Wildcrafting

Foraging Feral Food: Trout Lily

by Todd Walker

Foraging Feral Food: The Trout Lily

Craving feral food? Now’s the time to hit the woods. The Trout Lily is blooming!

Before going wild on this gem of the woodland, you should have an introduction to this short-lived blooming beauty.

In the creek bottom near the shelter I’m building, the forest floor is covered with a yellow carpet of trout lilies. They are known to grow in huge colonies that can be hundreds of years old. The bulbed plant takes about seven years to produce a one-leafed plant. A two-leafed plant with a yellow flower on top of its red stem is a mature plant.

Its scientific name is Eryhronium americanum. You may know them by other common names: Fawn lily, Deer tongue, Adder’s tongue, or Dog’s-tooth violet. Someone along the way said the grayish green leaves with purplish brown spots resembled a brook trout.

The Dog’s-tooth handle was a mystery to me though. Nothing about the plant above ground shouted ‘dog’ or ‘tooth’. Upon digging a lily from the ground, the bulb (corm) resembles a dog’s canine tooth. The corm is edible and tastes sweet in early spring. By May the bulb has turned starchy.

The entire plant is edible and has medicinal uses. Be aware that the plant is considered an emetic – too much will cause vomiting. And they take seven years to mature, so only harvest sparingly from large colonies. A mature plant produces two mottled leaves and one flower. At this rate of growth, you can why it takes hundreds of years to grow a huge colony.

Medicinal Uses

  • Native American women ate raw leaves to prevent conception
  • Root tea to reduce fever
  • Poultice from the crom is used to draw splinters and reduce swelling
  • Leave poultice is used on hard to heal ulcers and skin conditions
  • Fresh or dried leaves soften skin – always test for allergic reaction on a small area of your skin
  • From the early to mid Nineteenth century the plant was used to treat gout

 Edible Uses

  • The flower, leaves, and bulb are edible
  • Mass quantities will cause you to throw up – take it easy on them, unless you need to vomit
  • Crom/bulb can be roasted – raw they have a cucumber taste
  • Flowers are slightly sweet due to their nectar
  • Leaf tea
  • Ground croms can be used as a thickening agent for cooking

Other Uses

  • Native Americans chewed the bulb and spit the juice water to attract fish
Foraging Feral Food: The Trout Lily

The view across the creek at my shelter

Identification

Flower: The yellow Trout lily produces a single, nodding flower with six pedals. The flower closes at night and opens in the day light. The flower has both male and female sex organs.

Leaves: This perennial produces one to two lance-shaped leaves. A one leaf plant has not yet matured. Give it a year or seven. The stem of the plant is brownish-red.

Crom/bulb: The mature bulb resembles a dog’s canine tooth and is covered with a brown paper-like skin. Peel the skin before eating raw.

Habitat: In North America, Trout lilies grow in moist, rich soils in the eastern deciduous woodlands from Georgia to Canada.

Get out and enjoy this lily while you can. The blooms only last through spring.

Hope this was useful as you get some dirt time in this year.

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

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Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Medical, Natural Health, Wildcrafting | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Not Your Typical Recipe Book: Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living

by Todd Walker

What I’m about to share is ‘Dirt Road Girl’ approved!

When Stacy Harris sent me her new book to review, Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living, before I could get my hands on it, DRG snagged it and wouldn’t put it down. She immediately performed her sniff test ritual. She opened the book, plants her face between the pages, and inhales deeply. Congrats Stacy! Your book passed DRG’s sniff test with flying colors!

Image

Our first impressions of Stacy’s new book were high quality, glossy pages with excellent photos of food, recipes, family, and sustainable practices for self-sufficient living. It’s good that the pages are high gloss since I began drooling by just looking at the food photos and recipes.

Stacy’s passion for growing heirloom plants and animals that are natural, pesticide, hormone, genetically modified free is clear. And she’s able to cook for a family of 9 from her heirloom garden, pastured animals, and wild game. Very inspiring!

The tips for sustainable living are mixed in throughout the book. One of my favorites is on page 88 – The Perfect Boiled Egg.

“To determine the age of eggs, place eggs in about five inches of water. If the egg lays flat on the bottom it is very fresh and is good for baking and poaching; it the egg tilts on the bottom it is about 10 days old and is great for boiling; if it floats throw it out.”

There’s also tips on foraging wild foods, beekeeping, seed saving, and other self-reliant skills. The tips aren’t going to teach you everything you need to know about sustainable living, but they will motivate you on your journey.

Being an avid hunter and fisherman myself, I loved the ‘Woods and Water’ section of Stacy’s book! I’m always happy to try new recipes for venison, wild turkey, duck, quail, small game, and seafood and fish. Even if you don’t harvest wild fish and game, she provides a substitution page to incorporate domesticated animals for recipes to please everyone.

Not Your Typical Recipe Book: Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living

10 slices of bacon on Stuffed Venison Meatloaf – perfect!

A note to my Primal/Paleo readers – a few of the baking recipes call for sugar and flour. You can easily substitute for these if you wish and still enjoy the goodness of these traditional home cooked recipes.

Reading Stacy’s story and new cookbook will inspire you to take your next step towards personal freedom and sustainable living. All while eating the best prepared foods on the planet!

You can also connect with Stacy on her blog, Game and Garden, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Special Announcement: Congratulations to Stephanie G. on winning an autographed copy of Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living from our Reader Appreciation Fall Giveaway! We appreciate everyone’s continued support of our blog as we continue Doing the Stuff of self-sufficiency and preparedness together!

