Archive for Upcoming Classes

From Elderberries to Wild Figs

elderberriesI’m on the road for a last few weeks of summer travels before strapping in for my fall schedule of foraging tours and other workshops.

Along with the public offerings you’ll see there, I’ll be doing several private foraging tours for garden clubs, schools, etc. One guy even hired me to do a foraging tour on his property as a birthday present for his wife and her friends.

The day before I left, I harvested several pounds of ripe elderberries and crammed them into my already full freezer. They were just too tempting to pass up – I’ll figure out what to do with them once I get back.

But before the fall foraging tours, before I deal with the still-on-their-stems elderberries in my freezer, it’s time to pick the wild figs Ricky promises are waiting for me in the hills near his home…

Foraging and Food Preservation Videos


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Keeping Up with the Forager’s Feast

linden-leafYou can see my fingers through the recently unfurled linden leaf (Tilia a.k.a. basswood tree), right? At this translucent, young stage they are one of my favorite wild salad greens. Soon they’ll be offering their honey-scented blossoms that make exquisite tea and can also be used to flavor homebrewed wine.

The garlic mustard is already at its most delicious, “broccoli rabe” stage right now in BK. Tomorrow I’ll sautee it up with some field garlic and red pepper flakes.

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Ramps!!! ramps-smBe careful if you’re foraging for these. As exciting as it can be to find a ramps patch, they are overharvested in many places. Even if you find them in abundance, graze rather than decimate. A few here, a few from there, leaving plenty in between.

The violets are at their peak. I made violet blossom syrup a couple of days ago, might get around to a candied violets project, and have been enjoying the leaves in salads. The color of the syrup is amazing:


Tonight’s dinner is going to be creamed oyster mushrooms and ramps with scalloped Adirondack red potatoes and a salad of linden leaves plus violet leaves and flowers. The ‘shrooms are from a previous haul that I dehydrated. Sounds fancy, but that’s no cred to the cook: with ingredients like these, it’s easy to impress.

I can’t vouch for elsewhere, but in Prospect Park this morning the redbud blossoms were at the “any day now” stage.

Shameless plug for upcoming foraging tours and classes – hope to see you at some of them, and if I don’t I hope it’s because you’re out foraging delicious, healthy wild foods.

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Hello, Spring

This spring has been on the chilly side, especially compared to last year’s warm temps. But the last of the crocuses are blooming,


the daffodils are kicking into full swing,


and my neighbor’s apricot tree is in bloom.


The early spring crop of dandelion greens and crowns, what my friend Melana used to call “yard squid,” are perfect this spring.


Last year the plants went from just starting to grow to flowering and bitter in a blink. So I guess the extended not-so-bitter harvest season is the consolation prize for the cold start to spring.

Time to go foraging, yes? There are still a couple of spots left for tomorrow, Sat. 6th, and for Sun. 7th. Can’t do the short notice on this weekend? Plenty more classes, tours, and events coming up!

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Food with Friends

We’re so close to spring, and yet still looking at the same few wild winter crops like winter cress and evening primrose plus cold-hearty cultivated greens and root vegetables from last year’s harvest. But that’s not necessarily boring.


I had some friends over recently and the feast included initial nibbles of fermented cherries with goat cheese, watermelon radishes, and bread made with locally grown grains and sunflower seeds (yay, local sunflower seeds! Wish you’d been here when I was doing The 250), plus some very non-local za’atar from my most recent trip to Israel. Oh, and some good ol’ refrigerator pickles.

There was also some beet risotto that used the greens as well as the roots.


And of course, we needed some wine to drink with all of that. My guests brought decanter-deserving and decanter-needing wine. Alas, I do not possess a decanter (now you know what to get me for my next birthday). We made do.

pyrex-decanter-smMy guests that night included Anne Fifield, who took these pics except for the first one, and Melina, her mom, and Jim. Melina did an awesome interview with me  recently, and if you haven’t seen her Valentine’s dinner pics, prepare to swoon.

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Ancient Herbals, Wild Edibles, Aphrodisiacs, and Other Interesting Stuff

Okay, folks, this is a shameless promo post: I finally got around to updating my upcoming classes and events page. Very cool stuff coming up, if I do say so myself. I’ve got a class on herbs and herbalism that includes a viewing of the centuries-old herbals in NYBG’s rare books collection, a workshop on how to eat a tasty and healthy local foods diet even in a cold winter climate in February, and  just before Valentine’s Day, two classes on herbal aphrodisiacs. Here are the deets:

Upcoming Classes and Events

For my diehard foraging buddies who want to know what’s still out there in NYC at this time of year, I just wrote this one about evening primrose a.k.a. Oenathera biennis:

Down the Primrose Path

And if, like me, you’re still jonesing for fun food projects even though it is the middle of winter, well…Is it weird that I made five different kinds of mustard recently? Okay, maybe it is. But they’re really good. mustard-sm


Locavore Challenges

Vegetarians may want to skim past this first bit and pick up again near the tomatoes.

