Untame Your Life!

Saguaro Cactus Fruits

June 27th, 2007

If you live in the good ‘ol US of A then you know the saguaro cactus (Carnegia gigantea). You might not know its name, but virtually every postcard, TV image, or other mass media image of the desert includes this stately being. They are a backbone plant of the Sonoran desert ecosystem, and are having a great fruit-producing year. If you live in southeastern California, southern Arizona, northern Sonora or Baja I would encourage you to get out there and harvest these amazing fruits…you won’t regret it.

This video highlights how to harvest the fruits and how to dry them for long-term storage. As an aside, my favorite way to eat them is when they have already fallen to the ground and are dried out. In the video we also visit the Saguaro Country Nursery for some easy pickin’, views from Lorrie Joanne Scott on the state of saguaro’s in AZ, and a brief view of some other foods available in the 111° Sonoran desert heat right now.

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Wild Blackberry Leaf Tea

June 21st, 2007

Happy Summer Solstice! The plants are absorbing an amazing amount of solar energy right now, and it’s a great time to take advantage of their ability to turn that energy into food. I encourage you to grab a bag and head out to pick the always abundant wild blackberry leaves. This is not an herbal infusion to drink on a regular basis. Medicinally it is touted as relieving diarrhea, so enjoy it only occasionally for its good flavor.

This video highlights identification, harvesting and preparation of a blackberry leaf herbal infusion. It’s tea time, and what goes better with your herbal tea than a cookie. Here’s the recipe for the cookies in the video. My oven runs hot, so play around with the temperature of your own oven and enjoy.

Rosemary Agave Nectar Cookies

3/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/4 c agave nectar
1 T lemon juice
1 t lemon zest
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t wild spicebush berries ground, or nutmeg
1 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Cream the butter and sugar with mixer until smooth. Beat in egg, agave nectar, lemon juice, lemon zest and mix well. Slowly mix in dry ingredients…don’t overmix. Turn oven to 300 and drop cookies onto greased baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes. Yields 2 dozen cookies.

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Making Friction Fire

June 20th, 2007

You’ve gone out and harvested all this great wild food…now how are you going to cook it up? In this video, firemaster Delmar Lathers shows us how to gather all the natural materials you need to make fire. He has used over 20 different woods in this area of southern California to make friction fire, including wild tobacco (Nicotiana glauca) as a hearth and mulefat (Baccharis salicifolia) as a drill. In this video he highlights using an alder hearth, horseweed drill, and mugwort fire extender. Delmar has been teaching at Primitive Skills gatherings around the country for many years. If you are interested in learning more about primitive skills check out the Rabbitstick Rendezvous links page.

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Wild Food Workshop in Topanga Canyon

June 19th, 2007

Here’s a little video taken at last Saturday’s Wild Food Workshop here in Topanga Canyon, CA. It was a really fun class and we managed to gather quite a few wild foods to incorporate into our feast. Some wild foods and useful plants that we found on our hike: wild mustard flowering tops, malva greens and cheeses, ice plants, blackberry new growth tops, sticky monkey flower, elderflowers, sow thistle greens, wild lettuce, ceanothus berries for soap and more.

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Wild Food School

June 18th, 2007

Imagine it, the first formal Wild Food School, at least that I know about, in picturesque Lostwithiel, Cornwall ENGLAND. They are offering a variety of courses including 2-day, 1-day, 1/2-day, distance learning, and even an instructor training course through the seasons. Run by Marcus Harrison, author of the Johnny Jumbalaya Wild Food Cookbook Series, the school will be a hub for folks in the northern temperate regions of Europe.

In combination with all the great chefs who are bringing wild foods to the greater consciousness of Britons, and Ray Mears’ TV work highlighting wild foods and bushcraft survival…I’d say Great Britain is moving in a positive direction sharing its wild food knowledge with the masses.

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Wild Food Summit II

June 11th, 2007

Miigwhich to the White Earth Tribal and Community College crew of Stephanie Williams, Steven Dahlberg and Becky Christensen for inviting me back to the Wild Food Summit on the White Earth Reservation. It always amazes me what a small group of dedicated people can accomplish. Please watch this video to see the beautiful faces of these folks, learn how to do pit cooking, learn about salsify/goatsbeard and just generally get a feel for this event. We ate an almost 100% wild diet.

Some of the delicious foods included: cattail and watercress salads, rabbit and game hen, acorn burgers, braised thistle stalks, cattail soup, wild rice soup with fiddleheads/wild leeks/burdock stems/dandelion greens and more! Be sure to visit chef extrordinaire Rose Barlow’s website Prodigal Gardens to see some of her recipes. Thanks for all the great food Rose!

*note* when lining pit with leaves, be sure to use ones that are edible. Examples include burdock, cattail, grape and more.

