I am still faithfully chipping away at the challenge I posed for myself back in February – make one thing from each of my 50 + cookbooks. I have made over 40 different recipes now on this personal challenge, and I was truly feeling like I was on a ROLL. Look at me, in the kitchen, whipping up things that actually taste good! I feel like I have made some massive improvements from my past inedible cooking attempts just a few short months ago (and a couple unfortunate accidents a couple weeks ago we don’t speak of). But then as I turned a new page (pun intended) on this epic journey, I found myself at an odds. The age-old question, to eat it, or not to eat it, that is the question…
You see, the next recipe is out of the book Wild Edibles and this recipe literally comes from the “wild”. And wild is used loosely here because, as you can see in the photo below, we are on the sidewalk next to a light pole. Suburban wild. Which can get pretty wild, if you’ve ever seen like any of those housewives reality shows.
Yes, my friends, yes, those are sweet little weeds. The book Wild Edibles is all about finding abundance and bounty in the wild. Driven to hunger from poorly calculated rations while hiking on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, Sergei and his family ventured into the world of foraging with the guide of a single book. They had some brave [and hungry] volunteers to test plants they thought might match the descriptions and drawings in their little book. Eventually, living 60% to 80% off of wild edibles they found on the trail, they completed their hike. Eating wild plants is (1) free and (2) nutritious because of the diversity of the plants you can find.
Foraging for some edible wild plants made for a nice walk. I found some whimsical little flowers near me! I have no clue what plants these are though so if you see them, don’t eat them. They’re just pretty. Look but don’t touch.
Now, I don’t know about you, but using just a book to try and figure out if a random plant in the wild is edible or poisonous seems both frightening and unnecessary when I could just go to the grocery store and get a nice, friendly bag of spinach. According to the author, “eating wild food can be as safe as visiting the produce section of a grocery store.” I don’t see how. I tried to find the most common plant I could find – Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). They’re everywhere here! And when I put my sights on some juicy-looking dandelion leaves, I “foraged” away and brought my succulent bounty home. Only to read the description again (for safe measure) and found out that I actually brought home a deceptive dandelion look-alike. Not a real dandelion WTH?! After looking through the rest of the book, I think I probably brought home Cat’s Ear (Hypochoeris radicata) buttttttt I’m not taking any chances.
Spinach is just so much easier and I don’t have to have worries like…
(1) Did a dog pee on this dandelion, and am I going to be able to wash it off?
(2) Is that lady walking her dog down the street staring at me? Does she think I am homeless? I wore nice clothes and did my makeup just so I wouldn’t look homeless, but I am crouched on the ground here pulling up weeds and putting them in my backpack… I must look like some starving homeless hippie.
(3) I bet spinach is on sale at the grocery store right now. Or some nice pre-washed kale that I can be 100% sure is kale. And edible.
(4) Am I sure this is dandelion? OMG how many bugs am I touching right now?! Stop whining, it’ll make good content for the blog…
(5) Yup, that car that just passed by is definitely about to write an alert on their Next Door app about me… RUN.
Anyways, IF you happen to find some real dandelion and you’re like 100% sure that it is dandelion (or you just don’t care anymore) then you can try out this smoothie. I’m going to stick with kale and spinach for now. Maybe when I have my own garden and these bad boys spring up, instead of just pulling them out and tossing them in the yard debris bin, I’ll toss them in a smoothie!
And if you want to watch Sergei’s most ridiculous rap (yes, rap) about what not to eat in the wild, watch the video at your own discretion.
Mike’s Bandelion Smoothie (serves 1)
from Wild Edibles by Sergei Boutenko
– ½ to 1 cup freshly harvested dandelion greens [leaves]
– 1 large mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
– 1 to 2 large bananas, peeled and chopped
– ½ cup water
– Make sure you wash your dandelion greens, especially if you got them near the side of a road/sidewalk. Rinse the leaves in cold water. Wash the leaves in a sink of cold water and ½ cup of vinegar. Rinse the leaves again in cold water.
– Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.