Wild Foods

This last Saturday I took a class over the river at Wild Craft Studio School. I should say I took another class in the studio, as I could honestly be there every Saturday for the wonderfully curated class schedule. This particular class was taught by Herbalist and wild foods educator Elise Krohn. I took a Tree Medicine class from her in the fall that blew my mind. If you ever have a chance to learn from her take a class. She approaches each subject in a unique way. The Spring Wild Foods class began with a trail walk near a stream bed. I took this with the understanding that I wasn't going to learn about new plants, just new ways to use them. Well that idea was dispelled in the first 5 minutes with the flowers of the Big Leaf Maple.IMG_2687 I've really never paid much attention to them other than the golden beauty of the trees in the spring against the evergreen background. It didn't occur to me that they were fragrant or that they were edible. Just like Elder or Hawthorn you can pick the flowers, batter them and fry them as fritters. And later that day we did. We had an afternoon tea of nettle liquor with our flower fritters and dandelion flower biscuits topped with nettle pesto. IMG_2690 Look how bright green that is! Mine tends to be much darker color. The group that worked on this added other wild greens we gathered on our walk. I was so happy that I was going to learn new information I was like the eager young school child always with her hand in the air. After a while I felt like I should probably have kept quiet, but I was just too excited all day.

I love learning! I love adding new knowledge to a subject (like nettles). The walk was beautiful--even on a rainy day. I saw old plant friends and met several new ones. Found that a fiddle head I'd eaten in the past should probably be passed up in the future. Back in the studio we made the pesto, pickled dandelion buds (to which I've added chive buds at home) and a nettle, sesame salt. Mainly I just plain had a blissed out day with like minded people that enjoy getting dirty outside with the plants.

I was very inspired by our discoveries and of course see a different kind of future class on this little spot of Mt Hood. I love the idea of mixing cultivated and wild foods. Of investigating the healing properties of food. Of bringing out the best flavors with minimal additional ingredients. And of course have this all be as pleasing to the eyes as well as to our taste buds. My little spot is not ready for prime time yet. But it will be eventually. I have a list of classes that will be back yard based. For me taking classes inspires me more and more. Some for teaching, some for my own writings (definitely not for prime time yet), all for learning  and keeping the brain juices flowing.

The Impatient Herbalist

I've been making all kinds of remedies for family and friends (well mainly for myself) over many years. I decided that with the addition of a studio up here on my little bit of Mt Hood I could sell some of the items I really love to locals that want to visit. This will be a great venue for natural dyeing classes, cooking and gardening classes. A jumping off point for wild walks into the forest and making some basic remedies and food stuffs at the end of a walk.IMG_2148 But I'm impatient! I am surrounded by jars of face cream, lip balms and soaps. I've started to infuse local honey with sweet violets, young spruce or fir tips, rose scented geranium leaves. IMG_2159On my shelves are tinctures made from healing plants for the body and flower essences to help heal emotional issues. I want to share all these delights and my sweet little chicken coop is still on the list of "to be built". I think it will be late summer before I am stepping through the door(which will leave plenty of time for fall mushroom walks and classes). So later this week (Thursday to be exact) Chicken Coop Botanicals will open online! Why Thursday you might ask. Thursday is the anniversary of Gino's Restaurant. What better way to keep all the ducks in a row. Year 19 for the restaurant and the beginning of a new venture.

The online shop, as in the coop itself, will have an ever changing list of items available for sale. These will be both seasonally based and worked in small batches. In August it is finally dry enough to dye yarn and fabric outside. Each season has certain ingredients to work with, as well as certain foods and medicines IMG_2242our bodies call for. In addition, as I work on books, pamphlets and classes they will all be available under the Chicken Coop Botanical banner. All my working life, both in the restaurant business and floral and catering and yarn businesses I have been botanically driven. I've played with herbs in the garden since I was 22 and have incorporated them (as well as other plants) into every part of my home and working life. I think this next stage is a culmination of all these aspects of my life.

Check back Thursday morning for a link to the online store. And if you are on Instagram be sure to join in the virtual opening party. There will be a couple of giveaways and lots of products photos. @debaccuardi

The Podcast will be returning soon as well. It will continue in the casual format, but will go way back to the days when I talked more about the ointments, teas and the gardening I do around here. I'll talk a bit more in depth about the hows and whys of products I'm making or ingredients I'm using. Folk Herbalism is for the people, by the people and information should be easily accessible. You will have to put up with some soap box talk about eating seasonally and how prevention is so much better than treating an existing issue (it won't be the first time I've stepped up on that soapbox). I'm still knitting, spinning and there will still be a lot about these animals around here. I have also been puttering with some sewing and embroidery (I blame Creative Bug for all new hobbies). I hope you'll join me again for new episodes. I'll post an announcement and link here when At The Kitchen Table is up and running again.


Returning home

It felt awfully good to wake up in my own bed this morning. I love a vacation, but the first morning back feels so good. Sitting here with our coffee I contemplate what next? That is a bigger question than just shouldn't I get out there and feed the large mob of chickens, geese and ducks that are staring longingly at the back door.With the closing of Pico Accuardi Dyeworks this month I am at the crossroads. I tend to get very figity sitting about so I am booking up November fast. I'll be setting up a calendar here (as soon as I figure out how) with classes and events for the month. Beginning November 2nd I'll be teaching beginning spinning at Andersen Fiber Works every Wednesday afternoon from 1-3p. November 7th starts beginning knitting classes at Twisted every Monday evening from 6-8p. Within three weeks I'll have you ready to comfortably begin your own project. Tomorrow I'm teaching a private class for my sister's family--Sourdough bread baking using the dutch oven method. This is a birthday present for my sis, but may become part of a bigger class project. I've had online classes in my head for almost a year now. Spinning, Knitting, Dyeing, Cooking. If you know me at all you know I am all about creating community. The internet has created such a large community for crafters. Using different tools available I think that community feel can be kept intact during an online class. And then there is writing. I am working on an ebook right now that I hope to have finished before the holidays. The culmination of the two years Stevanie and I hosted The Community Sock Club at my restaurant. A book filled with patterns, recipes from the lunches and stories from our members. There were some amazing friendships created among the members. I'm excited to share our time with you. I'm also recreating my newsletter "An Omnibus". There are a few of you that subscribed to it a few years ago. I decided to let it go when PAD first started. Our Fiber Exploration Club took the place of my newsletter. I am ready to get back to a larger forum. This will be a monthly email newsletter. I've decided not to include a yarn option this time around. It will still include patterns, but I have a big stash and I bet readers would appreciate a chance to use something they already have. I will use yarns that can easily be purchases if you do feel the need to indulge;) So as you can see I'm not letting any moss gather. I'm not sure where all these ideas will lead, but they'll keep me out of trouble for the rest of this year.