Keep doing the stuff!

Todd

P.S. ~ Thanks for sharing the stuff! You can connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook page

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Gardening, Homesteading, Preparedness, Real Food, Resilience, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Foraging Feral Food: A Hobby Now ~ A Survival Skill Later

Editor’s note: I appreciate your patience with my blogging absence. DRG and I have been visiting our newest grandson who decided to show up 4 weeks early. I should be posting part 3 of The Pillars of Preparedness series tomorrow. Until then, Tess Pennington has graciously allowed me to republish this article from her site, Ready Nutrition. I’m excited to have a few of my articles on her website now!

Enjoy!

________________

Food Freebies in Your Own Backyard

by Tess Pennington

This article originally appeared at Ready Nutrition and is republished here with the author’s permission.

Even if you live in a city, you might be shocked to find out how much food is available, free for the taking. I’m not talking about shoplifting from the corner store – I’m talking about foraging.

In ancient times, humans were hunter/gatherers.  Gatherers spent the day seeking nuts, berries and edible plants. These items were then turned into a nutritious meal or beverage.

The first rule of foraging is BE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE EATING. Foraging can be deadly if you eat the wrong thing.

The best way to learn to forage is to find someone who knows how to find all the best goodies. A teacher can speed the learning curve up immensely, and they are likely to know the best local places to find the items.

Unfortunately we can’t always find a willing instructor. If it turns out that you’re on your own, the next best option is a good field guide with photographs. You can often find field guides geared to your local terrain at hiking and camping stores.  Your local bookstore and Amazon are other good resources. You can buy a more general guide, say, for North America, but there will be a lot of information that isn’t pertinent to your area.

When foraging in an urban environment, you have to be very careful that your finds are not contaminated. They can be contaminated with many different toxins, from pesticides to pollution. You will want to stay away from major roadways and railroad tracks, for example. If you are in farm country you don’t want to be in an area that may be contaminated with animal waste from runoff.

Personally, I strictly avoid mushrooms in my search for wild foods. The edible mushrooms and the toxic ones are very similar in appearance, and not something you want to learn by trial and error, as the error could be fatal. There are many books on the subject that cover proper identification if you are a braver soul.

In the city you can often find fruit trees like mulberries and apple trees.  If it appears that the fruits are not being harvested, ask the owner’s permission and bring a bucket!  In the wild, you can find blueberries, blackberries and huckleberries in great abundance.  These fruits are easily recognizable and a great place to start.

There are many edible greens but none more recognizable than the ubiquitous dandelion. Every bit of the dandelion is edible, from the flower right down to the roots. Pick them in the spring when flowers are still yellow for the mildest flavor.

To get started, make a list of in-season items that are familiar to you. Choose a hiking destination, grab your field guide, bring along some containers and start gathering!

Mother Earth News compiled a brief list of some edible plants that can commonly be found in North America:

Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chicory (Cichorium)
Curly dock (Rumex crispus)
Dandelion (Taraxacum)
Fiddleheads (various fern species)
Lamb’s quarters, goosefoot (Chenopdium)
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Nettle (Urtica)
Peppercress (Cardamine)
Pigweed (Amaranthus)
Plantain (Plantago)
Pokeweed (Phytolacca)
Purslane (Portulaca)
Seaweeds — dulse, kelp, laver, wrack
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Watercress (Nasturtium)
“Wild” asparagus (Asparagus officinalis ssp. prostratus)
Wild mustard (Brassica)
Wild horsemint, bee balm (Monarda punctata)

ROOTS, BULBS & TUBERS
Arrowhead, wapatoo (Sagittaria variabilis)
American lotus, water chinquapin (Nelumbo lutea)
Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Ramps, ramson, wild leek (Allium tricoccum)
Burdock (Arctium)
Grassnut, California hyacinth (Brodiaea capitata)
Groundnut (Apios tuberosa)
Prairie turnip, Prairie potato (Psoralea esculenta)
Cattail (Typha latifolia)
Camas, quamash (Camassia esculenta)
Chufa, nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)
Sego lily (Calochortus Nuttallii)
Coontie, Florida arrowroot (Zamia pumila)

FRUIT
Wild strawberry (Fragaria)
Red and black raspberry, wineberry (Rubus)
Blackberry (Rubus)
Blueberry (Vaccinium)
Wild grapes (Vitis)
Mulberry (Morus)
Juneberry, serviceberry (Amelanchier)
Chokeberry (Aronia)
Elderberry (Sambucus)
Wild cherry (Prunus)
Wild plum (Prunus)
Gooseberry (Ribes)
Buffalo currant (Ribes)
Persimmon (Diospyros)
Rose hips (Rosa)
Prickly pear, tuna (Opuntia)
Pawpaw (Asimina)

NUTS & SEEDS
Acorn (Quercus)
Beechnut (Fagus grandifolia)
Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
Butternut (Fuglans cinerea)
Chia (Salvia species)
Hickory (Carya)
Pecan (Carya illinoensis)
Pine nut, pinyon (Pinus species)
Sunflower (Helianthus species)
Wild rice (Zizania)

Once you’ve brought your bounty home, be certain to wash it very carefully. Look up instructions specific to the food before preparing it, because wild foods can have some unexpected peculiarities. For example, pokeweed can cause severe intestinal distress if you don’t change the water several times when boiling it.

