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Archives 2011 (Jan to June)

 

French being my native language, I apologize in advance for my "interesting" grammar.

 

Coming soon!!!! Elderberries

June 2011

I can't wait!!!!!!!! It's the end of June and in 2-3 weeks I'll be able to collect elderberries. I have several projects I want to do such as elderberries jam but I'm mostly interested to make wine with it.

For those who don't know, the dark blue berries can be eaten when fully ripe although some people have some reaction to it. Unripe, the berries are slightly poisonous. So the trick is to either cook or dry them.

In Southern California, we mostly have what is called the Mexican Elder although I've also seen some elderberry trees with white berries (which I have to research further about their use and potential toxicity)

 



 

Pickling Yucca Buds (Yucca Whipplei)

June 2011

Every year I make some Yucca buds pickling. A simple solution of 3 parts apple cider vinegar and 2 parts water with various spices such as garlic, Italian spices, California bay leaves, wild mustard, etc...

It's not my personal favorite but a lot of my students love it. It's quite unique for sure and I don't know of anyone else making Pickled Yucca Buds. It taste a bit nutty and it's pleasantly crunchy. I'm not a fan of nuts so maybe that's why it's not my favorite.

The only change I made this year in some of the jars is to add a bit of sugar.

 

Pickled Yucca Buds (Yucca Whipplei)

 

Marksmanship Practice

June 2011

I need a break from foraging and cooking, so last Sunday I took off with my son and we went to the shooting range. We used to compete together in marksmanship competitions for several years.

I had tons of fun but I can see that I'm getting rusty. When I was competing I used to train every weekend. Now I shoot maybe twice a year and I had a hard time staying within an inch at 100 yards. I would not do very well in a competition right now but it is still not bad shooting.

At the end of the day I still managed to hit the target at 600 yars while standing up, maybe lady luck helped me as well but hey...I did it!

 



 

Success!!!!!!!!! Pickled California Black Walnuts

June 2011

The pickled California Black Walnuts are delicious!!!!!!!! Yay!!!!

Honestly, when the walnuts were in the brine, the smell was quite strong and not too appetizing and I was really wondering how they would turn out. This morning, after 2 weeks in the pickling solution (see recipe below), I tasted the first one and I could not stop eating them.

It is a bit of an acquired taste for sure but it is truly a nice condiment in cold dishes (hummus, etc...) and would probably be perfect with a nice goat cheese. Can't wait to incorporate it in all kinds of interesting dishes.


 

Wild Radish Pods in Thai Sauce - Wild Edibles - Wild Food Los Angeles

Transitional Gastronomy
Wild Radish Pods in Thai Fish Sauce

June 2011

I love wild radish pods and have been experimenting with various recipes for them. They're excellent raw and I've been using them also in wild food kimchi or various picklings. This time I decided to steam them for a few minutes, create a traditional Thai fish sauce and let the wild radish pods marinate in the sauce all night.

It was delicious, the pods were still crunchy with a milder "radish" taste which blended very nicely with the fish sauce. For decoration, I simply added some mild chili powder.

 



 

Trapping Class and Common Wild Food

June 2011

Had a class this morning about basic traps and common edible plants. For the first part of the class we went on a hike and looked at various edible plants such as cattail, stinging nettles, lambsquarters, wild mustard, Yucca and various medicinal plants (Yerba Santa, Sage). We also stopped for 15 minutes to forage wild currant.

During the second part of the class we made cordage with Yucca and created various primitive traps such as the Arapuca quail trap, how to use a premontory peg and various other rabbit traps. We also discussed why and where to place the traps.

At the end of the class we had a bunch of wild food snaks with pickled wild radish pods, wild mustard, fermented and salted wild olives, pickled acorns, wild currant jam and much more...

Trapping Class and Wild Edible Los Angeles

 

Transitional Gastronomy
Amaranth Soup

June 2011

Made some soup this weekend with the Amaranth that I foraged, I'm very happy with the result.

Basically a homemade chicken stock with potatoes, a bit of garlic, chives from the garden and amaranth. I never made anything with amaranth before and it was a nice surprise, it has a slightly bitter arugula aftertaste, but a bright intense green flavor.

 



 

Collecting Wild Mustard Seeds (Chinese Mustard)

June 2011

Mid June is the perfect time to go out and forage Chinese Mustard seeds. The pods are nice, dry and full of seeds.

Collecting the seeds is very easy, I simply place the mustard pods in a platic bag, crush the inside with my hands and collect the seeds that accumulated at the bottom of the bag. There are still a lof of impurities from seed pods shells (see photo) so the next phase is to place what you collected in a bucket full of water. The seeds will drop at the bottom and the rest usually floats. Get rid of the impurities floating on top, collect the seeds and dehydrate them.

You can use the seeds for making mustard or as a spice for various dishes, canning, etc...

Foraging Wild Mustard - Wild Edible Plants

 

Canning California Black Walnuts

June 2011

After 2 weeks in brine (1/2 cup salt to 5 cups water) and changing the brine 3 times, my walnuts were ready for the next step: canning.

The walnuts were still somewhat green so I did what the recipe asked for and left them outside for the sun in a day. At the end of the day, all the walnuts were blacks and ready to can.

Pickling Ingredients:
1 cup water + 2 cups red wine Vinegar + 3 oz basalmic vinegar
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon peppercorn, 1 teaspoon dry garlic (can use 2 cloves fresh)
1 teaspoon Italian or French spices.
I also added 1/2 California Bay leave in each jar.

In a large pot bring to a boil the ingredients. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Fill the sterile jars (walnuts already inside) with the liquid to within 1/2 inch of the top. Seal with lids and rings. Process in a hot water bath for at least 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature and store in a cool dark place. I also tried 2 other pickling solutions.

.



 

Foraging Wild Food and Lambsquarters Cooking Class

June 2011

I had a great class this weekend, I didn't expect that many people but thirty two showed up. We had a lot of fun, we walked a bit and looked at various edible, medicinal and poisonous plants. We stopped for an hour in a field of wild currant and collected a bunch.

After the wild currant foraging, we went back our usual place and went to work on preparing some dishes made with Lambsquarters and made some lemonade with Lemonade Berries. With the lambsquarters we made some pesto and Mia cooked a dish with onions, garlic, white wine and various spices.

It was a fun class, very hands-on and we collected a bunch of wild currants.


 

Making Lemonade with Lemonade Berries
(Rhus Integrifolia or Lemonade Sumac)

June 2011

It's the perfect time to forage Lemonade Berries right now.

Lemonade Sumac is a bushy shrub quite common in California. It's usually around 10ft tall. .Beautiful small pink Flowers start to appear in early spring and by June you get those startling red berries. The berries are covered in a sticky substance which is quite sour and taste a bit like lemon.

To make lemonade with lemonade berries is very simple. Just collect a bunch of berries, mix it with water and shake. You can also add all kinds of other flavors such as wild fennel or other fruits. I usually filter it before serving to remove all impurities.

It's really, really good and refreshing.



 

New edible plant growing this month: Amaranth

June 2011

I just went on a foraging hike to Hahamonga near Pasadena and right now there is a lot of Amaranth to forage. There are a lot of species of Amaranth which can make it a bit confusing, I think there are over 50 species. All amaranth have alternate simple leaves. They may have some red color present on the stems. The amaranth we have in my area are easy to recognize, the lower leaves have a purple hue on the underside.

I've not done a lot of cooking with Amaranth aside from the usual "survival dish" with onions and garlic. Amaranth can be eaten raw or cooked, the leaves can be used in eggs, soups, etc...

I'm sure Mia and myself will come up with some interesting dishes.



Amaranth - Edible Plant

 

Transitional Gastronomy - Wild Food Gelee

Transitional Gastronomy
Wild Currant, Lemonade Berries and Wild Fennel Gelee Squares

June 2011

I decided to have a bit of fun this weekend and created those gelee squares. I used a wild currant slurry, lemonade berry infusion and wild fennel mixture to make these gelee squares.

Chilled, they are perfect with a bit of cheese and as a palate cleanser.

I have more culinary experiments to do with the concept but it has potential for interesting dishes for sure.



 

Trapping and Foraging Class

June 2011

This was a small class about trapping and foraging. For the first part of the class we went on a foraging hike and collected some wild food. We also looked at various other medicinal and poisonous plants.

The second part of the class was about trapping. I talked a bit about my experience on trapping animals, where to place the traps, what they eat, etc...

We made various simple traps which, from my actual testing in the field, are the most effective such as the Arapuca trap (photo on the right).



Primitive Trapping and Foraging Edible Plants

 

Transitional Gastronomy
Steamed Radish Pods in Lemonade Berries Redux Sauce

June 2011

I collected a bunch of wild radish pods yesterday and made this dish with it. It was very good!

It's basically a lemonade berries redux sauce with a bit of garlic, onions and chives from the garden. Added some Parmesan cheese. Spices are salt, pepper and Italian spices.

