Thursday, November 27, 2014

Foraging Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving just seems like a great time to put all your foraging skills to work.  I am sure there were many a foraged foods on the first Thanksgiving table.  Thus, I challenged myself to come up with and produce a Thanksgiving using foraged foods both fresh and preserved throughout the year.  I hope you enjoy the recipes as much as I did producing them!


Wild Greens Salad with Za'atar Dressing
Black Russian Dock Bread
Autumn Berry Orange Jam
Cream of Watercress Soup
Roasted Duck with Crab Apple Onion Sage Glaze
Prune and Juniper Dressing
Mustard Greens with Onion and Bacon
Blackberry Crab Apple Sauce
Apple Cobbler with Acorn Crust
Black Locust Blossom Wine
Mint, Motherwort & Mulberry Leaf Tea

Wild Green Salad with Za'atar Dressing

Salad Ingredients:

Dandelion Leaves
Field Pennycress
Wood Sorrel
Dehydrated Red Bud Flowers


1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Za'atar seasoning

Black Russian Dock Bread


1 cup and 1 tablespoon milk
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup ground curly dock seeds
2 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
egg white


In a medium bowl, mix the ground dock seeds and flour.  Premixing these ingredients before adding to the bread machine insures an even distribution.

In your bread maker, add all ingredients (except final egg white for coating) starting with the wet and finishing with the dry.  Set to dough cycle.

When the cycle is complete, briefly turn your oven on just to warm and then turn off. Remove dough from machine and roll flat.  Roll up flat dough from one side to the other so that it is a round.  Place in bread pan. Put plastic wrap loosely over loaf and place in slightly warmed oven.  Allow to rise for 30-40 minutes.

Remove from warmed oven.  Preheat oven to 340 degrees.  Paint loaf with egg white.  Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes 

Serve with Autumn Berry Orange Jam!

Cream of Watercress Soup


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed small
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 quart of chicken or turkey stock
2 cups of milk
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
4 cups of watercress, larges stems removed (about 1 gallon baggie loosely packed if picking)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
sour cream (optional topping)
dried parsley flakes (optional topping)


Add potatoes, onions, garlic and oil to stock pot and stir to coat.  Cook, stirring frequently, at medium heat until onions are soft but not browned.

Add stock, milk, cream, salt, pepper and watercress to pot.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.

Add nutmeg.  Using an immersion blender blend until desired smoothness.

Ladle into individual bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of parsley flakes.

Roasted Duck with Crab Apple Onion Sage Glaze

My mother is Danish and she has told me stories about eating duck stuffed with prunes at her grandparents' table in Denmark as a child.  Apparently it has been a tradition in our family for a very long time!


1 whole duckling
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 apples, cored and chopped
12 pitted prunes, cut in half
1 half pint of Crab Apple Onion Sage Jelly


Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Rinse duck and pat dry with paper towel.

Cut apples and prunes and mix together.  Stuff into cavity.  Optionally, seal with a skewer.  Place duck into roasting pan.  Rub skin with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover with roasting top or aluminum foil.

After one hour of roasting, place jelly in a bowl and warm in the microwave for thirty seconds. Remove top and baste duck with jelly.  Return the top on the pan.  Bake for one more hour and repeat basting but do not return top to pan.  Bake for another half an hour and baste.  Set timer for another thirty minutes for completion.  Total cooking time is three hours.

Serves 4 to 6.

Prune and Juniper Dressing


2 tablespoons butter
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh juniper berries, crushed 
zest from one orange
3 apples, peeled, cored & chopped
20 prunes, chopped (less than half a normal bag)
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 loaf of bread, cubed (crust is optional)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk


Prepare vegetables and fruit.  Cube bread.  To crush junipers, place in plastic bag and use a rolling pin.

Add butter, celery, onions and garlic to frying pan and and fry until soft and beginning to brown.  Add junipers, stir and remove from heat. 

Mix in orange zest, apples, prunes, parsley and bread cubes.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs with milk.  Pour equally over dressing and mix with a spoon.  Spoon loosely into 9 X 13 pan. 

Bake at 325 for 30 minutes.

Mustard Greens with Onion and Bacon

This is one of my husband's favorite dishes of the day!  But who doesn't love bacon?!


