"In wildness is the preservation of the world." -H.D. Thoreau

Why eat from the wild? The answer is obvious to anyone who has felt the emotional uplift from the weight of a basket brimming with morel mushrooms, the earthy-sweet scent of digging Sassafras roots, or the heavy pulsing of a fish testing the limits of your fly rod.
There are a million reasons to eat wild, to get dirty, to taste fresh food. It is here where we connect to the Earth, our Ancestral past, immediate present and hope for a healthy future...

"Nothing else can build such awareness as surely and powerfully as practicing the ancient ecological art of humankind - foraging. It is not observation of, but rather participation in the phenomena of Nature that brings us to our greatest understanding of our place in the mosaic of life."
-Samuel Thayer The Forager's Harvest

Foraging in the Tip of the Mitten!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Hunter's Lunch

Rifle Season for Whitetail Deer is about to commence here in Northern Lower Michigan and with it, the cold weather is setting in. Scouting for sign of deer and locating stealthy approaches to high-traffic grounds can work up an appetite. Its slow going when you use this time to also stalk small game for the evening's supper. Lucky are the hunters who have venison in their freezers before they actually get out to deer hunt. I am thankful to know several bow hunters who like to share their spoils. 

Trail Mix has never cut it for me. Hot soup in an old Stanley thermos is O
K. But when I'm out in the field I'd like to be reminded of why I'm even out there in the cold, biting wind, muddy and wincing through the briars. I'm hear for meat, and when I take a break for something to eat, that is exactly what I want. This simple sandwich is amazing with mustard and mayo, but it is even better with the homemade (and wild!) pepper-root sauce. In my mind it is made even better knowing the pepper-root was harvested on the same land I am scouting.

Hunter's Sandwich

Venison steak
1 onion
Wild Pepper-root sauce - see previous post:
  -or you can substitute horseradish for the pepper-root)
  olive oil
good crusty bread
Fresh cracked pepper
sea salt

Dice and brown the onion on low-to-medium heat. Meanwhile, using the back of a knife, tap 'slots' into the meat. Turning 90 degrees, repeat, making a criss-cross pattern. This helps tenderize the meat and allows the pepper to adhere better. Repeat on the opposite side and rub in the pepper. Remove the onion and turn up the heat until it is smoky hot and add the steak. Cook for 10 minutes and flip, cooking for another minute or two. Cut some slices of bread and liberally spread the sauce on both sides. Cut the steak into 1/4 inch strips and add it to the bread, topping with the onion. Wrap in butchers paper and aluminum foil.
 Finally, get out in the field and find some deer!

 I just noticed the arrow is pointing right to where I harvested the pepper-root!


Wild "Horseradish"

I used to think I didn't like horseradish. That was until my friend mixed some up with mashed potatoes, bear grease and chives and used that as a bed on which to serve some venison liver I brought over. Now I had a reason to experiment with a plant I have mostly avoided eating due to its remarkable resemblance to horseradish: Toothwort.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In praise of Small Game: Squirrel!

For many a rural child, the hunting of a squirrel is a rite-of-passage - an introduction into the world of death.

Unfortunately many of these squirrels fall  in vain from pre-pubescent boys who are testing the sights of their new Daisy Air Rifle. I was not immune to such bloodthirsty behavior, and although I truly regret taking animals lives without eating them, I recall sneaking through the forest in search of prey was the most entertaining activity that I did. The stalk, the concealment, the fleeting glance of movement in an old hickory, the perfect shot, the rush, the fall... but then came remorse.

It was wrong, but us wielders of BB-guns and pellet pistols knew the bird calls, we knew the difference a robin makes shuffling leaves as opposed to a gray squirrel. We knew where the mast producing trees were and always the best approach - which was different depending on the weather. Where other kids could tell you batting averages or T.V.'s prime time line-up, we could tell you tree identification and 'possum tracks vs. coon tracks. Most of our peers idolized Barry Sanders and spoke at length of the Mario Brothers. We were obsessed with Native tribes, Frontiersmen and Robin Hood. Our only real 'modern' hero was Indiana Jones. Oh, and Atreyu from The Neverending Story. And Wesley from The Princess Bride. I bet ya those guys could cook up a mean squirrel over the coals.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mysterious Migrants: Hunting the Woodcock

Here at the Farm, spring begins with our annual 'Woodcock Walks' where we sneak through forest and field in search of the male Woodcock who has returned from the south to do his dramatic mating display. I always wish him luck in his endeavors, because I love Woodcock for many reasons. One of these is for a warm autumn meal.