Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wild Foraged Foods Of Maine 2013

It can be hard to figure out what's edible in the Maine wilderness. But with the help of guides, some foraging books and some cautious sampling you can figure out what's for dinner or breakfast or lunch. I used information passed down from my mother who knew Euell Gibbons, and two books: "Green Islands Green Sea," by Philip W Conkling, and "The Everything Guide To Foraging," by Vickie Shufer.

Wild foraged Maine Irish Moss seaweed
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Irish Moss
Is not actually a moss but a type of seaweed that grows below the low-tide line. It does not taste very good in the raw form but its a great thickening agent for stews or puddings. It contains carrageenan a key ingredient in ice cream, salad dressing, and pie fillings.
Herbaceous Sea blite plant on rocky Maine beach,
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Herbaceous Sea Blite (Suaeda maritima)
It is a sweet, salty, crunchy succulent plant that lives in the salt marsh zone meaning it can survive in and out of the salt water. It's great added to salad. A lot of chefs are now using a domesticated version.

Goosetongue or Seaside Plantain on rocks in Maine
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Goosetongue, Goose Greens or Seaside Plantain
It a succulent plant with waxy leaves that can be hard to eat. It grows in rocks above the high tide mark. The foraging manuals suggested trying many leaves from many plants to find one that tastes good. I tried leaves from seven plants and all were extremely bitter.

Wild sea rocket tastes like horseradish, Maine
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Sea Rocket
It looks like seaweed but isn't. It grows above the high tide line between granite rocks. It is a member of the mustard family but has a flavor closer to horseradish. The younger and smaller the leaves have a milder taste.

Beach Grass grain growing on Maine coastline
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Beach Grass
It is a tall grass with grain heads. It grows between rocks or on beaches. In the fall the grain heads ripen and can be harvested. After a lot of work the processing the grain it can be used to made bread items. I found the above grass a bit early in the season so I was not able to process the grains.

Wild rose hip on Maine coastline
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Rose Hips
These are the fruit of wild roses. They grow along the coastline of Maine and have a tangy, earthy flavor. They are packed with vitamin C. They make delicious jams, and tea when dried.

Wild blackberry plant with very long thorns, Maine
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Wild Blackberry
This berry has a delicious sweet flavor but very long, sharp thorns. It grows in many places but seems to prefer bright sunlight areas.

Thistle plant with edible flower, Maine
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Thistles are in the same family as artichokes so many parts can be eaten if you can get past the thorns. They grow everywhere but seem to prefer slightly shaded areas in fields.

I cut a bunch of leaves off a thistle thinking they were the edible part. But when I got back to my cabin I discovered the main stem and flower were the edible parts.

So you see, with a bit of research and cautious tasting you can add new food items to your diet.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Crazy Hart Ranch, Fellsmere, Fla: Pastured Poultry & More

Fellsmere, Fla.—Crazy Hart Ranch raises happy poultry for their eggs and meat. The birds have access to sunshine, grass, and edible bugs along with their hormone-free, antibiotic-free food. The 5-acre ranch raises chickens, turkeys and ducks. I met owner Linda Hart recently during the Viva 500 Farm Tour event organized by the Slow Food Gold & Treasure Coastchapter.

Farmer Linda Hart in outdoor turkey pen at Crazy Hart Ranch, Fellsmere, Fla.
Hart said her ranch was the first in Florida to get a license to raise and sell pastured poultry. A dozen or so people were on the tour of her ranch.

The turkey pen, at the back of the ranch, was full of lively birds. “Those two are wild animals. They joined the flock two years ago,” Hart said, pointing at two brown colored hens. She said she didn’t mind because they kept the gene pool diverse.

There was a field of ducks further back on the ranch. All the birds were free range animals with all their flight feathers yet none had ever flown away according to Hart. They laid their eggs in the early morning making collection easier than the eggs from chickens that lay two to three times a day. 
Free-range duck eggs at Crazy Hart Ranch, Fellsmere, Fla.
She said homeopathic doctors say farm chicken eggs are low in cholesterol and are high in vitamins. Hart added that people who are allergic to chicken eggs can usually eat duck eggs without problems.

Her pastured chickens were on 10-acre piece of property, a few miles from the ranch, where they got plenty of access to sunshine, grass and juicy bugs. “We go to a feed mill in Samsula and have our feed ground fresh and custom mixed to our specs with no antibiotics, hormones, roxarsone, or animal byproducts,” said Hart.

