E. W. Gifford states that....

"Clarkia (Clarkia elegans Dougl.). Sokowila (C). The seeds were collected in a finely woven burden basket (tcikali, C) with the aid of a seed-beater. After drying they were parched and pulverized in a mortar. The meal was eaten dry with acorn mush. Sometimes the whole plant was dried and the seeds removed later. "

Moerman in "Native American Ethnobotany" records that the Miwok...

"Parched, pulverized seeds eaten dry with acorn mush."

As they haven't gone to seed as of yet this season...I have yet to try this one out.  Perhaps soon I will have an acorn mush and Elegant Clarkia seed feast!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ithuriel's Spear (Triteleia laxa)

All over the hills here in Northern California right now is a lovely flowering plant called "Ithuriel's Spear"...or Triteleia laxa.  The corms (underground root part) were used for food by natives.  Raw...they have a nice clean crisp waterchestnutty kind of texture and taste.  Yum!  I have yet to try them cooked as many of the tribes apparently preferred (according to Moerman).

For now...I would consider these more of a survival type food.  While I would love to go out and dig up baskets full of corms for dinner...there are gaps in the knowledge regarding how long it takes for them to reproduce.

I found a big and fancy scientific paper on Triteleia laxa that conceded...

"We do not know how long it takes in the
field for a seedling to produce a plant that
flowers, or for how many years a plant flowers or

Perhaps I will need to grow some myself at my home like this author suggests...and I will find as she did that they "Multiply easily".  Until I do...I will probably just enjoy the flowers in the wild...and maybe sample one if I am really hungry...and in an area with multitudes of the plant.

Here is a wonderful article on the US Forest services site that gives some great ID info...distribution maps...and fun information on the name.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Acorn Muffin Recipe...

I was asked to share a recipe for some muffins that I made for a scouting event a while back.  Getting accurate recipes from me is always a hard I am kind of like the cajun cook...who just throws in a bit of this and a bit of that.  Here is what I remember from the recipe when my 4 year old daughter and I put it together...

The basic template for the recipe came from my favorite bread book..."Bread Winners" by Mel London.  Available used on Amazon for change and some shipping.

On page 246 is a recipe for whole wheat muffins...

2 Eggs beaten
1/3 cup yogurt
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

If memory serves me daughter and I did the recipe like above...only we subsituted Interior Live Oak (Quercus wislizeni) acorn flour for a little less than half of the wheat flour it calls for.  There are all kinds of places on the internet that give various ways to prepare such flour.

We also added

A handful of raisins
A handful of pine nuts
One of those hickory farms mini marmalade jars (my daughters idea)

We also used white wheat that we ground it was nice and fresh which I think makes a difference.

We mixed everything in a large bowl...poured batter into greased some muffin tins...and cooked at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

The finished muffins were really...really good.  At least we thought so.  They were a really dark in the photo (of someone else's muffins!!)...and were moist and sweet.  Warm with a little butter they were heavenly!  Mmmmm....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sacred Garden School of Foraging...

Occasionally...I take groups out to ID native plants and discuss their uses for food...medicine...and tools.  I show how my family currently supplements the store bought foods that we eat.  I have done these walks enough times now...where I regularly have people asking me "When are you going to do that again!"..or they say "Let me know when you are going harvesting so I can go with you!"

So in response...I have created a project that I call "Sacred Garden School of Foraging".  The name is meant to remind that the worlds bounty is "Sacred" as it comes from God and should be observed and used with reverence...and it is a "Garden" that should be tended with care so that it produces good fruits continually.  As a "School" I will be providing the quality of instruction that I would want if I went on a foraging walk with another teacher!

My intent is to regularly (perhaps monthly depending on my schedule) take people out to help them correctly ID and use the "wild" plants in my region.  To help people have a good experience by harvesting the correct part of the the correct season.  To hopefully help them understand the many reasons why they ought to continue to forage.  Teaching information that is steeped in the knowledge of the Native Americans...modern foraging well as my own observations.

The Kinds of Classes

1.  Family and general plant info classes - I will do these by request if you contact me and set up a date and provide the group.  I ask that the class have no less than 5 people...and no more than 15.  The class will be an overview of many plants.

2.  Intensives - Adult only classes where we will study a plant or two at a time...IN REAL DEPTH. How to identify to harvest to prepare it...native uses for it...medicinal's history in the US...etc...etc.  This is the way that foraging skills should be learned...a plant at a time.  After the class...the students should be able to stand before a group of botanists and swear on their lives that they can correctly identify a plant and know how to use it!

