Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wood is Good: Foraging for Wood to Carve

"When we were kids if we wanted something we made it!"- Alex Izzarelli reminiscing about our creative childhood.

Ron and I cut up a nice black locust trunk from the banks of a riparian corridor in a deep canyon. He had his buddy rip it into three planks on a band saw after it had seasoned for a few months and we had a look at our foraged tough-as-nails bow staves. 


The two outer planks are well suited for carving traditional California flat bows; a bow style used extensively by some of our local tribes. The interior plank was not well suited for bow carving as it did not have its original outer layers, which are essential for forming the back of a good self bow. Yet, a good opportunistic forager follows the old creed "waste not, want not." So I set to work on my half of that central plank and in a half hour's time was proud of the result...a very hard black locust spatula.

The colors really came out when I coated it with some bees wax

Next I split up an old apple trunk from a fallen tree in the orchard and carved down a unique plate, which we loaded up with ripe blackberries straight of the bush.

Finally, I used another small scrap of  the black locust and fashioned a fork. Now it's time to go put them to use.

Remember, foraging for materials can be as much fun as foraging for food. Bushcraft is truly at the heart of what foraging is all about. And there is no better feeling than gathering blackberries on your own foraged and carved plate, shellfish in your own foraged and woven basket, or hunting with your own foraged and fashioned bow and arrows. By engaging in making your own tools of the trade your connection with the whole experience of foraging and feasting off of the bounties of Earth and sea is expanded and enriched. When the berries aren't in season, you can still have wood seasoning and you can always get carving. No need to buy exotic hardwoods when ash, oak, plum, apple, locust, walnut, and cherry all grow in abundance in the heather. The materials are there, free of charge, beckoning that you come and gather on your next adventure. Keep the old ways alive! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

North Country Forager Feast: Applewood Grilled Wild Salmon, Fuit Salad, Wakame Seaweed Salad, and Grilled Figs

"Naw that's country!"-Alex doing his best hillbilly impression.

On our recent hook and line angling kayak trip, I also gathered up some sea water.

boiled it down...

and made some nice sea salt.

We picked rosemary, chives, basil, oregano and sage from my Mom's garden and made up a batch of forager's best herb salt.

Alex and I gathered up a little elderberry for a nice sauce and some blooms for garnish...

and got the apple wood fire going from scraps from our orchard.

After a bit of target practice, my Mom sliced the first figs from our tree, grilled them with blue cheese and garnished with balsamic vinegar for an exquisite appetizer.

Once we had a decent bed of coals, we placed a batch of garlic bread on the grill (garlic was from my Brother's girlfriend's awesome garden, butter was homemade)...

and then we threw the king salmon my Dad had caught a few days before on the grill as well.

I sent Hunter and Alex out to the orchard to get a few organic heirloom Gravenstein apples and some blackberries for the fruit salad while I sliced up our recently foraged peaches and plums.

Then we reconstituted the Wakame seaweed I had got freediving the day before and whipped up a traditional Asian seaweed salad with some of the shredded carrot from Karen's garden.

My Dad cooked down the elderberries and after dusting the fish with our forager's herb salt, we garnished with elder sauce and elder flowers.

The feast paired well with Dad's homebrew, but we were running low so we spent the last hours of the evening brewing another 10 gallon batch.

Foraging is one step better than shopping locally and eating organically, as each bite of every meal is connected to the joy and adventure that surrounded its acquisition from the Earth and sea where it thrives naturally.

Keep the old ways alive!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kayak Angling and Fried Lingcod Sandwiches


“You know what’s awesome?”-me

“Yup!”-my Dad


“Sure is!”-my Dad

Hunter and I got out on the Kayak yesterday. The seas were calm
the salmon were running. We paddled out at a cove where the

foggy sky met the stark sandstone bluffs and lush coniferous forest.
Hunter had a lingcod in the boat in around 5 minutes.

