hqcreations gather


Hobo Stove Pakoras with Backyard Foraged Dandelions

Our backyard has exploded with dandelions, and I’ve been keen to try out a camping recipe.

Hobo stove.

Upcycled from its previous life as a giant can of chickpeas, this simple device was also begging for a test drive.

Tinder. Twigs. Light.



I plucked these golden nuggets straight from the yard and gave them a quick rinse. The moisture trapped in the petals hold the perfect amount to adhere the flour and spices - no need to add more. My take on the pakora mix consists of chickpea flour, coconut flour, fine cornmeal flour - a 3:1:1 ratio. For seasoning, add a pinch of garam masala, turmeric, salt, and chili powder.

Toss in bag. Coat.



Let the pakoras slide around the pan. Careful to turn and not burn. The hobo stove can pack a lot of heat. 


Serve with a chutney or your favorite condiment. Can’t get more seasonal, local, homecooked, and energy-efficient than this!



Everyone just read that in the voice of Gordon Ramsay from FWord right? Right…? Because otherwise I just wasted 30min of my life concocting this.


Backyard Foraging: Chickweed

Who says you can’t farm in the winter? I just grew a crop of chickweed! Ok, for real tho - this was not intentional. I eat for chickweed from my backyard throughout the year to keep the population down. I don’t feel the need to exterminate this nutrition powerhouse with any “-cide”. This past winter, some seeds made under the garden box covering and exploded in growth. We can’t eat all of this, so instead, the weed honorably fulfilled its namesake as fodder for the flock. Coming out of the winter blues, the hens feasted like maniacs. They cleaned out the box and left the overwintered garlic bulbs unscathed. Commander Comet seems pleased by the efforts of her flock and I am delighted they saved me time from manual weeding and money on feed.


A Warm Winter Wonderland of Mushrooms

This warm winter has proved to be an incredibly fruitful year for mushroom hunting. I have never found this many varieties of fungi on a single walk.

We found tons of bracket fungi, some black and yellow witches butter, maybe wood ear and oyster mushroom (?), something shaggy mane looking, and a spongy phallic mushroom that I suspect is some sort of stinkhorn. I wish Tumblr accommodated more than 10 photos per post because we definitely found well over 12 unique varieties of fungi on just one walk.

@southern4perspective @smugtownmushrooms @erieforage @mycology - what do you guys think? Did I ID any of these correctly? I couldn’t figure out what these all were.


Pop Quiz: Which of these three plants is considered to be one of North America’s most toxic plants?

My herb nerds could have probably deduced that the top photo is the deadly water hemlock. If ingested (or in some cases rubbed into the skin), the hemlock poison can directly attack the central nervous system. Symptoms include seizures, vomiting, dizziness, and other forms of bullcrap. Eventually you can die of respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.

The middle photo is yarrow, well known for its treatment of severe colds and fevers. Yarrow has also been used stop bleeding and gastrointestinal discomforts.

The bottom photo is wild carrot, or Queen Annes Lace,  she’s a bit of a double-sided blade. Pregnant women should not ingest this plant as it can cause uterine contractions (leading to abortions). However, when applied in correct dosages, this herb can act as an antiseptic, a dewormer, and a liver cleaner.

Ideally, I should be providing zoom-in shots of the leaves and umbels, but all these white clusters to the untrained eye must look pretty damn similar from afar. And these are only three plants, there are several other plants that look very similar. However, even with a trained eye, I’ve even found water hemlock and yarrow growing tangled within a clump of rocks. It’s a foraging accident just waiting to happen…


Backyard Foraging: Asiatic Dayflower

I’ve seen this flower in my yard for a few years now. Just a little clump here and there… Then suddenly this year, she exploded under the cherry tree. This plant has spread quite rapidly in North American, so I suppose nowadays it’s considered an invasive weed.

She’s so pretty…I don’t have the heart to cull her. After a bit of research, apparently this plant is not only edible (flowers, stems, and leaves, but has been used in Chinese tradition medicine for treating throat issues; in Japan it was used as a dye and pigment.


Backyard Foraging: Wood Sorrel

Wood sorrel (not the same as clover) is easy to find in the Northeast of the US, but this past Spring I had a particularly gorgeous spread of this plant growing in the coolest and most shaded corner of my garden, next to the lettuce. These lemony and delicate leaves can make for a fun addition to a salad or made into a tea, but can also be used medicinally to treat scurvy, fevers, urinary infections, and nausea. Note that this plant does contain oxalic acid, which when consumed in large - I mean LARGE - amounts can inhibit the absorption of calcium, which can lead to “unpleasant” conditions such as kidney stones.

I feel comfortable eating these because they were grown in my own backyard, and seeing prices like this in farm’s markets…well, just glad I have my own supply.

As always, also approach wild plants with caution. I am not an expert in foraging. I gather and consume foraged plants from my own backyard because I know it’s source and growing conditions. Please exercise good judgement when handling Nature.


Propagating a Wild Oyster Mushroom Specimen

The Christmas of 2015 was incredibly warm and wet in Northeastern US. We decided to go on a casual drive around the neighborhood when suddenly my fungal senses started tingling. From the corner of my eye, I saw a cluster of engorged of oyster mushrooms their elegance on a decaying (Dutch?) elm by the roadside. We haven’t found a hull of shrooms this amazing since the chicken-of-the-woods find on one of our fishing trips. I know the photo might not look impressive, but I swear to you there’s at least 5 pounds.