There is little you can do to become more self-reliant than learning to find your own food in the wild. Today, foraging might be just another of your eccentric hobbies. Tomorrow, that eccentric hobby could save your life.

A few suggestions:

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides)

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies

Wild Harvest: Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest

Author’s bio:

Prepper's CookbookTess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com. You can also connect with Tess on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

Categories: Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Feral Food: Maxing Out on Milkweed Pods

Editor’s note: Crunchy Mama‘s wild food adventures continues. For those unfamiliar with this feral food, it has so many other virtues. Not only is it edible, it makes great cordage, stomach tonic, and candle wicks. 

“A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

DISCLAIMER: This information is offered for educational purposes only. Do your own due diligence before foraging wild edibles of any kind.

Originally published on her site The Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead and reprinted here with her permission.

A NEW favorite wild edible: green milkweed seed pods!

BY THECRUNCHYMAMACHRONICLES ON JULY 31, 2013

Milkweed with green seed pods

It’s been a few months since I walked on a nearby path where I have spotted many a wild edible.  Busy with the homestead garden, ya know!  Anyway, I was thrilled to walk the path yesterday and find two wild edibles that I have been wanting to try: green  (immature) milkweed seed pods and staghorn sumac berries (blog post forthcoming).

So, I picked about 9 milkweed green/immature seed pods to try for the very first time.  When i got home, I referred to my copy of Sam Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest to find out exactly how to prepare them.  He says that some people can eat milkweed raw but other people cannot tolerate them raw.  I did taste a bit of the raw silky white and a bit of the raw green part.  The silky white part was pretty good raw and the raw green part was decent but I decided that I would cook the rest.   Generally, when I try a new wild edible, I like to keep it simple so that I can really taste the plant.  I steam/sautéed the pods, cut in half, for a few minutes in some butter (with a tablespoon of water) in my pre-heated cast iron skillet.  They were very good!  I now have yet another favorite wild edible!  They taste mild and delicious.  According to what I’ve read, you can put these pods in casseroles, stews, stir-fry’s, etc.  They are so versatile!  And, did I mention that they are delicious?!

What I did find out after I had picked them and come home is that I picked them a bit too big.  According to Thayer, pods that are 1 – 2 inches are best.  HOWEVER, I thoroughly enjoyed the pods that were 3 – 4 inches long.  I have some that are slightly bigger and I will try them later.  You should know, though, that once they turn brown they are no longer edible.  As with all new foods, please do your own research and, if possible, consult with a local wild food “expert” to make sure that you are following the “rules” of eating wild edibles: 1. positive identification of the plant, 2. eating the correct part of the plant at the right time of development and 3. proper preparation(can you eat it raw or do you have to cook it to make it safe to eat?)

Green (immature) milkweed seed pods (a bit bigger than “prime” according to Sam Thayer but still good in my opinion!)

Milkweed seed pods cut open to expose the silky white middle

Steam/sauteed green milkweed seed pods with butter, salt and pepper

If you are looking for my other posts on wild edibles, they are here:

Purslane

Wood sorrel (shamrocks)

Violets

Ostrich Fern Shoots (fiddleheads)

Wildcraft! board game review 

I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  Please consider subscribing via email or in your favorite reader.  I’m also on Twitter and YouTube!  Have a great day!

Update: I did try the bigger ones and they were fine for me!

4-inch milkweed seed pod boiled in some savory broth and served with some grassfed beef ribs, green beans and lacto-fermented sauerkraut.

Author bio: The Crunchy Mama is a libertarian unschooling mama to three sons, married to her husband since 1998.  They live on their Midwestern homestead of 2 ½ acres with chickens, ducks, dogs and an ever-growing organic vegetable garden.  She is an avid wild food eater.  In general, she’d rather be outside enjoying creation. If you’d like, you can connect with The Crunchy Mama on Twitter @thecrunchymamaYouTube, or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Primal Skills, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

13 Reasons to Use this Wicked Herbal Remedy

by Todd Walker

What if wicked chickens laid deviled eggs?

That’s probably not going to happen. But then again, Monsanto hasn’t tried – yet.

Either way, here’s a wicked sounding herbal remedy that you should consider adding to your home apothecary.

Witch Hazel

Image credit

Witch hazel is a common flowering shrub found in North America. The witchy name came about by its limbs being used in divining, dowsing, or witching for water. A dowser would use a witching wand made out of a stick or branch of witch hazel to find a vein of water underneath the earth. Finding water by witching is still used today.

This practice was considered witchcraft by some religious folk. Whatever your beliefs on witches and magic, this scary sounding plant actually offers many healing qualities.

Here’s 13 of the wicked good benefits of using witch hazel:

NOTE: Witch hazel tinctures made from the plant can be ingested in small amounts. However, the witch hazel on the drug store shelves contains isopropyl alcohol and should never be used internally.

A.) Acne. The leaves, twigs, and bark of the plant are loaded with tannins which act as an astringent. When applied to the skin they help tighten and dry skin.

B.) Hemorrhoids are a pain in the arse! Witch hazel is one of the main ingredients in Preparation H because it works so well to shrink blood vessels. When the SHTF and your run out of over the counter medication, this herbal remedy will be your bottom’s new best friend.

C.) Sore throat and laryngitis. Gargle with a mixture of WH and cloves to relieve and heal sore throats. Again, NOT the drug store kind!