Wild radish pods were steamed in a bamboo Thai steamer for 10 minutes.



 

Wild Radish Pickling

June 2011

I foraged more wild radish pods today and made more pickling with it.

Usually I use a ratio of 3 parts apple cider vinegar and 2 parts wine but this time I just used fvinegar. Radish pods have a strong taste and I love vinegar so I think this will come up great.

Spices included chili peppers, garlic, California bay leaves, Italian spices, wild fennel and some salt.



Edible Plants Pickling - Wild Radish

 

Transitional Gastronomy
Wild Food Kimchi

June 2011

Made a new batch of Kimchi on Wednesday and left it to ferment for a whole week.

The wild food kimchi was composed of Curly Dock, Chickweed, Wild Mustard flowers/leaves, Wild Radish Pods and a bit of cabbage too.

As usual, I used a brine of half a teaspoon sea salt for one cup of water.

This time I also added some fish sauce after the fermentation process.



 

Foraging Wild Currant
(Ribes)

May 2011

Around 25 people joined me to foraged wild currant on Sunday morning at Orcas Park in Lake View Terrace. Within 2 hours my grocery bag was 1/2 full, enough to make a several jars of jam. At that location we have several varieties of currants: redcurrant, blackcurrant and lots of orange ones too.

There are several used for currant such as making jams, jelly, sauces, juices or simply eat them raw. Currant is a very good source of Potassium , Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin K.. You can find more information about currant at NutritionData.com.



Wild Food Cuisine - Foraging Wild Currant

 

Wild Edible Plants Los Angeles

One Morning Foraging Hike (May 20) and Local Harvest

May 2011

I went on a wild food hike at the Hahamongna Watershed Park near Pasadena this morning and collected various edible plants for my culinary experiments this weekend. The plants collected included Wild Radish Pods, Mugwort (spice), Lambsquarter, Curly Dock and still managed to find some Chickweeds. Also found some Epazote (Used as a spice and a natural Beano).

Amazing how much food is there for the taking. While at my usual location (Orcas Park) the wild radish is pretty much finished, it's just starting at Hahamongna so I think I'll be able to collect some until July. I also saw a lot of young lambsquarter shoots.



 

Foraging for Wild Radish Pods.
(Raphanus Raphanistrum)

May 2011

Starting in May and up to July in some location is the perfect time to forage for wild radish. The flowers are wonderful in wild food salads and taste like...well...radish. I'm mostly interested in the pods which, when foraged at the right time, are very juicy and flavorful.

The pods are also perfect for pickling and salting so you can preserve this wonderful treat for your winter dishes. I've preserved a bunch in a strong brine (1/2 cup salt to 5 cups of water), whenever you want to use some, simply place the pods in water for a few hours to remove the salt. The radish pods preserve extremely well in brine.



Wild edible plants - Wild Radish Los Angeles

 

Transitional Gastronomy. Nighshade Redux Sauce

Transitional Gastronomy
Black Nightshade Redux Sauce and Lemonade Berry Sauce

May 2011

I've been experimenting with various sauces this weekend using wild food and I'm extremely happy with two.

The photo on the left is a scallop with black nighshade berries sauce. It's basically a basalmic vinegar/wine redux sauce with black nighshade berries, some thyme and one garlic clove from the garden , foraged California bay leaves and our "secret" wild spices blend. Some organic brown sugar a well.

Decorated with foraged wild fennel. It was very, very good with the scallop.



 

Pickling Southern California Black Walnuts
(Juglans Californica)

May 2011

Well, I started the process of making the pickled walnuts.

It's a 14 days process. The walnuts are foraged still green while the outer shell is still soft inside. You need to use a needle and pierce the green walnuts a few times (I used a small nail). The soft shelled walnuts are then soaked in brine (salt water) for up to 14 days then left to dry in the air for a day or two. A chemical reaction to take place with exposure to the air and they turn black. The walnuts are then placed into jars and pickled using the water-bath method.

Quite a strong taste apparently and not for everyone but excellent with cheese or as a condiment for making sauce or for cooking.



Wild edible plants - Pickling California Walnuts

 

Wild Edible Plants California

One Morning Foraging Hike and Local Harvest

May 2011

I went on a hike this morning (May 14) to forage local wild food for my weekend culinary projects. It's quite amazing the wide variety of food available in the wild at this time of the year - we have all kinds of edible flowers such as Yucca, Cactus and Poppy flowers. Lots of giant nettles, wild radish, wild mustard and in higher altitude it's still possible to find some young Yucca shoots.

The photo on the left features a few of the colorful wild food I foraged: Yucca shoot, Wild Currant, Wild Fennel, Chinese Mustard, Green California Black Walnuts, Chinese Mustard Flowers, California Sagebrush, Red Pepper, etc....



 

Foraging Southern California Black Walnuts
(Juglans californica)

May 2011

We have a lot of walnuts tree where I live and it's the perfect time (mid May) to start foraging the young walnuts. Normaly the walnuts are picked up later during the year and it was done so by natives (Chumash, etc...) in the old days but I have another idea in mind.

There is a recipe for what is called "Pickled Walnuts". It's an old English recipe and the trick is to forage the walnuts while they are still green and the shell inside the green fruit is still soft. Normaly this is done with another variety of walnuts (Persian walnuts) in England but this is California so I'm going to do it with the local variety. I know it will work but it will be interesting to compare the taste of the traditional English pickled walnuts with my own. Heck, maybe my pickled walnuts will be better tasting!!!!!!!!

Wild edible plants - Southern California Black Walnuts

 

Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness Class

May 2011

This was my third class this year about Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness. We basically went over my own preparation setup. We reviewed what's in an emergency backpack, methods of cooking outside the grid, how to be ready at work, methods of water purification and much more... We also tasted all kind of various "emergency food" such as MREs, emergency rations and freeze dry foods.

We also went on a short hike and looked at the abundance of wild food available in an urban environment. We collected wild mustard, wild radish pods, wild currant, nettles and all kinds of other edible plants. At the end of the class we had some nettle soup and some snacks made with local foraged food such as olives, wild mustard, yucca and more...



 

Cactus Flower Buds

May 2011

This is a good time to collect Cactus Flower Buds but before you do it, realize it's quite a challenge. The flower buds and flowers are edible but removing the spines is not easy. In fact I've not found a perfect method yet to do a great job. The one that seems to work the best is to burn the spines with my gas stove and remove what's left with my knife.

The properly cleaned buds can be used in salad or as part of various dishes (Paella, etc...). On my side, I think I'm going to try making some roasted cactus buds pickles.


Wild edible plants - Cactus Flower Buds

 

Wild Food Gastronomy -  Gourmet Wild edible plants

Gourmet Wild Food Class

May 2011

This sunday I had my gourmet wild food class. Around 15 people attended the class. We went on a walk for a couple of hours and collected various wild food such as Lambsquarters, fennel, wild radish, giant nettles, wild mustard and more... The yucca are in blooms too.

After the walk, we ate a delicious "Wild Food" paella that Mia made and people were able to sample a lot of the wild food I've collected over the months such as pickled acorns, olives (preserved using 4 different methods), pickled yucca, etc... We also made some nettle pesto, wild mustard Dijon style and some soda made with Lemonade Berries.

Everyone seemed to have a great time!

 



Medicinal Plants and Herbs Walk
by William Broen

May 2011

This weekend I attended a medicinal plants and herbs walk given by William Broen. We went on a leisury walk and reviewed around 15 local plants.

I like to continue extending my education by attending classes given by different instructors, you alway get a new perspective and insight. I learned a bit more about medicinal and healing properties of local plants and some interesting tidbits on folklore. I'll be attending more of his walks in the future.



 

Wild Food Gastronomy - Yucca Jerky - Wild Food Jerky

Yucca Jerky (Vegetarian)

May 2011

I'm extremely happy with this dish!!!!!!!!!

Made this jerky last weekend. It looks like the real thing and pretty much taste like the real thing too. It's the best vegetarian jerky I've had so far.

It was made with boiled strips of Yucca shoot left overnight in a mixture of soy sauce, organic brown sugar, red wine, chilis, fresh garlic and pepper.

The strips were then dehydrated at 135 degrees for around 8 hours.

 



 

PH Testing the Canned Wild Mustard

May 2011

Got my PH testing paper yesterday! The problem with some of the stuff I do with wild food is the fact that there are no recipes for it and food safety is really important. I always err on the safe side and wanted to check my canned wild mustard.

You need a PH below 4.6 to do what is called water-bath canning (instead of pressure canning) and thus prevent the possibility of botulism. Doing the PH test on my canned wild mustard I got a PH of around 4. YAY!!! Good to go.

It should preserve for at least a year (and more).


Wild Food Canning -  Gourmet Wild Food

 

Wild Fennel - Wild Food Los Angeles

Wild Fennel Candies

May 2011

My wonderful girlfriend Mia loves licorice!!!! So she made those candies with wild fennel we foraged earlier.