The First Class

I will be doing the first intensive on...

May 1st from 9am-11am

We will meet at 7000 Baldwin Dam road in Folsom CA...
at the gravel parking lot below the "Hinkle Creek Nature Center".

We will be focusing on Curly Dock (Rumex crispus) and Thistles (Cirsium spp.)  They are quite good right now...and we should be able to still find some in good shape on the 1st.

What it will be like

We will walk along the “Hinkle Creek Nature Trail” and stop frequently to examine plants.  It is a lovely trail that meanders alongside a stream among beautiful oaks.  The path does have several hills that are fairly steep which require moderate physical health.  It is not a speed hike and there will be time to rest as 
we discuss plants.

You May Consider...

1. Wearing good walking shoes
2. Bringing gloves if you want to touch pokey things.
3. Plastic grocery bags stuffed in a pocket for samples
4. A notepad
5. A water bottle
6. Scissors or a knife for sample collection

Class Donation

I am aware of people's current financial struggles. I don't want for anyone to stay home that is interested because finances are an issue. Instead of setting a price for the class...I ask that you make a discreet money donation based on your circumstances...and what you feel the class is worth.  There is no amount too small or too big!  The money will help to pay for my preparedness gear habit (and bills)...and make my wife much more agreeable with letting her husband leave for several hours when he ought to be at home cleaning out the garage!!


Please contact me at to book your spot.

PS. I am still doing free classes for groups from my church...when they are set up by a Relief Society...Elders Quorum...Young Mens...etc.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Two Foraging Related Book Reviews and a Tip...

I am often asked when I take people on walks to ID native plants..."What one book would you recommend to have for emergencies?"  The implied question is that if the day came that they needed to rely on foraged food...what book will tell them everything they need to know to feed themselves.

While it is possible that a reference book could help in a pinch to find a few edible plants to use to supplement one's expect that a person is to learn all they need to know from one book that is needed to sustain life...without a depth of experiences that are borne over many seasons of working with many plants is unrealistic.

It's kind of like asking..."If the day comes that I have an opportunity to dance on can I become a professional dancer in one weekend?"  It is also like people that store garden seed for doomsday gardening...but don't currently garden...or purchase all of their plants large and healthy from a nursery.  The comfort that comes with being truly self-reliant with foraging as well as in most preparedness endeavors comes with the knowledge that comes from practice.

I own a library of foraging books...and when I am learning about a plant...I learn bits and pieces of a puzzle from many of them.  Some of the books have great harvesting info...but lame plant identification ...or they list off 100+ plants...but only a handful will be available in your region...etc...etc.  Trying to find one book that shows you all stages of the plants development...explains the qualities of a plant good for harvesting...and that doesn't leave out other important details is hard to find.  None really have been a complete resource...all by themselves.  I end up going on the internet and look up photos on calflora...or see if there are videos on youtube...etc...etc...  Then I observe the plant through the seasons to know what it looks like at all stages of development.  Some plants you want to eat when it is a tiny shoot...not when it is in full bloom like it shows in so many of the photos!

But the question arises..."Isn't there a book that contains at least the info for a handful of plants that one could learn without looking to other sources?"  Well...there are two that I can think of...and they are both written by Samuel Thayer.

His first book "The Foragers Harvest" is worth purchasing even if only a select amount of the plants that he covers are to be found where you live.  He is not an armchair forager.  Not someone regurgitating what another author has written.  He is telling you hands on how HE works with each plant.  The photographs are crisp...the quality of the materials of the book are superb...the descriptions are complete.  He provides a glossary...information on botanical terminology...really a complete reference.

His new book is a dream come true!  It is called "Natures Garden" and it is like a continuation of his first book.  This is book is 512 pages long vs. "The Foragers Harvest" which is 360 pages.  It has more plant lessons than "The Foragers Harvest" that are applicable to Western foragers.  "Natures Garden" is worth buying if just for his section on Acorn processing!

So...if you only had two foraging books to rely on...I'd choose for you "Nature's Garden"...followed by "The Foragers Harvest".  After that...I would point you to Steve Brills book that has wonderfully correct botanical drawings and great humored info...or Christopher Nyerges book that has great info especially with regards to nutritional values...but lame photos.

