Yesterday Joan Quenan, Deborah Healy and I pulled weeds at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. I pointed out red root pigweed or amaranth as I know the plant. We decided to pick wild edibles and so I loaded up a bag with this tasty wild edible. Meanwhile Deborah picked purslane and lambs quarter.
I am here to tell you that young amaranth leaves taste better than spinach. I sautéed them in a little olive oil and water and steamed the tender leaves. Then I scrambled two organic brown eggs into the mix. Upon completion I sat down and eat one of the best meals I have ever prepared. I noticed my brain started to spark like little lights going off. It was as if my cells were lighting up and thanking me for REAL FOOD. Is this called a natural high? It was to me. I have been eating more wild edibles all the time and I am starting to notice an internal chemical reaction to and in relationship with my food.
Update: Lots of Amaranth is growing in my garden and I do not pull it as a weed. Rather, I am picking it and starting to freeze small bags of it. Also, I will use with basil and garlic when I make pesto.
July 30 – Last night at the Water Ceremony held at the Hospitality House in Minong, I served a dish of steamed leaves and the water sisters enjoyed a taste on the wild side.
This year’s Water Four Directions Mother Earth Water Walkers is imperative as we realize we must honor water which is sacred and a gift to all living species. Please support the many who are walking and will converge at Bad River Reservation on June 12. A council guide from the Sisterhood of Planetary Water Rites plans to attend. We hope that several women from the Water Ceremony group of Minong, WI, will attend also.
The vulnerable white trillium lily of early spring grows in the sweet woods. The sounds of happy gurgling water and singing birds gladdens the heart. Sweet watercress grows in the stream where the water spills out into a pure stream. Watercress will not grow in unpure water.
We must protect our local drinking water sources. After seeing Blue Gold, I am going to ask my village where the water source is and where the sewage goes. The film suggests we do this to be informed about our own community water supply.
The weather in northwest Wisconsin is below average and I am still heating my home in Minong. It is a wet and rainy season this spring and impossible to start a garden under these circumstances.
My friend Debora and I went out to the Washburn County forest at 5 p.m. last evening to a favorite haunt between Hayward and Minong in search of leeks also known as ramps. There were large colonies of leeks and yellow trout lily. The lily bulbs were quite small and we decided not to gather them outside of a few that came along with the leeks when we dug in the deep, composted and compacted forest soil. I tried a few yellow trout lily bulbs and they tasted like raw potatoes.
I never saw as many trout lilies in my life.
This was certainly a bountiful colony stretching across the forest floor in the near and far away woods.
The leeks are difficult to dig when growing in large clumps among other woodland plants. One needs to separate them out after digging. Leek leaves and bulb are both edible. Yellow trout lily on the other hand only provides an edible bulb. The fun is in the gathering.
I have learned over the years that it takes three times the work to clean, sort, cut roots and save leaves after gathering.
Leek leaves need to be dried by using paper towels and placing single leaves in a tray, separated by layers of paper towel sheets between each row of leaves. Place the leaves in the freezer for a few minutes to start the freezing process.
Then remove the trays from the freezer and transfer leek leaves with paper sheets intact to a ziplock freezer bag. Be sure to mark the bag in order to identify what you have preserved. Believe me, after a while, most foods will look the same after they have been in the freezer for any period of time.
Debora noticed something else in the woods and went to explore what it was. She discovered emerging what we thought were ostrich ferns.
It was only later I learned that the fern was cinnamon (Osmunda cinnemomea) or interrupted fern (O. claytonia). I have gathered fiddlehead ferns before and I enjoy bracken fern as fiddleheads. Now I know why I prefer them.
For one the ferns left a stain on the plastic bag we were using. I should have been alerted then that something was wrong. Then I tried to eat one that I blanched and it tasted terrible. Even an experienced gatherer like myself can get confused. Always research before gathering. We should have carried the Forager’s Harvest or Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer to the gathering site and verified the species before picking. I had left the books in the van. Live and learn!
Fiddlehead ferns of cinnamon and interrupted fern have a hairy covering and simply are not worth taking a risk. Don’t ever use either one. Seek true ostrich or bracken ferns for wild edibles. They are delicious and you will be well pleased.
Another group of wild edible gatherers are going to another forest where Happy Tonics has a wild butterfly habitat with land use for the habitat from the DNR. I know we have bracken fern out there in the clearing and I hope the ferns are ready to gather on Monday. I will let you know next week how this turns out.
Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.