On Writing “Midwest Foraging”

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your new book for the first time. As a mom, it’s sort of like seeing your newborn child – mixed emotions of excitement and uncertainty and relief and nervousness all combined. The day my book arrived, I was writing at my desk at home, not expecting a …

Wild Gardens in the Windy City

During a weekend of work and play in Chicago, I made my way down the stairs on Wacker to the riverfront for a morning walk. Musing about the layers of the city and metal beams my partner commented, “Chicago is a city built of steel with 3 dimensions.” I thought more about that statement in relation to …

Poison Ivy & Favorite Herbal Remedies

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a common invasive plant across the Midwest, found in damp riverbeds, woodlands, trailsides, sand dunes, and open fields. The poison ivy is abundant this year – finally leafing out and growing in large stands in backyards, along trails and carpeting the woods, keeping the morel mushroom hunters at bay and irritating …

“Rampant” Overharvesting: Digging Too Deep for Wild Leeks

  An early spring ephemeral, the wild leek—or ramps—is an aromatic, delicious wild onion. The bulb sweetens when roasted, pickles well for martinis, and has tops that are delicious as garnish or incorporated into a spring salad. While they may seem to carpet the floor of the woods in the spring, there is growing concern …

The last days of winter…

The last days of winter are always the longest days. It’s like being 9 months pregnant – just when you thought it was your due date and the baby’s ready, you are forced to weather out 10 more days, waiting for change. And with spring, just when you are about to sell the proverbial farm lot, …

Maple Syrup: A Forager’s Sweet Treat

Can you hear the trees awakening? It’s maple syrup time for the farmers and foragers setting out to tap the maple trees! Even though the land around us continues to be covered with a deep blanket of snow, there’s a shift in the trees. With warmer days and cold, clear nights, the trees are stretching their hibernating …

A Winter’s Foraging Walk

Folks frequently ask, “Can you forage in winter?” and my response is always a resounding yes! While there aren’t the summer’s berries and flowers to be found in the deep snow of the Great Lakes; a forager can delight that there are barks, buds, and even sap to be gathered in the cold of January …

Holiday Cooking with Pines, Spruce & Firs

  From firs to pines to spruces– these favorite evergreens adorned many homes for the holidays with their fragrant boughs. Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to take down the trimmings– but wait! The boughs can serve an additional purpose: Before directing that greenery out to the compost or to the curb for recycling, …

Unfurling

Early spring is bursting with all its wild edible glory right now. The woods are filled with fiddleheads, trout lily, morel mushrooms, wild ginger, field garlic, dock and white lettuce leaves. The fields have violets in bloom for salads and sunshine yellow dandelions ready for dandelion wine. Invasive edible plants like Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard still have …

On a plant writing sabbatical…

Headed across the Midwest, with my camera and laptop in tow. Destination is Big Sky & Jackson Hole for a writing sabbatical, working on my next book — “The ReWilded Kitchen: A Forager’s Guide to Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Midwest” (Timber Press, 2014). Here, I stopped just outside of Gary, Indiana off of …