Pages

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Old Tricks for New Dogs.



These are wild greens, grasses and bulbs that sprout everywhere. Once upon a time,  I would have foraged here, looking for onions, dandelions, malva.  I then would have parboiled the greens before tossing them in a pan with sizzling olive oil, garlic and peperoncino.  My dad, all through my childhood, would come home with things he found every time he went to the farm. For us, the farm was one of a few plots of land we cultivated.  Dad seemed to find something to bring home  for supper rain or shine, winter or summer. What he brought home became the star ingredient.

Mother didn't cook from recipe books. She would peruse the finds Dad brought home, add what she had on hand, be they beans or cheese, or something she had canned or pickled, and we had supper, with crusty bread and a jug of wine.

She spent her entire day sometimes preparing food. A rabbit or a wild boar would need plenty of time to simmer and get tender before it became fit to eat.  She had scores of jars with specialties she had conserved, from pickled eggplants to salted olives.  She would put a dash of this or that, depending on what she thought would enhance the dish.

I have no trouble doing the same improvisations when I cook.  I know what taste I'm looking for in the final stage.

There are people here in Oregon who can still do that: go into the woods and forage for a variety of mushrooms, leeks, fern heads, etc.  There are people who could live off the land with no trouble at all.  I met a young Eugene nurse, at the city's premier hospital, the other day, who hunts  all his meat. He uses a bow and arrow, in some cases, to be more sportive, more fair minded about his prey.  He may have to buy the condiments at the local supermarket, but the meat he'll barbecue will come from his labors. Elk, deer, cougar. There are limits to how many animals he can catch, and when he can hunt, and he knows these rules. He also knows how to get around them, if he needs to.

We all need to maintain these skills, have the practical knowledge to survive and to provide for our sustenance.

My mother had two concoctions for getting rid of colds. Here they are for your enjoyment.

1. Hot Water, lemon and orange slices, honey.  Drink often and within 24 hours your cold will be gone.

2. Hot wine, preferably red, orange slices, honey. Sip slowly and your chest will clear up in no time.

17 comments:

Brian Miller said...

hmm...intriguing stuff...i would like to be able to do that...as it would be a god skill if i ever need it to survive...

ellen abbott said...

I think we have lost so much basic knowledge about how to survive. I know I would have trouble foraging for food. At one time in my youth I started collecting books about how to make basic things, folk medicine and the like. I've lost track of most of them now. I have a friend though that you could plonk him in the desert and he would survive...he would be able to eat, make sandals, start a fire, make a weapon, make shelter, etc.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Yes...it is very important to maintain these skills...to be self-sufficient...we are working on that here...and it has been a real delight! My garden is coming along spectacularly, btw. How is yours? Love that we share our love for vegetable gardens! And I LOVE to improvise in the kitchen, too! You are simply terrific! Such fun! Have a wonderful weekend! Love, Janine XO

sheri... said...

what a wonderful post! i'm amazed to see how much food is available to us if you know where to look. it makes me wonder why we lost the need to survive off the land? i recall my parents having to butcher a cow that would not stay out of the neighbors field...i couldn't bear to eat someone i'd personally known ;)

Wander to the Wayside said...

It IS curious how we've lost that skill to survive without the local grocery store or Walmart! You're very fortunate that you learned those skills firsthand from your parents. Even at age 62, I have no recollection of my family having to live off the land or being able to feed the family with whatever is at hand from nature. I don't guess we'll ever truly get back to those times, though many are now enjoying the labor and harvests of their own gardens, no matter what the size.

Susan Erickson said...

Yout parents sound like amazing people. I love that kind of eating and cooking...around here we call it the 100 mile diet...we are all trying to get back to the garden.....

Rob-bear said...

There was a time I would almost live off the land. Lost those skills somewhere along the way.

But I'm trying gardening. And I'm trying to learn to cook new things.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Loved this post. I have the cooking without recipes skills, but need to work on the gardening and foraging.

Will try those cold remedies.

potsoc said...

I learned cooking from my maternal grandmother. She also cooked without recipe. Her motto was: "mix good things together and you will have a good thing at the end". My wife and daughters are more timid, so to please them I take a recipe but somehow always tamper with it.
My maternal grandfather also had a cold remedy: warm honey, mix with a cup of De Kuyper Genever Gin and add cinnamon. Drink hot just before going to bed. Headache guaranteed in the morning but cold gone.

becky at abbeystyle said...

Rosaria, you are an absolute delight, a wise cook, and a practical, respectful steward of the earth.

Dedene said...

Very interesting. There are still many people here living from the wealth of the forest.
I love your mom's cold remedies.

Marlene said...

My favorite forest food is blueberries with many other berries in close second place. If I had to survive, it would have to be on fish and berries.

Cloudia said...

sounds soothing!





Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Robyn said...

It's a shame that it is mostly just fantasy for most to live off the land and not a real option.

I honestly believe that if I had to hunt for my meat I would only eat vegetables - maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

x robyn :)

NitWit1 said...

We have a number of hill people in the Ozarks who basically "live off the land."

The know every edible plant and hunting small game such as rabbits, squirrels, raccoons (yuck) and possums (yuck). We have deer, bear. elk, duck, bird and geese.

I admire these people, even though the resent us foreigners who civilize the land and drive the natural state of things further into the mountains and remote areas.

Simon C. Larter said...

I like the hot wine cold remedy. I'll try that one this winter, methinks. :)

Also, my wife's square foot garden addiction has me building all kinds of things in the back yard. This, I presume, will all pay off when we start harvesting things, canning, etc.

But now I want wild boar. Where do I find one of those in New Jersey?

RNSANE said...

I might recognize flowers in the woods but I would probably send my family to eternity if I were to choose mushrooms or greens I found in the wilderness. Good thing Trader Joe's and Whole Earth Foods are in the vicinity but, should they be sucked up into outer space, I'm in a bit of a fix!