D.) Teething babies with diaper rash. WH will help sooth both ends of your baby.

E.) Bruises, bumps, and sprains. Soak a cloth with WH and wrap it around a bruise overnight to reduce swelling and discoloration. Test your skins reaction before applying any new herbal remedy.

F.) Bleeding. Minor internal bleeding (ulcers and gums) can be treated with WH. Some doctors prescribe WH to help stop bleeding after surgery when appropriate.

G.) Cleanse wounds and reduce inflammation. On my last tattoo, I asked the my artist what he was applying on my tat. Witch hazel. It works as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Use WH on minor scrapes and cuts on your body.

H.) Diarrhea from stomach flu and irritated bowel. Make a sipping tea with WH. Add some mint for taste.

I.) Itchy skin. From poison ivy to sun burn, apply witch hazel to stop the itching. Bug and spider bites respond well to WH, too.

J.) Shaving aid. WH stops razor burn. Styptic pencils contain astringents and use the same properties found in WH to stop bleeding.

K.) Fever. Apply a damp cloth with WH to the forehead or back of the neck to help break a fever. I’ve never tried this, but lots of people swear by this trick.

L.) Swimmers ear. This one I’ve tried. As a kid, my brother and I spent lots of time in the water and got swimmers ear often. Mama would stick a cotton ball soaked in WH in our affected ear(s) to wick the moisture.

M.) Dry and cracked hands. Though it removes oils, the astringent properties also seal moisture in the skin. Use it on your hands when they begin to show signs of cracking from hoeing on your homestead.

Here are two DiY recipe for witch hazel extract: The Mountain Rose Blog and New Life on a Homestead if you’re interested.

Witch hazel is one of the few remaining American medicinal plants allowed by the FDA in over the counter drugs. Our earliest American pioneers knew the effectiveness of witch hazel for all manner of ailment and illness – even without the Food and Drug Administration’s stamp of approval. And they stocked it in their home apothecaries and covered wagons.

How about you? Got any good witch hazel stories? Share them if you’d like in the comment section.

Doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S.

This information is solely for educational purposes. IT IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.  I am not a licensed physician, just sharing information, folks. Do your own due diligence before using any herbal remedy.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Herbal Remedies, Homeopathy, Medical, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Pathfinder Gear Review Interrupted by Randomness

by Todd Walker

Having options and being flexible leads to new discoveries.

This was supposed to be a review of a new piece of gear. But the best laid plans of mice and men tossed a welcomed monkey wrench into my machinery.

I headed out to my proving grounds, an undisturbed slice of heaven in the woods, owned by a good friend. I took my walk-in-woods kit and the new shiny object.

Pathfinders Ultimate Bottle Cooking Set Gen2.

Here’s the shiny object – Pathfinders Ultimate Bottle Cooking Set Gen2.

The plastic bag in the foreground contains Micro Inferno fire starters. A nice addition since we’ve experienced massive raining for a month. Very uncharacteristic in our state.

I gathered tender from hanging dead wood and lit a fire with the ferro rod that came with the kit. I clicked a few pics and went to gather more ‘dry’ wood.

Movement to my right caught my attention. Trespasser was my first thought. Nope. It was my friend’s adult son coming to run off what he assumed was a trespasser.

I’d only met ‘Andy’ once in passing even though I’ve spent lots of time with his dad. Funny how things go that way. But this impromptu meeting proved valuable, for me at least.

We walked down to the fire to rescue it from that ‘dry’ wood. As we stood on a rock in the creek, our makeshift classroom, woods lore took over: wild food foraging, fly fishing, hunting, shaving with a straight razor (may not be considered a bearded woodsman skill – but worthy of manly talk), and all manner of bushcraft.

Our fire was next to the stream Andy had spent his life running. He knew all the freshwater springs feeding the creek – and the location of its edible plants. Bingo!

I filtered some water from a spring feeding into the creek. An unnecessary step according to my new friend who drank from these springs his whole life. I wanted to be safer than sorry. He indulged my added safety step.

With water on to boil, I added pine needles for a cup of tea. Andy jumped from rock to rock across the creek and returned with a single leaf of wild ginger (Hexastylis arifolia) for our brewed concoction. Neither of us had tried the combination of pine needles and ginger. We’re both glad we did this trial-and-error tea. The ginger added a sweetness to the pine needle tea and made it very drinkable.

wild ginger

A wild ginger leaf harvested for DRG to sniff when I got home.

“I wish I could bottle that aroma!” I told Andy.

“You can. I’ve made essential oil from wild ginger for a friend for his soap making hobby.”

Is there nothing my new bushcraft buddy can’t do? was all I was thinking. His dad had told me about Andy’s tinkering skills. He makes beautiful bamboo fly fishing rods (even made a bamboo bicycle), phenomenal  photographer, archer, and now, essential oils from wild plants! And with no institutionalized ‘higher’ education degrees to hang on the wall!

What gives!?

How did he learn so broadly and so thoroughly without those bragging papers professors and corporations and governments say are necessary?

Life changes without notice. It’s random like that. Institutional, factory schooling is rigid. And it stifles, if not completely kills, the natural curiosity encoded in our DNA. Andy immersed his adult life reading what interested him, explored his curiosity, and, as a natural consequence, he’s doing the stuff. Flexibility allows him to stay current on his many skills that give him options.

Options lead to anti-fragility and sustainability.

