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May 13, 2011

Wild Edible: Cut-Leaved Toothwort

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite edibles to run across.  I am a huge fan of horseradish on things, and when you process the root of toothwort, I can barely tell the difference between the two!  I have found toothwort basically everywhere I am currently out at, but this picture was taken on the Zimmerman trail.

I am collecting a bunch of toothwort right now to make up some of my own horseradish sauce, just need some more time to dig up some more of it.

May 12, 2011

Mystery Plant, help me identify it!

Filed under: Outdoors — Tags: — Marcus @ 2:00 am

Whatever this is, it has me bugged.  I keep seeing it while I am walking through the woods on the Zimmerman trail in Mentor.  I have been out looking for wild mushrooms, and every time I see one of these from a distance I get excited only to find out its yet some more of whatever these are.

I have looked through my books and I don’t see anything that looks like this (Of course they normally show full grown stuff, so no surprise there).  I would really like to know what it is.  It isn’t a tree coming up, the shoots are easily broken off, the inside of them have a texture that remind my of ginger, but it doesn’t have much of a smell.  It is not a pine cone as someone else mentioned.  I think it might be edible in some way as it seems like the deer are pawing at it to eat them.

So any idea’s on what this might be, please let me know in the comments!

May 11, 2011

Wild Edible: Jack-In-The-Pulpit

For the last couple weeks I have been watching some shoots coming out of the ground, I haven’t been sure what they were so I have been keeping a pretty close watch, when I started to see the leaves develop I thought they might be Trillium’s as a single leaf stalk has a resemblance, however on my last trip out it was unmistakable that these were Jack-In-Pulpit’s.  They went from a shoot with a little leaf to the full plant you see here in a week or less.

These are a bit of a tricky wild edible from what I read, you can only eat the roots, and ONLY after they are totally dried.  The suggestion is to cut the roots into paper thin slices and then leave them out for upwards to three months before consuming, you can either eat them like potato chips, or grind them into a flour (which the Indians did).

The reason you must dry them so much is because they contain calcium oxalate crystals (Same as in skunk cabbage).  This will cause intense burning when you eat it, one of my wild edibles books compared it to eating liquid fire, while another of my books compared it to having a mouth full of glass shards mixed with cayenne pepper.  Boiling will not remove the calcium oxalate, only completely drying it will.

That being said, I do plan to harvest a small amount to try, but it will be sitting here until it is “gunpowder dry” to quote one of my wild edibles books!

May 10, 2011

Wild Edible: Wild Ginger

I found this while I was out on one of my walks this last weekend on one of the islands on the Chagrin river.  I was just walking out and this plant caught my eye, I had taken over a hundred pictures already, but I knew I recognized this plant from somewhere and that I hadn’t run into it in the wild yet.  As per my usual when I got home and downloaded all my pictures, I flipped through my 3 wild edibles books and a couple websites I use and I found this one in the first pass.

Now that I know what it is, I am going to try and go back and collect some to actually try.  From reading you can use this as a replacement for the commercial (Asian) ginger you would buy in the store, it is most likely not quite as potent as the Asian Ginger, but that just means you use a bit more of it.  I am quite excited to have found this!

May 9, 2011

Picture of the week (Baby Geese)

Filed under: Outdoors,Picture of the week — Tags: , — Marcus @ 6:45 am

Wow its been a busy few weeks lately.  I haven’t posted on the blog, but I have tons to put up on here, in the last couple weeks I have taken several hundred pictures while I have been out searching for wild edibles.  I am learning more and more plants each time I go out, and I have been bringing some of them home to try.

When I was out this last Saturday, I was on one of my favorite islands in the Chagrin River when I ran across these geese and their babies.  The picture turned out perfect!  I didn’t want to get very close as they were very protective of their little ones, you can tell by how they have their necks that they were not happy with me being there!

April 26, 2011

The wonders of Wild Ramps / Leeks

Filed under: Food,Wild Edibles — Tags: , — Marcus @ 2:00 am

During one of my long runs for my marathon training a couple weeks ago, I was running through a woods trail and I ran past what seemed to be a field of greens that popped up almost overnight, I had been through about 3 days earlier and there wasn’t anything green, and all of a sudden, 4 inch tall plants.  I stopped for just a moment to investigate and I quickly realized that these are the wild ramps that I keep hearing about (I broke off a leaf, and it smelled very much of onions).

I had never heard of ramps until this last year, which seemed odd to me because its the kind of thing I normally seem to know about.  However it turns out I have just always known them as Leeks.  As far as I can tell, ramps and leeks are the same thing, it seems like if you find them up north they are called leeks and further south they are called ramps.  I found a couple references that mentioned they may be different plants, but they are so closely related it would take an expert to tell them apart.