"Natures Garden" is available for pre-order from Amazon at the link above...or directly from Samuel Thayer.  He will even sign the book if you buy it from him!

"Tending the Wild" by M. Kat Andersen

One of the initial things that drew me to foraging was the concept of "Reaping where I did not sow".  After spending so much time prepping soil for my home garden foraging was bound to be inviting!  I saw with my naive eyes that the world of the Native Americans must be one of simply going around and filling up their "shopping baskets" with the bounties of nature.  I mean...that is what we were taught in school right?!  That the Native Americans were "Hunters and gatherers"!?

While they did hunt...and they did gather...they also were "Tending the wild".  This book extensively documents the practices of burning...weeding...coppicing...pruning...sowing...etc...that made the State of CA the abundant place that it was when the white man came.    These actions ensured that successive harvests would produce higher yields and superior quality. Native California was managed just like a modern farmer would manage a crop in rows...only their crop was "wild" to the untrained eye.  Hillsides of edible clover...large stands of evenly spaced oaks...fields of cereal grains.  They truly shaped the landscape of California into what it was...and we still are benefactors of their work to the extent that it hasn't been sullied.

This book also serves as a stinging rebuke to those "conservationists" who believe that the best kind of nature is nature that is untouched.   Management practices of the Native Americans such as burning increased crop yields...abated insects and disease...prevented larger fires...cleared brush...etc.  Man's hand can actually accentuate the positive by helping along processes that lead to a desired result.  For example...the author writes extensively about Dichelostemma capitatum or "Blue Dicks" or "Brodiaea".  

Here is a video of a person who has some foraging videos on youtube (many of which I have enjoyed).  In this video he recommends eating the stem and flower of Brodiaea...but leaving the corm.  He leaves the corm saying that it is the part that is "sustainable"...saying "It helps the plant to survive".  While it is true that the plant will continue to live if you leave the corm in the ground...if he were to dig it up...he would find that there would be more plants to harvest in successive years!  The corms have tiny "cormlets" that  detach and plant themselves when you dig them up!  It is this practice of not disturbing various plants that has led to their dwindling numbers and even extinction!

The book kind of felt like a fleshed out mini-version of Moerman's "Native American Ethnobotany".  Where Moerman would tell you that a certain species of plant was used for food in a short blurb....this book tells you about how it was harvested...propagated...stored...etc.  Many of this information comes by way of quotes from Native people telling their stories.  The author also uses the botanical names to avoid confusion which is greatly appreciated.

I recommend it to all people who are interested in it reminds us that we must give thought for the future of the plants we collect.  It reminds us that we are in "Natures Garden"...a garden that will produce every year...if we don't kill the golden goose.  I think that although so many of the species of plants discussed in the book are endemic to California...that it also will have direct applicability to similar species found in other states and is therefore still worthy of reading if you do not live in CA.

This book is a treasure.  I am in awe of the knowledge of the Native American people.  While much of the ethnobotanical information of the US has been is wonderful that M. Kat Andersen gave a chunk of her life to record a piece of it.

Cover Your Paperback Books

I checked out the paperback copy of "Tending the Wild" from the library.  It was obviously the first time the book had been the binding practically creaked when I opened it. By the time I finished the book...the edges were bending up and looking worn.  If this had been my own book...this never would have happened.  Right after I purchase a or used...before I start to read...I will cover the book with laminate.  I purchase the laminate in a 12" roll from Highsmith which is a library supply place.  This makes a paperback book...more like a glossy hardback book.  They will last a lot longer and stay nice just by taking a short time to give the book some TLC.  It's easy to do and takes me probably 5 minutes to cover one book.

I'm unsure if this is the same brand I purchased one roll lasts FOREVER and I have not finished the one roll I have purchased...but the 12" one on this page should be a good choice for most paperbacks.  Here are instructions on how to cover a book with laminate.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wheatgrass...and Beyond...

When spring has sprung where I can step outside and hear the distant purr of lawmowers...and smell the scent of fresh cut grass.  Personally...I like that scent.  It fills my mind with fond memories of all of the fun things that happen in a season of warmer weather.  In all the years I have been smelling that scent though...never have I thought to myself..."I wish I could have a drink of that scent!"  While I still have yet to drink lawn clipping juice...I have had something that probably tastes a lot like it...wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass is just that.  Wheat that has been sprouted to the point that it resembles a lawn that needs to be mowed...and then it is clipped and juiced.  I have yet to meet a person who drinks wheatgrass because they love the flavor.  Most people drink it because it is super nutritious!!

