DSC_1262_01

Greener pastures, a reprieve from tha red dust

So I have been travelling now for a few months n not finding much in tha way ov edible weeds n tha like since well Alice Spring really but last week in the Pilbra area ov Western Australia  I  came across this gorgeous free camping ground next to the DeGrey River, it was a refreshing green change from tha red dirt country surrounds.
After picking my spot n figuring out where the sun will rise n setting my fire place accordingly tha two most important things to me I wondered off down tha path that weaved it’s way threw n unda spectacular weeping paper bark’s towards tha wata’s edge to see if there would be any good fishin spots, not long down tha path I noticed what I thought was a variegated thistle ov some sort but on closer inspection I realize it had a poppy flower in place ov the expected thistle flower, I have since found they were Argemone ochroleuca gone feral up here, it is very pretty n got my hopes up ov otha weedy friends being present n yes as I looked even closer n got my weed eye back in I recognized an old long missed favorite Puha (Sonchus sp.), so I was absolutely thrilled I can tell ya, I hadn’t had fresh greens for quite some time like I said n my body was yearning for them so I jotting that spot down in my not so good memory bank n ventured further down tha path n the further I walk the more n more young lush green Puha leaves I seen they were everywhere,it was the most I had actually seen in one area in my whole life a, it was like a green fantasy land.
I thought to myself there was so much I would stay a few days n actually dry a heap to replenish my stores which I did n if I catch a fish bonus.

Puha (Sonchus sp) n Purslane (Portulaca sp.)I didn’t catch any fish by tha way but I had picked up a roo tail up tha road earlier on that day so camp fire Roo tail stew wid Puha n fresh spelt damper was on tha menu.

Roo Tail, Puha (Sonchus sp) n Purslane (Portulaca sp.)

Roo Tail Stew n Spelt Damper n teaIt was a fabulous meal in a beautiful spot, the Roo tail was so sticky n tender, tha Puha so fresh n after repeatedly dipping the heavy damper into the stew then into my mouth I could fit no more in n like a cat that has just devoured it’s prey n probably a native animal I sat contentedly by tha fire until all the food settled down lower in my stomach n I could actually move to go to bed, stuff dreams are made ov a, well my idea ov livin tha dream n eating like a queen anyway n for only tha cost ov a can ov tomatoes n corn, a few spuds n onions, oil ect n this fed me quite indulgently for a few days. :)

 

DSC_1258_01

Camp oven staples

Ok guys I am alive n thought I better share something before you desert me.
I have gotten into a routine ov cooking myself a cake n a damper every week because I have been able to have fire n I prefer to cook on tha fire. I am indulging in being able to have fires up dis way coz once you get south you can’t have a bloody fire virtually anywhere in Australia…….. that n mostly not being able to free bush camp anywhere anymore without breaking tha “LAW” is ruining one ov the greatest things about this country, it has becum a police state/country!
So if it means I have to b an outlaw then so be it, becoz I intend to get away with it as much as possible while I can.

DSC_1269_01
Anyway these were both cooked in tha camp oven, the cake has in it -spelt flour, baking soda, preserved lemons, nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, coconut oil n water n I throw in a big pinch ov rock salt not crushed use big bits so wen you are munching along you hit these pockets of scrumptious saltiness mmmmm just bliss.

Tha damper is just spelt flour, plain white flour a bit of backing powder a teaspoon ov olive oil n again with tha salt, I enjoyed this today with tha last ov my Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) n chilly jam tha last ov all my jams actually there is nutin like warm damper n jam for breakie I don’t know wot I’m gonna do from now on :(

I am still about I just haven’t had any foody things to blog about when I settle down a bit in one spot I will start to blog again more often, I hope you enjoy this little one as much as I enjoyed tha yummy camp oven cooked goodies blogged about
Cheers n take care :)