The recipe is simple. Need to get the molasses, wild fennel infusion mixture (very reduced wild fennel syrup) and a little veg oil into the soft ball stage. She added some finely diced, raw green fennel fronds at the end for texture and a fresh fennel pop. Then she mixed in organic, whole wheat flour, a spoonfull at a time, off the heat.

There's no dairy or corn syrup, just a small amount of powdered sugar needed for soft ball.

 



 

Canning Wild Mustard

May 2011

First, I want to correct some old postings. We have all kinds of wild mustards in California such as: Edge Mustard, Common Mustard, Black Mustard and...Chinese Mustard. Even experienced local foragers have difficulties finding which one is which. I've come to the conclusion that the really spicy one is not Black Mustard but Chinese Mustard (Brassica Juntae) and so I will call it that way from now on...

This weekend I canned some wild mustard with the usual recipe of white wine and vinegar BUT this time I managed to keep the spicyness (YAY!). Last year I boiled it within the vinegar but this year, I simply made the mustard as usual and canned it using the water bath method for 15 minutes. I'll do a PH test later on to make sure it is still safe for preservation.


Wild Food Gastronomy. Wild Mustard Canning

 

Preserving Wild Food. Wild Food Fermentation

Fermenting Wild Mustard (Brassica Juntae) and Wild Radish Pods

May 2011

This was my project for the day and a new experiment. I got a new fermenting crock for it. I fermented mostly wild mustard (flowers and leaves) and wild radish (pods and leaves). For spices I used garlic, a few chilis, foraged California Bay Leaves and California Sagebrush. The brine ratio was 2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. Boil the brine, let it cool off, place all the ingredients in the fermenting crock and voila!!!

In a couple of months, I KNOW it will be really good as is and there are a lot of culinary experiments I want to do with it such as a wild mustard/radish "Tabasco", various sauces, etc...

Can't wait until it's ready!



 

Transitional Gastronomy
Chinese Bao with Pickled Acorns and Wild Mustard

May 2011

Light, puffy Chinese-style bao are simple to make with few ingredients and go well with just about any filling. We made a Schezuan-like filling with pickled acorns, a sweet and sour base and lots of chiles.

This mustard is every bit as horse-radish-y and spicy as the yellow version you get in a Chinese restaurant. It went well with the slightly sweet bao dough and sweet and sour acorn filling. The dough couldn't be easier. You just fill and steam.

Wild Food Gourmet. Wild Food Chinese Bao

 

Wild Fennel - Wild Food Los Angeles

Wild Fennel

April 2011

It's the end of April and it's a great time to collect Fennel right now. It's amazing that it's considered invasive and a weed - yet you find it in stores too.

It is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb used for culinary and also medicinal uses, I use it often as a seasoning for my picklings and also various dishes such as soups, etc...

I think this weekend we may try to do some "wild" licorice, infused fennel oils and find a way to preserve this wonderful plant for the rest of the year.



 

Wild Food Walk, Making a "Wild Thai Salad"
and Dijon-style wild mustard.

April 2011

Had a wild food walk this weekend in Sylmar. We collected a bunch of wild food such as Lambsquarters (wild spinach), Black Mustard, Yucca and some aromatic plants such as White Sage, California Sagebrush, etc... We also had a contest called a wild food treasure hunt where some of the most experienced foragers have to find as many plants as possible from a list within 2 hrs. Some foragers found more than 20 edible plants, it was impressive.

After the walk, I demonstrated how to make a Dijon-style mustard with Black Mustard, vinegar and wine. Mia made a Thai-inspired salad with Yucca.





Transitional Gastronomy - Wild Food Gastronomy

Transitional Gastronomy
Yucca Whipplei "Scotch Eggs"

April 2011

What to do with so many eggs...on Easter no less...well, Mia decided to make a vegetarian version of Scotch eggs.

We par-boiled the Yucca shoots, grated/processed them and made a super crispy crust using only a little flour, oat bran and an egg of course. Fried, it had an amazingly addictive potato-like flavor. Some coarse salt...all set!

Look how beautiful the blue-tinged eggs are. A big thanks to our chickens!!!!!!



 

Primitive Trapping
Expanding my Aracupa Trap

April 2011

Arapuca traps are really simple to make and quite effective too. Last year, I placed a couple in my garden and managed to catch quite a few birds. Good way to defend your garden! I let the birds go afterwards and hopefully they learned a lesson but I'm probably too optimistic.

Today, I decided to expand my trap and make it bigger. We have a lot of bigger animals around such as rabbits, quails, squirrels, etc... and I want to do some test on how effective the trap is in the wilderness. It's just for testing with catch and release.

To make it bigger, I simply added a bunch of larger sticks which I collected in a nearby wash. For this trap, you get the best sticks (nice, long and straight) from Mulefat. It's a small tree growing near water. The branchs are also good for making fire or arrows.


Wild Food - Pickling Yucca Whipplei Shoots

 

Preserving Wild Food - Pickled Milk Thistle Stems

Wild Food Preservation
Pickled Milk Thistle Stems

April 2011

We're running out of young and fresh Milk Thistle Stems so I also pickled some of it this week. I kept the pickling recipe very simple as I really enjoy the taste of the stems. The recipe was as follow:

- 2 Cups red wine vinegar
- 1 Cup white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

For spices I used garlic, black sage leaves and wild mustard flowers.

Can't wait to try it in a few weeks.

 



 

Wild Food Preservation
Pickled Yucca
Whipplei Shoots

April 2011

The season to forage Yucca shoots is pretty short so it's important to preserve the harvest. This weekend I made some pickled Yucca shoots. This time I used the following recipe:

- 3 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 Cups water
3/4 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Sea Salt

Each jar (pint size) contained one California Bay Leave, 3 wild mustard flowers, some Thyme, 2 garlic cloves, 3 ginger slices and one dehydrated Arbol Chili Pod.

 



Wild Food - Pickling Yucca Whipplei Shoots


 

Transitional Gastronomy and Wild Food. Solar Cooked Beef Bourguignon

Transitional Gastronomy
Solar Cooked Beef Bourguignon with Yucca Shoots

April 2011

I love Boeuf Bourguignon and it's so easy to make. I use the same recipe that I learned from my parents in the Belgian countryside. This dish is also perfect for cooking in a solar oven and I let it cook slowly for the whole day. The temperature in the oven was between 300 and 350 degrees. I used the Yucca shoot instead ot potatoes (see photo on the left).

The Yucca shoots absorbed the wine sauce like you wouldn't believe. This plant absorbs flavors much more than a potato. Suprisingly, it had a mushroom-like flavor with a firm, cooked leek texture. Quite extraordinary!

 



 

Transitional Gastronomy
Yucca Thai Salad (We call it Yuk Tom)

April 2011

Mia made this dish and it was just spectacularI

We first ground the garlic, chilies and dried shrimp into a paste before we added the lime, fish sauce and a dusting of palm sugar...then added the julienned Yucca shoots and mashed that in, too, to break down any fiber. Macerate for an hour in the juices. Finishing touches were carrot slivers, scallions, a tiny bit of shredded cabbage and some fresh cilantro.

And yes, it tasted as good as it looks.

 





 

Earthquake and Disastor Preparedness Class

April 2011

This was my second class this year about Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness. We basically went over my own preparation setup. We reviewed what's in an emergency backpack, methods of cooking outside the grid, how to be ready at work, methods of water purification and much more... We also tasted all kind of various "emergency food" such as MREs, emergency rations and freeze dry foods.

We also went on a short hike and looked at the abundance of wild food available in an urban environment. We collected wild mustard, wild radish pods and all kinds of other edible plants. At the end of the class we had some solar cooked "survival" soup with dehydrated vegetables and wild food.

 



Los Angeles - Earthquake and Preparedness Class


 

Wild Food - Canning Yucca and Milk Thistle Stems

Canning Yucca and Milk Thistle Stems

April 2011

This is something I wanted to do for a while, canning some of the available wild food such as Yucca and Milk Thistle Stems. Knowing how preserving food is a crucial self-reliance skill to have.

The problem with canning wild food is the fact that recipes are not available in books or the Internet. Factually you're kind of pioneering and testing. I always try to play it safe as much as possible and thus will choose to overdo it with canning time. Both Yucca and Milk Thistle have sugar content based on taste so it can't be too acidic. By looking at various recipes for canning regular food I estimated that 30 mins of pressure canning would be safe and I added more time to make sure. I ended using 40 minutes and feel completely comfortable with eating it in the future.

This should preserve for at least a year.

 



 

Transitional Gastronomy
Yucca Gratin and Country Stew

April 2011

This was a classically layered gratin with thinly sliced Yucca shoots instead of potatoes. Very simple.The gratin had organic cream steeped with garlic, wild CA Sagebush, salt and pepper and a dusting of parmesean on top. Big bite!