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Curried Cattail Soup

June 11th, 2007

Cattails are a delicious food, wildly abundant, generally found throughout the world…yeehaw, it’s cattail shoots time in northern MN. I am here visiting my Mom and will soon be heading to the Wild Food Summit on the White Earth Reservation. In this video you’ll see how to identify cattails shoots (along with a poisonous ‘lookalike’ plant), process them, and then cook them into a soup. I’m admittedly terrible with botanical identification of plants, and am a bit unsure of whether these were the Narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia), or the Common cattail (Typha latifolia) as I said in the video. I have a feeling both were represented in that stand, and that there may have been some of the hybridized version of the two (Typha x glauca). Another botanical snafu on my part was saying stem in the video, when in fact I meant to say leaves. You are actually taking advantage of the tender part of the leaves when eating the cattail hearts/inner core.

You can follow the energy of the plant through the seasons, and can eat this plant virtually year-round. It’s rhizomes, corms, new shoots, immature male flower spikes and pollen all provide tasty wild food nourishment. I got the idea to do a curried cattail soup from Anne Gardon’s book The Wild Food Gourmet: Fresh and Savory Food from Nature. This is the soup I brought for the Wild Food Summit potluck. Tune in tomorrow to see a video of the second annual Wild Food Summit.

Curried Cattail Soup

3 T butter
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cup cattail shoots, chopped
1 1/2 T curry powder
1 T cattail rhizome flour, or wheat flour
2 t Bragg’s liquid aminos, or soy sauce
4 c chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper to taste

Saute onion in butter until translucent. Add cattail shoots and curry powder. Saute 1-2 minutes and sprinkle cattail or wheat flour on top. Mix together and cook 1-2 minutes. Add liquid aminos/soy sauce, mix well and add stock. Bring soup to eating temperature, add salt & pepper to taste and serve.

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Making Your Own Superfoods

June 6th, 2007

Ok, so I’m starting to get better at holding the camera by myself and using iMovie to edit these videoblogs. This video highlights how to make your own wild greens powder, or superfood. You can purchase Superfoods at your local co-op, health food store, or supplement shop, but this gives you a start on how to do it yourself. This is an easy thing to do at home, and if you don’t have a dehydrator as demonstrated in the video, simply place greens on newspapers, old window screens, etc. Just make sure they are good and dry, grind in blender or coffee grinder and store in an airtight container. You will really boost your nutrition by adding a tablespoonful to pasta sauce, smoothies, or noodles as demonstrated by Chef Bob in this video. Start to notice what wild edible greens are abundant around your home.

To see the recipe for the sauce on top of the wild greens pasta click here. Leave a comment or suggestion, or send an email, about the show.

Wild Greens Pasta

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c dried wild greens, powdered
2 eggs
2 T butter, melted
2 T olive oil
2 T salt

In mixing bowl thoroughly mix flour and dried wild greens powder. Make a well in the center and mix in remaining ingredients, working from the center, using your fingers. Knead until dough comes together. Roll into ball and let dough rest for at least 1/2 hour. Roll out dough and cut into pasta. Bring water, olive oil and salt to a rolling boil and submerge pasta for roughly 9 minutes. Strain and serve immediately.

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Wild Living with Sunny: episode 2

June 5th, 2007

Were you curious how to harvest the Yucca whipplei stalk and unopened flower buds in the Quinoa ‘n Yucca recipe? Check out this short little video to see how to identify the plant, harvest the stalk, and prepare the dish. In the video I said I was going to roast the stalk, but we ended up peeling it and cooking like a sweeter version of asparagus….sooo yummy! Chef Bob also said we would be double boiling our unopened yucca flower buds, but after trying them out we didn’t feel it was necessary, so we just added them directly to the dish to cook for about 30 seconds.

Enjoy the film. Leave a comment or pop me an email to let me know how you like it. To see the recipe on the video click here.

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Everything Sauce

June 3rd, 2007

The Yucca whipplei are producing, producing, producing right now! The above photo shows the unopened flowers on the right, opened flowers in the middle, and mature fruits on the left. I had my first taste of the fruits yesterday. I put some of them directly on the grill, and some were broiled in the oven for about 20 minutes. Scrape out the inside seeds and cover with a little bit of Chef Bob’s Everything Sauce. This sauce below is delicious, and very versatile…like a hollandaise.

Chef Bob’s Everything Sauce

1 c chicken stock
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t dried California sagebrush, chopped finely
pinch of hot pepper seasoning
5 T cold butter, diced

Combine stock, lemon juice, California sagebrush and hot pepper seasoning in sauce pot. Boil until reduced to 1/2 of original amount. Remove from heat and slowly stir in butter until melted. Sauce should be velvety, then add salt.

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