Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Spring FOREST-to-TABLE Event

Learn how to identify mushrooms and wild edibles in their native setting! Indulge yourself in a gourmet, 5 course meal featuring items found on the foray! Learn new skills, meet exciting new people, and enjoy a unique and memorable experience on our second annual Spring "FOREST-to-TABLE" event!

We will be searching for morels, like this fine specimen, on the foray. There will also be many other wild edibles to discover.

Saturday, May 10th, 10:00
Location TBD


Should you choose to join us for the dinner portion of the event, you will be treated to a 5 course meal featuring premium foraged items from across the region, wild game, and local beer and wine pairings.

Last year's dinner table. 
The truffle risotto was a huge hit. Made with fresh Washington Cascade truffles. It was to die for! If you've never enjoyed truffle mushrooms, it's a must-do "bucket list" item.
Last year's main course selections were venison in a morel sauce, and a wild caught trout filet served on fried polenta with a wild mushroom ragout. It was amazing!
A wild green salad tossed in watercress Vinaigrette.
For dessert we enjoyed huckleberry shortcake.

Tuesday, May 13th, 6:00
Orlando's on the Spokane Community College campus

Please register today, seating is limited and is first-come-first-serve. Also note that a portion of each plate sold will be donated to the Inland Northwest Culinary Academy, a non-profit organization hosting the event.

Friday, April 4, 2014

If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em: Dandelions

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is a common mantra often expressed by many foragers. In the world of wild greens and edibles, nothing epitomizes this statement more than dandelions. It seems that all methods we have tried in order to eradicate the species have failed. In this regard, it is true that the dandelion maybe one of the world's most successful plants. Instead of spraying and weeding-out these flowers in an attempt to "beat 'em", here are some important reasons why a better approach is to "join 'em"

  • Dandelions are a green and growing first aid kit. For millennium, dandelion tonics have been used to help the body’s filter, the liver, remove toxins from the bloodstream. In olden times, dandelions were prescribed for every ailment from warts to the plague. To this day, herbalists hail the dandelion as the perfect plant medicine: It is a gentle diuretic that provides nutrients and helps the digestive system function at peak efficiency. 
  • Dandelions are more nutritious than most of the vegetables in your garden.  They have more vitamin A than spinach, more vitamin C than tomatoes, and are a powerhouse of iron, calcium and potassium.
  • Dandelions are good for your lawn. Their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the earth and help reduce erosion. The deep taproot pulls nutrients such as calcium from deep in the soil and makes them available to other plants. Dandelions actually fertilize the grass. 
  • Excessive use of harmful herbicides can have many unintended consequences. Millions of wild birds are killed annually by the use of common lawn herbicides. House pets and young children can also become sick from these harmful chemicals. 

In other words, if you can't beat 'em, join em. Here are some great ways to take advantage of the many benefits offered by dandelions.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Favorite Mushroom Movie

Below is a link where you can view the documentary entitled Know Your Mushrooms. This movie is a must-view for all wild mushroom enthusiasts. I like to watch it every Spring as a source of inspiration for the upcoming season. It's a great documentary that focuses on mushroom culture, mushroom gypsies, and a morel gold mine that you probably don't know about.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Morels of 2014--The Season has begun!

Grey morels from outside the Atlanta area. Georgia and Tennessee are known to produce the first morels of the season. It will still be at least another month before we have morels in the Inland Northwest. Southern Oregon/Northern California spots should begin fruiting anytime now as well.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

FRESH WILD GREENS: Coming Soon to a Yard Near You!

As winter continues to drag on into late February, rest assured that RELIEF IS COMING! Granted it will be coming in the form of "intrusive" garden weeds, but take note: some of these "weeds" are among the MOST HEALTHY items growing anywhere, including your own veggie beds. Here's just one of these powerful wild herbs.

Chickweed grows in a sprawling, matted fashion. It has a weak stem and each side of the stem is graced by a single line of hairs. These hairs rotate 90 degrees each time that the hairs meet a pair of leaves along the stem. The delicate white flower at the top is also unique. The plant can grow in almost any well-drained soil area, including: roadside, in grass yards, veggie and flower beds, and vacant lots. The plant is all edible and the taste resembles a cross between spinach and kale. One of the greatest health benefits of this weed is blood purification, to improve kidney and liver health. The plant is also used topically to treat a number of common skin irritations, like rashes and eczema. 

Here is a picture of a small amount of chickweed that I harvested out of my veggie beds last year on March 20th. Eat the plant raw, use it as the sole ingredient in a small salad, or add it to your regular green salad for a wild boost. Or, try making an invigorating Chickweed Pesto.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Morel scouting 2014: Summer Wildfires

Large forest fires are one of the best ways to find lots of morels. Find a wildfire near you and head out to find morels in the Spring. Here in the Spokane/Post Falls/Couer D'Alene area (1900-2200 ft elevation), morels typically begin fruiting sometime in the second or third week of April. However, most other parts of the country begin finding morels much earlier.

Burn morels often grow in multi-headed clusters, like this one.
The link below is to a database of all recent wildfires. Find one near you and check it out in the Spring. A fire from the previous summer is always best, but any burn up to 4 or 5 years old should also be productive. Just make sure that the fire was timber, not grass or brush. Hit that spot at the right time in the Spring and keep your eyes peeled. Burn morels are black morels and can be VERY difficult to spot. Good Luck!!!