Dent de Lion on the Dinner Plate

Baking & Brewing with Dandelions

For as long as human history has been recorded, the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has been used as food and medicine across the globe. While not native to this continent, this nutritious golden flowering plant arrived with the European colonization of the 1600’s and is now commonplace in lawns and meadows across North America. In the spring, the dandelion is one of several common wild edibles foragers look for to supplement their dinner plates. Grow Forage Cook Ferment has a helpful list, which includes, of course, DANDELIONS!

Looking through the lens of dandelions, interests in culinary arts, pastry arts, baking, and even home brewing can be supported. Within these interests, lessons in chemistry and math are implicit, while the art of taste and texture is an explicit driving force as highlighted in this video.

Learn how to identify and properly harvest dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots this year, and give them a go in your own kitchen too. Try a recipe for Dandelion Lemon Cupcakes to support an interest in pastry arts, or if you prefer baking, check out this recipe for Dandelion Leaf Bread. Or put on your chef hat and pair Dandelion Fritters with a Dandelion Leaf Salad to experiment with the textures and flavors found within the culinary arts.

If you’re interested in beverages, this Dandelion Root Coffee Recipe can set you up with a warm brew, or learn about the art of fermentation by making Dandelion Mead or Dandelion Fennel Kombucha! Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Sustainable and Wild Harvesting

Sustainable and Wild Harvesting

It’s officially spring in Western MA, which means so many things to me! After what feels like the longest winter, we are finally experiencing warmer temperatures and the sun is peeking in on us. Families is coming outdoors more to simply enjoy the change in weather. It’s still a little chilly out there, but at least we can put away our heavy coats and boots!

Spring is also a time for nature and wildlife to bring forth a new life of their own. Buds on branches begin to appear and grow, small flowers are sprouting their ways up, birds are building their nests, and so many plants in our woodlands are starting to grow.

I’ve mentioned a number of times, how much I love to forage for wild edibles. A lot of times my six year old daughter, Thu, goes with my partner and I.  She has learned to identify a lot in the past couple years, also because she is of smaller height, she tends to see things that I might walk right past without noticing. Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: White Pine Tea for Winter Days

White Pine Tea

It’s been getting really cold in Western MA the past couple of weeks! And now with a fresh layer of snow on the ground, it’s time to bundle the kids up, eat some nice hot meals with the family, and cozy on up with lots and lots of hot tea. Ye,t while we tend to spend so much time indoors during the cold winter months, there is nothing like talking a walk outside with the cold crisp air… followed by a warm cup of tea!

Even though it’s cold outside, it’s easy to make winter walks really fun for kids. Last week, my six-year old daughter and I went for a walk down by the Mill River. One of the things that we do these adventures is to think of something that might be on our walk and to see if we can spot it. That can include spotting a old bird nest high in a tree, animal tracks in the snow, a brave little Chickadee and so many other great finds. Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Forage, Farm and Feast with the Family

Tasting the Evergreens

Life in Western MA has its many pleasures. So many times I feel really lucky to live where I do and to be surrounded by so much beauty. The mountains, the rivers, the farmland, the flora and the fauna are just some of the things I appreciate. I live in the Pioneer Valley and I am always trying to find ways to connect with my surroundings. I have a five year old daughter name Thu with whom I love spending time in the outdoors. There are many activities we can do to connect with nature and where we live which bring the two of us closer while helping my daughter form a relationship with nature itself.

One of the things I love to do with Thu is go on an outdoor adventure and forage for wild edibles. You most probably have something growing in or near your own backyard that is edible, and maybe even some wild edibles waiting to be discovered! Once kids start learning about the wild edible growing around them,  families can look forward to what’s going to pop up next. As always, get to know what you are looking for and make sure you properly identify it- if you are unsure, just don’t eat it.

In the Springtime one of the easiest things to forage for are spruce tree tips. Most of us, if not all of us in the Pioneer Valley are in walking distance to one of these trees. If you have never done any wild harvesting or feel that you wouldn’t have a clue as to where to start, then foraging for spruce tips is a great activity. Children love being part of the hunt. They love spotting these evergreens from far away and once they learn that parts of it are edible, it makes it even more fun. Foraging for wild edibles becomes a tool which can help children learn more about what grows around us. Searching for spruce together can help kids start to learn more about different tree species and appreciate their beauty even more.

Read the rest of this entry »

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