Saturday, February 9, 2019

Thai-Style California Mussels: An Awesome After-Clamming Afterthought!

"I used to dig clams, 'till one day I pulled a mussel!" Anonymous ancient proverb

California Mussels (Mytilus californianus) of the open coast

My good ol' buddy Alex and I headed out last weekend for a little clamming as the tides were low. We forage so much that the thought barely occurred to us to film any of this. I mean, at this point, we are kind of beating a dead horse when it comes to steamer clams on our Youtube channel Catch n Cook California... but honestly they are the best and most abundant clams in the state, so maybe it is worth a little repeat?

Anyways, Alex and I dug a secret local spot on superbowl Sunday and had 50 steamer clams each in less than an hour!

So, not wanting to waste the rest of such a beautiful tide, we headed up the coast a few minutes to our favorite California mussel spot and we were not disappointed! 

At this point, we should remind our readers to ALWAYS CALL THE BIOTOXIN INFORMATION HOTLINE BEFORE HARVESTING SHELLFISH IN CA (CRAB INCLUDED) AS THEY CAN BE DEADLY POISONOUS DURING CERTAIN TIMES OF YEAR! Go ahead, don't be shy, program this number into your phone...800-553-4133... it is a recording so you don't even have to talk to anyone! IT'S NOT WORTH YOUR LIFE, SO JUST DO IT!

Alex and I have been harvesting mussels here for decades (check previous posts on this blog for proof), and we decided this day to honor the tradition and cook some on the beach. 

Even though the mussel ramen was awesome, there was too little light for photos or video. So, after I came home, I cooked up a Thai-style red curry with mussels for me and Diane.

Rich coconut milk infused with curry paste, lemon grass, kafir lime leaf, and was awesome to say the least!

So, even though the mussels were an afterthought of a quick logistical forey to our steamer clam spot, the subsequent meal was absolutely astounding!

Check out our Youtube channel Catch N Cook California for the full video!

Keep the old ways alive!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

2018 Was a Fruitful Year!

"In many respects, we are in the good old days." Steven Rinella, The Meat Eater

We had some darn good times with tight lines this year!

Some great food was enjoyed by all!

And it was nice to hunt on my own two feet again, rather than by wheelchair (broken kneecap).

If you have not checked out our new Youtube channel Catch n Cook California, we have been busy shooting footage and that is why I have not been posting as often here. We hope you enjoy the video media and we are looking forward to a lot more catching and cooking with stone tools in 2019!

Keep the old ways alive!

Friday, October 19, 2018

How to Identify and Eat Wild Mushrooms

We have been mushroom hunting for years now! There is truly no greater joy than trudging through the winter rain across a soft and damp forest floor in search of the most flavorful fungi! 

That being said, PLEAS be careful! Many wild foods can be mistaken for deadly look-alikes. If you are not 100% positive you have correctly identified the mushroom DO NOT EAT IT! 

"When in doubt, throw it out!"

Our most recent video on the subject is below. I hope you find it informative and inspiring! We ended up making mushroom and venison ravioli from scratch... it was incredible!

Keep the old ways alive!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Salt of the Sea: How to Make Herb Salt from Sea Water

"What's with today today?"- Lucas, 
Empire Records

Sea salt is the best right? But what's better then using the finest gourmet sea salt from the store? Making your own!

Here's a link to our latest Youtube video on the subject, and a link to an article I published on this a while back.

It could not be simpler! 1: Gather sea water (* Be sure to get the water from clean coves and not polluted harbors). 2: Boil down the water into a milky-looking highly saline solution. 3: Evaporate the remaining water in a wide and flat dish in the sun. 4: give it a toast in the oven. 5: Grind it with dried herbs from the garden!

Keep the old ways alive! 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review: The Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast

"You must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring!" - Monty Python

Ok, so I don't typically do woodworking with a herring, but don't let that make you think that I do not value the little fish! And so we come to today's topic... Kirk Lombard's new book. If you are not yet aware of Lombard's blog The Monkeyface News (, it is a fantastic blend of eccentric musician and eccentric sustainable fisher... oh man, is that how they describe me too? Eccentric sustainable fisher? Hey! I do play the drums you know? Oh, by the way "you know who likes to jam with musicians? ...Drummers!" 

Ok, well, Lombard's new book is the dag nam bees knees! I grew up foraging, fishing, and freedive spearfishing the north coast of California since the day I could stand on my own two feet (no joke I have been digging clams since before I could talk), and this book was learnin' me real good! I was exposed to all kinds of new sea lore and seafood seasonal acquisition tips!

Check out my review of the book at the North Coast Journal ( and definitely pick up a copy! Kev, the countryman forager, gives it two thumbs up!

Keep the old ways alive!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Positive Plant Identification: Seasonal Summer Berries!

Summer brings all kinds of bounties! The diversity of berries I am encountering right now is truly astounding!

Remember: do not EVER eat any wild food that you are not 100% certain is edible! There are those that say "when in doubt just eat a few." This is foolish, and I think you would regret it if you ate "just a few" poison nightshade berries or poison oak berries, don't you?

Here's a little image of what I was able to gather in a couple of hours!

