Up North and Off the Grid: Dining WildViki Mather July 1, 2009
After a long cool spring, summer has arrived, and with it, the promise of wonderful things to eat. Our natural world has a lot of great wild things to offer – fresh greens, flowers, fruits, teas, mushrooms and more!
Our garden started producing fresh green vegetables long before I planted any seeds: dandelions, dock, daisy leaves, and winter cress to name a few. As we head into the heat of summer, there are lamb’s quarters, amaranth, and purslane to look forward to.
Most of all, I’m anticipating a wonderful summer for fruits. There was an amazing variety and abundance of flowers this spring. And now I’m watching the blueberries as they grow from little buds to juicy fruits. The cedar waxwings have already started to feast on the serviceberries, even though they are just beginning to get a hint of colour. Mostly, the birds get these delicious fruits, but this year I think there are so many that there will be some left over for us.
There will be red currants, wild strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, and lots of little red apples on our wild crab-apple tree. And hazelnuts! The trees have blossomed, and the prickly husks have started to swell with the delicious nut.
Cattails flower, we snap them off while still green to make a favorite summer meal. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the milkweed plants, so we have to be careful when we pick their flowers to make soup.
The most abundant and delectable flower of summer is the day lily. Last fall I gathered a half dozen varieties, with hopes of stretching out the harvest season from June through September. We’ve been tossing the yellow ones into our salads for weeks already. Soon the common orange day lilies will give us another month of beauty to add to our menu every day.
Spearmint, yarrow, ground ivy, pineapple-weed just touch the edge of wild teas waiting to be brought in and dried so we can enjoy them next winter. Then there’s freshly picked wild peppermint iced tea to cool our summer days.
How many of these treats do you have growing in your yard and garden? How many have you tasted and enjoyed? Have you any idea how many more delightful wild edibles are just waiting to be discovered? Do you have any recipes you can share with me?
I’ll be sharing recipes and meals with a group of people at Kukagami Lodge from July 20-22. We’ll get to see things in their natural environment, gather them and prepare them…then eat them, of course! Some plants will even be abundant enough for folks to take home to enjoy.
The three-day workshop costs $375/person and includes two nights’ lodging, 6 wildly delicious meals, and instruction. Let me know if you are interested, and I’ll send you the details. Call me at 705-521-6587, or drop a note to the email below.