Tag Archives: modern hunter gatherer

Seasonal Update: Book Announcement!

It’s almost here!


~The Cycle of Foraging – A Book of Days~

The book I’ve been writing since the end of the Wild Foods Garden project is basically done, there’s just some last minute touches that need to happen and then some final editing, but then it’s off to the printers.

Here is a quick sneak peek inside at what it will look like:

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There are about 50 different species covered, all arranged according to when they appear throughout the year. They are organized by month and seasons; details for each include seasonality, identification, habitat preference, propagation methods as well as uses. I’m publishing it through CreateSpace, on Amazon, so it will be available online for any kindle readers, as well as in print form.

In addition to hundreds of full color photographs, the book is also filled with dozens of original paintings and beautiful illustrations. These have been added to highlight important details of different species and to give a better picture of how the world changes from one season to another.

Foraging, for my family, truly is a cycle. We mark our calendars for when the dewberries will come into season. We celebrate the ripening of the wild grapes at every Midsummer, and spend all year waiting for the beautyberry harvest to come again. Learning about and coming to enjoy and look forward to all the different wild foods available in our environment naturally connects you to a deeper cycle of Life; a different world. The world we are all born into, but for which many have lost sight of. This book is my attempt to share that world with you. To show how our natural resources can improve our lives, improve our communities and provide a more sustainable and secure future.

Over the next month I will be posting updates on when the book will become available, but it will hopefully be before the end of March. I have several events planned for the next couple of months, and I hope to have hard copies available for anyone wanting to attend. This weekend I will be at Ave Alegre’s Feast in the Forest fundraiser and next month I will be hosting a wild foods potluck, and then gearing up for Earth Day 2018!

In between all of these events, I will doubtlessly be sharing what wild edibles are currently coming into season, and any unique and delicious recipes my family creates with them. Over the next month, we are avidly waiting for the cattail shoots to emerge. We had a fluke burst of them at the end of last year and the opportunity gave us some inspiration for when we meet them again. HINT HINT: noodles…..

To stay up to date with progress on the book or what events I have coming up, follow me on Facebook and Instagram!


Update: After the Rains…


This week will see our third class at The Wild Foods Garden here in Bryan, Texas! The rains we’ve been having this Spring have really helped it flourish and grow. The Garden has NO artificial irrigation, so the plants are totally dependent on ambient rainfall for life. Wild plants are extremely drought tolerant, in addition to being extremely nutritious, so there is little to worry about though.

However, now that the rains are passing, and the new moon is coming, everything is starting to dry out and ripen for Summer. All of the early Spring greens are transforming the returning sunshine into energy to ripen their swelling seeds – you can watch the warm, Northern winds blow them away on the sunny days. The wildflowers too, blooming in the humid heat after the storm, have begun going to seed.

The whirring song of the cicadas has announced that the dog days of Summer are coming. The last of the Spring harvest, immature cattail flower heads, has given us something new to look forward to every Spring though: Cattail Fritters! Warm and rich and delicious, they were an impromptu creation due to the abundance of cattail flowerings this year – we simply didn’t know what to do with them all!

Now we’ve moved on to gathering their golden pollen and looking through the forests for wild amaranth, grapes and the juicy, nectar filled blooms of the Turk’s cap mallow. Our young Turk’s cap cuttings we planted at the Garden, during our first class back in March, are just now starting to show their first leaves. You can also see the lemon bee-balm and black nightshade flowering around the Garden, and around town, now too.

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I’ve been dreaming for a while about trying to illustrate all these different changes, either as different moons or seasons, or just different points in a yearly cycle. And all the beautiful colors of the Earth have been the perfect medium to bring them to life!

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From raw hematite to sparkleberry juice – using wild pigments to paint and color with has had the dual benefit of showcasing the beauty of the natural world, while also being a pleasant art form in and of itself.

I was actually able to showcase some of my traditional works as well recently at Revolutions cafe and bar, here in downtown Bryan. In addition to several of my paintings, I brought an array of different wild dishes and had a great time talking to people about Nature and the environment and what we’re doing at The Wild Foods Garden. It was actually the perfect backdrop for my paintings, because that’s the message, the inspiration that they’re really meant to convey: to inspire people to reconnect with their environment, in a meaningful and beneficial way.

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And so it’s to that end, that I’ve decided to make a commitment with my artwork: I’ve decided to start donating a flat percentage of every piece or reproduction I sell to the Brazos Valley chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists and the work that we’re doing together at The Wild Foods Garden to try and bring people and Nature closer together. Because the true message in my artwork is the opportunity for community, and at its core, community is what The Wild Foods Garden is all about; showing people how they can have a positive impact in their environment, and how it can have a positive impact in their lives as well.

