April Wild: Pine Pollen, Fiddleheads & Poison Oak

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1 Chickweed: I gathered more for salads and to make pesto and freeze it.

Oak Nut Bliss Bars with Redbud Flowers

Oak Nut Bliss Bars with Redbud Flowers

2 Oak Nut Bliss Bars: This is the wild dessert my kids love! I added redbud flowers this time for color.

Redbud

Redbud

3 Redbud: I gathered more of the blossoms. They keep really well refrigerated. Goal: Try freezing them and drying them to see how they do in terms of color and taste.

4 Redbud Cornbread muffins. I tried my cornbread recipe but made into muffins instead. They are beautiful with the fresh redbud, especially if it is added toward the very end rather than heating in the oven the entire time.

Blue-Eyed Grass

Blue-Eyed Grass

5 Blue-eyed Grass; Nettles: I collected the upper parts of Blue-eyed Grass to dry and use as a tea for fevers. Cut more nettles for use in stir frys. They are so delicious. The ones I have in my garden seeded themselves so I planted more today.

Wild Weed Pesto-Nettles & Chickweed

Wild Weed Pesto-Nettles & Chickweed

6 Wild Weed Pesto: I blended older chickweed that was going to seed with some fresh nettles, garden garlic, olive oil and garden walnuts.

7 Ceanothus flowers & Poison Oak: Last call to gather them…I used the buck brush flowers to make my poison oak away spray.

8 Manzanita Cider: Yes, I’m drinking this every day now. I think I’m addicted to a tall, cold glass of cider.

Watercress

Watercress

9 Watercress: I found this delicious treat growing in a nearby creek and we enjoyed it in our salad. We grew some in the garden last year. Goal: Grow watercress this summer.

Pulling Scotch Broom

Pulling Scotch Broom

10 Manzanita Cider; Scotch Broom: I took a hike with my friend Sarah and we pulled out as much Scotch Broom as we could. The ground is still soft enough to pull by hand. It is actually a very satisfying activity that benefits the environment while giving you an upper arm workout! We drank Manzanita Cider and ate Oak Nut Marzipan treats, sitting near Maidu grinding rocks.

11 Home-grown, Wild Weed Tamales: We used our home-grown corn to make masa and then the fresh masa to make tortillas. It was intimidating to create homemade tortillas with fresh masa, since most of the recipes called for lard which I was definitely leaving out. They were actually a lot easier than I thought and we had to try filling them with nettles!

Trillium

Trillium

12 Trillium; Wild Sweet Peas: Trillium looks like a plant from the rainforest. It is very sensitive and fragile and shouldn’t be gathered. I learned from the Wildflower book by the Redbud Chapter of the California Native Plant Society that ants plant their seeds! Their seeds have an attachment that attracts certain ants and then as they carry the seed to their burrows and eat the attachment, they discard and thereby plant the seed. I used sweet peas for salad with Manzanita Vinaigrette…Salads are a good use for this invasive, non-native plant.

13 Poison Oak: I finally got it climbing around trying to fix the chicken fence after a coyote tried to eat them. I’ve been using my spray of Manzanita leaves & Ceanothus flowers to stop the itching. It works well and prevents the rash from spreading, but needs to be reapplied throughout the day. Chokecherry Jam: I made this over the summer and had it in the freezer. My daughter and her friends are loving it and think it tastes better than raspberry jam!

14 Wild Sweet Pea Salad; Make California Bay Cleaner; Establish Bees: We decided to set-up homes for both the native Mason bees that pollinate our native plants and honeybees to create honey and pollinate the orchard. My daughter and I attempt to get them set-up correctly. We were in a panic, trying desperately to move slowly and calmly as we were instructed to do!

Grey Pine Pollen

Grey Pine Pollen

15 Pine Pollen, Pearly Everlasting: Gathered pollen by holding a small bag over each pollen head and tapping gently. This doesn’t last long, so make sure to get it soon. It is useful in a way similar to nutritional yeast, on salads, popcorns, and rice. My son started to get a cold again and I had him drink his favorite “flower” tea. It worked surprisingly fast and he was well enough to go to school. I gave him a small cup in the afternoon, at bedtime and then a cup the next day.