From center: Thimble berries, Salal berries, mulberries and red huckleberries, black cap raspberries, and Himalaya blackberries!

Himalaya blackberries are non native and absolutely delicious! These are the blackberries you have always bought in the store... well you need to no longer!

These easy to ID sweet berries abound in clearings near rivers and streams! Go get them! But remember that the vines are armed with sharp thorns, so long pants and closed-toe shoes are recommended.

Also, the berry may be fully black, but it is not truly at its peak sweetness unless it falls almost completely effortlessly into your hand with only the slightest pull. If the fully dark berry feels firm and resists popping off of the vine, it will be fine to eat, but will need to be mixed with sugar and baked in a cobbler, pie, or jam.

Thimble berries like to grow near water and the clearings at the edges of coniferous forests. These seedy, sweet tart raspberry-looking fruits are quite fragile but absolutely incredible! Good news... no thorns and the leaves have a pleasant furry texture that works great for toilet paper. Just kidding, I have never tried that... OK fine, I have, and it is the best leaf in the forest for an unprepared hiker! 

Pay close attention to that leaf shape to help identify abundant patches from a distance!

Red huckleberries are sweet and yet tart. They grow under more shaded conifer canopy of more established forests that look like this.

And the berry-rich shrub often grows right out of old rotten tree trunks.

Again, pay attention to that leaf structure as it is quite distinct. I recommend cooking these little ones with a sweeter berry or a bit of sugar unless you want to throw them in pancake batter, cook, and top with maple syrup to balance the slight tart flavor.

Mulberries are not native to California, but are often planted in suburban ares where they are neglected more often than not. You will note that these berries grow on trees rather than shrubs or vines.

Again, pay attention to the leaf shape. Are we seeing a trend here ;)

Finally black cap native raspberries! These are some of my all time favorites! The thorny shrub-like vine looks like a blackberry vine but is gray-green- and purple in color and does not grow down along the ground but instead grows straight up and then stoops over slightly under the weight of its absolutely unparalleled sweet fruit!

So get the family and friends out in the woods and enjoy the adventure and literal fruits of the harvest!

Keep the old ways alive!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Forager Montage: Old Pics and New Directions

"When I need to get my head clear, I turn off my phone, get lost, get gone, and flat out disappear. Well there aint no tellin where I'm bound, a big city or the country, a little beach town, but you won't find me cuz I can't be found. I'm on a mission to get missing! I'll be back someday I just don't know when, till then I'll be a feather floating in the wind. So don't you go missing me cuz sometimes missing is my favorite place to be!" William Michael Morgan

Hello all! It has been a hot minute since I have posted much here other than links to our new Youtube channel CatchncookCA. That being said, as the quote above indicates, sometime ramblin' fever overtakes my soul and I just have to go and get gone!

My best friend Alex tracking in the desert

I helped lead an amazing foraging workshop the other day at The Little River Inn near Mendocino California. We identified all kinds of wild edible, medicinal, and useful plants, seaweeds, and chowed down on some truly incredible meals prepared by chef's Marc and Jason! Video soon to come! Oh, and if you are interested we will be hosting a few others through the Little River Inn soon (Mussels? Mushrooms? You name it!).

Shark uses scallop as a pillow

This post is a tribute to an idea my brother had. He was looking back though out text and email exchanges and started finding all kinds of funny stories and pictures that for some reason I never put on the blog. Well, this post is a whole bunch of old images from outdoor adventures and cooking wild foods. I hope you like it!

Spiny lobster in a cave

In the meantime check out this email exchange between my brother and his wife!

"Hi Justin,
I just organized the inside of the freezer, and here's the meat and fish I found. There is one of each thing listed.

Deer brain
Deer tongue
Deer liver
Turkey carcass
Turkey confit
Turkey giblets
Mystery meat jar... Rillette?
Lamb chop
Pork shoulder
Black rockfish
Smoked salmon
Unlabeled smoked mystery fish (eel?)

All fish has been moved to garage freezer. Can we brainstorm a good way to keep track of this stuff on an ongoing basis?

This had me laughing pretty hard since 90% of this is wild food and my freezer looks pretty much the same! 

The Seadogs with a nice halibut!

Well anyways, sometimes foraging the freezer for last season's huckleberries can be a good time too!

But really all of this rambling is just a lead up to a bunch of cool old photos I just found on my old computer (which I have been randomly interlacing throughout this post).

That pismo clam chowder on the beach was awesome!

Oh yeah! The pic above was after a very successful freedive for pismo clams. No joke, Ahmed dislocated his shoulder underwater and I had to Lethal Weapon it back into place for him on the sand! He looked at me and Evian, thanked me for popping it back into place, and the said "I'm still three short of a limit! Let's get back to diving!" I couldn't believe the drive this dude had!

Fish and yam chips anyone?

Of course we love to catch, but we also LOVE to cook!

Yeah, it is a teepi!
The hops harvest is always a good time to brew up some fun!

Lings and Dungies! Man I miss you Kirby (you tropical-Island-living gin-clear freediving bastard)!

Anyways, now I am just rambling! Check out the new Youtube channel catchncookca when you get a chance and in the meantime, keep the old ways alive!