Month: March 2015

Wild History Walking Tour @ Milburnie Dam

Wild History (2)

To celebrate our 100 Miles in 100 Days greenway walking and foraging campaign, we are having our first Wild History Walking Tour of the spring on a beautiful (and historic!) stretch of the Raleigh Greenway.  Tickets available HERE!

We’ll be taking a walking tour starting from Milburnie Park (5428 Allen Dr., Raleigh) continuing along the Neuse River Trail of the Raleigh Greenway to the Milburnie Dam (about 1.5 miles total there and back).  During the tour, we’ll teach you about the edible greens growing in the area as well as about the history of that particular place in Raleigh.  Here is a preview of what to expect along the way!

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This is a beginner level foraging class so we will review foraging basics (including rules and etiquette), and we’ll send you away with a solid knowledge of a handful of practical plants you will enjoy incorporating into your table.  The walk will be followed by a light picnic of local cheese, local bread, and hyper-local wild greens!  Get tickets HERE!

NOTES:

  • Park at the Milburnie Park entrance of the trail at 5428 Allen Dr., Raleigh.  
  • This tour will not involve extensive harvesting of edibles beyond taking small samples to taste and see. Large numbers of people picking from one area at once can lead to over-harvesting of the area.  
  • Please wear appropriate shoes and clothing for walking outdoors.  
  • All participants will be asked to sign a liability waiver for the tour.  
  • Any persons under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
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100 Miles in 100 Days

Tomorrow is the first day of spring!  Can you believe it’s finally here?  We are so excited that we want to celebrate all season long, and that’s why we’re starting our 100 Miles in 100 Days series.

100 Miles3

From the first day of spring to the first day of summer is 100 days.  As coincidence would have it, Raleigh also has 100 miles of greenway in the city.  It’s a perfect match!  Over the course of the next 100 days, we’ll be walking all 100 miles of Raleigh’s greenway system, pointing out forageable plants along the way!

What would Raleigh taste like if it were a fermented soda?  A pickle?  A jam?  Well, we’ll be exploring that too as we go along…  Stay tuned to our blog updates for the whole season as we document all that we do with the wild flavors you can find around your local environment.

These flavors tell a story about the place we live and what people have been eating here for millenia.  As we walk through many of these spots, we hope to be able to embed certain flavors within certain historical contexts – telling you a piece of the story behind the places we visit along the greenway.

Stay tuned for updates on our walks through the blog and our NEW instagram account as well as facebook and twitter, of course.  We won’t necessarily walk one mile per day, but by the end of spring, we’ll have walked all 100 miles…  Oh!  And don’t forget keeping an eye out for walks we can take together through our Wild History tours – one’s coming up next week!

Wild History

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TEDxManhattan Changing the Way We Eat: Raleigh Viewing Party

TEDxManhattan

We are pleased to say that our TEDxManhattan Raleigh Viewing Party was a huge success!  We are so grateful to our co-sponsors – Activate 14 and Community Food Lab – for all of the work they put into making this event happen with us.  Special thanks to Andrea Weigl at the N&O her write-up the event. We also couldn’t have done it without some of the most delicious local and sustainable food and drink sponsors I can think of!

TEDx Sponsors

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Hillsborough St
Crank Arm Brewing Company
Happy and Hale
La Farm Bakery
Slingshot Coffee Company
Yellow Dog Bread Company
Boulted Bread

But most importantly, we are so thankful to each of the participants who came out to learn about and celebrate local and sustainable food systems throughout the day!  We hope that the ideas that came out of this event inspired each of you and will result in concrete action and change in how Raleigh eats.  See our Gallery for a full album of photos from the event.

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Fresh Herbs in Winter: Wild and Homegrown Alternatives to the Supermarket

You may not think of winter as a time to write a post about fresh herbs, but that’s exactly why these beauties below fit into our Feasting in Times of Winter Scarcity series.  Winter may seem like the hardest time to find fresh herbs, making us all resort to those horrible clam shell herb containers at the store where you pay five dollars for a bundle of herbs you know you could grow so easily in the summer or find a bundle four times that size for half the price at your local farmers’ market.

This may lead you to attempt growing herbs indoors, something I have had mixed success with, often resulting in scraggly, slow-growing plants.

Alternatively, you may notice that many of your perennial herbs, although slow growing, live on outdoors well beyond the first frost date.  The piles of mint, onion grass, bee balm, catmint, and lemon balm below were all picked in January, well after many frosts.

Winter Herb Harvest

Another option is to attempt a cold frame or low tunnel outdoors to keep a few small stashes of herbs growing through the winter.  Cilantro does particularly well in that environment, like my little almost-picked-to-death cilantro in my low tunnel below.

Low Tunnel Winter Cilantro

If none of these options sound appealing to you, don’t count out the wild herbs!  Below are two of the most common wild herbs you’ll find around – two that I’ll bet you’ve either eaten or at least crushed and smelled before – noting their aromatic properties but hesitating to cook with them.  Why hesitate?