3 gallon size bags of mustard greens, washed and chopped
2 onions, chopped
1/2 to 1 package bacon or hog jowl bacon (depending on how much you like bacon!)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste


Set a large pot of salted water to boil.  Wash and chop mustard greens and chop onions. 

Cut bacon into smaller pieces and add to cast iron skillet on medium high heat.

Meanwhile, add mustard greens to boiling water (in two parts) and boil for 5 minutes.  Strain and press out liquid.  Set aside.

When bacon is beginning to brown, add onions.  Continue to cook until bacon is brown and onions are soft.

Add mustard to bacon mixture and continue to cook for 5 minutes more.  Add soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot.

Blackberry Crab Apple Sauce

This tastes just like it did on the hot summer day I canned it! It is one of my favorites.  I can't tell you how nice it is to just open a jar of home cooked food and serve.

Go HERE to see the recipe.

Apple Cobbler with Acorn Crust

Next year I am picking up every acorn that I can find!  This is fantastic.  The nutty flavor really comes out.


2 pints apples in cinnamon sauce or apple pie filling
1 1/2 sticks of salted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup of ground acorn flour
3/4 cup of old fashioned oats
sugar for sprinkling on topping


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13X9 inch baking pan. Pour apples into pan.  In a separate bowl, combine butter, flour, acorn flour and oats.  Mix until well moistened.

Using your hands, flatten out small pats of the dough and place overlapping on the apples. Sprinkle lightly with sugar.

Bake 35 minutes.  Topping will become crunchy as it cools.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Black Locust Blossom Wine

The blossom of the Black Locust is one of my favorite edibles.  The scent of the flower will make you stop in your tracks.  They make the best fritters I have ever had.  This year I turned them into wine and was not disappointed!  It tastes floral like the scent, sweet and very strong.  Check out this post about Black Locust Blossom Wine for the recipe!

Mint, Motherwort & Mulberry Leaf Tea

I love this tea pot.  It holds two large or three small cups of tea.  The nice thing about it is that the filter holding your tea leaves is in the center and pulls out easily.

Mint is good for digestion, Motherwort is good for staying calm during the busy holiday, especially if your mother-in-law is coming, and Mulberry is particularly good for blood sugar which is something you will need when your holiday focuses on food!


1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon dried Motherwort leaf
1 tablespoon dried Mulberry leaf


Add ingredients to your tea pot and bring to a boil.  Turn off burner and let sit for ten minutes.  Serve with honey to taste.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Locust Blossom Wine

Remember back in May when I started my science project?  Well it was a complete success!  Actually, it turned out better than I anticipated. I made Dandelion, Peach and Black Locust Blossom
Wine.  My favorite of the three was Black Locust Blossom which makes me very happy as I know where there are a lot of trees.  It has a delicate floral flavor and retained its sweetness.  I will be visiting those trees in the spring!  Here is the recipe:

Black Locust Blossom Wine


4 gallon baggies of black locust blossoms, stems removed and rinsed
2 gallons purified water
1 orange sliced thin
1 lemon sliced thin
12 cups sugar
2 packets of yeast - white wine or baking will do in a pinch

2 balloons
stick pin
2 one gallon carboys (can also use the plastic water gallon containers)
rubber band to hold balloons on carboy (optional, I did not need it)


In a large stock pot, add one gallon of water, flowers, orange and lemon.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Leave for two days, stirring occasionally.
Black Locust Wine are the two in front!

Strain and return liquid to pot.  Add sugar and bring to a boil.  Simmer until all sugar is incorporated.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Wash carboys thoroughly.  Add half of liquid to each carboy.  Add yeast packet to each.  Fill carboy with remaining gallon of water.  Mix well. 

Put balloon on each lid.  Poke holes (about five through both sides) to release pent up air as the yeast works it's magic.

Occasionally agitate to add oxygen the first month.  Let sit for six months. Rack wine into wine bottles.  Serve for the holidays!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pop Quiz! Can you name the wild edible?

Here's a fun activity.  I collected these yesterday (November 21) in Tennessee.  How many can you name?  Answer key below.

Down for answer!

See November Foraging post for natural habitat photos.