As mentioned, the Yucca shoots absorb the liquids they cook in so well...so they took on the creamy texture and garlicky flavor of the gratin and are remarkably lighter than potatoes. The mushroom/parsnip flavor is truly unique and delicious.



Transitional Gastronomy - Milk Thistle Stems


 

Foraging Milk Thistle - Wild Edible Plants

Thistling Away - Preparing Milk Thistle Stems for Canning

April 2011

It's then end of the season for foraging Milk Thistle Stems in my area (mid April). If I had waited a bit more, the stems would have had too much fibers and thus too tough. You need to collect the young stems, they're really tasty and tender.

My project this week is to high pressure can them. I've never done it before but canning is a fantastic way to enjoy this delicacy when the season is over. I also want to make some picklings with it.

While you need gloves to collect them, the stems are very easy to clean.

 



 

New addition to the farm

April 2011

Last night, this little girl was born. Started at around 11PM. It was an easy birth.

I've actually never seen a horse being born. Growing in Belgium, I saw quite a few cows giving birth and it's pretty much similar.

She was up in 25 minutes which is incredibly fast. On the right you can see a photo of her just 8 hrs later. What a cutie!



Baby Horse


 

Wild Food - Foraging Yucca Whipplei

Foraging Yucca (Yucca Whipplei)
Also known as Spanish Bayonet, Chaparral Yucca, Lord's Candle

April 2011

This is the season to collect Yucca Shoot. Each year I collect a couple of shoots where there is an abundance of Yucca. We're pretty excited at the dishes we can create with it - Yucca shoots are incredibly tasty - like a cucumber but with the texture of an apple and some sweetness to it as well.

The Yucca Whippley is an incredible plant and the natives had a wide variety of uses for it such as making soap with the leaves and root, making cordage, baskets, sandals, etc...

The edible parts are the young shoots, flowers and buds.

 



 

Transitional Gastronomy
Wild Food Hummus (using Oxalis instead of Lemon)

April 2011

This weekend we made some interesting hummus. We basically followed the usual recipe for making hummus but instead of using lemon we used Oxalis (Wood Sorrel). Oxalis has a wonderful lemon/vinegar taste and we've even used that plant to curdle milk and make cheese.

The hummus was served with pickled wild radish pods and foraged olives (salted black olives and cracked green olives in salt/vinegar/spices blend.) The yellow flowers are Oxalis flowers - wonderful lemon taste too!

It was delicious!!!!!!!!!!



Wild Food Hummus


 

Wild Food Gastronomy - Milk Thistle Wraps

Transitional Gastronomy
Wild Raw Hummus Wraps - Milk Thistle Leaves

April 2011

Mia made this a couple of weeks ago.

Fermented Wild Food Kimchi and home made hummus used as a condiment in Milk Thistle wraps.

Mia made the hummus (raw) and put together this wonderful wrap. I made the Kimchi with mostly wild mustard leaves and let it ferment for 5 days (see recipe for wild food kimchi below - March 2011)

Olives were foraged locally.

 



 

Transitional Gastronomy
Milk Thistle Stems and Wild Mustard Sauce.

April 2011

Actually made this at the end of last month, it's already getting late in the season to gather fresh and yummy Milk Thistle stems.

I tried both ways, steaming the stems and using the most tender ones (uncooked). My conclusion: no need to steam. The young stems have a sugary taste which goes well with the black mustard sauce.

The sauce was made with black mustard flowers, white wine, apple cider vinegar, yoghurt, salt and a dash of Italian spices. Very refreshing.

Decorated with Black Mustard Flowers and Milk Thistle Petals



Transitional Gastronomy - Milk Thistle Stems


 

Wild Food Gourmet and Foraging Class

April 2011

Had our "Gourmet Wild Food" class today. Around 10 people attended the class. After meeting at the usual place and introducing everyone to the various dishes we were making, we went on a foraging hike and gathered various wild food such as Wild Mustard, Olives (yes...a few were left on the trees), wild radish pods, thistle and much more.

At the end of the foraging part, we made some Dijon style mustard using wine and vinegar. Mia made an awesome wild food "gumbo" and Milk Thistle wraps. We also had some popcorn with our "secret" wild spices blend.

Had a great time as usual!

 



 

Spice it up! Wild Spices Blend

April 2011

There are a lot of wonderful aromatic plants and spices in the wilderness. To name a few: White Sage, California Sagebrush, Epazote, Oxalis, Wild Mustard, Wild Radishes and so much more!

So we decided to come up with our own spice blend. Took a while but we think we've found a nice blend composed of seven different spices gathered from either the wilderness or the garden. Although we're using it in all kinds of dishes, it also makes simple things like popcorn taste great!

We'll probably tweak it a bit more then offer it for sale on this site.

Gourmet Wild Food - Wild Spices Blend


 

Quails and Wild Food Gumbo

April 2011

This was our main dish on Saturday.

The wild food ingredients were: Milk Thistle Stems, Olives, Nettles, Mallow and Black Mustard leaves all foraged locally. We used a wild currant sauce for the quails as well.

Non-wild ingredients included squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, lemons, onions and garlic. We cooked it in a tagine.



 

Christopher Nyerges Class

Christopher Nyerges Gourd Class

April 2011

This weekend I went to say hello to my friend Christopher Nyerges. He was giving a class about making gourd. I took the class a couple of years ago and it was a lot of fun. Christopher is also a true expert in wild edible plants and give classes every saturday on various subjects ranging from making shelters to preparedness and self-reliance. You should check his web site at: www.christophernyerges.com.

He also has a radio show online and later on that day he interviewed myself and Mia for his show. Mostly about wild food gastronomy and food preservation. You can listen to his online show HERE.

 



 

Primitive or Modern? Food Procurement for an Urban Environment

April 2011

Over the years I've taken a lot of classes about primitive and modern methods for food procurement such as trapping, slinshot, bow, primitive weaponry, etc.... While it's fun and good skills to have, I've come to the conclusion (based on testing it) that if you live in an urban environment it may not be enough or it's simply not applicable. The most reliable source of food procurement that I've found so far is the good old pellet rifle with a little modern twist...a silencer. Modern pellet rifles are much more effective and capable of lauching a pellet above the speed of sound.

On my side, after doing some research, I've chosen the Gamo Whisper. It's a rifle capable of lauching a pellet at around 1000 fps (more with special pellets) and quite accurate. I've been able to shoot within around 1 inch at 25 yards which in my book is good enough. The real bonus is the lack of noise. In fact, I've been able to setup my own little shooting range in my backyard and 25 yards away you can barely tell a shot was fired.

 



 

Milk Thistle Chowder and Wild Black Sage "Beignets"

March 2011

While I was working on getting my earthquake and disaster preparedness class ready, Mia made this delicious chowder with Milk Thistle and some Wild Black Sage Beignets with plants we foraged nearby. We basically have a small field of Milk Thistle two hundred yards away and tons of Black Sage as well.

Tasted delicious. Milk Thistle is in the artichoke family and when you cook it, you get a hint of artichoke flavor. It's not an easy plant to cook with, I really advice to wear thick gloves when foraging, cleaning and preparing it...but it's really worth it!

Gourmet Wild Food - Milk Thistle Chowder


 

Los Angeles - Earthquake and Preparedness Class

Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness Class

March 2011

This weekend I had a class about Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness. We basically went over my own preparation setup. We reviewed what's in an emergency backpack, methods of cooking outside the grid, how to be ready at work, methods of water purification and much more... We also tasted all kind of various "emergency food" such as MREs, emergency rations and freeze dry foods.

We also went on a short hike and looked at the abundance of wild food available in an urban environment.

After the class we had a soup made with some of my dehydrated food (including wild food) and tasted other wild foods (Acorn, Olives, etc...)

 



 

Preparing Foraged Olives in 2 days

March 2011

Unless you're using Lye, preparing olives takes quite a long time. Mediterranean- Style or Salted Olives takes usually a month and the other methods much more. I was wondering if there was a way to process the olives faster and I've found a workable way (for a small amount) based on the salting method. Instead of placing the olives with salt in an canvas bag for a month I simply did the following:

1. Cut the olives in two and mixed them with salt (see photo) for around 4 hours. The salt helps with extracting the moisture.

2, Without cleaning the olives (still full of salt), I placed them in my dehydrator and dried them at 135 Degrees for around 12hrs.

3. Once dried, I placed them in a bowl of water for a few hours to remove the salt and voila! While still bitter (A bit similar but a tad bitter to what you get with the longer salting method in a canvas bag). They're great for cooking and quite tasty - most of the remaining bitterness goes away during the cooking process.



 

Transitional Gastronomy - Gourmet Wild Food.  Pho Ga

Wild Food Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Soup)

March 2011

Something I made yesterday - Wild Food Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Soup) - One of the most elaborate dish I've made so far as the choice of wild food was crucial to make it work. Took me 3 hrs of cooking but it was worth it. Tasted awesome!

