Saturday, May 14, 2016

Camping and Foraging

We love camping at Food Under Foot, and we know we have lots of readers who enjoy camping and foraging. Camping is a fantastic time to find and use wild edibles.

There are some things to be aware of: not all parks want you to pick plants, so find out the rules at each park. Some parks do not mind if you pick invasive weeds like garlic mustard, burdock, Japanese Knotweed and will even spray or pull these themselves, so it's worthwhile to ask. We've come across parks where they don't want you to pick any plants (although mushrooms are usually ok), to others who will say weeds such as the ones mentioned above are ok to pick.

We also never pick endangered or protected plants like Trillium, Ferns, or Goldenseal.

When we do harvest plants to eat we only pick what we will eat immediately, so as not to overpick or waste anything. When we are harvesting something like garlic mustard or burdock root from places where they tell you it's ok (sometimes they'll be thrilled!) we sometimes do pick more to dry or use later.
garlic mustard and violet salad

Lately we have found the best wild edibles camping! Chickweed, violets, lambs quarters and garlic mustard make wonderful salads. We usually bring a bottle of salad dressing, but really these wild edibles are so fresh and delicious you could eat them plain! Above you will see one of my favorite simple camping salads for this time of year: garlic mustard green and flowers and violet greens and flowers.

These flavorful edibles also make a good trailside nibble if you get hungry on a hike.

Wild berries will be in season soon...those are always fun to nibble while camping!

wild wineberries

Other wild edibles such as morel mushrooms (below) and other edible mushrooms and nettles are excellent sauteed, and can be eaten over rice or pasta.

morel mushrooms

Burdock roots are excellent cooked into soups or with rice, giving a rich earthy flavor, and the burdock leaf stem is excellent steamed or boiled.

Some wild edibles you can find while camping are great as medicines, too. If you get stung by a bee look for plantain (some call it fairy bandaid) to chew and place on the sting.

If you get stung by nettles, you'll likely find burdock or yellow dock leaves nearby...chew those and apply to the nettle sting.

Poison Ivy? Look for jewelweed, crush and apply this plant to your itchy rash. Plantain will also work to take the itch away.

Wild edibles are full of nutrition and medicinal properties and are excellent to use while camping!

We'll be sure to bring you more camping adventures as the season progresses. Make sure you let us know about your camping wild culinary adventures as well!

Melissa cooking morels over a camp stove

~ Melissa Sokulski

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Garlic Mustard Pesto

Garlic Mustard is an invasive plant, brought to America as a culinary herb in the 1860's. Many local and state parks have volunteer days spent pulling this invasive herb out. By all means pull it up from your garden...but don't be so quick to throw it in the compost! This is a delicious plant and early spring is when its flavor is at its best.

The leaves become bitter as the weather gets hot, so they are best collected in early spring and summer. Leaves can be collected either from the ground rosettes (pictured above) or from the stalk. Garlic Mustard leaves become more triangular when the plant bolts, and the leaves come up the flower stalk of this small four-petaled flower (unlike dandelion, whose leaves stay on the ground as the flower stalk is sent up).

Notice the 4-petaled white flowers blooming at the top of the plant. The leaves climb up the flower stalk and become more triangular once the plant flowers. 

You can eat garlic-mustard leaves both before and after it flowers. The leaves, flowers, and root are edible (the root tastes like horseradish!)

Flowers and chopped leaves can be added to salads for a nice pungent garlic flavor.

One of my favorite ways of eating garlic mustard is making pesto. Use your favorite pesto recipe and swap garlic mustard for fresh basil. If you don't have a recipe on hand, try this one. Pesto can be enjoyed on pasta, spread on crackers or tomatoes, on sandwiches, pizza..any way you can think of!

Garlic Mustard Pesto

* 2 cups garlic mustard leaves, washed and patted dry
* 1 small garlic clove, peeled
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly roasted on stove top (can roast walnuts in place of pine nuts)
* 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 Tbsp lemon juice
* sea salt to taste

In a food processor, blend garlic and garlic mustard while drizzling in olive oil.

Add pine nuts, cheese, lemon juice and a little salt and blend.

Taste and add salt if necessary.

I mixed some into gluten-free pasta with more roasted pine nut and a chopped tomato. It was excellent!

Here's to wild foods!

Melissa Sokulski
Food Under Foot

Monday, May 2, 2016

Wild Mushroom Soup

This is a great time of year: Morel Mushrooms! And while you are out looking for morels, you may find some gorgeous dryad saddles, growing on dead wood. Here is a delicious, vegan "creamy" wild mushroom soup that incorporates both (but you can really use ANY mushrooms in this soup!)

This  amazing vegan "cream" of mushroom soup...and the mushrooms are MORELS and DRYAD'S SADDLES! It doesn't get better than this!

Vegan Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

vegan, gluten-free, soy-free

In a pot with water, boil:
  • 3 potatoes, peeled, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 5 button mushrooms (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
Boil until POTATOES and CARROTS are tender. Remove from heat.
Add 1/4 cup raw CASHEWS or cashew pieces and blend well. (We used our vitamix, but any blender should be fine.)

In a pan with olive oil:

saute chopped MORELS with salt.

In another pan with olive oil:

saute chopped DRYAD'S SADDLE with salt.

(I sauteed in them in two separate pans because later in the season dryad's can become bitter, and in case this had happened, I didn't want to ruin the batch of morels!!! But they were just fine.)

Return now creamy broth to pot and adjust seasonings: SALT, PEPPER, PAPRIKA  to taste.
Add sauteed mushrooms and enjoy.

~ Melissa
Food Under Foot