Wednesday, July 23, 2014

These are a few of our foraging things

It's been a busy Spring/Summer for us transforming our wild spot into a sweet boondocking space. It's been a flurry of road development, garden and orchard planting, well and irrigation system set-up, and septic dump station building to name a few things. And taking classes through the University of Idaho in sustainable/healthy forest management reminds us of the wine industry ag classes we took at UC Davis so long ago (minus the high cost and wine-related pretentiousness).

In addition to all of the hiking/fishing/swimming activities around here, one of our favorite activities has been foraging for food and other items. It's like a great big Easter egg hunt. Knowing where your food comes from is a good thing. Basically most of the "food" in the middle aisle of a grocery store is a poisonous cocktail of bad carbohydrates and chemicals. Even the meat, vegetables and fruit found around the perimeter of a grocery store can be a minefield of bad farming practices that diminish the nutritional value of these generally healthy, single-ingredient food choices. Michael Pollan wrote an incredible book called The Omnivore's Dilemma that describes the variety of food choices we all face each day. He also does it without being judgmental or preachy about food choices (unlike most people are with their diet "religions").

Here are some of the items we've been foraging on and near our property:

Most everyone seems to appreciate morels. They come out here in the spring and sometimes in the fall.

One of the most interesting mushrooms we've found is the the puffball. That's a local name for the beast. They are as big (or bigger) than your head.

These guys have the texture and the look of mozzarella cheese. We slice them about a half inch thick and lightly saute them in butter. It's a wonderful, mild flavored mushroom.

Wild Asparagus
The fun in foraging is the hunting. Wild asparagus grows on the slopes of the old railroad bed alongside our property. They are tender enough to eat raw all the way down to the stalk. They melt in you mouth.

This may be our favorite red meat. leaner and more flavorful than fine grass-fed beef.

Putting it all together
Puffball mushroom on the left, wild asparagus in the middle, grilled elk tenderloin on the right, and a fine Napa Valley Cabernet to wash it down (that looks like Jake's junk standing in the background there).

Wild Rocket (aka Arugula)
This may be the perfect climate to grow arugula. Toss it with some olive oil, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese shavings for one of the best salads out there.

Saskatoon Berries
The Saskatoon berry (AKA Serviceberry) was a new one for us. They grow like weeds around here and the deer love them. They have a very different rustic berry flavor and stain your fingers when you eat them. They're not as renowned as the Huckleberry, but still tasty (and easier to find/pick).

Farm Equipment
Being surrounded by farmlands, there is always a piece of old equipment around. This old John Deere combine has since been moved and donated to our local Future Farmers group. It will make a nice educational project for them to restore.

We're keeping this old horse drawn tiller. It will be an interesting piece once we clear out the weeds around it.

Newest addition to the foraging family
It became clear early on that doing everything by hand with a shovel, rake, and wheel barrow would be too much for us. Our new Yamaha Viking will be a good workhorse to help us access and work on all parts of the property. It's also the perfect vehicle to get up into the national forests in search of trout and huckleberries!

Other sundry foraging items
We're always collecting interesting rocks for the fire pit and dutch oven cooking area.

Between local estate sales and even the local dump, there's a lot of interesting outdoor furniture to be had for almost nothing. This is a handmade combo bench and picnic table.

We found this chair at the local dump while we were recycling some old barbed wire from our property. After a new coat of stain and a new $20 seat cushion it looks pretty good. It turns out this is from a company called A, Brandt Ranch Oak that has a fascinating history. It's apparently a sought-after collectors from the dump.

With a few loads of local manure compost... 

and some rototilling of weeds and gopher mounds...

we've been able to so far go from this...

to this...

Orchard on the left, garden area on the right (our first large heirloom tomatoes and pickling cucumbers were ripe in mid-July without a greenhouse).

RV pad, irrigation tank, fire/cooking pit and dining areas.

And finally, for the Boonster, some pretty rainbows...