Recipe: Cattail Fritters

Cattails have been called the supermarket of the wild by experienced foragers, due to their multitude of uses throughout the succession of the seasons. But  we have found perhaps an even greater abundance in variety of dshes we’ve enjoyed frm this delicious plant.

For our newest recipe, the ingredients yo’ll need are:

1 cup stripped cattail flowers (12-24 male flower stalks)

1 cup mozzarella

1 egg

salt, pepper and oregano to taste


In a large pot, boil the fresh male cattail flower stalks. If necessary (and it probably will be) chop the flower stalks in half in order to fit them into the pot. Cover them with water and boil until the flowers can easily be stripped from the stalk; about 15 – 20 minutes. Next, strain the water from the pot and remove the flower stalks and begin stripping the yellow flower fluff off. This can be easily accomplished by holding the flower stalk flat on the counter with one hand, and with the other  use a fork to pull the yellow fluff off.

Combine the fluff in a bowl with the mozzarella, oregano and egg and whisk together. Place a skillet or frying pan on medium heat on your stove and add the cattail mixture to the pan much as you would with pancake batter. Flip each fritter once and continue frying more until your mixture is depleted or you’re full!


Recipe: Curly Dock Soup

In honor of the passing of the early Spring season, I’ve decided to post this recipe for curly dock soup. A delicious and simple recipe, it makes use of the most prolific, perhaps, of all the Spring greens and the result is a soup which is both light and filling.

The ingredients you will need for this are:

2 tbsp. butter

1 cup wild onions (bulbs or buds)

1/2 cup young wild lettuce stalk (or celery)

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

2 1/2 cups chopped curly dock leaves

thyme, black pepper, salt to taste


Mix the butter, onions, lettuce (or celery), salt and pepper in a large pot or dutch oven on a stove at medium heat until the vegetables start to sweat. Once they are glistening, add the stock and bring to a boil. Next, reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Finally, add the cream, chopped dock leaves, and thyme. Allow the soup to continue to heat until the dock leaves are wilted, then remove from heat, allow to cool, and serve.

Aside from its simplicity and tastefulness, this recipe is a wonderful way to make use of curly dock leaves even after they have grown large and over-matured. As such, this soup is able to embody the full flavor of Spring long after most of the tender greens have given way to the early seeds and fruit of Summer.

A good pairing for this dish are cattail fritters, or more poignantly, flatbread made from the ripe curly dock seed, and sweetened pine needle tea early in the Spring or lemon beebalm infused tea later towards Summer.

I personally love dishes like this, because they can embody the fleeting nature of a given time or season; and after they’re gone, the memory of which gives us something to look forward to and allows and feeling of continuity and certainty….

Because Spring will always come again

Happy harvesting!

The Wild Foods Garden

This past weekend, I finally began one of the most important projects that I’ve been working on over the past several years. As a joint effort between the City of Bryan department  of Parks and Recreation and the Brazos Valley chapter of Texas Master Naturalists, we have started the first ever Wild Foods Garden.

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The Wild Foods Garden is a living classroom where members of the community can come to learn about wild species of edible plants. In addition to teaching people how to identify and locate these abundant resources, we also focus on showing people just how easy it is to plant and spread these species as well! The importance of which is: because wild foods are so efficient, because they’re so nutritious, because they’re free and most importantly because they’re important actors in the local ecosystem, the more we plant and restore these species, the more we can provide people with a free and nutritious food source while at the same time supporting valuable natural habitat.

We were all so pleased with the amount of people who signed up for the first class and turned out to begin this amazing project. It was so beautiful to see people of all ages working together to build a connection with each other and their environment. I’ve said it all along, what we’re doing is trying to re-establish a thriving community of life, an ecosystem, with humans as an integral part of it. Seeing so many different people come together and taking an interest in their world, that was the essence of that community.

Classes are free and we’ll be holding them the last Saturday of every month, at 10am, in Camelot park in Bryan, TX. If you’re interested in attending the classes, you can register for them here.

So much has started to come together here, from finishing my current portfolio (finally!) to at long last getting this project off the ground, it can be really difficult keeping everything in focus. Times like that it’s important to keep yourself grounded on the things that matter most; on the people and ideals which will help you persevere and stay on the track when everything else starts to become a blur.

