Foraging Fun, and Then Some!

It is no secret that I am in love with the CSA that we joined this year. That isn’t to say that it’s any better than the others in the area- it’s just a better fit for us, and so far it has provided us with everything I had hoped to experience from a CSA. Mostly, this means fresh, organic veggies, berries, and herbs, but it also means events. The farm plays host to dozens of different workshops and potlucks throughout the season, which helps to both further include the members and tie them to one another as a community, and also to educate them. On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a foraging workshop!

I will admit, at first I was a little…apprehensive. I am all for growing my own food and celebrating all the nourishment that the Earth provides us with, but for some reason the idea of walking out into a field and pulling weeds to eat was a tiny step over the imaginary line I had drawn in my head. Still, I am an adventurous girl, and so I took a leap of faith and trusted that at the very least, I’d get outside for some sun and fresh air.

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I am so glad I kept an open mind and spirit. It was AWESOME, one of the most interesting and delicious things I’ve experienced in my life!

We started out around the main pavilion picking lilac, plantain, and dandelion greens. Our guide, Barb, was not only incredibly knowledgeable, but also enthusiastic, explaining how to identify the different plants, and their healing/nourishing properties.

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We picked several bundles of plantain, which were later used in a stir-fry, along with plenty of dandelion greens. The lilac was combined with mint and clivers to make a sun tea that was some of the most delicious I’ve ever tasted.

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So delicious, I drank two whole mugs before I remembered to take a picture. Whoops!

We came back to the pavilion, unloaded whatever we had collected so far, and went out to the potato fields to collect our salad fixings.

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We were on the lookout for chickweed, stinging nettle, bee balm, red clover, and sheep sorrel. The sorrel was by far my favorite, mostly because the shape of the leaves mimicked the shape of a sheep’s head 😉

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We were able to find everything we needed without much hunting, and also scored some wild mustard leaves down by the creek! We clipped some herbs from the herb gardens and went to the pavilion to prepare our lunch.

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Left to right: nettle, chives, sage, dandelion, bee balm, crimson clover, thyme, plantain, lemon balm, chickweed, thin leaf plantain, marjoram, and sheep sorrel.

Barb had prepared this gorgeous herbed butter, and finished it with a pretty purple flower- such a beautiful touch!

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I didn’t have any, but heard it was delicious!

We all prepped our salads together, sharing strainers, bowls, and dressing ingredients. I ended up sitting next to a girl that I knew from shopping at Grapevine, so I wasn’t totally on my own! We shared my lemons, sunflower oil, beans, and avocado, and made two really pretty salads from our foraged chickweed, bee balm, dandelion greens, sheep sorrel, and assorted herbs 🙂

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Truthfully….it was absolutely delicious. Really earthy tasting, but sweet from the sorrel and chickweed, and packed with flavor from the herbs. Definitely one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.

We washed our salads down with more sun tea, this time from raspberry leaf, clover, and oat straw.

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This was way earthier than anything else we made, but it still had a wonderful sweetness from the oats, and I found myself going back twice for a refill.

Meanwhile, Barb sauteed our nettles and plantain leaves over a hot plate with a bit of garlic and caramelized onions.

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Served over brown rice:

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So, so good. The nettles were like velvet, they just melted in your mouth. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was- I still can’t! Looking forward to snagging more nettles during Thursday’s pickup…

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One of the barn cats (I forget his name) followed me around the entire time- out into the field, back to the pavillion, into the herb garden, down to the creek. He was super sweet, but every time I turned around he was under my feet!

Confession: I had purchased a container of falafel from the farmer’s market earlier that morning, because I had been afraid that the foraged food wouldn’t be delicious/fulfilling/sustaining. I am pleased to report that the falafel were totally unnecessary and stayed forgotten in my car until Saturday evening.

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Barb took down emails and phone numbers so she can contact us about future foraging events. I was all about it!

