Hackberry Love ( + Hackberry Milk Tutorial!)

My bestie Justin came to visit for a few days, and we roped him into coming along for hackberry fun!

My bestie Justin came to visit for a few days, and we roped him into coming along for hackberry fun!

The hackberry (celtis occidentalis and virtually indistinguishable  sugarberry or celtis laevigata) is an iconic example of a tree that is generally regarded as a “trash tree” here in the South, but which has a rich history of edible, medicinal and sacred use.

When Dan and I first decided to start learning about trees with the same fervor we had given to other plants, the hackberry was one of the first trees that stood out to me as someone I wanted to get to know. However, it took quite a while before I could consistently identify her.  It also seemed that every time I did come across a hackberry, the berries were never ripe-  that I was always finding the previous winters’ berries.  Some things just take the time they take.

A few days ago, I was in my garden tending to the compost when I noticed red berries all over the compost pile.  I wondered what they were, and thought that they looked a bit like hackberries.  I looked up, and saw overhanging our garden from the abandoned harden next door what seemed like a giant and ancient hackberry tree.  We had been in that yard many times before to pick sorrel leaves and tubers.  How could we have missed it, so glaringly obvious?  When it’s time, it’s time.

Once you know what you are looking for, it is quite difficult to miss sweet hackberry.  She has distinctive warts on the bark and is almost always full of galls on the branches as well as the leaves.

Hackberries have a long and extensive history of use on this continent by Native Americans.  The berries are rich in protein, fat and carbohydrate, so rightly so! They have been boiled, dried, ground and mixed into pemmican (a dried meat and fruit staple food). The tree has also been used to make medicine of different types.  The Houma would make a “women’s medicine”, which I love because to me, the tree has a distinct feminine spirit (hence my use of the feminine articles to describe her).  The Kiowa would also burn the wood in the altar fire during peyote ceremonies.  I adore finding plant spirit medicine connections!

Recently, I have spent quite a bit of time collecting the abundant, if extremely fiddly, berries.  I have done a bit of kitchen experimenting and am happy to share the results! Today, I am showing how to make a quick and tasty hackberry milk.  There are two ways to make it, one raw and one not.  This is for the raw version.  It has a beautiful color and a distinctive and slightly sweet flavor bursting with that wild food factor. Try it!

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I used a little over 1 cup hackberries, 2 tbsp. maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt and a dash of cinnamon.

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Blend in a high speed blender with about 2 cups filtered water for about 2 minutes (until the hard seeds are definitely blended smooth)

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Strain through nut milk bag, cheesecloth, paint strainer or fine colander until pulp is fairly dry.IMG_3919

You will be left with some beautifully golden and sweet hackberry milk.  We drank some of it as is, used some in place of coconut milk in a thai curry and also made this incredibly delicious chia pudding:

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Chia seeds soaked in hackberry milk, topped with pomegranate seeds, banana and foraged pecans.  So yum! My sincere desire is that you are inspired to go out and make use of this, or another wild plant today. Happy Foraging!

Spring in Full Swing!

Here in Shreveport it is getting hot! Most of the wild spring greens we love are gone now, but we are making due 😉

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We are also growing lots of plants this year. And collecting fruit trees 🙂
This is one tiny part of what we have going on here, but I love this recycled chest planter. It has tomato, two types of hot pepper, two types of basil and purslane.

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Mulberry season is in full swing, too! We are so lucky to have red and white ones growing all around here!

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Foraged mulberry smoothie! :

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My favorite harbinger of summer- watermelon juice!

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We are gearing up for the summer market season here, and have some fun event in the works.
Come connect with us over at Facebook and like our page to keep abreast of the happenings!

Spring Water Harvesting and Matt Monarch

When I saw that raw food legend Matt Monarch was going to be in Dallas, I knew that I would be going. It had been a while since receiving any raw food inspiration, plus it was an excuse to get out of town!

We decided immediately to visit and fill up at a spring in Canton, TX which is about an hour outside of Dallas. The water was amazingly clear, delicious and hydrating. We will be going back regularly!

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There was a beautiful sassafras tree right across from the spring. I used some leaves to infuse in my water bottle. Wonderful!