Featured wild food is: Milk Thistle (stem and leaves), Black Mustard Flowers, Foraged Wild Fennel, Wild Radish Pods, Black Mustard Leaves, red pepper from my California Pepper Tree. I'm VERY happy with this dish!

Other (non-wild) ingredients: Cilantro, Red Chili, Garlic, Onion, Fish Sauce and Tamarind.

 



 

Urban Outdoor Skills Featured on NBC (Wild Food Gastronomy)
 
Was featured this week on NBC (1st Look) - A show about Wild Food Gastronomy.
We filmed this a couple of weeks ago, it was a lot of fun and the editing is great.

 

Wild Food - Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle - Edible Plant and Many Health Benefits.

March 2011

This is the time to go out and forage some Milk Thistle!

Despite it's daunting appearance, every part of the Milk Thistle can be eaten. I collected some young shoots this morning, simply cut the stem, remove the leaves (Gloves are a good idea) and peel the outter layer. It's really wonderful to eat raw. The leaves can also be trimmed to remove the prickles and boiled to make a dish similar to spinach. I've not tried yet but apparently the flower heads can be eaten like artichokes. I think next weekend, we'll be busy in the Transitional Gastronomy Kitchen Lab and we'll come up with some gourmet food. Stay tuned!

Health benefits are numerous! This plant is use as a liver tonics and used in medicine to limit liver damage. Research indicates it is also used to lower cholesterol, reduce growth of cancers and much more.



 

Wild Food Kimchi

Black Mustard "Kimchi"

March 2011

I usually make Wild Food "Kimchi" once a month for my classes. This time I collected a bunch of black mustard and used it as my main ingredient for the "Kimchi". So it was pretty much 40% white cabbage, 40% black mustard and 20% of various other wild foods such as Chickweeds, Mallow, etc...

Preparation:

1. Make a brine composed of 1 tablespoon of salt for 2 cups of water. Boil the brine and let it cool.

2. Prepare the basic spices. For spices I used around 2 tablespoons of red pepper powder (not too spicy), around 7 garlic cloves, 1/2 onion with some italian herbs. I crushed all the ingredients with my molcajete for around 5 minutes. Pretty much look like a chunky salsa.

3. Chop and/or slice the other ingredients. (Cabbage, Black Mustard, Etc...)

4. Mix the ingredients with the spices into a jar, add the cooled brine and place the lid - you can not close the lid firmly and must allow for gas to escape (from fermentation). I simply leave it in my kitchen for 4-5 days and taste it to see if it's good to go. It"s that simple and has never failed so far. If it's good, I place it in the fridge which pretty much stops the fermentation (too low temperature).

You can do Wild Food Kimchi with pretty much any wild food. Wild Mustard, Wild Radish and other greens such as Chickweed, Mallow, Sow Thistle, Cattail, etc... works very well. I usually like to add cabbage though but it's not a must.



 

Elderberry Fritters

March 2011

This is the perfect time (March 18) to go out and collect Elderberry Flowers. They're fluffy clusters of white flowers which you can find pretty much anywhere in the "wilderness" of Los Angeles. Make sure you clean them well, we had A LOT of little black bugs and it took around 7 "cleanings" to get rid ot them.

Preparation:

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup ice water/cold water (Fizzy is better)
  • 1 1/2 cup corn starsh
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt

Place corn starsh into a bowl, add the water, then an egg and salt. Beat the ingredients as you go along. Dip the elderberry flowers in it for a minute or two then place the flowers into oil. We used canola oil.



 

My Chic Life - Gourmet Wild Food Class

Rachel Hollis from My Chic Life Blogs
about attending our Wild Food Cooking class

March 2011

Rachel Hollis has a popular blog called "My Chic Life". It's about cooking and also a guide to Chic Living. She has A LOT of wonderful ideas for food, recipes and...for chic living.

It was great to have her attending our Gourmet Wild Food and Cooking class and she had a lot of fun too. You can read about her experience HERE

Thanks Rachel!



 

Doing great with my foraged olives

February 2011

My olives preparations are doing great. So far I've tried 4 different methods and everything is going along very well. I've made some Salted Olives, Mediterranean-Style Olives (green cracked olives), Greek-Style Brined Olives and Sicilian Style Olives.

I've been able to enjoy some of the salted olives already but it will probably take another week or two to complete the process. Same with the cracked green olives. I still have two months to go for the Sicilian Olives, they're fermenting with all kinds of yummy wild spices. The Green-Style Olives should be ready in a month.

I'm all set for a full year of culinary delight!

 

Wild Food - Preparing Olives


 

Wild Food Gourmet and Cooking Class

Wild Gourmet Food - Foraging / Tasting and Cooking Class

March 2011

Around ten people attended our class about foraging wild food - tasting and cooking. We went hiking for around an hour and collected some wild mustard, olives, wild radish and various other edible plants. After the hike, participants were able to sample some gourmet food which included wild food as part of the ingredients. Mia made an incredible Wild Mallow and Acorn Gumbo, I made some Elderberry Flowers Fritters.

We also tasted some goodies such as: Fennel Goat Cheese, Popcorns with Wild Spices (Sage, etc...), Wild Mustard and much more!



 

Transitional Gastronomy Food Lab
Goat Milk and Fennel Ice Cream

March 2011

Goat milk ice cream is becoming quite trendy and we wanted to make our own. The wild food component is fennel that we foraged in the morning.

It's so naturally sweet itself, so we added just a little honey to the recipe and served with grapefruit supremes for contrast to the palate. Wonderful! A true match.

 

 



 

Morning Hike Harvest

March 2011

I found a bunch of black mustard (Brassica Negra) where I live which was already flowering.

The mustard made with the leaves is pretty good but I really like it when it's done with the flowers. The color is also quite spectacular, some sort of lime-green and in my opinion, the taste is so much better.

As usual, I used white wine and apple cider vinegar with salt and Italian spices to taste.



 

Transitional Gastronomy Food Lab - Nettles Cheese Puffs

March 2011

As usual, our Saturday is taken doing all kinds of research and fun recipes with Wild Food. This weekend we tried something new...Nettles.Cheese Puffs!

I went foraging for Nettle and Wild Mustard and Mia did her usual culinary magic.

We used organic white cornmeal and a little parm along with sauteed nettles in the batter. We then made a black mustard leaf espuma to dip them in.

Fancy wild food!!!!!

 

 



 

Wild Food Walk / Making a Dijon-Style Mustard (with Black Mustard) and Wild Food Appetizers.

March 2011

Today we went on a wild food foraging walk and collected a bunch of various wild edibles. We found the following plants: Wild Radish, Wild Mustard, Fennel, Olives, Watercress, Cattail and more...

At the end of the class, we made a Dijon-style mustard with white wine and vinegar , some spices and garlic. We also made some cute appetizers with hummus, crackers, the plants we collected and some of the wild food I pickled earlier such as pickled yucca shoots and acorns.



 

Fermenting, Salting and Brining Olives

February 2011

Olives are extremely bitter if not prepared properly.

There are several traditional methods of preparing Olives. In fact, if you do some research, you're going to find that there are countless recipes, sometimes handed down for generations, on how to prepare them.

I have so much Olives that I want to experiment a little bit by adding wild spices and such but if you are interested to find some safe ways to prepare Olives, the best online ressource I've found so far is from the University of California. The title of the document is: Olives: Safe Methods for Home Pickling. You can download the PDF HERE

 

Fermenting, Salting and Brining Olives


 

Morning Hike Harvest

February 2011

This is just sample of some of the plants we collected on our morning hike.

Today we collected some Giant Nettle, Wild Fennel, tons of Olives (Mission Olives), Black Mustard and Wild Radish pods. It's not in the photo but we also collected Wild Mustard (Edge Mustard) flowers and some watercress.

Plenty of yummy dishes to make!



 

Foraging Olives

February 2011

During our hike this morning we found several Olives trees (mission olives), they were just ripe so we could not resist!

That day we collected around 30 pounds of it. Most were just perfectly ripe but we also found some green ones when the trees grew in areas more protected from the sun.

I love olives so I have several projects in mind such as salting, fermenting and brining them using various traditional methods. Of course I want to use some of my wild food spices as well (California Sagebrush, red pepper, California Bay Leaves, etc...).

30 pounds of fantastic (free) wild food ain't bad and it just took 2-3 hrs of foraging.

 

Foraging Olives - Wild food in Los Angeles


 

California Peony - wild food and tea

New plant: The California Peony

February 2011

Last month, I found this plant in a field near the farm and I had no idea what it was.

Took me a while to find out but it ended up being a nice surprise. The California Peony can actually considered edible. The natives used to cook the leaves before the flowers appear - they become too bitter afterwards. It was already too late for me to experiment with it, in fact the flowers were already blooming in early January. The petals are considered a very good tea in China. Although it was already too late for that too (the flowers bloom for a couple of weeks), I was still able to collect some to try the tea.