The testimonials really are astounding.  People say that wheatgrass cured them of most every ailment out there.  I have no reason to doubt their testimonials.  I firmly believe that many of the ailments that we carry with us are directly linked to the nutritionally lacking...and even toxic food that we eat.  A blast of vitamin rich green drink could be just what is needed to revive the ill to health.

This knowledge has spread...and for some time food stores sell small swatches of wheatgrass sod....and businesses like Jamba Juice offer small shots of wheatgrass juice...if you have the money to buy it at a premium.

People who don't want to pay the high it themselves.  I've grown it in the past with plastic growing trays...some run of the mill potting soil...and some wheat from storage.  There are lot's of places on online that will give you directions on how to do it.  It can be done simply...or you can buy into all of the other miscellaneous things that people want to sell you to make it rock dusts...containers etc.  I do recommend that you do it in actual opposed to an artificial mat of nutrients like some people do.

After you have the need to get the juice out of it.  I own the healthy juicer...and have been pleased with it.  The only drawbacks that I can think of are the plastic construction...and the suction cup that keeps it to the counter.  I'd love to have one that is stainless steel and grabs the table.

If the day comes that you are living on food storage...and are unfamiliar with wild greens that you could eat...this could be a way to get some green in your diet.

And yes...the good ole' wheat from the cannery works just great.  White or red.  Just like with any time goes on...germination rates go down.  I have taken out old stored wheat and tried to sprout it without much success.  But you say "I heard that they got wheat to sprout from the mummies tombs in Egypt".  Even if you think that story is true...I wouldn't plan on your wheat sprouting if it has been stored for over 25 years in ideal conditions.  In fact...I would only attempt to sprout my newest wheat...and leave the non-sprouting old stuff for breadstuffs...because it is still good to eat...just not sprout.

NOW.  Having said all that...did you know that all grass is edible?  Not only is it edible...but it also has a high nutritional value (according to this book).  We don't have multiple stomachs like cows...and can't really handle all the fiber...but we can eat it in small amounts...or chew it to get the juices out...and then spit out the fibrous portion.  Or we could juice it! The reality is that I could actually be juicing my bluegrass lawn and enjoying some health benefits!  If you are going to juice grass from a wild or not so wild source...make sure that it is clean and hasn't been sprayed with anything detrimental to your health...and harvest the grass before it forms it's first node.  After that node (or knee) forms it is still edible...but more fibrous and less nutritious.  Harvesting wild grasses could save you the effort of having to grow your own...with similar results.  I'm going to juice some grass from the yard tomorrow!!

I went into my backyard and used some scissors to snip some grass from an untrodden area.  I filled up a mixing bowl and then juiced it.  It was a deep green...and was much more pleasant tasting than wheatgrass has been.  My wife mixed in some apple juice...and it was quite tasty!

It also dawned on me how someone could have a source of water most anywhere...with a simple hand crank juicer and some clumps of grass!

I am unsure of the species of grass that I I am a grass identification rookie.  I am left to wonder how the nutrition of various grasses stack up against each other.  I wonder if that information has been published?!  I will continue to drink it knowing that it is generically "highly nutritious".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Miner's Lettuce Smoothies!!...

Yesterday I went for a walk with our preschool and the children and I harvested two plastic grocery bag's full of Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata). While as I type this...much of the country is covered in my neck of the woods in California we have thriving greens ready to be enjoyed by those that know of their worth (my heart goes out to you who are stuck in a winter wonderland!!). Using scissors and our hands we snipped handfuls at a time. Care was taken to not pull them out by the root so that they will regrow. Our harvest was mixed with grass...hairy vetch (Vicia villosa)...and some oak care had to be taken to ensure that we weren't eating anything else.

After our sorting...I put maybe 3/4 of a cup of cranberry/raspberry juice into the blender...filled it to the brim with Miner's Lettuce...and added a couple of handfuls of frozen pitted plums. Blended...then added more Miner's Lettuce again. There really is no exact recipe...if you want it sweeter...add more frozen's all up to you!

Here is some great info about Miner's Lettuce. The nutritional to identify the plant...and harvesting ideas. This is actually the guy I got the idea to do the smoothie from!

My daughter did a video of a portion of our adventure. You are walking into my home to see a slice of our lives!!! Oh...and pay no attention to my anti-green vegetable son!!