We did hit the farmers market before the CSA event, just to look and say hi to our favorite farmers. I’m glad we did, because we got to check out a new addition to the Saturday morning vendors:

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A crepe truck!!! Ahhhh! We got the honey almond, and it was outstanding. Very quick service, too! This is super exciting- I’m looking forward to Saturday morning crepe trips! 🙂

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We also picked up a bunch of garlic scapes, because you just don’t pass up scapes. They have already been pulverized into a super tasty white bean and garlic dip. NOM.

We also managed to catch the last few hours of the strawberry festival in Newtown!

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Fitting, since both of my children are very near to turning into giant strawberries. We can’t get enough!

Saturday ended with a fun trip to the Verizon store! 😀 Friday night I went to a party at a friend’s (which, by the way, was totally outrageous, with tons of great bands, a bonfire, and a pool), and on the way over my phone suddenly stopped responding. The touch screen just wiped out, and that was that. It wasn’t a huge surprise- I had had the phone for over two years and was up for an upgrade three months ago, so I was just waiting for my current phone to go out. It finally happened, and I used my upgrade to score a sleek new iPhone 🙂

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Complete with pink Otterbox, because I don’t want anything to happen to this thing. The case was an assumed part of the package- I would never, ever get an iPhone without the legendary Otterbox. We also ordered one for the iPad, which means that as soon as it comes Jack and Carolyn can start exploring the fun apps I’ve found for them!

The rest of our weekend was pretty relaxed. Sunday morning Emily and I took a long walk around town and chatted, which was really refreshing. I love to walk around Newtown- it is absolutely breathtaking, and Emily is excellent company!

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Sunday afternoon we got the pool out for the kids, as well as the new beach ball sprinkler!

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Many thanks to Uncle James for hooking us up with the beach ball! 🙂 It was the perfect way to keep the kids happy and cool during a smoking hot weekend, without cooping them up n the house all day.

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Sunday night we sat down to a huge pozole dinner with family and friends! Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup made with hominy (a large white corn) and a broth (typically chicken, but we went veggie), and seasoned with yerba santa and thyme. The soup is simmered for a few hours, and then served in bowls topped with fresh avocado, chopped jalepeno, red onion, Cholula, and oregano. You also dip freshly fried tortillas into the broth.

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It’s amazing, and really fun because everyone gets to customize their own bowl to their tastes. I love mine with all the fixings, including TONS of avo, a healthy shake of Cholula, and an ice cold Corona! 😉

We stayed up talking way past the kids bedtime, and even later after they fell asleep. We are on a Wii boxing kick (hah!) right now. It’s such an unexpected workout! My arms are total jell-o. I’m also on the tail-end of Firestarter by Steven King- I can’t seem to put it down! All of this meant that this morning I woke up feeling like I had barely slept at all. Add to that two tired and fussy kids, and it was rough going for everyone involved. We made it through with some help from James and Emily, and even got our plants re-potted, including some new additions from one of my mother’s clients.

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It feels so special to be growing things! I truly never thought I could ever even keep flowers alive, let alone tend to plants that will give me delicious FOOD! I have three flowers on the one tomato plant, and I’m hoping that means we’re on our way to having the fruit.

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There are so many good things happening right now. I’m trying my very best to maintain focus on all of the positive forces in my life, but I won’t lie, it’s been rough since classes ended. I think it’s just some kind of seasonal depression, which I usually get around the spring/summer (I know, so bizarre), and I’m trying to wade through it as best I can. It’s been slow going on the writing front, which makes it that much more difficult, but I think this week I finally found a crack in the ice. Wednesday is workshop night, and everyone will be coming over to my house. I’m really looking forward to it. Also, I have a wonderful friend who has kept an open ear ready and waiting for my complaining, and always has a kind and encouraging word to help me gain perspective 🙂

I am leaving for Minneapolis a week from Friday (OH MY GODDDD!!!), so that ball is beginning to roll- packing lists, food lists, general preparations. I am SO nervous, but even more than that, I am excited, and really looking forward to seeing Britt and my Dad. This is a really special opportunity for me, and I am anxious and enthusiastic about taking a trip to see two people who mean very much to me.

I’m counting my blessings, and making sure to savor every moment, every day, because they come and go as quickly as the wind. The only way to catch all that good stuff is to live in the present and savor it all while you can 🙂

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