The tea was actually quite delicious. I don't drink a lot of teas or infusions (I'm a coffee guy) so it's hard for me to compare it to other "teas" but it was a very pleasant experience.



 

Mia's Roasted Cattail Soup

February 2011

Mia is extremely creative with the wild food we're foraging. Being an excellent chef, she is able to take wild food to new levels of gastronomy. This weekend she made a roasted cattail soup.

Preparation: Wild harvested cattail hearts are pan roasted with onion, garlic, fennel and a little white wine, processed through a food mill and finished in a light cream/roux. Final touches are a drizzle of homemade watercress infused olive oil and medallions of cattail tempura for crunch.

Non-wild ingredients: white wine, organic half and half, onion, garlic, organic AP flour, olive oil, salt and pepper, hot sauce or cayenne.

Gourmet Wild Food - Transitional Gastronomy - Roasted Cattail Soup


 

Gourmet Wild Food - Transitional Gastronomy- Nettle Pancakes with pickled acorns and nightshade sauce

Korean-style pancakes featuring Giant Nettles and Pickled Acorns served with a Black Nightshade Dipping Sauce (vegetarian)

February 2011

We got busy this weekend doing all kinds of yummy dishes with wild food. The featured wild food in this dish are giant stinging nettles, white oak acorns, pickled radish

Preparation: Giant stinging nettles are blanched and then sautéed with a bit of soy, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, onion and red chili flakes. They are dropped into a light pancake/crepe batter along with bean sprouts. The garnish is julienned watercress and cilantro and wild harvested pickled acorns for crunch and served alongside a black nightshade dipping sauce.

Non-wild ingredients: soy sauce, sesame oil, chili flakes, ginger, cilantro, organic AP flour, cornstarch, bean sprouts, garlic, onions

 



 

Foraging Giant Nettles

February 2011

The Giant Nettle is starting to grow and it's a good time to start foraging that plant.

It's called the Giant Nettle because...well...it's BIG! In a couple of months, some of the leaves can be as big as my hand. It makes foraging the plant easy and less work to prepare it. You have to be careful though, the sting is much stronger with the giant nettle and the pain can last for an hour or more. Factually my fingers (yes, I forgot to bring gloves) were still numb the next day.

I find the Giant Nettle in forested area, usually were there is a lot of humidity and water. I've even found it way high in some of the mountains of the Angeles Forest. The taste and texture is the same as the regular nettles.

 

Wild Food - Foraging Giant Nettles


 

Gourmet Wild Food - Transitional Gastronomy - Cattail Tempura

Cattail Tempura

February 2011

Mia created this wonderful dish with Cattail this weekend.

It's so simple to do and yet works wonderful with Cattail. As we discovered it's best to use the white part of the young shoot and cut it into rings. The tempura was made with corn starch. The recipe for the tempura is as follow:

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup ice water/cold water (Fizzy is better)
  • 1 1/2 cup corn starsh
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt

Place corn starsh into a bowl, add the water, then an egg and salt. Beat the ingredients as you go along. Dip the cattail rings in it for a minute or two then place them into oil. We used canola oil.

 



 

Roasted Cattail with Hollandaise Sauce.

February 2011

I wanted to try an old recipe my mom/dad used to make when I was a kid. Usually we do it with Asparagus or Leeks but I thought Cattail would work wonderful wiht a nice Hollandaise sauce.

It did! I simply roasted the Cattail in a pan like we used to do with leeks and used an traditional Hollandaise sauce with capers. It was served with Tilapia and garnished with fennel we foraged in the morning.

 

Gourmet Wild Food - Transitional Gastronomy - Roasted Cattail with Hollandaise Sauce


 

Foraging Cattail

February 2011

This weekend we decided to do some culinary experiments with Cattail.

Cattail is one of the most common edible plant.and you can find it in Southern California in river beds. The best time to forage cattail is in spring when the young shoots are growing. I usually select the cattail when it is around 3 feet tall. The method is simple: push back the outer leaves and pull on the inner ones. The bottom ( the white/light green part) is edible - the rest is usually too fibrous. Often I have to remove the outer layers as well - the center part is what I'm looking for - it's very tender and taste a bit like a cucumber.

Cattail can be used raw in salad and also in all kinds of culinary dishes (soups, roasted, etc...). It's rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin c and other goodies. Make sure you don't forage in polluted areas.



 

Wild Food Walk at Orcas Park

February 2011

This weekend around 25 people showed up for a wild food walk at Orcas Park. We were able to look at plants we usually don't find at the usual location (Hahamongna Watershed Park). We looked at various cactuses, Yucca, found some Cattail and Watercress. We also collected some wild mustard, wild radishes and made a nice wild food salad with some of the Chickweeds and Miner's lettuces I had collected prior to the class.

We also made a "French style" mustard with white wine and vinegar using Black Mustard leaves (very spicy). As usual we had a wild food feast at the end and ate all kind of goodies such as Pickled Acorns, Wild Food Kimchi, Nettle Soup and much more!

It was a beautiful day, perfect for a nice foraging walk.

 



 

Los angeles - Food preservation class

Food Preservation Class: Salting, Pickling, Dehydrating and Fermenting Food (including wild food)

February 2011

The class this morning was about food preservation. Food preservation is a crucial skill to have from an urban self-reliance viewpoint. If you are a foodie (or should I say wild foodie), there are a lot of culinary experiments to do with wild food preservation.

That day we went over traditional preservation using salt, we made some wild food "kimchi", did a small pickling project using wild radish pods and looked at dehydration as a food preservation method. We even made some quick soup with some of the dehydrated food I had in my pantry.

Great group of people and we had a fun time!



 

Gourmet wild food: Acorn Bagels, Black Mustard Aoli and Homemade Goat Cheese.

February 2011

Today, aside from our quail project, we also made some acorn bagles. Mia followed the traditional recipe (aside from using Acorn flour instead of regular flour). On my side I made some Black Mustard Aoli with white wine and vinegar and also some goat cheese with local honey.

Another succesful transitional gastronomy dish!

 



 

Gourmet Wild Food Los Angeles - Quail, Acorn Gnocchi and Black Nightshade Sauce

Weekend Project: Quail, Acorn Gnocchi and Black Nightshade Sauce

February 2011

We celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday with some locally sourced quail and wild harvested acorn flour gnocchi in California Sage Bush and White Sage butter.

The quail was marinated in a red wine, wild sage, fennel mix and the sauce was a concoction of Pascal's secret Nightshade redux mounted with quail stock, garlic, more wild sage and organic butter.

It was just delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!



 

Foraging Giant Reed (Arundo Donax)

February 2011

Today we went wild food hunting for giant reed (shoots and roots). The plant, looking very similar to bamboo, is not native to this area and considered quite invasive so I may as well help the environment and eat the stuff! The shoots and roots are supposed to be edible. We collected a lot of shoots and some roots (size of a big potato) and will play with some recipes this weekend.

Note that the plant contains Cyanogenic glycoside (Also found in fresh bamboo) but it decomposes quickly when placed in boiling water, rendering the shoots safe for consumption. Per our research, to get rid of the poisonous stuff leave the shoots/roots in water and cook the shoots for 20 minutes (change water twice). The roots can be grated, further leached in water and boiled for a longer time (around 2 hrs).

UPDATE FEBRUARY 14 - After cooking the shoots for 3 hrs (still not edible - too bitter) and roots for a couple of hours and doing further research on the subject regarding toxicity as well as input from some of the top wild food instructors (Thanks GreenDean, Christopher Nyerges and others who gave me their input), I don't consider this plant edible (and thus won't eat it). I intend to have some lab testing on it if possible. So far it seems the only edible portion are the seeds which I will investigate at the proper time.



 

Making Cheese with Oxalis (wood sorrel) as a curdling agent

Using Oxalis (Wood Sorrel) to Make Cheese

February 2011

I made this "Stinging Nettle" goat cheese yesterday. What's unusual is the fact that I didn't use lemon or vinegar for the curdling but an herb that's very acidic called Oxalis (or wood sorrel). We discovered that creme was curdling while doing our ice cream this weekend so making cheese seemed a good idea. It was! The Cheese is decorated with wild mustard flowers, California Sagebrush, red peppers (from my tree).

To use Oxalis to curdle cheese, you will need to juice it. I used a ratio of 1/2 cup Oxalis juice to one quart goat milk.


 

Oxalis (Wood Sorrel) Ice Cream and Acorn Cone

February 2011

This weekend Mia created another wild food success and made an Oxalis (Wood Sorrel) Ice Cream. This creamy treat is only available for a few months a year as wood sorrel only pops up in the spring.

It's refreshing because it has a subtle lemony-lime/lemongrass flavor and rich because of the creamy custard base. We were thrilled at the results

The cone is made from wild harvested acorn flour.



 

Cactus Pears Soda

Cactus Pears Soda

February 2011

We just purchased a soda machine so we can make all kinds of delicious soda with fruits and berries we're foraging.