Today was Day One of Northeast Organic Farming Association – New York’s (NOFA-NY) month-long local eating challenge. Each day has a featured ingredient or challenge that they email out, and today’s was…drum roll, please…bacon.


I found the choice of bacon for day one amusing and wondered if NOFA-NY would take any flak from disgruntled herbivores. I also wondered, why bacon?

Well, it turns out that the Royal Bacon Society dubbed September 1, 2012 International Bacon Day. I swear I’m not making this up. In honor of the occasion, I’m reposting my recipe for homemade bacon.

But seriously folks, DIY is one way to keep costs down while you’re keeping it local. Pork belly from a local farmer is way cheaper per pound than already cured bacon at the farmers’ market.


Vegetarian friends, I hope you didn’t abandon this post by yet. The same principal applies to “value added” fruit and veggie products.

For example, it is now possible to purchase frozen locally grown tomatoes in winter to use in sauces and salsas. These products cost around $5 lb. Right now local, organic tomatoes are $1.50 lb at the markets near me, and I’ve seen them elsewhere as low as $1 lb. Granted, it takes more than a pound of fresh tomatoes to end up with a pound of home-canned, but I still come out ahead if I preserve them myself.

Even better and cheaper if you grew your own.

So can, dry or freeze some produce now, and save some money while sticking to your locally grown convictions this winter. And don’t get me wrong – I’m not knocking the farmers who are offering the value added preserved stuff. If you can afford it, go for it. But if, like me, you need to keep costs down, make your own.


Sounds great but you don’t know how? If you’re in NYC and want some personal instruction, I’m giving a food preservation workshop on Sept. 16.

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Summer’s Home Stretch

This post is going to be a quick sharing of food preservation and foraging recipes and info because, well, that’s what I’m up to in these final days of summer. There have been some beautiful wild mushroom finds recently, including oyster


and cinnabar chanterelles


and more chicken.

In case you’re blessed with similar abundance, here is how to dry shrooms in your oven or (better) in a dehydrator.

I need a small mule or something to carry my weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share home at this time of year, and this year does seem more abundant than last. Stuff I’ve been making with it:

Cantaloupe – Peach Preserves

Home-canned Roasted Tomatoes

Naturally Fermented Pickled Cherries

Okay, gotta get back to it. I still have green beans, beets, and peaches to can before next Tuesday’s CSA distribution!

Join me for some foraging tours and food preservation workshops if you’re in the neighborhood.

The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget

Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes

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Foraging Tour Discount!

foragingclass1Looking for something fun and different to do this weekend? You can get a $5 discount on tomorrow’s foraging tour (Sat. June 30) by entering the promo code garlicmustard when you sign up.

The tour is from 10am – 12pm, so we’ll be finishing up just when the heat starts to be too much. It’s been an amazingly abundant year for wild edibles, and I expect the abundance to continue tomorrow!

Can’t make this weekend? No worries. Extend your 4th of July holiday week to include my tour on Sat. July 7th! (Sorry, but the discount only applies to the June 30th tour)

Both foraging events are in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.


Forager’s Log – 1st Week of June, 2012

If you were walking down the street with me this afternoon in Park Slope, Brooklyn, I was that woman with a silly grin on her face and a definite bounce in her step. There are several things that have that effect on me. Maybe I was thinking about my boyfriend. Perhaps I was listening to fabulous music through my earphones.

Or maybe that backpack I was toting was full of just-foraged goodness.

Today’s harvest included mulberries,


juneberries, elderberry flowerslinden blossoms that I’m hoping Ellen will make into wine,




burdock “cardoons,” milkweed florets,


and sassafras. There was more I could have collected (the lamb’s quarters is especially lush right now), but I was eager to get home and play with these free, superb ingredients.

So what’s for dinner? I think I’ll start with an idea for a scalloped potatoes and milkweed floret concoction, and then improvise from there. It may not quite match this menu that Chef Anthony Paris of Crosby Street Hotel and I collaborated on,


but it will be good.

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Forager’s Log, First Week of May 2012

Comfrey growing wild near Mullheim baden, Germany

Comfrey growing wild near Mullheim baden, Germany

I spent my day off visiting fellow forager Kat Morgenstern in Germany. It took several trains to get to her from where I’m staying in Switzerland, but it was worth it.

Despite a few rainy hours, we got in two good walks out in the hills, past berries-to-be,


Salsify blooming amidst dandelions already gone to seed,


Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum multiflorum, not the P. biflorum I’m used to back home),


wild garlic (Allium ursinum, a close cousin to ramps or A. tricoccum)


and tons of nettles. We picked some of the garlic flowers and some nettle leaves to add to a casserole-style “bake” that Kat made. She’d already harvested lots of immature burdock flower stalks for it (one of my favorite wild vegetables).

Kat also shared some of the elderflower syrup she made last year, which was wonderful with strawberries and yogurt for breakfast. I’m really hoping I won’t totally miss the elderflower season back in Brooklyn.

The food was delicious, and the company was wonderful. It is always a pleasure to spend time with Kat, and on this visit I got to see her husband Tino as well. Here’s to the next time!

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