Talking to smart and interesting people is one of the best educations available. And it’s free!

I never would have known Andy existed if it weren’t for me striking up a conversation and meeting his dad at a dinner party a few years back. Parties are great places to get educated. We became best buds and meeting his son has just widened my scope of things to learn and stuff to do!

On our way out of the nature’s classroom, we picked these for dinner.

chanterelles

Chanterelle – an edible and tasty fungus! Not the green plant.

And the Big Green Egg didn’t let us down…

Chanterelles on the Big Green Egg

Chanterelle on the Big Green Egg ~ with other assorted veggies

The Pathfinder review will be forthcoming. For now, I’ve got chanterelle to dehydrate.

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S.

As always, if you found this useful, please pass it on to your friends. And thanks to all who checked out our new FB page and gave us a ‘like.’

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Gear, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

A Board Game That Could Save Your Life

As a teacher, the importance of play in learning cannot be overstated. Sadly, we’re not allowed to have fun in government schooling anymore. Interest-led learning is out – Procrustean bed style schooling is practiced.

The Crunchy Mama’s review of Wildcraft! reverses the notion that learning is boring. Whether you’re into survival and preparedness or not, this board game is a great way to introduce kids and adults to the world of wild food foraging. It might even save you one day!

—————–

Wildcraft! board game — an excellent and fun introduction to wild edibles and medicinal plants

BY THECRUNCHYMAMACHRONICLES ON JULY 12, 2013

Good day, friends!  I want to share with you today my review of a board game that introduces children and adults to wild edible and medicinal plants.  The board game is called Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game created by Kimberly Gallagher with herbalist John Gallagher and artist Beatriz Mendoza.  I purchased this game 2 months ago and I receive no monetary benefit by recommending this product to you.

I wanted to write this post because my family is wild about Wildcraft!  I don’t have to twist my children’s arms to play it — they ask us to play it and they have shared their enthusiasm for the game with others (such as Nana and cousins).  Actually, my two oldest realized that they can play without mommy or daddy and play it at least once a week on their own.

Of course, their enthusiasm is not the top reason that I take the time to write this post for you.  The subject of the game, wild edible and medicinal plants, and this terrific approach to learning them is the top reason.  I have written several posts on wild edibles (1234) because I am enthusiastic about fresh, local, nutritious and free food; I desire to share my first-hand knowledge of wild edibles with you because I believe that you might share or acquire my enthusiasm for wild edibles.  I use herbs for health and specific ailments and have done so for the past 6 years or so but I would not call myself an herbalist or herb expert.  Of course, I always want to learn more and I pick up herbal knowledge here and there, as needed.

As with other things of importance in life, I want to teach my children about wild edible and medicinal plants.  My oldest (who is 8 years old as of this writing) can identify quite a few wild edibles and he, like his mother, loves to share with others his wild edible knowledge :)  Wildcraft! board game is a great way to reinforce the things that we have already learned as well as to learn even more.

I’ve created a 3-minute video to introduce you to the game.  It’s here:

<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/IZHKXeD1x2A?feature=player_embedded&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

My middle son (age 6) really enjoys the game for the “adventure” of the game, the matching aspect, the cooperation aspect, and, like the Gallagher’s children as explained here, the shortcuts and slides of the game.  I love the fact that they are learning the names and pictures of useful wild plants.  For families who have no or little previous experience with using wild plants, it gives an introduction to the concept that nature provides plants to help us stay healthy, to heal our wounds and ailments and to meet our nutritional needs.  Unfortunately, many children and adults in our “fast food and drug store” culture have never been exposed to those ideas.  For various reasons, many people from that culture decide to pursue a more natural path for their health and well-being.  This game is a terrific help for newbies to learn some of the wild edible and medicinal plants that nature provides.

While I do really love the game, there is one thing that I was disappointed in.  The game does not teach any specifics on how the plants can be used to cure ailments or to fulfill hunger.  One of the top things about eating wild edibles is learning which part of the plant you can eat, at what stage in development you can eat it, and how to properly prepare it (i.e. does it need to be boiled in 3 changes of water?).  Some plants have edible and toxic parts so it is vital that you know those things.  It’s the same with medicinal plants.  You must know which part is safe to use, how to prepare the part, how to use the part (i.e. is it safe to ingest or can it only be applied externally?), and how much to use.  The creators do acknowledge this and have provided a lot of freebies (e-books including a cookbook and a 10-video beginning herbal lesson series) to help you learn how to use the plants to meet your health needs.  I personally went through the 10-video herbal lesson, learned from it and enjoyed it.

The price is $37.00.  For some, that price might seem a bit high for “just a game”.  I certainly  understand.  For our one-income family, it was money well-spent.  We will continue to enjoy playing this game, learning better and better how wild edible and medicinal plants can help us.  And we will continue to learn the deeper learning material offered as freebies including a monthly herbal newsletter.

If you are on the fence about spending that much on a game, here is some great news — they guarantee that you will love Wildcraft! or they will refund your money AND you can keep the game!

Even if you do not have children in your life, as long as you have another person who is also interested in learning wild edible and medicinal plants, I highly recommend that you get and play the game together and, of course, learn and start using the plants in your cooking and for your minor ailments.  Of course, if you are on prescription drugs, you should consult with your physician to make sure that the herbs that you are interested in incorporating into your “medicine chest” will not cause you problems.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, they are sold out of the game.  Their website indicates that they will have more by the fall (2013) and that you can enter your email address to be notified when the game is again in stock and available for purchase.  The space to enter your email address is at the bottom of the webpage.