It's not really the season for cactus pears but I still have a bunch of cactus pears syrup that I made last year. I used the syrup and made some soda with it, added a bit of wood sorrel (oxalis) and made it all carbonated and bubbly. Delicious. The taste is a bit similar to watermelon.


 

Wild Food Turkey Jerky

Collecting Cattail Fuzz for Fire Making

February 2011

This is the perfect time to collect cattail fuzz.

Cattail fuzz has a lot of use. In case of an emergency, you can use it as insolation against the cold - simply stuff it under your clothes. You won't be pretty but you'll be warm! Soak it in oil and you get a nice torch too.

To make fire, you just need to collect some fuzz, place it on the ground and just one spark will light the whole thing on fire. Be careful though, it lights up extremely fast!


 

Mallow Chips "Nori" Style

February 2011

Mallow is a common "wild" plant found in many vacant lots in SoCal. Once cooked, the texture is similar to Okra and, as we found out, it has a slight seaweed flavor when dried.

In the last 3 weeks we've been playing around finding a way to make some "Mallow Nori" which we could use for making Wild Food Sushi. There is still more work to be done but I think we've come up with some decent Mallow Chips Nori Style for now. So stay tuned for more culinary wild food voodoo with the concept.

Mallow Chips Nori Style


 

Wild Food Turkey Jerky

Turkey Jerky with California Sagebrush and California Bay Leaves

January 2011

I love Jerky and I usually make some each month. My favorite is definitely the one using California Sage Brush and California Bay Leaves as a spice.

My recipe is very easy. The marinade is composed of 1 cup basalmic vinegar, 1 cup of soy sauce. I add 4 to 6 crushed garlic cloves and half a teaspoon (each) of the following ingredients: Black Pepper, California Sagebrush, Italian or French spices and then one crumbled leaf of California Bay. I sometimes use pepper from my peppertree instead of black pepper.

I let it marinade for at least 4 hours (all night is even better) and dehydrate it at around 135 degrees. Usually takes 5 to 6 hrs depending on the thickness of the meat.


 

Workshop on Cold and Flu Natural Remedies

January 2011

It was a cold rainy day - perfect for a workshop on cold and flu remedies. In the first part of the workshop we went on a short hike and collected plants to make some teas/infusions. We collected White Sage, Black Sage, Horehound, Yerba Santa and California Sagebrush. We made some tea with pretty much every plants (including Pine needles tea) and tasted each one.

During the second part of the workshop we made some Horehound candies (see recipe down the page) and called it a day by going to a local field full of Chickweeds and Miner's lettuce so everyone could collect some to make wild food salads at home.

I had a great time teaching this workshop!

Class on Cold and Flu Remedies


 

Wild Food in Los Angeles - Edible  weeds in your backyard

Private Class - What's growing in my Backyard?

January 2011

I've done this a couple of times and it's always fun.

Some people wonder what growns in their backyard or around their house and if it's edible. This weekend I was invided by a family near Montrose to give them a tour of what was in their yard and how it could be used if edible.

They actually had a lot of wild food. Upon close inspection we found Chickweed, Sow Thistle, Filaree and we hit the jackpot with A LOT of Lambsquarters. I gave some directions on how to take care of the Lambsquarter (like...water it!) and this family will be able to make some wonderful dishes with it for months.

After the tour, we made a quick wild food salad with the plants we discovered and I showed them a nice and simple recipe for cooking Lambsquarters.

So if you wonder what's in your backyard send me an email!!!!!!


 

Black Nightshade Steak Sauce!

January 2011

I'm still finding more use for the black nighshade berries. (If you wonder about edibility just check my post in September 2010 - Nighshade Spaghetti Sauce).

This time I created my own steak sauce with a base of brown sugar and basalmic vinegar, I'll be a bit selfish and keep the recipe for myself on this one but if anyone wants to experience with the nighshade berries, there are some interesting culinary experiments to do in that direction (Steak sauce, sauces, salad dressing with nightshade redux).

I bottled the sauce and used the water bath method to preserve it (15 mins of boiling).

Black Nightshade Steak Sauce


 

Yerba Santa as a cold/flu remedy

January 2011

Spanish priests were impressed by the plant’s medicinal qualities and gave this sticky-leafed evergreen the name “holy weed”

Applications: Yerba Santa has traditionally been used as a tea for colds and flu as well as other respiratory ailments including colds, coughs, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis and inflammation and infection of the lungs and chest (when it’s hard to breathe). Today, Yerba Santa is mainly used to treat the common cold along with other chronic respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asmtha.

One of it’s main ingredients is eriodictyol which has mild expectorant qualities (brings up mucus and other material from the lungs and throat). Yerba Santa is an expectorant, bronchial antiseptic, and antiseptic diuretic.

The tea is very effective when taken at regular frequent intervals and it breaks up the mucus in the lungs and allows it to be easily coughed up while simultaneously decreasing congestion and inflammation.

Yerba Santa Tea Recipe:
Yerba Santa tea is prepared by steeping 1 teaspoon dried herb in 8 ounces of boiling water for 30 minutes.

Other uses: A poultice of Yerba Santa can be used to treat bruises and sprains. Historically the sticky leaf was used to seal wounds until a proper bandage could be used.

Yerba Santa Tea


 

White Sage Tea Recipe

White Sage as a cold remedy

January 2011

White Sage was used by natives as a cold/flu remedy. In general, the tea decreases mucous secretions in the sinuses, throat and lungs.
As a hot tea, it stimulates perspiration, thus used to break fevers.
As a lukewarm tea, it coats and eases sore throats.
As a cold tea, it is said that White Sage soothes stomach aches.

Inhalation Therapy
Inhaling the steamed leaves breaks up chest congestion.
Either inhale a hot cup of sage tea or use entire wand or one ounce of dried leaves in your bathtub. Fill bath with warm to moderately hot water and soak for about 10-15 minutes.

Suggested Infusion Preparation:
Use 3 dried White Sage leaves, break them up and place them into the bottom of a tea cup (1 cup of water). Pour boiling water over them and let it steep 10 minutes. Drink only one cup in a 24 hour period. (You may want to do further research if you are pregnant before drinking this tea)



 

Canning and Preserving Mallow Leaves

Canning and Preserving Mallow Leaves.

January 2011

Mallow is used in Israel as a substitute for grape leaves and also cooked in a 'mallow and rice' dish in Turkey. So I decided to can some leaves using a similar recipe used to preserve Grape Leaves. Because I can't find any other recipes of this kind regarding Mallow and not knowing the acidity level of it, I erred on the safe side and added more lemon than the original recipe was asking for. So here is the recipe:

1. Of course sterilize the canning jars you will be using.

2. Blanch the Mallow leaves (one minute) and create little bundles of around 10 leaves.

3. Place bundles into jars with at least 1 inch between the bundles top and the jar’s rim.

4. Make a brine by boiling 1/2 cup of salt (I use sea salt) for 5 cups of water. Also add 1 cups of lemon juice (more than the original recipe). This recipe use more salt and lemon than the original grape leaves recipe to be safe. Boil the brine for at least 5 minutes and pour the hot brine into your leaf-filled jars. The brine should cover the bundles and yet leave 1/2 inch of space between the brine and the jar's rim. Remove air bubbles.

5. Place sealed jars in canner/boiling pot and fill with enough water to cover jars. Boil for 15 minutes. Let jars cool and store in a dark, cool place for up to a year.




 

Foraging Mallow

January 2011

We have tons...and I mean TONS! of Mallow where I live. Mia and myself foraged a bunch today.

Mallow is an edible plant that you find pretty much anywhere in Southern California and Los Angeles. Heck, you'll even find it in the middle of the city.

Mallows are related to okra and if you taste it, well you will discover the same consistency. In my area, I've met quite a few mallow foragers - mostly from eastern europe (Romania, Serbia) or from South America. While in Israel Mallow leaves are used for stuffing (as a substitute to Grape Leaves) or raw (when the leaves are young), the South Americans or Eastern Europeans simply cook the plant (including the stem) with onions and garlic as an addition to their meat.

Interestingly enough, dehydrated Mallow has a slight seaweed aftertaste which of course opens a world of possibilities for me.

Making Horehound Candy


 

Vegetarian Acorn Burger

Vegetarian Acorn Burgers with Black Nightshade Sauce and pickled Wild food Condiments.

January 2011

This weekend Mia and myself had a lot of fun creating this interesting dish with wild food. Mia made the acorns burgers (with eggplants, onions, etc... recipe coming soon) and I made an "A1" type sauce using black nighshade berries that I had dehydrated a few months ago.

For garnish we used some pickled wild radish from last year, miner's lettuce, sweet pickled acorns (see recipe below).

It was absolutely delicious!!!!!!!!!!


 

Making Horehound Candies

January 2011

I made some Horehound candies for my class this weekend. It's a very traditional cold and flu remedy and extremely simple to make. Right now we have a lot of horehound available and it's going to be that way probably until June.

