Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cooking in the wild: Native American foods

Xochitl, Ashley Wells, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly; Wild Chef (
The Living Wild Project is one good source of wild food recipes (
Obvious Asian influences (textiles, patterns, fan) on a Native American Mestizo (mix of Amerindian and European) de Sangley (Bibliotheque Nationale de France/
What can that little Injun gal teach US about cooking? (
Cooking with Toyon Berries
Sobochesh berries delight Los Angeles' native Tongva tribe (
Chief sings for F. Densmore, 1916
It's the time of the season to collect toyon berries.
Within the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, one can find toyon berries pretty much everywhere. It's been used as a decoration (and gave Hollywood its name) during the holidays. They're edible.
The berries must be ripe when harvested or they are not quite edible. They are quite bitter raw, but once boiled or dried, they take on an interesting cherry-like flavor. A little online research reveals all kinds of recipes using toyon berries.
One option is to dehydrate a bunch and use them as a flour substitute. Adding them to acorn flour makes a "Native Bread."
Simple "Survival" Dish with Mallow
Wild Edible Plant - Cooking Mallow

We have a lot of mallow growing right now -- in barren lots, fields, and trails.
Mallow can be found all around (Nyerges)
Culinary explorations with mallow are easy, and one can make a decent dish with just a few simple ingredients.
Cook mallow leaves and stems with garlic and onions. It is quite good. My girlfriend, Mia, suggests adding a little soy sauce and a touch of sesame seed oil for a great deal of flavor.
Try it. Stir fry one cup of young mallow, one small onion, two garlic cloves, two tablespoons of soy sauce, and a dash of sesame seed oil. It is a simple and satisfying dish. Add sea salt to taste.

Manzanita ("little apple") berries are also abundant at higher elevations (
How to Survive Anywhere
Thanks to the rain, there are lots of edible plants such as chickweed, stinging nettles, curly dock, sow thistle, and many more. What to do? Gather as much as possible, and find ways to save the harvest to enjoy it later in the year.
In Southern California, as soon as summer comes, most of these plants will be hard to find. We live in a semi-arid region but now deprived of its natural water and wetland marshes.
By dehydrating a lot of it, we can continue to uses it in the coming months for yummy soups and dishes once summer and winter arrive. This should also allow for some interesting culinary experiments throughout the year.

Simple Nettle Soup Recipe
Dehydrating Wild FoodThis recipe is very easy. All one needs (see photo on right) is 3 cups of packed nettles, one onion, a couple of medium potatoes, and garlic cloves.
Slice and cook the onions. Add 2 cups of water. Add potatoes and cloves of garlic. Chop the nettles (with mature nettles, use only the leaves; the stem will be too fibrous). Add them to boiling water. Allow soup to simmer. Add water to adjust consistency.
Add salt and pepper to taste. I add Italian or French spices. Let the soup simmer for about an hour and add maybe 3 crushed cloves of garlic 5 minutes before the soup is done. And voila! It is simple and great tasting. And it's actually better the next day. More
Our friend and teacher Christopher Nyerges leads a native plant workshop in Pasadena.
Buddhism arrived in America in 458 AD
How the Swans (Rick Fields)
Stephanie Silva ( review) [How the Swans Came to the Lake is] a uniquely priceless 400-page history of Buddhism in America, not to mention what is likely the best 12-page summary of Siddhartha Buddha's life and legacy. Erudite American Buddhist author and hippie Rick Fields (1942-1999) wrote an enthusiastic history that brings to life every key player -- starting even before the unforgettable English rogue scholar Sir William Jones (1736-1794) singlehandedly sent the first translations from the East to England and the American Transcendentalists. Chinese Buddhist monks in Mexico in A.D. 458, the real kindly Quetzalcoatl? If you think the history of Buddhism in America started at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 with D. T. Suzuki, Jack Kerouac, Alan Watts, Shunryu Suzuki, Tarthang Tulku, and Chogyam Trungpa -- think again! Here is everything you ever wanted to know and more about how and why Buddhism came to America, up to and beyond the Roshi Baker scandals (that mercifully ended the "silent denial of lies and abuse" and pointed the way to practice increasingly integrated with psychotherapy). The author's note and acknowledgments are priceless. Very highly recommended!

Asia shivering under unusually cold weather
Grant Peck,, Jan. 26, 2016 via USA Today

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