Crazy Hart Ranch sells eggs under the “For Pet Consumption Only” label, and some meat Turkeys, at area markets in the Ft. Pierce and Vero Beach area. To find out more you can go to her website at or call her at  772-913-0036

Friday, September 20, 2013

Seaweed Soup With Wild & Domestic Ingredients

Sea vegetable soup tastes better when it's made from scratch. Several types of sea vegetables can be used. But my favorite is kelp which can be found growing below the low tide mark in Northern Maine.

Maine Seaweed Soup with farmed and wild ingredients,
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Before you go throwing seaweed and vegetables into a pot of water thinking that this is how to make soup, STOP. First you have to make a stock and then use it as the base for your soup.

I made my stock out of ingredients grown at Sparkplug Farm, Vinalhaven Island, a nearby island, and from a grocery store in Rockland, Maine. The farm vegetables were un-cured garlic, whole carrots including the green tops, young kale, fresh marjoram, fresh parsley, and cabbage.

Maine wild beach pea leaves, Copyright 2013 by Helen
A Lockey
The wild vegetables were beach pea leaves, heirloom bay leaves, and dandelion greens.

I threw whole vegetables and greens into a pot of water with enough liquid to cover them by about three inches (approximately 10 cm). I brought the mixture to a boil and then lowered the temperature to a high simmer for an hour or two or until the vegetables fell apart easily when cut.

Straining out the solid ingredients I set aside the liquid to start my soup.

Maine wild harvested Irish Moss and Laminaria Kelp,
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
I put in more carrots, but this time using only the orange root part, added more garlic, and some wild harvested Laminaria kelp. I also added some Florida grown rye grain berries.

It was a delicious soup enjoyed by all members of my family including the meat eaters.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Green, Sustainable, Bed & Breakfast Inns, Southeastern United States

A great way to support the environment is to stay at green bed & breakfast inns. More and more places are embracing green practices like recycling, using LED lighting, and conserving water through low-flow plumbing systems. But some go above and beyond these practices like the ones listed below.

Side view Carnegie Guest House, Davidson, N.C.
Carnegie Guest House, Davidson, N.C.
Located within the grounds of the green practicing sustainable Davidson College, this guest house sources breakfast ingredients from Davidson College farm and campus, local North Carolina farmers and companies. They also use glass water pitchers and cups instead of plastic bottles. And they compost all their kitchen and food waste.

To find out more you can go to their web page:

Side view Cedar House Inn and Yurts, Dahlonega, G.A.
Cedar House Inn and Yurts, Dahlonega, GA.
Cedar House Inn & Yurts goes many, many steps beyond most green inns with practices like capturing rain on their roof to water their vegetable garden and 300 some fruit trees, and bushes. They source eggs, cheese, meats, and other ingredients from local farmers and companies.

They use cloth napkins at breakfast, have recycle bins in every room, and even make sculptures out of used glass bottles. They use 100 percent recycled toilet paper and paper towels. They have storm windows and ceiling fans in each room to keep the temperatures controlled and reduce heating and cooling needs.

Yurt at Cedar House Inn & Yurts, Dahlonega, G.A.
They put cooked food waste in a solar food composter and vegetable waste in a garden composter. Their yurts have composting toilets. And their property is a certified wildlife preserve.

But these are just a fraction of what Cedar House Inn & Yurts does to save the environment. To find out more you can go to their web page

Friday, September 13, 2013

Creelman Farm Creamery, Vinalhaven, Maine: Goat Cheese

Vinalhaven Island, Maine--Creelman Farm Creamery makes fresh tasting goat cheese. This farm is located on an island 12-miles east of the northern Maine coastline. It raises Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats for cheese making.

Pasteurized fresh goat cheese from Creelman Farm Creamery, Vinalhaven, Maine
Back in August, at the Saturday Morning Vinalhaven Farmers and Flea Market, I met the cheese maker of Creelman Farm Creamery. I have never been a huge fan of goat cheese because I find it too musky. But the cheese maker insisted that her chevre was different and many people who didn't like goat cheese liked hers.