For me, that’s a sense of Home. And the notion I have of myself as an extension of that home. I am a human being, but I am also an artist and a teacher. Living that role isn’t so much an obligation, as it’s a fulfillment of who I am as an individual. Keeping in touch with that feeling keeps me connected to what I love, and who I love. I suppose that’s what Home means to me: Love.

It’s the message I try to convey to people with my art, and showing people the reality is my hope and my goal for this amazing opportunity we have just begun at The Wild Foods Garden.

Recipe: Beautyberry Yule Log

There is a forest of pines I love to visit.  It reminds me of home.  It practically picks me up and takes me there.  It’s an old growth forest; one you can walk through – through deer trails and human trails.  And throughout that forest is a bush with flavors as lovely as her berries.  – American Beautyberry


Beautyberries are almost never ending.  We picked gallon bag after gallon bag, and I never felt like we were depleting the stash for the deer.  They are prolific and I am so glad we found a place with hundreds of bushes so we know where to return.  Luna had a blast picking them, they are so fun to look at and be surrounded by.  They are a happy berry.  And they have made us happy people.


We made beauty berry jam.  Lots of it.  But, we knew there had to be more to these berries besides practically the best jam ever and a mosquito repellent made out of her leaves.  So, after much thinking we had the “aha” moment of dehydrating them and grinding into flour.


So, hmmm, that’s why they taste so good in jam: the sugars mature, they lose their astringent flavor, and evolve into the most delicate, spiced, apple, chocolate tasting…. that’s about the best description I can come up with.

We made a really great spice cake/muffin recipe that was perfect for Fall.  Literally tasted like Autumn, and now for the holidays we decided we should try it as a Yule log.  It turned out great, and the flavor was perfect with the mocha/espresso filling we used.

Beauty berry yule log

Very similar to blackberry cake.


2/3 c beauty berry flour – ground as fine as you can get it.  Will add texture to cake  no matter how fine.

1/3 C. unsweetened cocoa

6 large eggs  – separated, at room temp.

¾ c. sugar – or sweetener of your choice.

¼ tsp. cream of tartar

1 C. heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. all spice (or some cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg – just go easy on the last two ingredients)


Pinch of salt


Filling –

1 ½ c heavy cream

¼ c sugar (sweeten to taste with sweetener of your choice)

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. coffee/espresso extract


Icing – we didn’t ice ours, just filled with flavored whipped cream, but you can dust with powdered sugar, or make a simple ganache and cover, or ganache and cover with sugar, or leave it plain the way we did, or ice with mocha chocolate buttercream, or just about whatever you want!


Parchment paper – a must.  Your cake with tear/fall apart without it, it’s an egg-based cake folks.


In large bowl whisk your egg whites at high speed with ¼ tsp. cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Begin adding in ¼ c (4 tbsp ) sugar while whisking until stiff peaks form.  They shouldn’t move if you take the bowl and turn it sideways.

Transfer to separate bowl if you need the same one for your mixer, but don’t worry about cleaning the bowl or your whisk attachment.

Now, take your egg yolks and whisk at medium speed until combined and smooth.  Add in 1 -2 tsp vanilla depending on preference, remaining ½ c sugar and a pinch of salt, allspice or alternate , turn up speed to high and let whisk for 3-4 minutes until you products resembles a rich, thick cake batter.

Turn your mixer down to low speed and add your beautyberry flour.  Fold the beautyberry mixture into the egg whites.  Be careful not to break down the egg whites, and just gently fold until combined into a mixture.

Spread evenly onto parchment lined pan and place into the over for 20 – 25 minutes until cooked through.  It’s a darker, chocolate cake, so it may be difficult to tell.  The top should spring back when touched, and if you insert a fork it should be clean.




Whisk 1 C. heavy whipping cream with 2 tsp. vanilla, and add the coffee extract – add sugar to taste if desired.  Whisk at high speed in mixer until you have a thick whipped cream topping.


Take pan out of oven and flip onto a long tea towel topped with parchment paper.  Very carefully peel off your layer of parchment that you baked on.  VERY carefully.


Your cake is tough, but still be careful! Roll it up and let it cool in a rolled position.  After it cools layer whipped topping evenly and then roll back up and immediately set on display platter.  Cut two angled ends off, and reattach with icing to create the log.  Decorate how you wish.  You can ice and then run a fork down the sides to create a barked look. This is a spiced yule log,  it will taste like chocolate and spice, and is a great addition to the holidays!

Recipe: Blackberry Cake!


Blackberry Hunting – by Lacie Wall

About two blocks from our house is an elementary school, with a playground, large field, hidden oak tree, and a church with a food pantry sign. Just beyond that sign we have an endless field of blackberries.  It’s a little ironic.  When Sean first realized what was growing there we were thrilled, our last bramble of blackberries grew near the highway and was mowed down, so we immediately began watching and planning.


