Monday, March 27, 2017

Vegetarian garlicky cleavers walnut pesto. Keto foraging recipe, paleo and vegan optional.

This pesto is not only the best pesto I've ever made, it's the best pesto I've ever tasted, period. If you have cleavers, please try this pesto now. If you trust no other recipe on this site, trust this one. This garlicky cleavers pesto is something you need in your life.

This pesto is fast, simple and can go on absolutely ANYTHING, but of course, I enjoy it best simply tossed with some pasta. This wild herb pesto is a great condiment, it's super healthy because of the nutritious cleavers, and low-carb keto, as well as being vegetarian. If you omit the cheese, it's also Paleo and Vegan!

This recipe has some weird steps, that I came upon entirely by accident, but they worked out so well!

Cleavers are a very common backyard "weed" that's super easy to identify. If it's early to mid-spring, I guarantee that you can find some near you, perhaps in a local park. They have a great herbal flavor, vaguely like oregano, but mostly uniquely their own. Cleavers should be boiled before eating, and I prefer them pureed as well, to avoid textural issues.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Spicy Sichuan black bean pork and tofu with dandelion greens and stem "lo mein". Keto-friendly, low-carb.

So last week I won an Instagram contest for a hand-carved dandelion stamp from EnchangingStamps on Etsy by sharing my favorite dandelion recipe.  I shared how, not being a huge fan of bitter flavors, I liked mixing dandelion greens (which are superfoods), into spicy dishes, where the heat mitigates some of the bitterness. My all-time favorite is a pork and tofu dish, inspired by Sichuan Mapo. It's rich with chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, black bean paste, and, of course, pork fat!

But I've never shared the recipe on my blog :( . . . In fact, I never shared ANY dandelion recipes on my blog! I think it's because there are so many great dandelion recipes out there, I haven't created any original ones myself.

But mixing spicy Asian flavors with bitter dandelions is something that I haven't seen anywhere else, so I'm making today the day I share it with you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Foraging dandelion stem, gluten-free, keto, paleo "noodles" -- for free!

Hello! Do you ever pin something on Pinterest, 100% intending to try it, when the time is right/you have the materials/the plant you need is in season, but by the time you actually can try it, you've completely forgotten about it? I'm ashamed to say that dandelion stem "noodles" are one of those for me. 

I first saw the idea over over at Wild Food Girl, and it seemed totally interesting, but my dandelions were always short-stemmed, and growing sparsely. It didn't seem worth bending over and picking for hours for piddly little 4" noodles. 

But on Sunday, I encountered a field full of densely growing dandelion patches, where I could find 6-10 stalks in every square foot, and those stalks were long! Some were over 12". Fortunately, my mind remembered the post and I decided to experiment.

It's hard to tell in this picture, but many of the stems were a foot or so long!

And oh. my. goodness. What an experiment it was! These might be my new favorite way to eat dandelions. They become perfectly soft, almost exactly the texture of top-quality ramen noodles from your favorite restaurant. The flavor is mild and fresh, very slightly bitter, and tastes incredibly wholesome.  

And why pay for trendy, low calorie noodles, when you can get these for free? They've got nearly 0 calories, low carb, no sugar, no fat, and are gluten-free, keto and paleo!

Best of all, they extend the dandelion harvest even farther! I picked these from dandelion heads that had already gone to seed, long after the greens are good, and even after the flowers. Harvesting these stems extends dandelion season by a week or two; totally awesome, when you consider how nutritious dandelions are for you!

Dandelion stem "noodle" recipe:

Bring dandelion stems to boil in a pot of lightly salted water. Boil for about 7 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and serve as you would any other kind of noodle. Enjoy!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Identifying and foraging common wood sorrel. A common edible weed, often mistaken for clover or shamrock. Perfect for beginners.

Identification difficulty: Beginner

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm going to try and get this post up early so I can go out drinking :). I'm not Irish, but who does't love a good beer? (Note: I said a GOOD beer. Not that swill they dye green and pour out by the barrel-full!)

In honor of the occasion, I'd like to talk about how to identify common yellow wood sorrel, sometimes called the American Shamrock.

Wood sorrel isn't a shamrock, as a shamrock is a type of clover (Latin genus: Trifolium), and wood sorrel is part of the genus Oxalis. Then again, there is some confusion about what a shamrock actually is! You see,  we associate the classic "3 heart" shape with shamrocks, yet no clover actually has this shape. Clovers are all 3 ovals! Instead, sorrels (Oxalis species) have the 3 hearts.

So who knows, maybe wood sorrel really is a shamrock after all?

As I've mentioned before, wood sorrel holds a special place in my heart. It's the first wild food I ever ate, that I didn't harvest with my mother or one of my grandmothers. No member of my family ever pronounced it as safe, I never picked it with them. I watched other children enjoy it, and picked and ate it for myself. They called it lemon clover. I ate it without hesitation, rather a dangerous precedent when your "expert" is an 8-year old, but it all turned out all right in the end.

Anyway, wood sorrel is easy to identify, and grows throughout North America. It also tastes great, and is a very versatile ingredient in the kitchen, all-in-all, a perfect plant for beginners to forage.

One small note of caution: Oxalis species contain oxalic acid, and shouldn't be eaten by those with kidney or liver diseases, or by those with certain autoimmune diseases, like Rheumatoid arthritis. 

On to identification . . .

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Burdock and pokeweed fritters, foraging recipe. Potato substitute with lower calories and higher nutrition.

Looking for a great substitute for potatoes? I really love burdock! 

Burdock, (sometimes called Gobo), is a root, like potatoes. It's an Eurasian plant, related to sunflowers and artichokes, and is an important part of traditional Asian and Mediterranean diets. Burdock has a nice, potato-like texture with a subtle artichoke flavor, but clocks in at only half the calories and a little over half the carbs. Bonus: it's been linked to clearer skin, kidney and liver heath, lymphatic and circulatory (blood health) support, and blood sugar management. 

Those large leaves are burdock. At the center, underground is the large root.

Burdock has been introduced to North America, where it now grows as an invasive species, a common "weed". If you've ever walked through the woods in early fall and gotten the sticky, spikey "burr" seed balls on your clothing, then you already know burdock.