Ramps are an easy wild edible for you to safely identify, wild onions do not have any real poisonous look alikes, as long as you can break a leaf and it smells like an onion, and the same with the root, it will be from the onion family and is edible, if you pick something that the leaves or root does not smell like an onion, you have found something else that I wouldn’t suggest eating!

So for the past two weeks, Meagan and I have been having ramps in everything.  I picked a bag full a couple days after I initially found them, and then I have since been back and picked another good sized bag of them.  These are a great edible, because of how easy they are to prepare, and the fact you use the entire plant, not just the bulb or root of the plant.  For the most part, we have been just chopping the whole plant up to use in stuff, we haven’t been treating the leaves and the bulbs different.  The only place we used one or the other was in some BLT sandwiches we had tonight, we just cut the leaves off to put in with the lettuce in the BLT.

We have probably done a dozen meals so far with the ramps, but to just highlight a couple of them:

The above picture is of some perogies we made, they are just frozen perogies we prepared, we then stir fried some portabello mushrooms in butter and at the end we added some fresh chopped parsley (from the aquaponics) and we tossed in the ramps.  You don’t want to cook the ramps, you just want to wilt them.  Put the perogies together with the mushroom and ramps, then add some fresh chopped tomatoes and a bit of sour cream and you have an easy awesome meal!

This picture is just a simple baked potato with shredded extra sharp cheddar, sour cream, and some diced ramps.  Also we found that using Hawaiian pink sea salt really brings out the flavor.  Also on the plate is the prepared ramps, just dice up a couple of those per potato and you are good to go.

We are already dreading the end of the ramp season, we still have a few weeks left, but we are getting quite spoiled by having a nice bag full of them any time we feel like getting them out.  You could substitute green onions for them most places, but they are way more expensive (especially since the ramps are free if you can find them!), and the ramps do have a unique flavor all their own.

April 25, 2011

Picture of the week (Trout Lily)

Filed under: Picture of the week,Wild Edibles — Tags: , , — Marcus @ 6:13 am

I have been very busy the last couple weeks trying to get out and find as many wild edibles as I can.  Last Thursday I headed out on my Kayak and went down to one of the islands on the Chagrin river to explore it and see what I could find there.  Wow, I found so much.  I am still working to identify a bunch of what I found last week.  One plant that I just learned about this year is the Trout Lily, I have been finding Trout Lily’s all over the place now that I know what to look for, and they have made a nice snack while I am out, the bulb root is edible on these and it tastes a bit like cucumbers.  However from reading Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, you only want to eat a few of them as Trout Lily’s can have the effect of being a mild emetic (A substance that induces vomiting, like syrup of ipecac), however you would only run into that if you were to feast on the plant from my reading.

Also of interest, all of the greens in the background of this picture are wild onions.  Almost the entire island was covered in them!

April 19, 2011

Lake Erie Sunset, Take 2

Filed under: Outdoors — Tags: — Marcus @ 2:00 am

Yesterday I posted a picture of the sunset of Lake Erie, however I couldn’t just post one picture, I took about 40 pictures while I was there.  Today I thought I would post up one of the pictures I got with a large spray coming over the breakwall there.  I hope you enjoy the picture, I have many more I would love to post, but they tend to start looking the same after a bit :-).

April 18, 2011

Picture of the week (Lake Erie Sunset)

Filed under: Outdoors,Picture of the week — Tags: , — Marcus @ 2:00 am

As I was driving past one of the small parks on Lake Erie last evening, I saw a beautiful sunset in progress, though I missed the best part of the sunset by about a minute.  I didn’t have my regular camera with me, so I had to use my iPhone, but I got some great pictures anyways.  We had quite the windstorm over the weekend (We didn’t have power at our house for about 9 hours on Sunday!), a constant wind like that always makes some really nice waves out on the lake.

April 4, 2011

Picture of the week (Marsh Grass)

Filed under: Picture of the week,Wild Edibles — Tags: — Marcus @ 2:00 am

I got this picture while I was out scouting for wild edibles last week, I loved the way the head of this marsh grass looked against the sky.  In this area, you will find this particular grass growing almost anywhere there is water, I have been out trying to find a place where I can pick cattails, but everywhere I go is just packed solid with this marsh grass.  I decided to do some research on this and found out its technical name is Phragmites, and it appears that it is an invasive species (Which doesn’t surprise me with how prevalent it is here).

I was a bit surprised to find out however that this is a wild edible, I haven’t taken the time yet to try it, but I will in the near future.  From my research it appears the new shoots are edible in the spring (you peel off the hard outer layer, and the inner part is edible), and the roots of it are edible as well.

If you didn’t recognize it from the shot above, here is a picture that shows the full plant.  Looking back, this marsh grass has made it into a picture of the day before, it is the tall grass you can see in the background on my very first picture of the week I did on the blog here (http://www.kd8itx.com/blog/2010/05/picture-of-the-week/).

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