This past year has afforded us many adventures and opportunities to build a community for ourselves, with new friends and the wildlife that hunted the berries with us.  Berry picking was a great opportunity for us to get free treats, but it also gave us a chance to learn so much about our environment: hemlock loves to grow with blackberries,  birds are not patient and will eat them ALL before they are ripe, Luna loves blackberries and can be trusted to pick the right thing every time, our dog is only trusted within a 12 foot radius, scratches from thorns are worth it, and sunset berry picking is absolute magic.



We ate our berries in cobbler.  We ate them frozen.  We ate them as jam.  We ate them warm and tart in the middle of the meadow.  We glazed barbecue with blackberry syrup.  We ate them in a house,  we ate them with a cat, in the dark, here or there…. we ate them just about everywhere.  Then, we saved them.  As our ration dwindled, we became more and more stingy, until finally we decided (after our success with beautyberry flour) that we would try the impossible and make blackberry flour.


Blended and dehydrated, then ground as fine as possible, we used a blender, but would have used our coffee grinder if it wasn’t gummed up and we weren’t so impatient.



I tried two different versions of this cake, and I was more pleased with the second.  Alternately I think you could probably add blackberry flour to anything and it would be delicious!  Dehydrated and ground berries – think waffles or muffins; just throw some in a yellow cake mix or add to pancake batter – the options are pretty much endless.  What we ended with is a gluten free product, with minimal sugar. I used inspiration from http://christinascucina.com/2012/12/yule-log-made-easily-delicious-and.html to get me started, and altered as needed.

The final product is a very light sponge cake, filled with whipped cream that won’t leave you dragging.  For version 1, I soaked lavender buds in cream and then strained and whipped;  I wasn’t a fan, but Sean was. Maybe with less lavender and real sugar I would’ve like it. Next summer, I’m going to make a blackberry jam to swirl with whipped cream for the filling.

Start with this very basic, and short list of ingredients:

1 C. blackberry flour

6 large eggs  – separated, at room temp.

¾ c. sugar, stevia, or preferred sweetener (honey or molasses would be delicious and you could get away with less)

¼ tsp. cream of tartar

2 tbsp. cream cheese, softened   (take the remaining 6 oz block and make a delicious curly dock cream cheese spread!)

1 C. heavy whipping cream


Pinch of salt

Parchment paper – a must.  Your cake with tear/fall apart without it, it’s an egg-based cake folks.


And follow these steps –

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Line a jelly roll sheet with parchment paper – mine is large, —- I think a smaller pan would be better.


In large bowl whisk your egg whites at high speed with ¼ tsp. cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Begin adding in ¼ c (4 tbsp ) sugar while whisking until stiff peaks form.  They shouldn’t move if you take the bowl and turn it sideways.

Transfer to separate bowl if you need the same one for your mixer, but don’t worry about cleaning the bowl or your whisk attachment.

Now, take your egg yolks and whisk at medium speed until combined and smooth.  Add in 1 -2 tsp vanilla, depending on preference, the remaining ½ c sugar and a pinch of salt. Turn up speed to high and let whisk for 3-4 minutes until you products resembles a rich, thick cake batter.


Turn your mixer down to low speed and add the magic berry flour! The finer the flour the better. Mix until combined well. Keep this step on low speed.

Fold blackberry mixture into egg whites.  Be careful not to breakdown the egg whites, and just gently fold until combined into a light yellow/spotted purple mixture.

Spread evenly onto parchment lined pan and place into the over for 20 – 25 minutes until light golden brown.



Whisk 1 C. heavy whipping cream with 2 tsp vanilla – add sugar to taste if desired.  Whisk at high speed in mixer until you have a thick whipped cream topping.  This is also good on its own, mixed with passion fruit juice and a little sugar.

Take the pan out of the oven and flip onto a long tea towel topped with parchment paper.  Very carefully peel off your layer of parchment that you baked on.  VERY carefully….


At this point you have two options –

  • You can roll up your cake, and let cool and then fill like a Swiss roll. We did this, and it was good. While the taste was wonderful, I’ll be doing the following option next time.
  • Cut equal sized rectangles and then start stacking: cake, cream, cake, cream, cake – for however many layers.

We loved this cake.  It was delicious, made a pretty good breakfast too, and I’m now dreaming of Summer for more blackberry magic.


Let us know how yours turns out or if you have any tips to improve the recipe!