I took two crackers, one for the cheese, and the other to clean my tongue in case the cheese taste turned out to be too musky. I spread the smallest possible amount of cheese on the cracker and slowly ate it. It was surprisingly sweet and devoid of muskiness. I loved it and wanted some to take home.

Unfortunately, the last piece of cheese had been sold while I was taste testing the chevre. The cheese maker said there would be more at the following weekend market. That was great except I was leaving the area that day.

If you ever get a chance to visit Vinalhaven, Maine, then check out the cheese from Creelman Farm Creamery. It is worth the trip. Or you can go to their web page to order some cheese at

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Easily Assembled Florida Chocolate Mousse By Chef Chris Pawlowski

Floridian Chef Chris Pawlowski shows how to assemble a gourmet Florida dessert. He says, “It’s easy,” to a group of Slow Food Gold & Treasure Coast members at Endless Summer Vineyard in Ft. Pierce. Chef Pawlowski is the owner of Palm Beach Organics, an organic food buying club located in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Chef Chris Pawlowski showing off chocolate mousse, Ft. Pierce, Fla.
Step one: Hire a chef to make your dessert. No, that’s just me saying this.

Chef Pawlowski spreading liquid chocolate over paper,
Ft. Pierce, Fla. 
First, cut up long strips of parchment paper, approximately 2” x 8” in size or enough to wrap around a pre-made cylinder of chocolate mousse that is waiting for you in the fridge (made earlier by you or a chef friend).
Then take some melted chocolate, made by melting chocolate medallions in a double boiler, and spread it thinly on the paper. Once the paper is covered set it aside on a cooled baking sheet.
Chef Pawlowski rolls chocolate mousse in sheets of chocolate,
Ft. Pierce, Fla.
Next, take out the cylinders of chocolate mousse and roll them along the chocolate side of the paper strips.
Resting chocolate wrapped chocolate mousse by Chef Pawlowski,
Ft. Pierce, Fla
Rest them upright on the cookie sheet to set the chocolate around the mousse.

Chef Pawlowski makes squiggly chocolate decorations, Ft.
Pierce, Fla.
As the chocolate sets around the mousse, start working on your decorations. Put some more liquid chocolate into a pastry chef tube and squeeze out some squiggly lines on more parchment paper.
Chef Pawlowski swirls homemade Florida grown strawberry 
sauce around dishes, Ft. Pierce, Fla
Take some chocolate sauce and swirl it around the edges of a plate. Follow it with a swirl of homemade strawberry sauce (again made by you earlier or your chef friend), made with Florida grown berries.

A table of easily assmbled Florida inspired chocolate mousse
dessert by Chef Pawlowski, Ft. Pierce, Fla.
Assemble all the components that will also include fresh cut Florida grown strawberries, powdered chocolate, and white chocolate squiggly line decorations.
And voila! A strawberry covered chocolate mousse fancy enough to serve at a restaurant. If you don’t have the time or you don’t want to do this then contact chef Pawlowski directly at his company

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wild Foraged Applesauce Made The Old Fashion Way

Northeastern Maine—Wild foraged heirloom applesauce is easy to make but hard work. It takes about half a day to make this style of sauce. First find wild apple trees on land you have permission to harvest. Then taste the fruit of each tree because not all apples are suitable for applesauce. Many wild apples are a mix of crab apple and domesticated apple varieties and are better for making cider.

Young wild Heirloom variety yellow apples on tree, Northeastern Maine
Once you find edible apples, gather twice as much as you think you need because once you peel, core, and slice them the volume will reduce by half. Then boil them, in just enough water to cover the fruit, until they are soft and mushy. If the apples are sweet enough they will not need any sugar. 
Small wild heirloom apples in bag, Northeastern Maine
But if they are as tart as the wild apples I picked in Maine last month then add sugar to taste. I added just enough sugar to take the pucker effect out of my sauce.

Applesauce made from foraged wild heirloom apples,
Northeastern Maine
Continue cooking for a few minutes longer, as you add the sugar so it has time to dissolve. The sauce will be quite runny when it is hot. Rest the pot on a counter for an hour before putting it in the fridge to cool for another hour before serving.

Wild foraged heirloom applesauce over pancakes, Northeastern
You can eat it straight or pour it over pancakes as I did during my New England vacation. I picked 100, half-dollar coin sized, wild heirloom variety apples and got just over one quart of applesauce.