Since we found these shrooms by a high traffic road side, I’m a little paranoid and uncomfortable eating this immediately due to the unknown runoff pollution that might have been absorbed by the wood. I’ve never propagated a wild culture before so I took a small sample to cultivate the mycelium and grow more shrooms like I did with my coffee grind experiments last winter. So far so good…the mycelium is happily colonizing the card board. (Gosh I wish I had a setup to colonize a gel plate, but no time or funds at the moment!)


PS. - I’ve said this a bajillion times on this blog already, but DO NOT put any shrooms or foraged food into your mouths or hands unless you are confident in identifying and preparing the food. DO use good judgment and take personal responsibility for your own actions.


Foraging for Wild Edibles - Purple Dead Nettles

It’s March now, but in another month or two, you should be seeing this EVERYWHERE in the US Northeast. Dead nettles are a common edible and medicinal”weed” for humans and an important source of food for bees in the early spring.

The plant is supposedly high in iron, vitamins, and fiber. Studies have found that purple dead nettles is a rich source of antibacterial essential oils, so freshly bruised leaves can be applied to external cuts. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Here, I tested three methods:

  1. simple garlic and oil sautee
  2. scrambled with eggs
  3. folded in with a cup of a ramen as a camping food experiment.

It doesn’t taste bad…kinda of like spinach, but I didn’t like the texture. The leaves have this a mossy and furry texture that is so odd in my mouth. I’d eat it in a survival situation, but think I’ll leave this for the bees and my chickens.


Foraging in Montana: Wild Onions

My first time finding wild onions along the river banks of  Montana! There’s not much of a bulb, but the stalks are quite peppery and onion-garlicky as you might expect.  I guess they must be a treat in the late spring / early summer season because I’ve never bumped into them in the late summer. Just wish I was around to see these guys bloom~


My first encounter with the elusive Ghost Plant

Also known at the corpse plant, the Indian pipe or Dutchman’s pipe, this parasitic plant does not contain any cholophyll as it absorbs nutrients from its surrounding trees and fungi. I don’t know if this is substantiated by today’s medical science, but Native Americans made this plant into a lotion to treat eye problems. And I’m not sure how, but the plant has been used to treat gonorrhea and inflammation of the bladder.


Harvesting Lambsquarter Seeds

Lambsquarters have tasty leaves that’s ideal for harvest early in the season, but come Fall the leaves will shrink and stalks will put out thousands of seeds. The seeds are very small and very light. I can’t really winnow it and I don’t have any tool to filter it. The best method I figured out is a little floatation trick. I dried the seeds, then rubbed them between my hands to loosen the chaff. I then dumped all the seeds in a bowl of water. At least 70% of the seeds will drop to the bottom. Most of the chaff will float on the top, which can be easily skimmed off.

I’m saving some for cooking, some to cultivate next year, and some to the feed chickens…hence lambsquarters’ other moniker “fat hen”.

@ maxsalad did an informative post here on cooking these seedsnutritious, but not really flavorsome.


Foraging in Montana: Sagebrush

Man, stuff is everywhere in Montana. I love it! It has an invigorating Vicks Vapor Rub smell. Wish I took some clippings home; the plan was to tie a bundle to the showerhead and get some aromatherapy going. Anyhoot, after we finish fishing for the day, we’d rub our hands down with a few stalks to get rid of the fishy smell. Other than its deodorizing properties, Native American tribes have use this plant to break headaches/colds and disinfecting wounds. Be careful if taking internally (i.e. tea) as too much if the plant’s oil can be toxic as well.


Cleaning with Soap Nuts

Couple weeks ago, Tumblr introduced me to a natural, cheap, almost odorless, hypoallergenic, and sustainable cleaning agent called soapnuts (or soapberries)! The dried husk/shell of this fruit contains resin that is high in saponins, a naturally occurring chemical compound that reduces the surface tension of water so that it can penetrate and dislodge the solid/other liquid more effectively. Extraction of the active ingredient only requires that soap nuts be agitated in warm water; a lot of lathery foam will form. I’ve tested soap nuts as a

  • laundry detergent
  • body and hair cleanser
  • fruit/veggie and dishwashing cleanser
  • insecticide for my indoor plants

So far so good, although not fond of using it as a body cleanser; it’s too awkward to apply IMO. There are plenty of other uses, but I think this would be a particularly excellent ecofriendly way to bring along a camping trip to clean your wares.

To my gardeners: Trust me, I checked every pod. No leftover seeds, otherwise I would definitely plant a soap nut tree!


Backyard Foraging: Plaintains and Clovers

Broadleaf plantains and red clovers are very commonly sighted wild medicinal and edible plants (at least in northeast USA), but as a personal choice, I’ve never harvested them due to exposures to city and suburban pollution (car, construction, insecticide, animal waste - you get the idea.)

This year, I have luscious crops growing freely and wildly in my backyard. I finally feel comfortable adding them to the farmacy.


Mushroom Foraging: Chicken of the Woods

OMG::heavy breathing:: It finally happened. We found chicken of the woods mushroom on a recent fishing trip. It was just right there…at least 8 pounds of shroom, but we took back and consumed half. This is a visual explosion of orange. The texture cooks down to a pretty slippery consistency like a wet gummy worm IMO…not a chicken texture that I was told to expect. This shroom exudes an incredibly umami aroma, but strangely it tasted citrusy. No seriously. Lemony.

One interesting thing I learned about the shroom is that even though they are not really poisonous or have any poisonous doppelgängers to speak of, if the mycelium is growing on some toxic wood like yew or eucalyptus, chemicals can get absorbed into the shroom then get passed on to us upon consumption. And yes, it will make you sick. So remember, it’s not just the shroom you need to identify…you gotta know your trees too!