Over the years, I have taken a number of The Academy of Herbs for my herbalism work that I do with our farm. This fall I took a new course, The foraging course, from them, this one is focused on the outdoors. Just in time to go explore the woods and do some (soft) foraging before the end of winter. With the return of the rain, mushrooms have been off the charts this year. I don't eat them, but I love looking for them to see what I can find. We have a lot of things growing on our land and on public land right in front of us. There are still evergreen blueberries, as well as this not-so-friendly plant for the hands:
Our stinging nettle gives us a last harvest, even in November, also on our land - I use them in a lot of recipes. See here for more.
* (If only I looked so spiffy .... I usually wear jeans and mud boots)
The class is presented in the manner Herb academy did all of their courses: you can take the course entirely online or print the PDF for offline study. I take my class online, but print and store my class in a 3-ring binder so I can come back and browse it later. I took the optional booklets: the foraging logbook and the foraging guide, both packed in an included cotton bag for storage in a backpack. These guides are handy and I felt it was worth the extra cost.
I've included an overview of a tiny part of a lesson, the one that really comes back to hikers:
You will need a practical backpack to carry your supplies, preferably a lightweight backpack that fits well and feels comfortable. Other essential supplies include a flashlight, lighter, matches, and a pocket knife.
To make it easier for you, we've compiled a checklist of personal and safety items to consider bringing while foraging:
Personal supplies checklist
- The water
- Portable water filter
- Rain gear: hooded jacket and rain pants
- Cool weather gear: diapers, jacket, hat, gloves, scarf, thick socks, thermal underwear
- Sun exposure equipment: hat, long sleeves
- Resistant gloves
- Footwear: hiking shoes, sandals, extra socks
- Solar battery charger
- Flash light
- Insect repellent and sunscreen
- First aid kit: bandages, antiseptic, soothing ointment, anti-itch lotion, arnica oil, yarrow leaf, lavender oil
Well, maybe don't walk with wild violets and dandelions in your boots… I'd save them for my hair.
The course covers everything from safety to the ethics of foraging. When and how to choose, how to store and use your premium. It includes herbalism uses as well as many recipes for consuming the items found (Red Clover Cookies?). It includes 5 separate lessons, including 48 recipes and 24 plant monographs (where it shows a specific plant, breaking down parts, uses, safety, etc.). Printables and videos to watch are also included.
If you've wanted to include more with your hike, foraging is a fun addition. It's educational (my boys are learning this as part of their homeschooling) when you become aware of what is growing around you and what seasons. We often forage but don't pick anything, we study the plants and talk about what we see. This slows us down and we become one with the forest.
(FTC Disclaimer: Opinions here are my own. I paid to take the course. This article contains affiliate links.)
Whether you regularly whip up Michelin-worthy meals at the drop of a hat or your cooking skills are best described as “fine, ” you can always benefit from the helpful little tricks of others. Here, 14 of our friends’, families’ and coworkers’ most-used cooking tips.
There’s a time and a place to whip out that complicated coq au vin recipe you’ve been dying to try. A dinner party isn’t that time. With a new recipe, you’ll likely be chained to the kitchen the whole time, plus, when you’re trying something for the first time, there’s always the possibility that it could go horribly wrong. When cooking for a group, we always err on the side of tried-and-true crowd-pleasers.
You do hours of prep work on an intricate dish, only to be totally disappointed once you taste the terminal product. Bummer. Instead of putting in all that effort only to be disappointed, taste while you cook. That way, you’ll realize sooner that the dish isn’t tasting how you’d like it to, and you can make all kinds of last-ditch exercices to save it. This doesn’t just work for bad-to-OK meals. Tasting midway through and realizing how perfect a dash of cayenne or a squirt of lemon juice would be can take a great dinner to legendary status.
Plating pasta means tossing some onto a plate and finishing it with a nice dollop of sauce right on the middle, right ? Wrong. Here’s how to take your carbs to the next level : On the stove there should be two pans, one with pasta and one with sauce. Cook the pasta to al dente and transfer it into the sauce. Then, add a little bit of pasta water ( literally just the starchy water the pasta has been cooking in ), which will help the sauce cling to the pasta while also keeping it the right consistency. Perfection.
In the pursuit of the perfect steak, you have to be OK with your kitchen getting a little smoky. That’s because, to get the mouthwatering sear we’re all after, the meat has to be dry and the pan should be pretty damn close to smoking hot. Trust us, it’s worth a few seconds of a blaring alarm.
Most foods are ruined by too much salt. Steak is different. When it comes to seasoning your meat ( before you cook it ), more is more. Use a generous amount of coarse Kosher salt—more than you think you need. Since most cuts of steak are pretty thick, even though you’re using a lot of salt, it’s still only covering the surface.
This one isn’t too complicated. Whether you’re making avocado toast, pizza, fried rice or a burger, the addition of a fried egg on top will not hurt your feelings. Trust us.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but we’ve definitely found ourselves in a situation where we assumed we knew all of the ingredients that went into chocolate chip cookies only to find out that we had about half the required amount of brown sugar. Ugh. tera avoid a mid-cooking grocery-store trip, read the recipe from front to back—carefully—before you start.
Prepping céréales in mass quantities is less about taste than convenience. Rice, quinoa and even oatmeal last about a week in the fridge after being cooked. When we’re prepping any one of those, we double up our measurements and store the leftovers, which are then impossibly easy to use up throughout the week. Too tired to make dinner ? Heat up some leftover rice from the fridge and toss an egg on top ( remember ? ). Couldn’t be simpler.
So you fried up a pound of bacon for an indulgent ( read : delicious ) déjeuner. Great, just make sure you don’t throw out the grease in the pan. Instead, save it in the refrigerator or freezer ( it technically lasts for up to a year, but should be used sooner than that to take full advantage of its flavor ). Then, anytime you’re cooking something you typically prepare in oil, try cooking it in the bacon grease instead. You’ll never want to eat Brussels sprouts the old way again.
You’ve probably heard that whenever a dish is lacking a little something-something, the best thing to do is toss in some salt. But, we have it on good authority that salt isn’t always the answer. When you’re tasting a dish at the end and you think it needs a little oomph, often it just needs a splash of acid ( like lemon juice ) to round out the flavor.
You know the difference between a paring knife and a fillet knife, but do you know how to take care of them ? Or, more importantly, how to use them ? A set of good knives can be the difference between a stressful cooking experience and a great one. First, practice your knife skills. Look up tutorials on YouTube and practice chopping, slicing and julienne-ing. It’s amazing what you can do with your cook time when your prep time is shortened with solid knife skills. Then, once you’ve got your skills down pat, learn how to take care of your set. No one ever achieved kitchen greatness with a dull chef’s knife.
The key to tender, flavorful barbecue and roasts ? Cooking it on a low temperature for a long time. The same doesn’t go for roasting veggies. For crispy, perfectly cooked butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and more, remember the magic number : 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Any lower, and you risk pulling a pan of blah carrots out of the oven. It might seem high, but to get the nice roasted flavor, you need high heat. And while we’re on the subject, stop crowding your veggies in the pan, which will also make them soggy.
You know how just about every cookie recipe suggests that you chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, but oftentimes you don’t listen because you just want cookies now ? ! ( Same. ) Unfortunately, this step actually does make a difference. In addition to limiting how much the dough spreads while baking, chilling your dough intensifies the flavors and produces that perfect chewy, crispy matière we know and love.
It won’t do your breath any favors, but never ( ever ) scrimp on garlic. In fact, we typically double the amount a recipe calls for. Apologies to anyone who was planning on kissing us.