Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Everything is food food food...

Ya'll remember Popeye th' movie? That song they sang, Everything is food-
Well, that's why we haven't been writing on here much lately-
Stocking up for fall, winter, harvesting and drying-
Acorns. So many acorns. 

Wild (or feral) Oregano
We were having a pik-nik up near Estes Park, and while munching on Chickweed, which is abundant up there when wait wait- what's that smell? We're sitting in a patch of oregano!

We harvested loads of crab apples as well- sold about twelve pounds of them at th' farmers market, made apple butter, apple turn-overs, mixed them with fruit leather to add tartness, juiced 'em up, and of course, ate them raw.

crab apple tree loaded to th' full

farmers market table
Sitting at th' markets was really neat- as for th' wild foods, it was the old and the young which were most interested, and we got to hear a lot of old tales of people eating wild foods when they were younger- a tradition that seems to have plummeted after th' second world war.

 With our long warm spring, no late frosts, th' fruiting this year was very heavy. We even got peaches, which almost never fruit here in Ft. Collins, and th' acorn crop is heavier than i can ever remember it here. There are literally acorns everywhere, here's some typical scenes.

It was not hard to fill a five gallon pannier bag in under twenty minutes. And there's still more on th' tree ripening, better stock up though, if it's this heavy this year, there's a good chance there won't be very many next year. From here they get to th' drying racks, we use old screens and shallow strawberry boxes, which stack real nicely and allow good air circulation. 

So far we've got around thirty pounds drying, with more on th' way- 
last year we ran out of acorns in january, and we'd really like to avoid that happening again. 

And of course we harvested Choke Cherries.
Here's Beth in a tree- you really gotta get in there like a bear to experience th' full adventure of pickin choke cherries.

nothing like ripe choke cherries.
rinsed and ready to eat by th' handful.
And we've been harvesting plums, grapes, and ground cherries.

plums and ground cherries

th' ones on th' right are drying for our morning oats.
oats with dried plums and evening primrose seeds

wild plums and grapes

ground cherries
And we've harvested our years supply of wild mint for tea, which we mix with linden flowers or chamomile and wild licorice root- an excellent night time brew.

mentha arvensis drying for tea
Here's another of our favorites, Silver Buffalo Berries (Shepherdia Canadensis).

silver buffalo berries
These plants look  much like the Russian Olive, to which they are closely related. 
These are a very important food for us as they are native to th' mountain west we so dearly love, and live in, and they were a staple food crop for many of the native americans who lived and travelled throughout their range. In Cheyenne culture, th' women would go out together and gather berries for winter. I'm really glad that these days i get to do some picking of them myself.  

They hang on th' trees for a long time if th' birds don't eat them, being nice and tart and slowly ripening into a tomato like flavor. We like them tart- and so usually try to pick them before they fully ripen. You can also make "indian ice cream" from them by mashing them into juice and frothing them with a whisk. I like to carry around a few loaded branches like th' ones in th' picture above and snack on them all day. They've a little seed inside which some folk like and others don't, i usually just spit them out, but beth and fynn chew them up.

And of course there's been some fruit leather a goin on

crab apple and wild plum

And we've been eating watercress, making watercress butter, and harvesting it for restaurants here in town.
watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

And here's a false dandelion (Hypochaeris radicata) in front of a digging stick i carved for root crops- i'll write more about that on our crafts blog soon.

And while up in the Red Feather area recently, we found these amazing lichens that grow in circles.

So now i'll leave you with that song from Popeye...

Well i think that's about enough for now, enjoy.


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