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Inspired to FORAGE

Before we can even think of gardening outside, Mother Nature provides for us in these just-green weeks before summer hits. We have wild ramps, nettles, watercress, fiddlehead ferns and all kinds of other seemingly exotic goodness that grows without so much as a cudjoling or prodding. My dad taught me about wild foraging when I was a kid, but now that I have my own land, I am reminded of all the food, that without my insistence, is quite literally, underfoot. Plus, I love anything that is not quite mainstream, so I'm very excited about using foraged food to make delicious and unique creations.

I've always been a little bit of a fickle pickle about cooks and cookbooks. I know there are a million fabulous cookbooks in the world, but very few cooks really gain my sustained attention. Back in 2009 when I started my now defunct food blog, Vegetarian Perspective, I was smitten with Heidi Swanson's cooking ideas and creations on 101 Cookbooks. Blogging about food and recipes gave me the opportunity to really dig deep to figure out what I liked in the world of food and what set me apart. Honestly, I haven't found too many American cooks who think like I do about food, and Heidi is one of the closest I can find. Her recipes are all plant based, oh so very unique and creative, but not fussy or difficult to follow. And, of course, she's a photographer (unlike me), so her photos are gorgeous. She can make her food look as good as it tastes.

Recently, the work of Alan Bergo, The Forager Chef has caught my attention. Not only is he delving into the natural edible, and sometimes obscure food growing beneath our feet, but he explains processes and techniques that surprise and offer new tricks! Really, I am quite taken by this guy. I've made a wide variety of fermented chile garlic and sriracha type sauces in the past and never thought to ferment in a vacuum seal or plastic bag! This trick will contain the odors of a ferment and make for easy burping as the gases begin to form and want out.

Today I mixed up a batch of Bergo's Wild Ramp Pesto using our sunflower oil (although Alan Bergo promotes Smudes in his recipe, I encourage you to try Lake View Organic Farm Sunflower Oil - "The olive oil of the midwest" and in my opinion, THE VERY BEST CULINARY OIL FOR TASTE), but never thought to blanch some of the ramps to break down the fibers just a bit and ramp up the vibrancy of the green. An additional tip, the Forager Chef reminds cooks not to "piss him off" by leaving a container of pesto open to the air or it will go brown! Make sure to keep your pesto covered with a layer of oil to prevent oxidation. Well, then. A man after my own heart.

You all know I am a fiend for SUNFLOWER OIL, but there is another oil that is dear to my heart and frankly, a very powerful secret weapon in the kitchen. This Asaro Gli Olio Argrumati is a great oil to have to add a burst of lemon in your cooking. I love a little dash of it added to cilantro aioli, any pesto or chimichurri. This oil offers a burst of lemon more intense than lemon zest or juice. Pow!

Not only did ramps hit my doorstep this week for fun in the kitchen, but a forager neighbor of ours brought up a bag of watercress for crispy peppery munching! Watercress is one of my favorite greens right up there with arugula and mustard greens, but even better as nature takes care of the gardening. Normally I like watercress in a salad or lightly steamed, but some mushrooms and an extra package of defrosted apples hanging out in the fridge needed somewhere to go, so pate, they became and watercress upped that game! A concoction of sauteed mushrooms, apples, and garlic was zinged together with sunflower oil, toasted sunflower seeds, green onions and a few bunches of watercress for a delicious sandwich or cracker spread. Sadly, there is not much of this treat to share.

I love that I can lament that I have no gardens yet growing and get bonked over the head with all kinds of green growing goodness all around me! Green is my favorite color to eat! Maybe I'm a ruminant...


Join us for a Women's Writing Retreat Sunday, April 18th 12:45 - 4:30. I could still take a few more people if you are interested. Here's the link with details and information.


Stop out to see us this weekend. The farm store is full of goodies, new treats and new tricks! If you need to escape the Great River Road and this Saturday's Motorcycle Madness (The Flood Run), our Field and Forest Hiking Trails are open for leg stretching and heart rate upping - take Highway 10 to our place to avoid the crush of bikes.

Sending love to you all,


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