Around mid day I brought a 15-20lbs salmon to within a foot of the
 boat, but he threw the hook at the last moment and we watched his
beautiful metallic silver sheen flash one last time as he blasted back
 to the bottom. All we could do was laugh…we wanted that fish,
 but it was pretty darn cool to have even had the opportunity to
fight and see him. I got two more lingcod later in the day which had
 me pretty stoked by the time we paddled in.
Stoked Forager
Really Stoked Successful Forager


That afternoon, my wife and I gathered up a little lambsquarter
from a local orchard while my Mom made German potato salad.
Our dinner was some of the best fried lingcod sandwiches I have
ever tasted. The added lambsquarter greens were also well
One-of-a-Kind Dinner!

By the way, blackberries, thimbleberries, and other wild edibles
were also spied on this outing…but more about them later.

Keep the old ways alive!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Earl's Plum Jam

"Mom, can you think of a funny quote about jam or plums?"
"It is very difficult for me to be funny on the spot like this!" "Thanks, that'll work."- My Mom and Me.

Every summer my Grandpa (may he rest in peace) made delicious plum jam from the tree in the back yard. This year we decided to honor his memory and keep this tradition alive.

Plums on the Tree



My Dad and I headed out armed with our trusty baskets and had a good old time gathering the ripe sweet fruit from Grandpa's old tree. In around 15 minutes we had all three baskets filled to the brim with 3/4 of the tree still heavily laden with ripe fruit.

This got us pondering pressing some plum wine...but more about that later.

My Mom and I got cooking soon after we returned and in a matter of a few hours we had our first batch of jam in jars.


Plum Jam

I churned a fresh batch of unsalted butter the next morning and my Mom baked a dozen gluten free biscuits for breakfast. We enjoyed our biscuits with homemade butter and Earl's jam with smiles all around.

Preserves and Fresh Churned Butter


Keep the old ways alive!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Next Step

“I’m leavin’ L.A. mama, you know that smog has got me down. Goin’ up to the canyon, where there ain’t nobody else around!”-Taj Mahal
Well, after 4 years, we have graduated with our Master’s degrees and are headed back to northern California. Our experiences at Cal State L.A. have been truly great and we would not trade our education there for any other. The program has been monumental in our professional development and the comradely we feel with our cohort is truly unparalleled. We will miss our mentor, friends, and the lobster, desert, and avocados…but the northern countryside beckons, and we are so happy to be headed back to cold weather, constant rain, and the freezing ocean!
To the Southern Sea and Land
From the depths of my soul I thank thee,
Desert landscape and southern sea,
For each experience you presented me.
For guiding my hand through this phase,
Educating me about your ways.
Teaching me to make the most of my days..
From the chia’s seed to tough sandstone,
From fresh lambs quarter to strong toyon,
In your embrace I never felt alone.
But now in tune with this natural flow,
Back to the north we must go,
To the land where the redwoods grow.
But do hear my thanks, praise and prayer,
For the solid connection we now share,
And until next we meet, please take care.
Now in the North
Rounding the last bend in the old country road before coming to the family orchard, we had to stop and let a hen and chick (wild turkey) cross the road, a squirrel ran up an apple tree, a large jackrabbit sat in the corner of a neighbor’s vineyard, lush green patches of lambs quarter beckoned from another orchard and I could see that a few loquats still clung to the branches while the first wave of plums were now but a week’s time from sweet maturity. It was good to be home!
My Mom asked me to gather up some mint and boysenberries (now also ripe) which I did before meeting her in the kitchen. She had a bottle of rum, some ice, simple syrup, club soda, some limes and a smile. In a flash she made a batch of the best boysenberry mojitos I have ever tasted! We sat back, relaxed and listened to red shafted flickers and red shoulder hawks in the not-too-distant black walnut trees (also nearly ripe).

Fresh Picked Mint
Boysenberries on the Vine

Boysenberry Harvest

Mixing Things Up

Squeeze of Fresh Lime

Mashing the Berries

Boysenberry Mojito

The next morning we awoke to a rooster’s crow and enjoyed smoked salmon and goat cheese scrambles made from the wild king salmon my Dad caught a few days before.

Hunter with His First Ocean Run King Salmon of the Season
Smoked Salmon Scramble
I will keep you posted as our northern adventures unfold.
Keep the old ways alive!