I adore my field guide titled, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, by Euell Gibbons. It was published in 1962 and then reprinted fifteen times according to the first page of this amazing little book. It reads like a memoir, which is why I adore it.
Here are some tantalizing tidbits from this book. In the chapter titled, Supermarket of the Swamps is the instructions on how to collect pollen from cattails to use as a nutritious supplement in your pancakes and muffins. Euell also goes on to explain in great detail how to use all portions of this plant.
There are chapters on using Elderberries to make wine – a recipe from his “drinking uncle” and how to use the berries to make a nice jam. I have fond memories of picking elderberries with a friend on Gabriola. Usually we had little kids running around our ankles eating blackberries until their clothes were stained beyond recognition.
There is also an eight page chapter on collecting and eating edible fungi. Here is an excerpt,“ Of course an uninstructed amateur who starts gathering and eating mushrooms before he can distinguish one species from another is likely to poison himself. A rash fool can find a way to kill himself anywhere, but that is no reason why sensible, prudent people shouldn’t enjoy delicious and wholesome wild mushrooms.”
There are chapters on everything from Wildwood teas to using Pigweed. This chapter was title Beating the Pigs to the Pigweed. I almost love his chapter titles as much as the words on each page.
This author doesn’t miss anything that is edible in the wild. There is a recipe for Woodchuck in Sour Cream and Muskrat that he tells us is also known as marsh rabbit.
But my absolute favourite story in this book is titled How to Cook a Carp.
It tells how he worked as a teenager with his brother up on a cattle ranch in New Mexico near the Rio Grande. He explains in wonderful detail how they waded into the stream and caught carp with pitchforks. The best way to eat it, according to Euell, is to skin it and fry it in a pan of hot vegetable shortening, with salt as your only seasoning. This supplemented their meals all spring.
I am motivated to go out to some crown land and find me some wild ginger. Included in this book are nice little drawings that help the serious wildcrafter search out a plant.
This book ends with a chapter on how the author, his wife and another couple went on a wild crafting holiday. It cost them less money than eating back home. They ate like kings, enjoying battered and fried bluegill, five different types of wild vegetables, tossed salad, sassafras tea and bowls of cherries, juneberries and dewberries. They woke up to dandelion coffee, fresh blackberries and cattail pollen muffins. They feasted on crayfish and turtle soup, while expertly using the roots and stalks of burdock.
I found a great little business in Okotoks, Alberta, called Wild About Flowers. They gave me some tips on searching out some wild flowers. She said I could google land usage maps to locate crown land. This company promotes using native perennials for landscaping instead of planting grasses that need extra watering and pesticides to keep them looking well. Here is a link to the business. http://www.wildaboutflowers.ca/index.php
I am going to go on a bookstore hunt to wildcraft some of the many other books Mr. Euell Gibbons wrote. I really hope to find, Stalking the Blue-eyed Scallop.
Over and out, and get out there in this lovely weather and hunt out some good eatin’.