DSC_1211_01

Chewy Cat Fish Stew

DSC_1224_01Ok guys just a quicky just encase you think I have drop off the face ov tha planet ;)
Found great camping/fishing spot on my journey n thought I would share pic’s I caught black brim or sum call sooty grunter as well I cook these whole in the fire or fry but I really enjoyed tha cat fish this time it isn’t the cat fish with the snake tail like I have had before it is the very spiky shark looking one n man can they get big……. n in tha fish n chip shop they are called silver cobbler.
I tried baking in the fire first that was ok but then the next night I decided to stew them in camp oven & I really like them that way the flesh stay’s real firm n they are so gelatinous especially around the head which was my favorite bit no surprise best fish head eva…. it was almost like eating roo tail with all the chewy sinewy like bits n tha lips ohhhh sorry they are my favorite bits it sounds gross but if ya don’t let ya head get in tha way you will neva look back the heads are the best bit of a fish. The cold flesh was nice in a sandwich with fresh bread too, not many bones that’s why they feed them to tha old people.
I just chucked into the stew what ever I had in the van n a can ov tomatoes some chutney, water n simmered real slow for an hour or so I leave the liver in for flavor too.
Well I am still around just not much on the can share food side seein as I’m bush most ov the time :)

Chestnuts ( Aesculus sp.)

Clear Warm Desert Skies & Delights

Long time between blogs but that happens on the road I’m afraid but I’m laid up for a couple days the driving has caught up with me so here is an update on what has been happening on my travels so far wild food wise.

In South Australia on the highway heading up towards Alice Springs I found a massively loaded prickly pear (Opuntia sp.) n couldn’t resists gathering some to eat n they were supper delicious but quite hard to process on the road in the middle of nowhere with no running water to wash the spins off, I did the best I could with what I had n I enjoyed them but word to the wise don’t use your good pig skin gloves to harvest them n hold them to peel because the spines do not come out they stuck rite into the gloves n I had to throw them….. hard lesson so be warned.
Prickly Pear (Opuntia sp.) & pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Further up the road I found a loaded pomegranate tree at a servo just before the boarder n garbed a small basket full unfortunately I forgot about the boarder quarantine n had to get rid ov or use them before I crossed the boarder and I was gonna make a drink out of the seeds but they were not ripe they were to astringent to use n I was very disappointed indeed that bloody quarantine has relieved me over the years of some gorgeous fresh produce the one that still stings is the last time I crossed I lost my beautiful organic home grown garlic along with some other yummy goods, I was not happy.

I had another 2 garlic bulbs from my uncles garden in Tassie this round and was determined not to loose them this time so I camped up for the night just before the boarder and cooked up the garlic n all the fresh cherry tomatoes from my friends place in Daylesford that I had with me n I can tell ya you wouldn’t have wanted me to breath on you for the next few days!!

The good news is I was allowed to keep the large bucket I had of chestnuts (Aesculus sp.) n the smaller basket of acorns (Quercus sp.) I had collected in Victoria, I was really happy for that I thought I would loose them all.

Once in central Australia just before Alice Springs I camped up in a nice spot n decided it was such a nice night I would have a camp fire n enjoy the night sky. I got the chestnuts out which I had earlier back down the road at another stop peeled the prickly husks off, I took a knife to these n split their brown shell with a cross so they wouldn’t explode on me I then put them on the coals turning them so as not to burn it was hot work. They were ok but I just don’t get the attraction to having them roasted because they are much nicer put into a stew n slow cooked they have a nicer flavor n texture this was, I think it must be like a traditional thing.
I also put the acorns on the coals to pop their shells which I then peeled off, I have pickled these which I have never done before n I’m hoping they will turn out nice I want the smokiness of the fire n the slight roasting to come through in the flavor, I will let you know how they go.
Chestnuts ( Aesculus sp.)

Podaxis pistillarisThat evening before I set up camp when I first pulled up I had to walk out the back aches n stiffness from all the driving it has been so exiting being on the road again heading toward warmer weather that I got a bit carried away n have done to much at once. anyway I was wondering around the area n I came across these fungi popping their heads up out of the red dirt in the middle of the desert, fungi never cease to amaze me n this tough little guy is Podaxis pistillaris. He is a relative ov the puff ball n there was only a few there so I didn’t kill him to do the usual cut in half pictures n spore print ect to show better ID for everyone I just couldn’t do it.

The next day I arrived in Alice Spring to the delicious smells of slow cooked roaster stew which I could only approve upon by adding some of the peeled chestnuts n accompanying it with stemmed purslane (Portulaca oleracea) which because it had apparently rain flat out for 4 day just before I arrived was every where, the sweetness of the chestnuts against the sourness of the purslane worked like magic in the mouth.
The purslane was the best I had ever seen n tasted it was beautifully young n crisp, I also pickled to large jars full for later enjoyment n I’m sure there will be no lack of this fresh healthy treat on the next leg ov my journey.