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After all that, we made it on time to the event!

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In fact, we had a little time to pop into the amazing library next door and let Amethyst run off some energy and play in the kids area. Oh, and play in the wildflowers, too.

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It was wonderful to see Matt in the flesh, chat with other humans on similar paths to us, and listen to some healthy inspiration. Even though we left a bit early ( poor Ami was DONE lol) we still enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Of course I bought treats, too 😉

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Next time- our epic raw food meal at Be Raw in Dallas.

Upcoming Wild Edible Plant Walk

Sacred Strawberry are hosting our second Shreveport-Bossier City Wild Edible Plant Walk alongside our friends at PermanentGardens.com.

This time, our walk will be out at Mahaffee Farms in Princeton, Louisiana (right outside of Bossier City).  Evan McCommon is in the process of restoring his family’s land back to health using holistic farm and land management techniques.  We met them at the Shreveport Farmer’s Market where they sell produce and meats raised there.

Above all, it will be a fun afternoon!  I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday. If you are in the area, join us!

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/526035620840835/526113347499729/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity

Sacred Strawberry goes wild!

I don’t think I ever posted that Sacred Strawberry was in the Shreveport Times again. This time it wasn’t for raw foods, but something else that has become a big part of what we do- foraging.
http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20140319

A few recipes of mine were included, too, my Chickweed-Cilantro Pesto recipe that you can find in the Recipes section of this blog as well as a Wild Green Lemonade with cleavers.
Check out the article!

Reading this blog and searching in the archives it is apparent that finding and consuming wild edible plants is something we have been doing a while. We have had the good fortune of being interested in wild plants at such a time that we have been able to forage in three countries and amass a decent library and store of knowledge. Anyway, we thought it was time to start to share what we know and teach again a little.

We led our first official edible plants walk, with our friends over at PermanentGardens.com, who are blowing up the permaculture scene here in SBC. It was wonderful to collaborate on it and we look forward to doing more soon!

My friend and one of the walks participants, Nancy, took some great photos and has kindly allowed me to share them:

The guides:

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Everyone ready to go-

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We found lots of edible plants, but one of my favorites is the Yaupon holly (ilex vomitoria) the North American cousin to Yerba Mate. Local and free caffeine source, holla!!

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We found a lot of old favorites like chickweed, dandelion, sow thistle and clover, but some relatively new to me edibles as well!
This is the spiderwort- lovely to look at and slightly mucilaginous but perfectly edible.

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And one more- Pennywort. This lily pad looking herb is related to Gotu Kola (Indian Pennywort) and has a lot of the same properties- increases blood flow to the brain thus mental clarity, memory enhancement etc. It also has a fresh parsley like taste.

All photos of plant walk: Nancy Koshnick Dinsmore.

This Spring here in North Louisiana is really amazing. We’ve had rain so things are lush and green but it hasn’t gotten hot and humid yet. We are taking full advantage of the season and get outside together as a family as much as possible. Amethyst loves it so much and I am so happy to be sharing with her something so dear to us. It took me many, many years on this planet before I really opened myself up to Mother Nature. I hated being outside, thought it was gross and generally resisted it. I am so, so thankful that that changed, that I changed before it was too late! 🙂

Wild Juicy Day

The other day we woke up and had a green juice. This had pineapple, cucumber, celery, and orange.

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Feeling good, we took some kale chips and fruit for the road and decided to get outside. We ended up near Caddo Lake, where we hiked a bit, relaxed and end up finding tremendous patches of chickweed, cleavers and dandelion! You know we picked some!!

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Chickweed patches

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Cleavers!
We also saw some mushrooms, and we saw then again the next day down by the Red River! They look like oyster mushrooms, but I don’t trust that!

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More green juice- this time wild!! I blended the greens with apples and lemons and then strained. Simple, effective and delicious! I made enough for two days.

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Amethyst LOVES her green juice!!

We also saw sow thistle, goldenrod and a few other things on our day out, but none in such abundance or condition to pick. The sow thistle is really abundant now though around here but is best cooked, so expect a cooked wild greens post soon 😉

From my green heart to yours! xx

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More UK adventures!