If you have purchased this game, I’d love to hear what you think of the game!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.  If you like what you’ve read, please consider subscribing via email or by following me on Twitter or YouTube (where I upload videos more often than I post on my blog).

Author bio: The Crunchy Mama is a libertarian unschooling mama to three sons, married to her husband since 1998.  They live on their Midwestern homestead of 2 ½ acres with chickens, ducks, dogs and an ever-growing organic vegetable garden.  She is an avid wild food eater.  In general, she’d rather be outside enjoying creation. If you’d like, you can connect with The Crunchy Mama on Twitter @thecrunchymama, YouTube, or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

 

Categories: Herbal Remedies, Real Food, Survival Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Purslane: A Prolific Prepper Powerhouse

Crunchy Mama, a regular guest contributor here, shows you how to get your omega-3 fatty acids without eating fish oil capsules and having fish breath. Good information to know and practice before and after a SHTF event.

DISCLAIMER: This information is offered for educational purposes only. Do your own due diligence before foraging wild edibles of any kind.

Originally published on her site The Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

Succulent, Delicious Garden Weed: Purslane

by THE CRUNCHY MAMA 

Image

Welcome to another installment of Crunchy Mama’s Wild Food Adventures!  I am pleased to present one of my favorite summer wild edibles: purslane (Portulaca oleracea)!  I noticed purslane last year in my organic veggie garden.  It was prolific (because we had put an irrigation system in).  Once I found out that it was edible, I tried it and I really enjoyed eating it.  It is a mild-tasting, very slightly lemony, succulent vegetable that happens to be grown outside of the U.S., on purpose, to be eaten as one of the most nutritious vegetables around.  In the U.S., most folks call it a weed.

An acquaintance of mine mentioned that she developed an allergy to purslane.  So, I am going to give a variation of the warning that just about every wild food blogger (teacher, etc.) gives to his/her audience: Whenever you eat food that you have never eaten before, you should only have a little so that you can see how your body reacts to the new food.  Additionally, you really should get solid confirmation from several reputable sources that the plant that you’d like to eat is what you think it is.  I often take videos and photos of plants that I am unsure of and post them in wild edibles forums such as the forum at Eat the Weeds and several wild edible Facebook groups.

Benefits of purslane:

According John Kallas, purslane is extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and glutathione (140). Other sources say it is high in vitamin A and C.  If you grow it on purpose, it is drought-tolerant once established.  Because it contains mucilage, it is very soothing to mucus membranes in your digestive system.  Other foods and medicinal plants that contain mucilage are: okra, slippery elm, marsh mallow (not the white sticky sweet treat), chia seeds, flax seeds, and aloe.

Here blogger Meghan Telpner writes about the health benefits of mucilaginous foods.

Videos

Here is a video by YouTube user thejourneyoutdoors in which he shows purslane and a toxic look-alike which he calls spurge.  After digging around to find out the scientific name for the toxic plant, I found out that it is Euphorbia maculata (or prostrate spurge).  The biggest help to find out if a plant is spurge or purslane is if it has a milky sap.  Purslane has clear liquid inside.

Here is a video that I made in which I show another purslane look-alike.  I am pretty sure that it is prostrate pigweed or mat amaranth (Amaranthus blitoides).

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Here are a few more videos on purslane by fellow YouTubers.

My experiences with the plant and what others say about it

I have only eaten it raw in salads or just as-is when I am working in the garden.  However, I have read from several sources that you can cook it with other things and it will thicken the dish in the same way that okra would thicken a dish.  This is because it is mucilaginous.  The mucilage is released when it is cooked.

Purslane-containing recipes (along with other tidbits on purslane):

http://www.culinarymusings.com/2008/06/purslane-not-a-weed-but-a-wonder/

http://www.prairielandcsa.org/recipes/purslane.html

Tomato, Cucumber, and Purslane Salad

http://www.mariquita.com/recipes/purslane.html

http://www.gardenguides.com/115934-purslane-recipes.html

Pickled Purslane

Look-alike plants

Amaranthus blitoides images  — this plant is not toxic; I’ve read from some sources that they are edible but I have no experience with preparing and consuming them.

Euphorbia maculata images — this plant has milky sap and is toxic to include giving you a skin rash

Itemization for (or how to identify) purslane:

Identification: The stems are smooth and red and the leaves are spatulate-shaped and thick.  The leaves grow directed from the red stems, usually in clusters. The leaves have a glittery sheen to them (as compared to a clear shininess on A. blitoides — see my video for comparison).  The leaf veins are subdued, probably because it is a succulent plant. This is a sprawling plant (meaning it grows along the ground instead of upward).

Time of Year: Purslane likes hot weather.

Environment:  It will thrive in moist, fertile soil but it is drought tolerant.  It likes plenty of sunshine.

Method of preparation: You can eat the stems, leaves, flowers and seeds (but not the root).  Eat them raw or cooked.

