Category Archives: Environment

Garden State

I spent this past Sunday May 22nd with my dear mother Betty preparing and planting our garden. We planted Corn, Carrots, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Radishes, Spaghetti Squash, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Peas and String Beans. I can’t wait to begin harvesting our vegetables! We also have Raspberries, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Basil, Rosemary and Oregano.

It is amazing how much variety you can plant in such a small area. Our garden is only 50 feet long and 20 feet wide, yet all the veggies, fruits and herbs listed above fit quite nicely inside its boundaries. I think having a garden is one step away from foraging. Honestly on a small scale having a garden is just as close an interaction with Earth as foraging. Each thing has its season and must be taken care of. On a small scale there is no need for pesticides or fertilizer and really being organic isn’t tough at all.

As Sam will tell you from an environmental stand point small local gardens and farms is a way better system for food supply. It always boggles my mind when I hear the statistic that food travels up to 1500 miles to get the super market! Yet you drive through neighborhood after neighborhood and past house after house without any food gardens. Sure they have Geraniums and Daffodils blooming throughout their extensive lawns but not one Tomato plant our herb garden. In my opinion the convenience of the super market does not outweigh the hazards of climate change.

Plus growing you own food just appeals to a side of human tradition that seems to be slowly disappearing. There is something about getting your hands into the soil and watching life and food sprout from the ground that puts things into a greater perspective. Food is something we should try harder to create and capture ourselves. That is what our whole foraging experience embodies. Knowing where your food comes from and being highly involved in it builds the respect and love for nature that our concrete jungles keep diminishing.

– Alex

The rain came and went.

We finally got the rain we had been waiting for last night.  According to WOOD TV 8, areas around West Michigan got up to 5.05″ of rain!  This is great growing weather for the Morels we are STILL looking for signs of.  Unfortunately, now that we have enough water, it’s a little too warm (80 degrees).  All the stuff Alex and I have read say that Morels always seem to surprise you though, so we are hoping for one of those.  While these hot temperatures might not be the very best for morels, let’s hope the fish love it!  If the weather behaves, we’re going to try fishing again and hopefully we’ll be serving up some fillets tomorrow or this weekend.

After all the storms last night, it really got me thinking about our watershed (the Lower Grand River Watershed).  Most people think of where their homes/property are located based upon street intersections, latitude and longitude, county, town etc.  I think it’s more important to realize and understand what watershed one is apart of.  It seems especially important when trying to forage for certain flora and fauna in an efficient and effective way as Alex and I are trying to do.  On top of this project Alex and I have put together, I’ll be interning all summer with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) as their Water Quality Intern.  In addition to doing whatever they ask of me, I’m going to be learning a great deal more about the lower grand river watershed and can’t wait to put some of the knowledge I gain to use when we go foraging.

I Want One!

Easter is tomorrow which has meant my day was spent busily preparing for the holiday, but I thought I would share a cool little tidbit I found whilst browsing the web. A new concept from Volkswagen has been released at the Geneva Auto Show! They are bringing back the old Bulli what we know and love as the hippie bus. It is conceptualized as a fully electric vehicle with a range of 186 miles per charge. Looks pretty cool to me. Check it out here for more details and pictures.

Earth Day – Our First Meal

Today is EARTH DAY 2011!!!  Alex and I enjoyed a beautifully cloudy and chilly celebration of our mother earth cooking up our first officially foraged meal.  It was so exciting watching the fruits of our labors meld into a delicious concoction.  The scent of sesame and onion filled the kitchen and set our mouths a-watering.

For those who are interested in what we cooked, here is our menu below.

Menu

Wilted Dandelion Salad

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Minced Garlic
  • 2 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Dandelion leaves from 6 plants approx.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Brown the minced garlic in olive oil, add dandelion leaves, mixing thoroughly to make sure all the leaves are coated in oil, add vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat once the leaves are just slightly wilted.

Cattail Stir-Fry

  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp crushed Sesame Seeds
  • Wild onions
  • Cattails
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  1. Roast Sesame seeds in olive oil on low until you can smell their aroma, add the diced up stalk of the green onion and sautee on low for another 2 minutes.  Add the onion bulbs, chopped to bitesize, and  cattails (cut to about 1-inch long), sautee for approx. 3 minutes.  Add a little water and cover pan, let simmer until the cattails become translucent.  Add cooked rice, stir, salt & pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

Candied Violets

Before baking

After baking

  • 1 egg white
  • sugar
  • wild violets (icluding stems) washed!
  1. In bowl, beat egg whites with a wire whisk just until frothy. Place sugar in another bowl.   Taking one violet at a time, pick it up by the stem and dip into egg whites, covering all surfaces.  Gently dip into the sugar, covering the entirety of the flower.  Place on wax paper-lined baking sheets and snip off the stems.  Using a toothpick, open petals to original shape.  sprinkle sugar on any uncoated areas.  Dry in a 200 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until sugar crystallizes.  Remove violets to wire rack, sprinkle again with sugar if violets appear syrupy.  Cool.  Store in airtight containers with wax paper between layers.
    Nutrition Facts   (1 Flower = 1 serving = 3 calories, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 9 mg sodium, 1g protein, trace carbohydrates, 0 fiber)

Our Meal Review

The meal as a whole was delicious!  We especially enjoyed the cattails and  onion, but they were a lot sweeter than we thought they would be.  The flavors were subtle and pleasant, and they complimented each other extremely well.  The candied violets were messy, but uber sweet and surprisingly, they tasted like a combination of berries and leafy greens (it might sound odd, but it tasted amazing!).

For all our praise and enjoyment, this is a learning experience and there are some changes we’ll make next time.  For example, when adding vinegar to the dandelion salad, the rule of thumb should be LESS IS MORE!  Also very important, make sure to not over-wilt the dandelion leaves.  As with the aforementioned vinegar, less is also more when it comes to the amount of egg white and sugar coated on the violets.  Our violets didn’t crystallize all the way through, even though we baked them for the allotted time, and proved to be a gooey mess.  If you decide to use our recipe, we advise an application of non-stick spray to the wax paper prior to preparing the violets.

This meal was many things.  It was fun to research, clean, prepare, cook, present, photograph, ingest, delight in and ruminate on.    One thing it wasn’t?  Hard, expensive, inedible (thank goodness) or gross!    I honestly cannot believe all the produce that was right in our metaphorical backyard.  Nor did we have to search for days to find it!  The hardest thing about preparing for this meal was waiting for a day…in April…in Michigan, with good weather.

– Sam and Alex

P.S. For more photos check out our Facebook page

Alas

The weather has not been kind and I will not be able to go fishing today. 😦

On rainy days like these I like to read and have done so most of the day. I am still perusing and marking up my foraging books and have also began reading Plan B 4.0 by Lester R. Brown. It is his detailed plan to turn the environmental crisis around and so far has been terrifying and uplifting at the same time.

Needless to say, our experience this summer will be a great way for me and Sam to contribute to the Green cause and perhaps develop a better sense of what we truly need to live sustainably and responsibly. My hope is through learning and sharing others may be inclined to follow suit. It is the littlest steps that can sometimes lead to the greatest changes.

Never the less hopefully soon I can share a fishing success story! Friday the 22nd Earth day is fast aproaching and with or without fish it should be an exciting launching pad for Wild West Michigan and our own journey to being as Green as possible.

– Alex