Onion Grass (aka Wild Garlic)

When I first moved down here, I remember someone pointing out “onion grass” to me, and I thought, no no, that’s just chives that have gone rogue into someone’s yard.  I didn’t realize that chives had a more wild cousin that really likes to get around.  It’s an easy mistake to make, and a happy one!  Because it shows how interchangeable the two can be in cooking – why spend $4.99 on that clamshell of “fresh chives” when you probably have a patch of onion grass in your lawn you’ve been trying to eradicate for years?

Wild Garlic

Description and Habitat.  “Onion grass” grows in clumps of green chive-like tops with a bulb at its base made of several smaller “cloves,” much like garlic.  You can find it in just about any lawn or field or along any roadside.  The strong onion/garlic scent is a good indicator that you have the right plant.

Harvest.  To harvest, you can simply cut off whatever leaves you need.  Feel free to give it a full haircut; it will grow back.  Alternatively, if you want to harvest the bulb below, you can pull up the whole plant. Just be sure to leave a couple bulbs from the clump in the ground so you can come back to your spot in years to come.

Flavor and Use.  You can use the grass like you would chives, and the bulbs like you would garlic (although their small size makes this difficult).  The grass itself is much more garlicky than chives, so I like to use it to lend that flavor to some classically garlicky uses – like this pesto below and the seasoned salt at the end of the post.

Wild Greens & Nuts Pesto

Warning:  This pesto is addictive!  You will scoop it on everything, and if you take it to a party, it will not come back with you.  It may just be my favorite wild food recipe I have under my belt so far…

Wild Greens and Nuts Pesto

Recipe:

2-3 handfuls of wild garlic greens, roughly chopped

2-3 handfuls of wild cress greens

1-2 handfuls of wild nuts (hickory, pecan, and/or black walnut)

2 large pinches salt

olive oil

Combine wild garlic greens and wild cress in a food processor with wild nuts of your choosing.  Salt well.

Pulse until they are well mixed, and then begin to drizzle in olive oil while the food processor runs.  I like mine heavy on the olive oil until the mixture turns from looking like separate ingredients into a smooth creamy paste, as the oil emulsifies into a totally different texture (see picture above – there’s nothing dry or leafy about that pesto!).

Scoop into a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, some wild leaves, and/or nuts.

Note: if you don’t have a chance to forage wild herbs for this, arugula and garlic with sunflower seeds will make another delicious version.

Ground Ivy 

One of my uncles was visiting a few months ago, helping us out on some backyard constructions projects.  When those were in ship shape, he asked, now what are you going to do about all this ground ivy?  (Our entire back “lawn” is ground ivy).  To which I replied, eat it!  We love our ground ivy lawn…  it’s beautiful covered in purple flowers in spring, durable, and smells delightfully herby when you walk on it or mow it.

Even better yet, you can eat it, and it’s tasty!  It could have made it into our Wild Winter Teas post, as it’s a member of the mint family, high in vitamin C, and brews a good cup.  But I like it even better featured as an herb for cooking.  Historically, it was used for eating, as medicine, in the beer making process by Saxons before hops were introduced, and by various other peoples in cheese making as a substitute for rennet.  How versatile!

Ground_Ivy

Description and Habitat.  Ground ivy grows in trailing runners up to about four inches tall.  Leaves are roughly heart-shaped and scalloped (see picture above), stems are square shaped (due to its membership in the mint family), and it gets small purple flowers in spring.  Ground ivy gives off a distinctly herby, almost minty sent when crushed.  You’ll find it in your lawn, along greenways and roadsides, and in fields, particularly where it is somewhat cooler and shady.

Harvest.  You can pull up entire runners of ground ivy or snip off individual leaves.  I generally “harvest” when weeding it out of my vegetable beds.  Ground ivy is considered a non-native invasive species in the U.S., so harvest away!

Flavor and Uses.  Ground ivy has a scent/flavor somewhere between mint and a mild, greener rosemary.  You can put it in soups and salads, make tea out of it, or use it as a fresh or dried herb.  The flowers look particularly pretty in salads in spring.

Wild Seasoned Salt Rub

This recipe for wild seasoned salt has about a million and one uses.  Rub it on chicken, lamb, or beef before roasting.  Toss it with pasta and Parmesan for a great side; add white beans, and it’s a main course.  Dry it and bottle it for a unique wild holiday gift!  Another bonus:  this is one more way to use your citrus peels.  Zest peels before juicing (it’s very difficult to do after) and dry to be used later in seasoning rubs like this one or in desserts.

Wild Seasoned Salt

Recipe:

Zest of 2 lemons, grated

1 bunch of Ground Ivy leaves

1 bunch of Onion Grass

2 Tbsp Sea Salt

If using immediately, mince ground ivy and onion grass and combine with lemon zest and salt (pepper optional).

Wild Seasoned Salt Ingredients

If you’d like to dry and store this as a wild seasoned salt, dry grated lemon zest, whole ground ivy, and onion grass (in your oven or toaster oven on its lowest setting is one good way).

Crumble ground ivy and onion grass (or pulse in a coffee grinder), and combine with dried lemon zest and sea salt.

Store in an airtight container somewhere dark and cool.  Use as you would the fresh version.

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