Resources on purslane:

Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas (pages 129 – 140)

http://www.msuturfweeds.net/details/_/common_purslane_34/

Resources on “prostrate pigweed” or “mat amaranth” (Amaranthus blitoides):

http://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/species/amaranthus/blitoides/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranthus_blitoides

http://practicalplants.org/wiki/Amaranthus_blitoides

http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Amaranthus+blitoides

Resources on prostrate spurge (Euphorbia maculata) — the TOXIC one:

http://www.msuturfweeds.net/details/_/prostrate_spurge_38/

http://ontariowildflowers.com/main/species.php?id=604

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia_maculata

 (The sap of this plant is a skin irritant and will cause a rash similar to Poison Ivy. Use gloves when pulling this weed.)

http://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/spotted-spurge

 (“Commonly there is a faint to prominent red splotch mid-leafbut not always. Stems are up to 16 inches long, typically prostrate but occasionally ascending some, sparsely to densely hairy, often reddish colored, branching frequently, forming large circular mats.”)  That it is hairy is a big clue that it is NOT purslane.

Wow!  That’s a lot of information on purslane and its look-alikes!  Better to have more information than not enough when it comes to wild edibles. Thanks for reading and if you’d like to see more posts and videos from me please subscribe to me on my urban homestead blog,  Twitter and/or on YouTube.  Have a great day today!

Author bio: The Crunchy Mama is a libertarian unschooling mama to three sons, married to her husband since 1998.  They live on their Midwestern homestead of 2 ½ acres with chickens, ducks, dogs and an ever-growing organic vegetable garden.  She is an avid wild food eater.  In general, she’d rather be outside enjoying creation.  She can be followed on Twitter @thecrunchymama or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

Categories: Real Food, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Free Feral Food ~ The Missing Link in Prepper Pantries

by Todd Walker

Before the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago, our ancestors hunted and gathered feral food. The plants they foraged contained phytonutrients absorbed through the ground, sun, moon, and air.

Before you click away to search for a conventional way to obtain vital nutrients to supplement your pantry, you need to know the benefits foraging feral foods.

What do I mean by feral food?

The dictionary defines feral as: not domesticated or cultivated; uncivilized, untamed, uncontrolled.

You get the picture. Feral + Food = Nutrient Dense Food

But I like sweet corn! Do I have to give it up?

Nope. Just know that this mutated weakling has little nutritional value compared to its wild cousin.

Source: Nutritional Weaklings in the Supermarket

A New York Times opinion piece by Jo Robinson demonstrates that modern agriculture has breed nutrients out of our food. Open the graphic above and take a look at what’s missing in your pantry of conventionally cultivated foods. Don’t be fooled by Madison Avenue’s slick ads for BigAg and our Industrial Food Machine and its mono-crops. It may look like it’s loaded with nutrition, but it’s just imitates real food.

I’ve interviewed U.S.D.A. plant breeders who have spent a decade or more developing a new variety of pear or carrot without once measuring its nutritional content. We can’t increase the health benefits of our produce if we don’t know which nutrients it contains. Ultimately, we need more than an admonition to eat a greater quantity of fruits and vegetables: we need more fruits and vegetables that have the nutrients we require for optimum health.” 

- Source

Benefits of being a feral foodie

Instead of putting your survival and health on the line, you should build redundancy in your foodstuffs. We all know and understand the danger of depending on only one source for anything. Two is one – one is none. So, start supplementing your dinner plate with wild stuff.

Here’s a few benefits of our free feral food.

  • They’re everywhere. An entire industry has been created to stop their spread. The manicured lawn owner shrieks in horror when the neighbor’s child blows her freshly picked dandelion seed head from across the street! It’s a losing battle trying to tame these wild things.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals that are absent in conventional, tamed food.
  • In a survival situation, these foods can not only keep you alive, but help you thrive.
  • Low maintenance. Unlike their civilized garden cousins, feral foods don’t have to be watered, fertilized, or cultivated. They just do what they were bred to do – grow wild – even in extreme conditions.
  • Here’s the best part – they’re FREE! They also can supplement expensive vitamins. A local organic farmer even makes money selling dandelion greens at our local farmers market. But you can harvest your own and save money. Just make sure the area hasn’t been contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals.

Don’t Plow Under Your Garden

What am I suggesting? Ditch your garden and let the weeds take over?

No.

I’m not delusional. I totally get that our modern lifestyle doesn’t allow us to spend hours harvesting wild food. Feral foods don’t grow in office cubicles where many of us spend most of our working lives. You’re doing good just to grow a garden now a days.

What I am saying is…

Get in touch with your wild side – one weed at a time. Gradually adding feral foods is the strategy.

A teaching buddy of mine and I often wonder who was the first human to eat stinging nettles. The conversation may have gone like this.

“All righty then. Grok, you drew the short straw. Try this one!”

Not a recommended edibility test! You might wind up dead.

First, learn to properly identify edible feral food. There are several books and resources that can help you get started. The best method would be for you to find a local wild food expert and learn from him or her. My buddy Durable Faith has found such an expert a few miles from his home and is learning from her. He’s also practicing permaculture - caring for wild spaces that already exist to benefit his family.

Crunchy Mama has contributed articles here that will help you connect with your true nature on her wild food adventures. There are video tutorials available as well on your web surfing machine. I like Eat the Weeds.

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Even More Feral Food Resources

Start adding feral foods to supplement your family’s eating plan. If an event happens that stops the food delivery system to your super market, you’d be one step ahead if you’re already practiced in eating feral foods.

Here’s my usual disclaimer: You should never eat feral foods without checking with a local wild food expert.

There! I feel better.

What do you think? Are feral foods a viable food option for optimizing your preps and health? Let us know your wild thoughts in the comments, please.

