My foray into foraging…

(Friendly caveat: I’m not advising anyone to forage. This blog post is about my experiences as a novice forager.)

Within the last six months, I’ve gotten into eating wild food. More importantly, I’ve learned the joys of sustainably foraging. As a lot of you know, organic gardening is a huge part of my life.  Eating with the seasons, caring for the health of our Mother Earth, and growing the food that nourishes my little family is an inherent part of my identity. Foraging is just another facet of that. 

I have a wonderful friend who is from the Appalachians. She has a degree in biology, she’s an organic farmer, a homesteader, and a consummate steward of our planet. She knows more about our local flora and fauna than anyone I know. Megan is teaching me how to identify edible fruits and plants and how to harvest them sustainably. If I didn’t have her, I wouldn’t be foraging. It can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing or where it’s legal to do so.

I’ve learned enough to do some basic foraging for things that are pretty easily identifiable. 

So far, I’ve found wild ramps…

…morel mushrooms…

…tasty little wild strawberries…

…and wild black raspberries…

Recently I’ve spotted some sweet patches of blackberry bramble, and I’m salivating at the thought of eating them still warm from the sun. 

Foraging is the ultimate way to eat with the seasons. It’s exciting, it’s cost-effective, it’s a wonderful way to get outside, but it’s imperative to be safe. Eating things that grow wild can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Go with a knowledgeable guide or do a lot of reading on the subject before eating something you’re not sure of. And if you’re not sure, DON’T EAT IT. And don’t forage on private lands or in parks that prohibit it. And don’t eat things from roadsides or other places that have been sprayed with herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. (I know I’ve mostly just said “don’t,” but this is about my experiences as a novice forager and advice I was given.) 

I just want you to be safe, my lovelies. 

Until next time,

Jenna the Happy Forager

The Best Organic, Heirloom Tomato Season…Ever

So far, 2014 has been the most fruitful, pun intended, tomato season I’ve ever had. I started everything from seed and everything came from heirloom seeds come from Tomatofest. Please share in my happy. And, if I’ve jinxed myself, it was worth it. 🙂

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Yellow Currant tomatoes from Tomatofest

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More Yellow Currants from Tomatofest

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Super sweet Chadwick Cherries from Tomatofest

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Beautiful cluster of Yellow Currants from Tomatofest

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Thai Pink Egg, Hawaiian Currant, and Yellow Currant tomatoes all from Tomatofest

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Yep, more Yellow Currant and Thai Pink Eggs from Tomatofest

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Four varieties in one day: Thai Pink Egg, Hawaiian Currant, Chadwick Cherry, and Yellow Currants…seeds all from Tomatofest

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The late Tomatofest bloomer: The very ugly Martino’s Roma tomatoes finally ripening

I hope everyone’s having a productive, delicious, and healthy season.

With love and dirt under my fingernails,

Jenna

Organic Brands Partnering with Monsanto

Very good information here…

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Is your favorite organic brand partnering with Monsanto? The answer to this question can be found at NaturalNews.

OrganicNaturalNews has wonderful information on health and the environment. It is really a great pro-active website!

If you have a thirst for what is happening in the State of Washington and their Initiative 522, then go to this wikipedia site and learn about GMO labeling and the status of the Washington Initiative 522 (I-522).

For further information on which companies own organic brands go to this wonderful infographic at the Cornucopia Institute. Cornucopia is another wonderful website full of current information on what is important to us as stewards of our health and environment.

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Organic Aphid Control for the Conscious Gardener

It’s that time of the year, my friends. For those of us in Florida, it’s already here. Aphids have latched onto my Calendula and Oleander already, and I fear it won’t be long before they’re on my flowering tomato plants. For those of you a little farther north and/or west, you may not have these little buggers yet (and hopefully you won’t), but just in case, here are a couple organic remedies to try:

1. Good, old-fashioned powerful blast of water: Yellow aphids have made their way to my oleander more than once. They latch onto newly forming flower buds and attempt to suck them dry. Instead of putting any harmful sprays or costly organic sprays on them, I go right for the hose. With the nozzle on the most powerful setting possible, I go for broke. Holding each flower cluster in my hand, I spray all sides. The aphids fall off in an instant amd the grass and neighboring plants get a nice watering. At first, I was afraid that the aphids would latch onto other plants, but that’s never happened. Because they’re soft-bodied, I’m not sure they survive the blast. This works every single time, but you’ve got to be thorough when spraying.

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2. Soapy water: My friend Justin Gay from the Seeds of Xanxadu has a YouTube video called “How I Handle Aphids.” Not only does he show how to identify them, but he shows exactly how to mix the concoction and how/when to spray. Besides, he’s a really engaging guy and fun to watch. Click here for the video.

Heavenly Roasted Chicken with Crimini Mushroom Gravy

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Here’s a post from a while back that may really help the blogosphere with Thanksgiving. This roasting method and from-scratch gravy are super easy and incredibly savory! Read on: Heavenly Roasted Chicken with Crimini Mushroom Gravy.