That same day my friend Petal came home with a palm trunk that he had removed from someone place n to his amusement I was so exited, I got him to cut it up into like 40 cm sections n then in half long ways to get to the heart of the palm, it was a cocus palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) n I was pretty sure all palm species hearts were edible, I had never tried palm heart before because you have to kill the plant to get to it.
The heart was beautifully white n very crisp, I cut out as much as I could while Petal n his partner Peachy watched with curiosity, we all had a nibble on it raw n I liked it a lot Petal wasn’t that impressed he thought it was a bit bland n to most it probably is, Peachy liked it too so pretty good results all round n I believe it would be nice in stir fries & or stews ect.

The only problem with it is it oxidized really fast so I went around to my friends back yard n picked some limes to squeeze over it which stopped the browning in it’s tracks, I had some for dinner that night n I pickled the rest the next day I hope it turn’s out nice again I will update.

In picture below from left to right is the pickled palm heart, purslane n the acorns.

Pickled Palm heart (Syagrus romanzoffiana), Purslane ( Portulaca oleracea )& Acorns (Quercus sp.)

Well that’s it for now happy gathering everyone. :)

Plantain Balm

 

Here is a blog on my first plantain (Plantago sp.) balm it is so exciting, I’m so wrapped I finally got around to doing this I’m so looking forward now to making many many more medicinal balms, I have so any ideas.

Plantain balm (Plantago sp.)

Plantain balm (Plantago sp.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I picked n dried the plantain leaves then I crushed them up really finely n put them into a jar with about 1 cup of coconut oil, I sat this in the sun n gave it a good shake everyday for about 10 days.

Plantain balm (Plantago sp.)Plantain balm (Plantago sp.)

 

I then strained the oil to remove all the solids then to this I added some melted bees wax I gave this a good stir n poured it into little containers to set. I will use this on skin irritations, burns or stings.

Thistle Roots, Feild Mushrooms n Bubbling Wild Ferments in Daylseford

Ok so I’m staying at a friends place for awhile in Daylesford n I’ve been eating the usual suspects everyday dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) plantain (Plantago lanceolata) n dock (Rumex crispus) greens which has been good but the other day I managed to gather a good feed of thistle roots (Cirsium vulgare) the other day I knew my friends hadn’t tried them before so thought it would be a real treat for them n they absolutely loved them.

Bull thistle roots (Cirsium vulgare )
I scraped n cut up into bite size bits then to stop them oxidizing before they were all cut up n ready for the hot plate I put a squeeze of lemon in the water, once ready I simmered these for about an hour until tender I really love their artichoke heart flavor.
The next day we drove around looking for some mushies as it had rained recently we picked a bucket of field mushroom (Agaricus campestris) n a few puff balls (Calvatia sp.). My friends Stu n Nira had theirs with chicken livers fried up for breakfast they really loved them, I’m not a fan of the feildy any more for some reason I’ve gone rite off them I had a few small buttons n some puff balls on toast with an egg.
Field mushrooms (Agaricus campestris)
Also some of the fermenting projects we have done, from the left  remember the crab apple cider I was going to make into vinegar well first I had to keep my eye on Stu n Nira coz they would have liked to have drunk all the cider so I wouldn’t have anything to make vinegar with but all good they controlled themselves, I have now strained all of the solids out of this n added some of my home made vinegar with a little mother so now it is just a matter of time lucky I have good self control too.
We also made a new batch of kombucha it is sitting on they bench bubbling away n Nira n I made an apple scrap vinegar for them, we just cut up some apples you can use apple cores and or left overs we also added some grapes you can use any fruits for this that you have around, then we added a sugar syrup to the fruit in that big jar we used about 1 cup of sugar, this will become active n you let it bubble away until it settles a bit then strain the solids out and again wait for the liquid to turn to vinegar, if you have raw vinegar or a vinegar mother you can add these to help speed up the process but they are not necessary it will happen naturally in it’s own good time.

