WHY EAT WILD?

"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 13, 2013

Pheasant Liver Pate


Ever since I can remember, I've loved pheasants. I don't know why, but I was always drawing them in elementary class, daydreaming of flushing them in the field and roasting them for dinner. I remember always looking for them on road trips through the country and rarely ever seeing one. I would regularly ask my dad for a bird dog. My grandpa picked up a roadkill one he found and gave me the tail he had salted. And one Christmas I was given a full taxidermy mount!
I was fortunate enough to get my first pheasant the other day. When I opened it's crop, it had been gorging on corn (with a single grasshopper). When wild fowl feed heavily and heartily on corn, it can create a wild foie gras. The liver becomes enlarged and tan colored. I was excited to eviscerate the bird and examine this delicious and nutritious organ.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sacred Springs: Wild Water!



Springs are my favorite natural feature and always have been - even before I'd ever found one. When I did I was eleven and was going on a solo hike while winter camping with the local scout group. I couldn't believe my good fortune to see water bubbling forth from the underworld and quickly ran back to tell the others... who didn't give a crap. At all. What a let down.

I went back just last winter to try and find it again, this time on a hike with my grandma and mom. Twenty years have passed and yet the memory was as fresh as the water. Off the trail, through the brambles, down the hill past the old oak and through the hop-hornbeam thicket. There, at the root of a few scrub willows, flowed my spring. It was much nicer to be there with people who actually appreciated it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall Foraging at Iron Horse Farm

On Saturday we were invited out to Iron Horse Farm, an equestrian community in Ellsworth, to check out the land, ID and harvest wild edibles. The rolling hillsides were in full color along Wilson Lake, whose shores were covered in otter scat and is part of the Chain-of-Lakes Watershed. Edibles were indeed abundant! Autumn Olive (aka Autumnberry) was the hit of the day for Jen's kids who gave it the new name "Awesomeberry." I even made it home in time to get out and flush a few woodcock.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wildflowers of Summer: the Daylily



“Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gifts, 1844 
Everyone loves wildflowers. Constellations of the fields, ephemeral sparks in the forest understory, living jewels of the roadside - we invite them into our gardens and bring them home to enliven the windowsill or adorn a child's grapevine crown. I recall, in my early years, nearly any offense against my mother could be soothed by bringing her a bouquet of wildflowers. Her favorites were Queen Anne's Lace (aka Wild Carrot or Daucus carota) and Goldenrod (Salidago spp.), but any flowers we gathered would be placed in a jelly jar with water and made the centerpiece of our dining table. When flowers couldn't be found she delighted in the fruiting Chinese Bittersweet vines from which she made wreathes to decorate with and sell at antique shops.

Although I appreciate the beauty of all flowers, there are a few during this season of high summer that I actively seek because they are edible and delicious.The most well-known of these flowers is the Daylily.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Forager's Breakfast


We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Especially if you plan on a day spent trekking through forest and field. What better way to start the day than to fuel yourself with the very foods you are out to forage? For the same reason I like to eat venison while scouting for deer sign in the fall, I love a meal of freshly wildcrafted plants during the peak of their season. Here we have the obvious morel mushrooms, egg and fiddlehead ferns, fried in bear grease with a slice of toast with a blend of mayo and nettle pesto. A single leek compliments it all and a handful of dandelion greens gives this a nice bitter bite that feels very strengthening. I'm sure it is.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wild Edibles Potluck & Presentation


May is one of the months I eat the best. Not only the best food, but with the best of people - folks who like to forage and fish as much as I do and join me on forays without hesitation. This May was a great year for fish, both mullet and steelhead and we took a lot to the Bellaire Smokehouse to have smoked. But it is also a banner year for fiddleheads since we found two more wild plots of Ostrich ferns just popping forth from their rich woodland soil. We found many other edible greens on our woodland outings so I decided to share the bounty by hosting a potluck & presentation at the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center. Some friends and I harvested 12 different common wild edibles which I discussed during our 1st event held in our newly renovated Outdoor Classroom. Here are some pictures:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Another Edible May Event with ISLAND!

