Sunday, January 31, 2010

foraging and butchering.

i decided to acually take a day off during the week. since october i have not had a day off and at first i loved being that busy but i am not built for that kind of pace. im definitely more efficient if i give myself at least one day where i have free choice to do whatever the hell i want.

anyway, day off: went out with a friend from the class to try some wild edible gathering. this was the first time i had gone out to pick things with the intent of including them in meals and it was incredibly exciting to actually be putting into application the cumulative study of the past few months. study which, with no days off or time for exploring, has been relegated to books and classrooms. it felt like hatching.  like ive been developing inside an egg, and now the shell has opened and i can actually experience the world. albeit, feebly and with much apprehension. i saw a documentary on eagles a couple weeks ago and there was a lot of close up footage of the young eaglets learning to use their wings. there is lots of hopping up and down, disorganized flapping and comical flopping around befor they actually catch a wind current and figure out forward momentum. i feel sort of like that. maybe not quite so majestic. but pretty majestic.

the northwest has been experiencing an unseasonably warm stretch of weather so even though its only january there are lots of new green things breaking ground. much i did not recognize and some we were on the fence about but there was a modest collection to be had none-the-less. for all my uncoordinated hopping and flopping around it looked like a banquet feast. we harvested large batches of young dandelion greens, nettle and cotton wood buds. also we marked spots for salal berry and rose hips which will come in later on in the season as well as some developing patches of field mustard, plantain and what may or may not have been chickweed. and of course any open area in seattle is riddled with blackberry bushes.

so the next adventure is learning to cook with the things i collect. i need to start a collection of recipes. i made an omlette with the dandelion greens which was actually not horrible although i did learn the importance of cutting the dandelion greens into smaller pieces. otherwise you end up with a solid mass of tangled stems wrapped in egg. the nettled faired a bit better. they went well with some sausage and garlic over noodles with a white wine sauce.

i can feel the potential for some really good things happening as my confidence increases but i think we are going to see a lot of pasta dishes as well. its an easy default position which is hard to mess up.
as mild as my cooking skills are i feel completely lost in trying to figure out how to approach all these new flavors and preparation requirements. but its a great, great feeling to see the beginnings of a whole new line of skills starting to come into play. there arnt too many feelings better than experiencing the power of new abilities. 

class itself has been pretty intense. this quarter is focusing more on the animal and preparing for hunting, where as last quarter focused on plant uses. as an introduction to cleaning and harvesting food and tools from an animal there have been several sessions involving cleaning and butchering, followed by the making of some pretty awesome crafts. my favorite has been the wing bone caller. its a turkey call made from the wing bones of...wait for it...a turkey.

ironic that inside this animal is the makings of a mechanism that will help you catch more of this animal. there was also a deer leg, then some fish and this past week, a canadian goose. more birds are on the agenda. this class wont get into big game as thats reserved for the hunting specific course which ill be taking in the fall this year.

so, just about every week this month ive come home to clean blood off my clothing. never thought i would find reward in that. i also feel a small bit of guilt. like its in some way disrespectful to remove from my clothes the blood of an animal that gave its life for the sake of my education and nourishment. part of me thinks this is not just some grass stain i should be so eager to rid myself of. maybe i should leave them there and just tell people "yes these dark spots are blood. dont worry its from an animal"

no, that wouldnt work either. oh well. hopefully i will be forgiven for my callous laundry detergent.

im still waiting on pictures a classmate took of the deer leg dissection but if you arnt squeemish about animals being cleaned and would like to see more of the canadian goose process, more of the turkey wing caller as well as some other recent activities you can check them out on my flickr page.


  1. that whole eagle thing reminded me of an R. Kelly song "i believe i can fly, i believe i can touch the sky." and then out of nowhere, i started hearing "you remind me of my jeep."

    anyway, dude, this is so hardcore i can't even keep up with you. somehow i can see you on tv talking about this stuff. like i'll just be flippin through the channels one day in a few years and say dude, i know that guy.

    when you find/make recipes, please share them.

  2. well at least you didnt think of girls being peed on. oops but now you ARE thinking about it. gotcha.

    walter you are for sure on the list for the wild edible dinner party. scheduled for some time in....2012. hopefully pre-end-of-the-world

  3. Jobes, your dinner looked yummy. You continue to amaze me. Looking forward to trying a dish or two!


    Hook me up with some foraged goods. I'll cook something for you.

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