Organic Sage and Lemon Chicken with Homemade Bread Stuffing

 

I posted this quite a long time ago, but the roasting tips are perfect for Thanksgiving. Read on20130530-204602.jpgOrganic Sage and Lemon Chicken with Homemade Bread Stuffing.

I Love Bubbly: Almond Champagne from Wilson Creek Winery

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I just celebrated the start of my 33rd year on this beautiful Earth. What better way to celebrate than to enjoy a bottle of bubbly from Waterford crystal while in your pajamas? That, my friends, is how I roll.

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This bottle of Wilson Creek Almond Champagne was a lovely and extremely enjoyable gift. It’s a white sparkling California wine that’s naturally fermented via the charmat method and has just a smidge of real almond flavoring to make it really unique. It’s slightly sweet, very bubbly, and super drinkable.

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This definitely isn’t my last bottle of this delightful, nose-tickling, sparkly wine.

Cheers, everyone!

Enrich Your Garden Soil Now: Four easy ways to revive your garden soil for spring

This is a wonderful post from my blogger friend, Jean, at For Dragonflies and Me. Happy reading!

For Dragonflies And Me

I stood and gazed at my beloved gardens today… My winter crops are growing beautifully and with the rain we were blessed with all through the night along with the warmer days and cool nights we’ve recently had, they look happy.

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My  gardens were so generous and fed my family lavishly this year. My heart gets a warm, fuzzy feeling just thinking about it… Then there’s all the goodness I’ve stored in jars and freezers from her as well.  Now it’s time to do for it, like its done for me… it’s time to feed the garden!

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Fall’s when we need to prep our garden soil for next years crops. Just when you thought you’d be able to till it all under and forget about it until next spring, here I come with this news. Your gardens productivity depends much on how you care for it… the soil I mean. Feeding your soil nutrients in the…

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Crinkle-Cut Organic Carrot and Feta Salad

I just got back into town from being a bridesmaid in my father’s wedding. And, because my dad is a food fanatic, I gorged myself at the joyous event. I ate sushi, clams casino, tenderloin on crostini, flounder, scallops, lamp lollipops, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And that doesn’t even include the four course dinner or dessert extravaganza. Last night, I was at a massive, overwhelming, international Vegas buffet where two people happened to get married.

Now that I’m home, I want a simple, no fuss, healthy snack. I desperately need to go grocery shopping, so my fridge is pretty bare bones right now. But a girl’s gotta eat. And this girl’s resourceful. I have a bag of organic carrots and lots of cheese. We always have a ton of cheese.

I grabbed my new favorite crinkle cutter, my veggie peeler, two carrots, feta, and my shall-remain-nameless-always-perfect-for-emergencies Italian Dressing (geeeeeeeeeezfine, it’s Ken’s) , and made the perfect snack. I normally don’t write about quick snacks, but this one warrants a post.

To make this, peel and crinkle cut (or regular knife cut) two organic carrots. Fun colored ones would be great, too. Combine with two tablespoons of feta cheese, one tablespoon of dressing, a small pinch of sugar, and a couple grinds of black pepper. Toss and eat. How simple is that?!?!

The sweetness from the carrots, combined with the salty, tangy bite of the feta make the ideal scarfable snack. Plus, and I can’t ignore this, but the wavy crinkle cut shape is really fun!

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I’ll be enjoying this time and time again. I hope you give it try!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award: Really? For Me? Honestly? No way…

I am so very honored that The Novice Gardener, a blogger that I just adore, has bestowed me with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award (among two others…holy cow!).

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And I’d normally go on and on about why others deserve it more than me, but I told her that there was no self-deprecating involved with winning awards. We win because we work hard, love what we do, and deserve it (*silly smirking face* not withstanding). So, thank you so much, The Novice Gardener. I really, truly appreciate it, and I accept. I’ve been blogging for just four months now, and receiving such an accolade is amazing. Heck, I’m amazed sometimes that people even care to read what I write! And, you know, the blogging community is filled with such charismatic, bright, and diverse individuals that have so much to say! I’ve learned so much, have made great connections, and have found a real love of writing.

So, as the rules for recieveing this award state, I have to share 7 random things about myself. Here goes:

  1. I have a 9-year old Boston Terrier named Squirt E. Licious (The “E” stands for “excellent”).
  2. My grandfather was an organic gardener in the 50s! He said that he’d never put anything on his veggies or in the ground that he wouldn’t drink directly.
  3. Phish is my favorite band.
  4. I’m afraid of doing cartwheels.
  5. I have a massive collection of beach glass that I never do anything with because I just like to look at it.
  6. I absolutely love condiments…maybe too much.
  7. My second to last toe on both feet is shaped like a cashew; it’s how my mom knew I was hers.

And as the rules also state, I will now nominate some of my favorite bloggers (no particular order):

Not only do these bloggers put out consistently good work, but their writing is smart, their photos are stunning, and it’s obvious they love what they do. They truly inspire me and, because of them, I’m a better blogger.

So, I’m not sure what else to say other than “thank you” to The Novice Gardener and “thank you” to those who make the blogosphere a better (and prettier) place.

Sincerely,

Jenna