Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Raising Foragers

Children are natural foragers. Left to their own devices, they will happily pluck anything out of the ground and pop it in their mouths. Learning what is good, and what will leave you ill, takes some education.

Unlike Julie, I wasn't raised a forager.

My epiphany with found foods came at the Cook Street School of Culinary Arts, in Denver, in 1999. After a rainy weekend, the pastry chef instructor at Cook Street brought in a few of the biggest puffballs I'd ever seen. We cooked them in butter with a little salt, garlic and parsley, and they made one of the best lunches I ate at a school known for some of the best lunches in town.

Knowing that those puffballs magically appeared after two days of rain is what made that meal so good. Finding such surprises is really just a matter of paying attention, and taking time. These are the things I hope to inspire with this blog, and the things that I hope to instill in my children.

They started learning early. My husband, now retired from the Air Force, spent his last assignment at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida. We lived on the base, a peninsula jutting into St. Andrew Bay. My boys (now five and seven), spent their toddler years walking on the beach, putting things in their mouths.

Along the way, we collected raspberries, wild onions, prickly pear and scallops.

When we moved home to Colorado three years ago, my older son was thrilled to find wild strawberries in our yard. Since then, it has become our quest to forage something whenever we head outside. "Can I eat this?" is a question I hear often while hiking, or even in our own yard. 

For me, foraging means not only finding the ingredients, but testing new recipes in which to use them. Wild plums are turned into tarts, and greens are added to dinner. My husband is happy to test out whatever I come up with, trusting me not to poison him.

Whether the boys love the end product is moot.

The magic, for them, is in the find.

Wild Plum Tart

1 comment:

  1. I want to follow the blog but the follow button is missing. I heard that there would be some changes to blogger> I wonder if it's started already.
    I hope to figure it out, but I might need some help.
    xoxo Kim