Last year, right around this time I posted a couple ‘o Holiday Gift Guides; one for restaurant pros and one for geeky home cooks. I promised a third list focused on foragers and the gear they’d like to see stuffed in their thick woollen stockings (that sounded dirty) so here we go! (more…)
Nestled in the pine beetle-infested cockles of south-central BC, along the Cariboo Highway waaaaaay past the mountains is a sleepy little valley with a really strange name:
108 Mile House (along with a handful of other stops along this route) were once inns for American prospectors back in the 1850s providing a chance to rest and avoid bear attacks between civilization and the big Barkerville mines up North. Nowadays it’s a quiet little spot with a museum, clean public restrooms, poorly marked mountain biking trails, pissed-off looking cows and acres of wild raspberry bushes.
I’d never seen raspberries in the ‘ol wide open before! There my wife and I were, only a quarter mile from the highway, turning the map ‘round and ‘round in the dwindling light wondering if the local farmers would ever find our bodies when Crystal, surveying the endless meadow says, “Well, at least we won’t starve…” The bushes we’d been riding by for the last couple ‘o hours were all exploding with tiny red miracles of flavour. (more…)
This year’s non-winter has accelerated the growth of not only my herb garden, but all the greenery on the island. The footpaths and bike trails are ablaze with tiny neon-green shoots a month or so earlier than expected and font yards are dotted with confused-looking crocuses and daffodils.
It’s time to get foraging! The local bogs are full of various strange and wonderful plant life that can only be harvested for food during this early stage of growth. The vanguard of these spring edibles are fiddleheads: Immature ferns that spend only a couple ‘o weeks each year as tightly-curled delicacies resembling the head of a violin before opening up and becoming just another leaf adrift in the great ocean of green.
“I wish I knew half what the flock of them know
Of where all the berries and other things grow,
Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top
Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop.
I met them one day and each had a flower
Stuck into his berries as fresh as a shower;
Some strange kind–they told me it hadn’t a name.“
– Robert Frost, Blueberries (more…)
It’s May and the green belt behind our house is just that. Green! A chlorophyll wonderland of shimmering leaves, budding tree branches and ferns studded with tiny little purple flowers that I can’t identify but look so freakin cute! Viewed from my kitchen window the scene overwhelms the senses. So much is growing and moving. So much is green! My eyes focus and unfocus wildly, trying hopelessly to impose some order on all this chaos, this emerald leviathan, this explosion of life.
And the edibles! Dandelions, fiddleheads, salmonberry shoots, nettles and everything else I’ve been gushing about for the last three or four posts. It’s a forager’s paradise! And now, I can add Miner’s Lettuce (aka: Indian Lettuce, Winter Purslane and Spring Beauty) to my growing list of spring pickings. (more…)