We are still here in England and have been lucky enough to have quite a few gorgeously sunny and warmish days. It is starting to get cold now, but soon we will be flying back to Louisiana where I have been informed that it is still hot!
One day we went for a walk down historic Winkle Street in Calbourne and we were met with this:

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Loads and loads of watercress! We made a watercress and potato soup with our haul because eating it raw isn’t very safe due to possible liver flukes. Best not to dwell on that though because cooked it is perfectly safe and lovely!
Here is the hubby with our score:

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We also found fresh ripe hazelnuts

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Damsons

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and of course loads of nettles, from which we made (and keep making) a nourishing, mineral rich brew!

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Little poppet got to run and play in the setting sun

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It was a beautiful day, and we got to share it with my husband’s parents, his brother Gavin and his fiancé, Emma. It really us hard being so far from his family. No matter where we live, someone misses out and unfortunately that includes Amethyst who grows up not really knowing half of her family. We just appreciate the time we do get to spend together, make the most of it and plan ahead!

UK adventures

Our little family has been in England for the past two weeks visiting my family-in-law. We must have timed it perfectly because there has been such an abundance of wild food for us!
One of the first nights here, I made a raw crumble with blackberries we foraged and apples from a tree in the garden.

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It was so good! Especially considering I am not in my kitchen and just used bits and pieces my mother in law had on hand. With a little creativity, preparing raw food is easy anywhere!!
We then found some lovely mugwort, which we used for a pre-bedtime relaxing cup of tea!

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As beautiful as the Isle of Wight is, we took a day trip up to London one day to visit Camden, do a bit of shopping at Braintree Hemp and eat at inSpiral Lounge! It did not dissappoint!

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Sunburger, raw pizza, raw Caesar salad, butternut squash and apple with goji berry sauce, olives, Banoffee Pie, tiramisu and more!

As usual, we stopped back by on our way out to pick up snacks. We got some superfood truffles, Raspberry Maca Kale Chips

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and this!

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I’m still not a fan though! Freeze dry it, coat it in chocolate, whatever you want to do to it- I do not like it! But I love that my hubby loves it, haha!
We have been blessed the past few days with some beautiful sunny weather. We even took a plunge in the COLD ocean yesterday!! I’m off to enjoy more of it and have lots more foraging adventures to share!

Labor Day Eats

I hope everyone reading this had a stress-free, relaxing Labor Day! I ran into the supermarket today, and while I am grateful it was open for what I wanted, the truth is that it could have waited and I felt bad for the people working.

We woke up this morning and I made some blueberry vanilla almond flour pancakes. I love love love using almond flour and sometimes an almond/coconut flour combo instead of packaged gluten free pancake mix! The recipe I use is just so simple!!

Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pancakes

1 cup almond flour ( I sometimes sub 2 tbsp. for coconut flour)
3 flax eggs ( or other egg replacer or organic pastured eggs if that is your thing)
3/4 cup almond milk ( or water or any other plant milk)

You can add in whatever you like!! I added 1 tsp vanilla powder and a big handful of organic blueberries.

I cook mine in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. They do take longer than regular pancakes- maybe 3-5 min per side. I like to top mine with coconut oil, real maple syrup and more fresh berries!

This recipe makes enough for two big appetites and a baby 🙂

After such a delicious but heavy breakfast we played outside with Amethyst in her sand box and did some more tidying. For lunch I wanted a salad!! I made this and it was sooo good! Farmers Market kale massaged with avocado and lemon juice, with grated carrot, chopped apple and spring onions all seasoned with sea salt and pepper and topped with homemade Dill Kraut! So perfect!

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Amethyst didn’t really eat much salad so I made a big smoothie that we all shared with banana, avocado, frozen blueberry, cacao beans, dates and almond milk topped with fresh berries.

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We went for a drive and met this Elder who let us take some of her berries! We are going to tincture our haul this time and have some wonderful immune support this winter! We were so pleased as we hadn’t been able recently to get to know a lot of Louisiana flora. Glad to know that Elder lives here too!!
After that I was hungry and tired so I stopped into the stupormarket where I bought pineapple and some purple corn on the cob (so surprised to see this) which we had for dinner! I had my corn with coconut oil and black pepper. Delicious and satisfying!!