Wild ferments- crab apple cider vinegar, kombucha n apple scrap vinegar

Crab apple cider vinegar, Kombucha n Apples scrap vinegar

Well that’s it for now hopefully in a couple week we will get many different mushrooms fingers crossed. :)

Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Update on Oregon Grapes

 

Oregon grapes (Mahonia aquifolium)Ok I just had to share this, remember not long ago I said I collected the last of my grandfathers massacred Oregon grapes (Mahonia aquifolium)  well I just tasted them n they are absolutely amazing…. I sun dried them on the dash on my van n half are fully dried n half a semi dried the fully dried ones are like a spice with an unusual earthy smoked flavor I can imagine them in with my jade salt mix so I will grind them up n add to that. The semi dried ones are one of the most amazing things I have ever tasted!! they just explode in your mouth they are intensely tart but sweet similar to semi dried cranberries but I think better. Wow how I wish I had gotten more ov them…… 

Wild Rose Hips 4 Tea

Wild Rose Hips (Rosa rubiginosa)

If is a gorgeous day today so I strolled down the road to pick some wild rose hips (Rosa rubiginosa) I’m going to just dry these n store them so I can add them to herbal teas as I like, they keep for ages n the drying intensifies their beautiful flavor. I’m not sure if I have shared my nifty tea secret with you before so I will again anyway just encase I didn’t, you will notice I make a lot of jams, I don’t eat them in the traditional way on bread or toast well if I have a nice sourdough I will every now n then but I mostly put a spoon full ov jam into my herbal teas to replace the honey I would normally have.
Making jam is a great way to preserve fruits ov all sorts for long periods ov time n it gives your teas a fruity sweetness which makes them all the more special :)
Oh the other thing I have been doing is drying mums fresh parsley (Petroselinum crispum) n making parsley n bay leaf (Laurus nobilis) salt, it is as simple as it sounds, dry bay leaves n parsley crush up n add to salt give a good shake n that’s it you can use this in cooking or just as a seasoning on your food, it is very good.

Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus)

Farwell’s to the valley n Foraged Bounties

Ok I had my mums car yesterday so I decided I would head up the valley to say goodbye to a friend n see my father n grandfather one more time before I leave n maybe just maybe do some foraging on the way to fill the stores before I leave. Surprisingly I ended up with quite a big haul, I went with the intention ov gathering Hawthorn berries n rose hips but ended up with a lot more, on the way I called into the Bushy Park show grounds n in the distance I could see promising bright green patches lying in the low lands in the dappled shade of the weeping willow trees (Salix babylonica) one of my favorite trees, when I got closer I could see a lot of hemlock (Conium maculatum) n my heart sank but on closer inspection I could see there were many young edible plants among the hemlock so I carefully picked what I wanted trying not to touch the hemlock to much as it is very toxic if you have server reactions to hemlock I dont suggest to do this ok.
The plants I gathered all together are as follows-  Hawthorn berries (Crataegus monogyna), plantain (Plantago lanceolata), puha (Sonchus sp.), prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola), fat hen (Chenopodium album), mustard greens (Brassica juncea), Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) crab apples n wild apples (Malus sp.). 

Foraged bounty

Ok I’m going to crush n ferment the crab apples n make a wild fermented cider then let it turn into vinegar, I have made the cider before n I love it it is going to be very hard to leave it alone to turn to vinegar but I really want to see how the vinegar will taste so I have to be good n not touch it other than sipping to check how it is progressing that is ;)
I’m drying all the other greens except the fat hen which I’m eating fresh, as usual I will dry n powder the puha n mustard greens for later use but two first’s for me are I’m going to dry the plantain to make a balm later which I will share when done n I’m going to put the dried prickly lettuce into my sleepy time tea as it is known as a sedative.
Now I want to show you guys the difference between the puha n prickly lettuce now I have them together like this, see pic’s below

Puha (Sonchus sp.) n Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola)

Puha (Sonchus sp.) n Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) leaf comparison FRONT

Puha (Sonchus sp.) n Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) leaf comparison BACK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok as you can see the puha on the rite is smooth n the prickly lettuce as the name suggests on the left is very prickly funny that a, jokes aside they are also a completely different shape n I couldn’t find any good pictures on line showing them side by side so there you go.