The recipe is easy:

Supplies:

  • 1 cup horehound tea made from foraged horehound.
  • 6 cups brown sugar or 4 cups sugar and 2 cups dark or light corn syrup

Instructions:

  • Boil horehound into a good strong tea. Keep 1 cup of liquid tea
  • Combine sugar and tea
  • Boil until it barely begins to caramel. (300 Degrees)
  • Put onto a flat greased cookie sheet
  • Start cutting into squares as it starts to harden

 

Making Horehound Candy


 

Cold and Flu Remedies Class in Los Angeles

Cold/Flu Remedies and Wild Food Walk

January 2011

Around 25 people showed up for a Cold/Flu Remedies and Wild Food Walk.

In the first part of the class I went over some local cold and flu remedies such as White Sage, California Sagebrush, Willow, Yerba Santa, Black Sage and Horehound. Prior to the class I made some White Sage tea and Horehound candies which people had the opportunity to taste.

In the second part of the class we went on a wild food walk and collected some Sow Thistle and chickweeds to make a salad.

As usual we had a wild food feast at the end of the walk with wild food such as pickled wild radishes, fermented wild food, all kinds of jams (Toyon, Elderberry, Wild Currant, Cactus Pears), pickled Acorns, etc... My girlfriend Mia also made some Toyon Pop Tarts which were very popular.

It was a beautiful day and a great group of people!


 

Miner's Lettuce (Montia perfoliata) - A Delicious "Lettuce"

January 2011

After the "Making WIld Food Instant Cubes" class, I was showing some of my students a patch of Chickweeds and came across a decent amount of Miner's Lettuce. It's quite rare to find some where I live so I'm thrilled to have a good location for it.

Miner's Lettuce is high in vitamin C, and delicious raw or cooked. I like it raw though. It's actually my favorite salad plant. It is very tender and tastes very "green" with some sort of a mix between a mild spinach and wheat juice flavor. It's quite delicate too.

The next step is a yummy salad with...hmmm... maybe some nighshade berries redux dressing. YUM!

 

 

 

wild Food - Miner's Lettuce


 

Soap Bar made only with Wild Plants

January 2011

It's been something I've been thinking for a while and I'm doing some experiments with it. Frankly I don't know if I will succeed but I seem to be moving toward the right direction.

The goal is simple, create a soap very similar to a bar soap that you would buy at the store but the content would just be plants, no lye, no fat, no oil....just plants, and I also want it smooth and with a nice leather.

Of course I could add all kinds of wonderful scents with local aromatic plants as well!

The photo shows my first prototype. It's drying presently so it will probably takes a couple of weeks before I can test it.

UPDATE 01/16/10...Failed attempt again. The soap became brittle when dry.

Soap Bar made with just Wild Plants


 

Toyon Jam

January 2011

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is a common perennial shrub/tree native to California. It is also known by the common names Christmas berry and California holly. (Guess where the name Hollywood comes from?)

The berries were used by the local natives (Chumash, etc...) to make flour (dried, grinded and cooked into bread/pancakes with other ingredients such as acorns, etc...)

The Toyon berries contain a small amount of cyanogenic glycosides (poisonous stuff) which is removed by mild cooking.

I could not find any jam recipe online but I had to try it. I like the result very much, it has a definite cherry taste although more textures than most jams. But it is definitely worth doing it. I can see making some great sauces with it too! I added a bit of Mint in the jars and was very happy with it too. Here is the recipe:

1. Boil the Toyon berries and change the water twice. (10-15 mins)
2. Puree the berries
3. Ingredients:

2 cups of Toyon berries (puree)
1 1/2 Cups Water (berries have little water in them)
3 cups sugar
1/8 cup Lemon Juice

Boil the ingredients for around 20 mins, add 1/2 pack of Pectine (or if you don't use pectine boil longer). Do a test to see if the jam is thick enough. Add a couple of fresh Mint leaves in the jar, pour the jam, place the lids and boil the jars for 15 mins. Voila!


 

Wild Food Foraging - Nettles and Chickweed

January 2011

We went to our usual location to collect chickweed and nettles. Due to the heavy rain, most of our foraging ground has turned into a lake which is kind of a bummer. Means I won't have Curly Dock for quite a while atlhough I have dehydrated some large quantity already so I should be fine.

It was a beautiful day, we ran into Christopher Nyerges and his class. Christopher gives wild food classes every Saturday. You can visit his web site at: www.christophernyerges.com.

 



 

Transitional Gastronomy - Acorn Pâté

Wild Acorn Country Pâté with Homemade Goat Cheese

January 2011

Mia and myself were discussing how to use acorns to make some gourmet food. We came up with the idea of making an acorn paté with goat cheese in the center. Mia took care of the paté part and I made the goat cheese. I was so busy, I could not follow what Mia did so I don't have her recipe for it.

On my side, I simply did a regular goat farmer cheese with some Lambsquarter in it. We roller the acorn paté around the goat cheese and I added some wild food spices on top of it such as California Sage Bush, California Bay leaves, Wild Mustard Flowers, Red pepper, etc...

Honestly, it was delicious. There is some improvement which can be made but it actually tasted like paté. Amazing what can be done with wild food!

 


 

Feeding Time at the Farm

January 2011

This weekend everyone was gone to a horse race so I had to take care of the animals. I always enjoy it and learned a lot in the last 6 months.

Presently we have two goats, eight horses, nine chicken, 2 dogs and....6 cats! A little zoo...

Now if I could get the damn chicken to lay some eggs that would be awesome! We haven't had eggs in the last 2 months. Winter time!

 

 

Feeding the animals - Self Reliance


 

Transitional Gastronomy. Hand Juicer

New addition to the kitchen...hand juicer

January 2011

I'm putting together a kitchen based on the concept of Transitional Gastronomy.

To explain the concept one more time, Transitional Gastronomy is a culinary discipline that aims to create a unique gourmet experience using accessible resources in our immediate environment, such as home gardens and edible plants you find in the urban wilderness (wild food). It’s very much a cooking style based on self-reliance and sustainability while incorporating old world, traditional food preservation techniques, simple ingredients and fresh, foraged wild food. The mission is to create sustainable, innovative, exciting, and nutritious cuisine that anyone can achieve.

Thus most of the cooking is done off the grid and manual appliances (instead of electrical) are used to prepare the food.

 

 


 

Toying with Toyon

January 2011

I've done a lot of culinary voodoo with Toyon in the last couple of weeks and I'm just getting started. Some are actually quite interesting from a gastronomic perspective. For example, Toyon preserved in Vodka really gives the vodka a "cherry" kick which is quite delicious.

I could not find that much information about all the the things you can do with Toyon so there is a lot of new things to learn and I have to go with my instinct. So far on the picture you can see pickled Toyon (Mint and Wild Fennel spices), Dried Toyon berries, Toyon berries in vodka and brandy as well as Toyon Berries preserved in a medium sugar syrup. Still plan to do some jam and coming up with other stuff too.

Lots of yummy things to taste in a few weeks! I'll post the successful recipes. Toyon in Brandy is not something I recommend, it's not bad but there is a flavor competition between the Brandy and the Berries. Vodka is awesome though!

 

Toyon Pickling, Toyon Preservation, drying toyon, Toyon in alcohool, Toyon in Vodka, Dried Toyon Berries


 

Transitional Gastronomy - Pickling Acorns

Sweet Acorn Pickling

January 2011

This is a twist on an old English recipe for pickled walnuts. I have no doubt it's going to be good but probably an acquired taste (like the pickled walnuts). I'm not a fan of cinnamon or cloves and I improvised a bit to fit a nutty acorn taste so here we go:

1. Leach acorn and place them in a strong brine for 3 days. I used a ratio of around 1/3 cup of salt for 4 cups water. After 3 days let them dry for a day.

Pickling Ingredients:
I had a bit more than 2 cups of acorns
1 cup water + 2 cups red wine vinegar+ 3 oz basalmic vinegar
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon peppercorn, 1 teaspoon dry garlic (can use 2 cloves fresh)
1 teaspoon Italian or French spices.
I also added 1/2 California Bay leave in each jar.

In a large pot bring to a boil the ingredients and then add the acorns. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Spoon the acorns into sterile jars and fill with the liquid to within 1/2 inch of the top. Seal with lids and rings. Process in a hot water bath for at least 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature and store in a cool dark place.

 

 


 

Foraging MORE Acorns

January 2011

Well, I was tasting some old acorns that I had collected and they were just delicious. So delicious in fact that I had to get my hand on much more so I could try some new things. In fact the acorns barely needed any leaching.

So we decided to go on mountain adventures to the same oaks. Mia came with me and we spent an hour driving in the Los Angeles Forest to the oaks location. We collected around 15 pounds of it. Enough to do all kinds of interesting recipes for a while.

We had a great time, it was so cold that it started snowing after a while. Very rare in Southern California.

 

Acorn Foraging Los Angeles