Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eat Wild Potluck

This week, I gathered with others I've met online through a local foraging group on Facebook, called Eat Wild. We met at Junk Evolution in downtown South Bend. They have an eclectic mix of decor, clothing, and other items. Some are repurposed, yet others are just looking for a new home to love. They base their work on green living and share tips on how to live gently with nature. While we gathered to feast on food, we also feasted with our eyes through the lovely displays and items for purchase. The owners did a great job of decorating the tables with a seasonal and foraged theme. Osage orange, acorn squash, tree cookies, and personalized leaves dotted the table. Nature was a part of the meal on many levels.

Photo by Liz Smith

We were greeted with a pumpkin carved just for the special night! 

Photo by Willow Wetherall

Apples have been abundant this season, breaking tree branches due to the weight. Many dishes highlighted this seasonal treat. Locally picked apples were brought to Miller's Cider Mill in Middlebury to make cider. It's always been tasty there when I've visited. They are also such nice people. We have enjoyed picking apples as well, using the experiences to make applesauce, crisp, apple butter, and as learning opportunities for our family


While the group is mostly made up of people from Middlebury to South Bend, others have found the group from Germany to Okinawa. Members of the group have informal trades, gatherings to pick wild edibles, and share information about where they might find food to forage. I recently found something that seemed like it could have been a wild ground cherry. I snapped a pick and uploaded it. They immediately shared their expertise in telling me that it is not edible and linked to supporting information. As each season has progressed, we've seen how the plants and food change as well. It is a place to ask questions, share foraging adventures, and brag about your latest find when others might look at you funny for eating "weeds"! While I have also done my own research and experimenting, it has been a great group to learn more about wild edibles. We have so many great resources right here growing wild that we might underestimate as food.

The food was appetizing to the eyes, just as it was appetizing to the belly. Flowers dotted some dishes. Dishes includedStuffed grape leaves with lamb, potatoes with wild ramp butter, spinach waldorf salad with foraged apples and curried wild grape jelly dressing and candied walnuts, stuffed wild grape leaves with hickory nut couscous, potato and sunchoke soup, venison stew with wild mushrooms, lamb's quarters dip with goat cheese, risotto with amaranth and spring vegetables, crabapple cake, crabapple applesauce, crabapple and apple cookies, applesauce cake, banana and pawpaw muffins, wild grape and rosemary focaccia with goat cheese and urban honey spread, sweet clover and greens with nasturtiums and dressing, apple butter donuts, pecan thumbprint cookies with crabapple jelly, wilted dandelion salad with bacon, mandarin oranges, pinenuts, and onions, spring rolls with dandelion root, edible flowers and herbs, homemade bread with maple syrup, apple butter and cream cheese, fresh pressed apple cider, sparkling crabapple drink, hot teas. Thanks for making a list, Willow! What a gourmet meal! I brought bread with cream cheese and maple syrup and apple butter--keeping it simple. We made the maple syrup earlier in the year. It tastes delicious with the cream cheese and bread--a new simple appetizer to pull together, especially when served on leaf dishes. I'm not sure that I had a favorite--they were all delicious!

One of the neat things about the evening was fellowshipping with others. We swapped stories, leafed through guide books, and put faces to many names we see online on a regular basis. We all come from different walks of life, yet were united through food and nature. What a rejuvenating evening!

Photos by Willow Wetherall
This is the view from my plate. I already ate my tasty salads and was moving on to entrees and desserts.  As one person shared later, this was an almost no waste meal. We met the dishwasher (a husband of one of the owners) who brought his appetite and a great ability to wash dishes. This is a great way to transport the dishes for washing!  

                                                                               Photo by Willow Wetherall

If you are interested in Wild Edibles, see a few of my other posts on the topic:
Wild Edibles Thoughts and Resources
Cub Scout Hike at Ox Bow with Wild Edibles

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