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S.

As always, if you like what you’ve read, please share it if you think it will add value to your tribe!

Categories: Bushcraft, Natural Health, Primal Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

Wood Sorrel: A Vitamin C Rich Wild Food

Crunchy Mama, one of our guest contributors, serves up another wild food you should add to your hunt-gather-eat list. Be sure to check out her bio at the end of the post on how she and her family are doing the stuff!

DISCLAIMER: This information is offered for educational purposes only. Do your own due diligence before foraging wild edibles of any kind.

Green Sour Butterfly Leaves (Wood Sorrel; Oxalis) — Crunchy Mama’s Wild Edible Adventures

BY THECRUNCHYMAMACHRONICLES - Guest Contributor

Greetings, friends!  Next up in my wild edibles series is wood sorrel.  Wood sorrel might be mistaken by new foragers for clover but after reading this post you will know how to distinguish it from clover.  It is similar to clover in that it has three small leaves coming from the end of a small stem.  Wood sorrel, however, has three heart-shaped leaves and the veins in the leaflets radiate out from the base whereas clover has three egg-shaped leaves and the veins in the leaflet come out from various points from the center vein.  The wood sorrel flowers have 5 petals and the clover flowers have “lots of tiny pea-like flowers clustered together on flower heads” (Kallas).  Click here to see images of clover flowers.  Both clover leaves and flowers and wood sorrel leaves and flowers are edible but the taste difference is very distinct.

Wood sorrel between my fingers

 
Wood sorrel has a bright, sour, lemony flavor.  Clover does not have this sour flavor.  The sour flavor comes from a mixture of acids including oxalic acid; a common warning to those with kidney problems, gout, etc. is that they should avoid plants with oxalic acid.  Everyone should be aware that consuming vast amounts of foods with oxalic acid might cause problems (see below for more links regarding oxalic acid).  Many “normal” foods have oxalic acid but there are no big warning labels on them regarding oxalic acid (spinach, swiss chard, and beet greens, okra, figs, peanuts to name a few, according to http://juicing-for-health.com/oxalic-acid.html).  John Kallas writes, “[i]n spite of many authors claiming so, oxalates are not a problem for normal healthy humans eating a normally diverse diet.”  You will need to do your own research and decide what works for you. 
 
One of its nutritional benefits when consumed as part of a varied diet and in moderation (whatever THAT means — sarcasm) is that it is high in vitamin C.  Another source says that it is high in vitamin A.  Kallas reports that it is high in iron and calcium.
 
 
Other names it might be called are: sour grass, shamrock (although clovers are sometimes called shamrock so I would avoid calling wood sorrel shamrock), yellow oxalis, sour clover, or oxalis (after the genus that it belongs to).
 
I have personally only eaten wood sorrel as “trail nibble”, meaning that I just picked some leaves and ate them then and there.  Because of the oxalic acid, the surface of your teeth will feel strange for a few minutes.  It’s the same feeling that you would get after eating raw spinach leaves (for the same reason: oxalic acid). 
 
Poisonous look-alikes? No
 
Here is the itemization for wood sorrel:
 
Identification: Herbaceous (non-woody) plant with slender rhizomes; each leaf (green or plum-colored) is made of three heart-shaped leaflets that are an inch or less in length and they grow out from one point at the end of the leaf stalk (aka the petiole, pronounced PET ee ohl) and each leaflet has a crease along the middle and the leaflets can open and close depending on the weather (like a butterfly); the small flowers can be yellow or violet and have 5 petals. 
 
Time of year: spring through fall
 
Environment: Found in the lower 48 States. Likes partly shady areas and moist soil.
 
Method of preparation: You can eat the leaves, flowers and pods raw or cooked.  John Kallas recommends that when you snip off the leaves and flowers that you snip about 1/2 inch down the stem (from the leaves and flowers).  The stem is fibrous so you do not want to include much of the stem.  You can include some wood sorrel in your salad (maybe 20% of your greens) or you  can add them to soups or make a tangy sauce with them (see Kallas’ book for the recipes).  You can dry the stems, bundle them together with some clean string and make a tea by seeping the dried stems for a minute or two in hot water, according to Kallas.
 

Additional resources for learning more about wood sorrel:

John Kallas’ Edible Wild Plants pages 177-190 (This book is one of the BEST books on wild edibles! Go read the reviews!)

Green Deane’s http://www.eattheweeds.com/sorrel-not-a-sheepish-rumex/

Steve Brill’s http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Sorrel.html

http://www.american-lawns.com/problems/weeds/wood_sorrel.html

http://kingdomplantae.net/yellowWoodSorrel.php

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sorwoo68.html

More reading on oxalic acid:

http://juicing-for-health.com/oxalic-acid.html (“ORGANIC oxalic acid is essential for our body. It is the INORGANIC form of
oxalic acid that we need to be aware of.”)

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400344/Avoid-Vegetables-with-Oxalic-Acid.html

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for updates to her blog or following her on Twitter.com/@TheCrunchyMama)!

Author bio: The Crunchy Mama is a libertarian unschooling mama to three sons, married to her husband since 1998.  They live on their Midwestern homestead of 2 ½ acres with chickens, ducks, dogs and an ever-growing organic vegetable garden.  She is an avid wild food eater.  In general, she’d rather be outside enjoying creation.  She can be followed on Twitter @thecrunchymama or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

Categories: Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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