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

16 Bracken Fern Fiddleheads: I soaked them for an hour and then steamed them for 20 minutes but they were still too bitter. I soaked them overnight and now they taste delicious.

17 Wild Sweet Pea Salad with Redbud Flowers & Manzanita Viniagrette: Wild foods can sometimes even seem “boring” to my family. Here we go again with the Wild Sweet Peas….but that is how it is with a cultivated garden too. When things are in season, you eat them every day. The task is to keep coming up with new recipes. I did try wild sweet peas cooked slightly with rice and veggies and they were almost as tasty as they are raw.

Brewing Pearly Everlasting Tea

Brewing Pearly Everlasting Tea

18 Pearly Everlasting: I made more tea to keep my daughter’s cold from getting any worse. Just one handful of flowers per cup works well at the onset of a cold.

19 Nettles: Our family enjoyed nettle pesto on our pasta tonight. I think it is one of the most flavorful of our spring greens. I did get one “sting” while harvesting on an exposed part of skin. It was really clear why it has the name “stinging nettles” but still worth it.

20 Cattails: The river was so low that I actually collected these and added them to our wild greens. They are so fresh and crispy and look just like leeks. Make sure to peel away the tougher outer layers before slicing.

21 Manzanita Cider, Sierra Mint: I went to the native plant sale in Chico, with a beautiful wildflower show by the Mt. Lassen chapter of the California Native Plant Society. I served the cider and collaborated with Dalynn Dykstra who treated us to a delicious batch of Sierra Mint tea. It motivated me to purchase some at the sale and add it to my garden.

22 Nettles: I actually ran out of veggies for our stir fry and so was “forced” to forage around the yard. I ended up with a good quantity of nettles and lightly stir fried with garlic made them delicious.

23 Dandelion leaves, Redbud flowers, Wild Peas, Manzanita Salad Dressing, Oak Nut Bliss Bars, Manzanita & Nettle Iced Tea!

24 Bliss Bars in Cupertino: I went to speak at the Cupertino City Center next to the beautiful library. We enjoyed Oak Nut Bliss Bars, Oak Nut Marzipan, Douglas Fir Sorbet and California Bay Ice Cream. Goal: Doug Fir Sorbet is vegan but I would like to make more wild vegan desserts.

25 Oak Nut Bliss Bar leftovers: The whole family got to enjoy the rest of the bars!

26 Mugwort; Bay Cleaner: Made up a batch of the bug spray with fresh Mugwort & Bay leaves along with dried coyote mint. The mosquitoes appear larger and more determined than ever to suck my blood so I need to make the spray quickly. I made up more Bay cleaner. It is so strong!

Gathering Fir Tips

Gathering Fir Tips

27 Fir Tips (finally); Manzanita Cider: Gathered spring fir tips today for tea. I typically use about 2 cups of tips to 6 cups of boiling water and let steep for 15 minutes. I strain out the tips and then keep refrigerated to serve over ice. I traveled to CNPS plant sale in Sacramento and served Manzanita Cider with my kids and did a little native plant shopping spree. Elderflowers: noticed elderflowers blossoming at the lower elevations in the valley. Goal: Find someone growing lots of elderberries, with elderflowers to share.

28 Watercress; Cleavers: I found a nice patch of watercress and harvested it for my salad. We also grew it fairly easily in the garden last year. I tried to use cleavers that had already gone to seed. They were a lot tougher than the ones harvested earlier in the spring.

29 Planting Natives; Miner’s Lettuce: I moved things around and planted all the new native delights I purchased at the plant sale over the weekend. I added more pearly everlasting, buckwheat, bush poppy, mule’s ears, coyote mint and penstemon. I’ve heard that many natives like heavier watering in the spring and light to none in the summer, depending on the species. This would make sense because that fits our native climate! We enjoyed the last of the miner’s lettuce in our salads tonight.

30 Yerba Santa, Pearly Everlasting, Grindelia; Elderberry Syrup: Unfortunately, my daughter brought home a cold that I also caught today. I made us tea with dried Yerba Santa leaves, Pearly Everlasting flowers and Grindelia flowers, all which I’ve had stored since last summer. It definitely helped with clearing lung congestion. I canned Elderberry syrup last summer and drinking a cupful seemed to really knock the bugs out and help support the immune system.