WILD LEEK PRESERVATION

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
6:00pm until 8:00pm
Martha Wagbo Farm & Education Center

5745 N. M-66, East Jordan, Michigan 49727
There are many ways to preserve wild leeks. This workshop will cover how to sustainably harvest, then dry, freeze, pesto and pickle these members of the Allium or onion family that grow in our north woods. Each participant will take home one half pint jar of pickled leeks. This event is a partnership of ISLAND and The Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center WEEDS foraging group (Wild Edibles for Ecological Dietary Sustainability). 
$8-$10 sliding scale

For more information call 231-622-5252 or email yvonne@artmeetsearth.org
PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED

And the online registration form:

http://goo.gl/6VYXy

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sprucing up


On the southwest part of the Martha Wagbo Farm & Education Center's 212 acres lies a plantation of Norway Spruce planted around 50 years ago. These large evergreens sway just behind my trailer and harbor the annual Raven nest. I even saw the babies this morning! Just as exciting is the upcoming fresh tips that sprout from their swooping dark green boughs. They are edible and choice! I love them in almost everything: from a simple seasoning on an appetizer like the sourdough rye toast w/ melted sheep cheese and tomatoes (above), to beer and even ice cream. Check out the latest issue of Edible Grande Traverse magazine (Spring 2013) for my article on the identification and use of spruce in cooking. 





May Edible Events...


Saturday, March 2, 2013

March Maple Syrup Events!


Its that time of year again, time to get a-tappin' and folks are out in the sugarbush doing just that as I write. The Friends of the Wagbo Sugarbush started tapping on the 26th of February in a biting wind that was coming all the way from the frozen Lake Charlevoix. But sure enough, the sap was a-flowin' and above is the proof! Fresh sap from a fresh tap, the lifeblood of the forest. In keeping with this magical time of year, the Wagbo Farm organizes a number of events to get the community involved in these seasonal rhythms. Listed below, these should be a lot of fun and we hope you can make it to any or all events!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Evergreen Teas: for a walk in the Winter Woods


In the latest issue of Edible Grande Traverse Magazine, you can check out my latest food-related article on harvesting  and brewing native teas from our landscape:

http://www.ediblecommunities.com/grandetraverse/online-magazine/winter-2013/small-gifts.htm

In it you'll also find recipes for using evergreens in cooking, like grilling fish over smoldering boughs: 


Or making Juniper Sauerkraut to serve with wild game such as hasenpfeffer (the traditional German stewed rabbit or hare. The pic at the end still gets my mouthwatering.)

We've been doing a little bit of wild culinary exploration with teas harvested here at the farm. With the surplus of eggs Jen's been getting I figured we'd have to do something egg-related.  So here's our latest concoction: 

Maple-Pine Marbled Eggs

1. First, hard-boil eight eggs. Remember if they are fresh from the farm, as these were, they need to be pricked with a pin so they peel easy. 

2. Cool and save the water. Crack the egg all over with the back of a spoon, as seen in the photo below.
 
  3. To the reserved water add:

8 HB eggs
1 bag black tea
1/2 cup tamari
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods
1 tsp cracked pepper
One good handful of white pine bark w/ needles

4. Bring all this to a boil then turn down heat to simmer for 2 hours. 

After this, we cooled an egg under cold water and cracked it open. Lovely, but not too much flavor if you weren't actively looking for it. Subtle, but good. 


 So I decided to leave them in the brew overnight. Here's how they turned out:


Much more flavorful. Very rich and woodsy. Couldn't really taste the cinnamon or anise, but the tea mixture shines through. There were pockets where the tea sat in between the egg and the shell, creating large patches of not-so-pretty brown. Next time I'll try a 3 hour post-simmer immersion. I ate mine with pickled Wild Leeks.