Friday, November 21, 2014

November Foraging in the Mid-South!

While the north is buried under six feet of snow, we are fortunately still growing some wild edibles!  I must admit, it makes me very happy to live in an area that has exactly four equal seasons.  By the time you get sick of one, the next one is beginning!  This also gives us a wide variety of available plants at different times of the year.  The fall season is still in full bloom even after a few frosts.  January and February is generally the barren season of the year.  By the end of February, you might see a few onions.  However, there is much to see today!

Watercress which grows in a spring.  Because the water temperature is never extreme, it grows all year.
Make sure you invest in a pair of these if you are going into the spring!
Field Pennycress, great in salads and has a mild peppery taste.
Thistle, if you cut the stickers off you can eat the center.  Tasty but a real pain.
Juniper berries, great seasoning for wild meat and pork. It's what gin is made of.
Rose hips, can be used to make tea or jelly.  It has more vitamin C than oranges.
English Plantain, edible as a green and makes a wonderful salve.
Curly Dock, edible as a green, in the buckwheat family
Chickweed, it loves the cool weather.  It is one of my favorites and makes a great pesto.
Carolina Geranium, has medicinal uses.
Motherwort, makes a great soothing tea.  It never dies out here.  It is an amazing plant.
Wild mustard, can be eaten as a green.  It currently is mild tasting but will become more harsh as it ages.  It grows well in the early spring and loves cool weather.
Blackberry leaves are still green and can be picked and dried for teas.
Clover leaves, edible green.
Young Cleavers, edible and medicinal
Burdock leaves, the roots make a great wild edible!

Happy hunting and be sure you know 100% of what you are eating!  Please research using multiple sources.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Making Acorn Flour!

If you have ever processed black walnuts you may be hesitant to ever attempt to use other foraged nuts. I am happy to report that acorns are much easier to use! This was a good year for acorns as not every year produces an abundance. It has been said that trees produce a lot in advance of a bad winter.  That remains to be seen!  I have noticed that it runs in a three year cycle, two being few nuts while the third being prolific.

You really want large nuts with small caps. The smaller the cap the less bitter due to tannin. Look for a white oak tree. It has the traditional oak leaf but with rounded edges. Unfortunately, all we have locally, that I can find, is red oak. Red oak works but will require a longer soak to remove the bitterness.

Collect your acorns.  Try to collect as soon as they fall and not after they have sat on the ground for a long time. Examine the nut to be sure the shell is intact and has no holes. Some people will put the nuts in water and toss those that float as those may have worms.  Spread out and allow to dry for several weeks or you can speed this up with a dehydrator or low oven. This shrinks the nut and makes it easier to shell.

Use a nut cracker and remove the shells. Shells are thin and crack easily.

Acorns generally come out whole without much effort. Acorns should have a brown exterior with a white interior. Throw out any that are black.  Have a knife handy to cut suspect acorns in half to be sure they are good.

Soak whole nuts overnight to soften. Drain. Liquid will have tannins in it.

Blend nuts with some water into smaller pieces but not into powder size. You want to increase the nut surface to leach the bitterness out but not so small that straining becomes difficult.

Place nuts in a strainer that fits into another larger pot. I used a steamer pot that has holes on the bottom which I placed into a large pot.  This way you can just lift the pot out to strain and add more water for the next soak.

Soak in hot water but not boiling.  I used hot tap water.  If you boil it, it will change the texture.  It will cook the starch and will no longer clump together in baking.  Change the water frequently. I planned it for a day when I was already going to be in the kitchen canning so about every hour for a day the water was changed. Taste for bitterness. By the end of the day, it was nearly bland enough. I set it to soak overnight and by the next day it was ready. Strain

Spread out nuts to dry. You can use a dehydrator or warm oven. I used my oven set at 115 degrees. It took a day to completely dry.

Once dry, grind into powder. A small coffee grinder works great!

Store in your refrigerator or freezer for best results.

This was far less labor intensive than processing black walnuts which is a dirty and time consuming process with little to show in my opinion. Acorns take time but are easy to process and produce a beautiful flour.

If you are local to Nashville, Tennessee, check out Vanderbilt's campus for an abundance of acorns.  The acorn is the school emblem for a reason.