Now to the Hawthorns wild apples hot relish yummmmmm, I cooked for a few hour today n ended up with a scrumptious relish to take with me, you can just use any relish recipe n replace some ov or all ov the tomatoes in the recipe with the hawthorn pulp, mine is onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, curry powder, chilly flakes n spices, this is all fried off then I add the hawthorn pulp n stewed wild apples, vinegar n lemon juice then I simmer this until the onions are all tender then I add raw sugar n boil until thick then bottle. Also I’m drying a heap as you can see in picture with jam below I intend on putting them in my herbal teas.

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) n wild apple hot relish.

The Guelder rose is another first for me I spotted it when travelling up for my last visit but forgot to stop n check them out on the way back out ov the valley but I didn’t forget this time. I pulled ova n with my scissors I snipped off the bunches I could reach they were hanging over the fence of someone yard n I was parked on a precarious corner on the road so I had to be quick.

Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) berries
I managed a small basket full enough to experiment with, I wasn’t exactly sure which species I had n I had read one was better tasting than the other so I was hoping for the better one obviously but I think I lucked out with this lot, the difference is hard to distinguish n most say taste is the best indicator one is bitter n one is tart plus what made it harder with these is I think the ones I picked weren’t completely ripe. Unfortunately upon biting into a lovely looking red orange juicy berry I soon realized I didn’t have to nice tart tasting one which is Viburnum trilobum or high bush cranberry, sounds good a, well I had the Viburnum opulus the less desirable one of the two but this didn’t deter me from experimenting with it, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to make a jam n see how it taste now I had them anyway.
It is bitter but it is nowhere near as bitter as rowan berries (Sorbus aucuparia) that people manage to eat n I have tried several times but I just couldn’t stand there bitterness.
I added Chinese five spice, chillie n lemon juice to the fruit pulp to mask some ov the bitterness n I think it worked well, it isn’t one I would be gagging at the bit to make each year but I like it it is unusual n definitely worth making if they  are around for something different that is if you like bitter taste which I do.
well that’s it for this one hopefully I will get another blog in before I go I’m hoping for rose hips. :)

Summer in2 Autmun in Maydena

Ok visiting the family in my old home town has been good for the pantry, I was hoping the black berries would be ready n I bought raw sugar n vinegar just encase to make jam n syrup. On the way up the valley I noticed some fruit on my favorite plum tree n stopped to grab what I thought was a handful to eat n I ended up with a basket full about 6 or 8 kg, they are so sweet n if I had the time to dry them n put them in a sugar syrup I would prepare them like that, it is my favorite way n they last for ages but no time so plum hot sauce it is.

foraged goodies, Maydena, Autumn
Now I will tell you the sad story first when I got back to my grandfathers I thought oh I will go see if there is any Oregon grapes (Mahonia aquifolium) left n one of my uncles had decided to whipper snip the whole garden bed back to virtually nothing they had been completely massacred…. I have no idea why someone would do this, they had taken many years to grow n fruit, I was very upset but I managed to scrounge some berries off the ground n off some of the dead cutting that were left stuck in the bushes, I will dry these n put them in my herbal tea as they are partly sun dried already, such a shame :(

Later on I went looking for nettle (Urtica dioica) with dad around his property to no avail but I scoured a heap ov yummy goodies from my old yard, there had been a bit ov rain in between my visits so there was self seeded rocket (Eruca sativa) everywhere, young plantain (Plantago lanceolata), fat hen (Chenopodium album), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) n some gorgeous young Puha (Sonchus sp.) I will mix all the green together n make a mixed salad to use over the next few days n dry the rest.
The elderberry (Sambucus nigra) hedge I had put in the season before I left has grown up nicely n they had some fruit on so I picked this as well, there was a small amount of horse radish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia) that I put in the plum hot sauce along with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, horse radish, vinegar, raw sugar, chilly flakes, curry powder, paprika n the plums.

Also from my old yard we got some white fleshed nectarines not quite ripe, I’m hoping they will ripen before going moldy. On the way back dad n I picked a bucket ov blackberries n I this morning I cooked everything up, I ended up with 8 jar ov jam, 8 bottles of syrup, 5 bottles of plum hot sauce n heaps ov greens, so I am well stoked up now for my travels n I’m still hoping to make a heap of Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) sauce before I leave, I will pick these on the way to my next destination then I will be back with a blog then.

Sorry about this picture, it is shocking but it was under my grandfathers patio n it has clear yellow roofing so it looks a weird color n it isn’t focused properly, I didn’t realize it had come out like this until after I had processed stuff.