Monday, April 4, 2016

Crazy and Fun Kitchen Experimenting and Foraging

It all started with my new book that arrived in the mail- Pascal Bauder's new book, The New Wildcrafted Cuisine, which I received as a review copy (the review will be coming soon, this post is just a little taste), and I've been devouring.

The book makes you see the foods in the wild and in your kitchen (even if you're not a forager) from a completely new perspective, with unique ways of preparing those foods, and after reading only half the book, I got a hankering to get my groove on in the kitchen and do something interesting and different.

So last night, I went out and foraged some redbud blossoms, lavender, rosemary, and green almonds. I put some lavender and rosemary and green almonds each in their own separate container and then covered them with vinegar to infuse them, and hopefully make some tasty flavored vinegars.

After that, I decided to try dehydrating things as well. I sliced the green almonds thinly and dehydrated them, as well as redbud blossoms and lavender stalks. Since I had the oven going, I decided to see what else I could dehydrate, and got inspired to dehydrate some ferments as well- I did some fermented carrots, fermented wild fennel stalks, and fermented tomato/wild fennel/mint salsa. I reserved the liquid from the salsa and will be using that to make a salad dressing.

Top tray- redbud. Midle tray- fermented fennel fronds, fermented carrots, and unseen- fermented tomato/fennel/mint salsa. Bottom tray- green almonds, lavender.

After those dehydrated the entire night, I ground them each up individually. The inspiration was Pascal's wild kimchi powder that he uses as a spice, and now I have redbud powder, pickled carrot powder, pickled fennel powder, fennel/tomato/mint salsa powder, green almond powder, and lavender powder. 

Clockwise from top: sugar with lavender and redbud, green almonds, redbud, fermented tomato/fennel/mint salsa, lavender, fermented carrots fermented fennel fronds

Some taste amazing on their own (pickled carrot powder, salsa powder), and others taste ok on their own, but are true winners when combined- the redbud and lavender powders were combined to make both a savory and a sweet mix- savory I used to season chicken- which was wonderful... 

Chicken breast with lavender and redbud powder.
My kids' favorite was the lavender and redbud powder blended with a bit of sugar- my kids just wanted more and more. And not just because of the sugar. I can imagine it would taste amazing sprinkled on cookies or ice cream.
Afterwards, the kids and I went to the city to forage in the forest- I was specifically after dock, which I wanted to use for something specific, and I knew of a giant patch of dock- where you could pick a garbage bag sized amount of dock in a few minutes, and still leave plenty for others.

Only half of the dock I collected!

I'd also wanted to check out some new plants, see what I could forage in the forest there that I couldn't near my home, and ended up nearly entirely with plants I'd never foraged before.

My friend Ruth came along, and I guess we were just feeding off each other's energy, and because of that, we both got inspired to dig for tubers, something I'd never done in the past- I got a large bag of a local type of tuber, as well as a medium bag of salsify tubers (as well as some flower buds).

Salsify root

Last night I learned that hawthorn leaves are edible and tasty, so since I passed some today, I decided to give them a try. Surprisingly, they don't have much taste. Not bitter, not sharp, not sour, not astringent. Just "plain". I picked some to experiment with. I think it would be nice as a green in salad, but I can't wait to try it out cooked as well.

Edible and tasty hawthorn leaves
I picked some chasteberry "fruit" to grind and use as a flavoring.

And while we were out foraging, the kids and I picked up some recyclable trash that we found in the woods, and then after we finished foraging, we went to the grocery store, got paid some cash for our recycling (helping the environment and making money in one go) and I also I bought 15 packages of super cheap gluten free bread.

And then I came home and I was in trouble.

There was no room in my fridge to put anything away.

First I needed to empty out my fridge of whatever I could.

I still had a really large amount of celery in there- even after my celery feast the other day. I made up a batch of celery kimchi- they get packed down and take up a lot less room that way, and it stays outside the fridge, and hopefully we'll have a delicious condiment in a few days or a week.

Celery kimchi.

There were some crumbled leftover carrot cornbread muffins in the fridge that were taking up room, so I decided to toast them to use as crumbs for various recipes, like shnitzels.

The huge bag of wild fennel went into the oven to dehydrate, after which it will be ground up to be used as a seasoning.

And then there was another inspiration from Pascal. He makes an instant soup powder from ground dehydrated wild greens, which made me think- why not do the same with my standard soup vegetables. So I took a bunch of carrots, chopped them up, including some that accidentally froze in the fridge and therefore their texture would be less than ideal, some celery, and a slightly woody lone radish, that were taking up room in the fridge, and that also went to dehydrate.

And half the dock I picked today went into the oven to dehydrate as well, to make into powders.

Top tray- veggies for instant soup powder, middle tray- dock, bottom tray-fennel.

Meanwhile, I still had a huge amount of tomatoes and a large amount of peppers in my fridge taking up room, so I decided to make and can some tomato pepper salsa using my water bath canning method.

Salsa jars filled, then needing washing, and then canning.
The jars are currently cooling and the veggies dehydrating, and I plan on using tomorrow to figure out how to use my new ingredients, as well as make some fermented Moroccan style carrot salad.

I also had to clean my freezer to make room for the bread I purchased, and in doing so, I discovered some long lost frozen fruit, which I mixed with leftover plain rice and water, which will then be cooked up into a rice pudding type porridge in the morning for breakfast.

I was inspired by Pascal and my too packed to the point of being unusable kitchen, but because of that, I got so much done and learned a lot, and discovered new things. Sometimes you just need that little push!

I love saving money in the kitchen; I love foraging. I love figuring out new ways to make foods and inventing and exploring. Today I did all of them, and it was awesome!

What are you doing in the kitchen lately? Any foraging? Any cool money saving things? Any preserving?


  1. When do you have time to do all of this???????

    1. During the time I should be cleaning my house. :-P Haha.

  2. The instant soup idea is really good; I need to figure cost of electricity to dry though.

    Borderlands Food Bank here sells massive quantities of rescued produce for a $10 donation...lots of soup veg available.

  3. Very, very inspiring stuff. I live in a built up city area and have put foraging on the back burner a little. Here the local council's, water board and individual land owners use pesticides to control weeds. This practice scared me so I stopped foraging. I was inspired to forage by our guinea pigs who had a ferocious appetite for delectable greens that grew wild. Guinea pigs are very particular animals and know which are the most nutritious and tasty weeds. After reading about weeds the pigs ate I learnt that foraged weeds are also good for humans. From there I soon discovered that plants labelled as weed in my culture are a delicacy in other cultures. What a shame that the use of pesticides is so widespread and minds so closed to the potential of weeds. Walking about looking for things to pick and eat I used to think that no one need to go hungry if we only knew how to use plants growing wild in our environments.

    1. Thats hard. They use pesticides in certain areas I would have loved to forage so I have to travel a little further to forage, or ask neighbors with untamed yard to forage there.
      Speaking of animals, when we used to have a yard, I foraged greens for our chickens and rabbits to eat, had no idea that what I was giving them was food we could eat too!

  4. I'm amazed at how much you can forage! I still haven't tried it...not sure where I can go without pesticides that is not protected land. Want to figure that out at some point.

  5. Awesome! I just got the book myself, and only cracked it open this week Still snow on the ground here, though so my wildcraft foraging will have to wait a bit. (or at least another trip to the grocery store). So glad I found this blog too! So many great and frugal ideas to try out!


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