a r i d    f o o d    b o o k     

                    . . . a climate appropriate collection of recipes and ideas geared towards   seasonal availability, indigenous cultures and urban micro climates

best viewed in firefox


 t a b l e - o f - c o n t e n t s

 . introvision
 . implements
 . spring
 . summer

. fall

. winter




 

 

 

Joshua Tree landscape

 

 

 

 

 

Compost delivery to guerilla garden

 

 

 

Herb Spiral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Ginko and Lettuce Guild

 

Orange Grove in Los Angeles 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






fennel 


bee, fennel and agave (background) 

 

 

 fresh picked oranges

 

 

 

 

 

 

artichokes  

artichoke  

cardoon or wild artichoke 




(clockwise from top) carrots, walnuts, dates chamomile

 

 

raw carrot pie 

 

 

persian or english walnuts 

 

 




lemon cucumber, rosemary (background)

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 fresh yellow pear and cherry tomatoes

 

  

   

sunomono or cucumber salad

  

tuber 

chicken overview from Bill Mollison

 

 

frying latkes 

 

fried latkes 

 

 prepared latkes with apples and cottage cheese

 

 

 fuerte avocados

avocado sapling 

 

guacamole

 almond tree

 

kiwi vine

ice cream maker 

 eggplants

eggplants 

marinated eggplant 

 

yucca flower growth 

cut flowers

 yucca omlette

 

apple, mint and lemon

 

lemon tree 


minty apple lemonade









potato varieties





potato diagram






tuber growth diagram




western acorn


coast live oak


mature oak tree

native baskets with acorns



pumpkin vine


squash gourd watercolor


pepita (shelled pumpkin) seeds

pumkin soup




corn



ge corn


making pupusas




home mushroom cultivation in India


mushroom diagram





giant mushroom grown in mexico

open face mushroom and cheese




healthy chicken


healthy yams





green beans

packed psuedo meat

oyster mushrooms grown on corn husks

purple onion



loquat fruit




loquat branch



fejoa jam with mexican daisies

If not FROM BACKYARD then foraged                                      If not FORAGED then locally produced.
If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic.
If not ORGANIC, then Family farm.
If not FAMILY FARM, then Fair Trade.

 

No licenses, no permits, no inspections, no rules, no hearings, no corporations, no fees, no contract, no salespeople, no driving, no tiny annoying labels to peel off your fruit. You don’t need to ask permission. Just do it!
- Owen Dell



 

I n t r o v i s i o n 

 

    While this work remains a humble fraction of a drafted template, it is foreseeable that volume of work will fill in the blanks and create a permeable network of information that can provide travelers and residents resources for local culinary history and mythology in the form of a cookbook organized by geography, climates and seasons. I consider myself an amateur and novice in many areas, including construction, agriculture, mechanics, electronics, astrology, culinary arts, nutrition, ecology, permaculture design and implementation. Many have contributed to such fields and earned acclaimed status, and I am grateful to be on the shoulders of giants. This book is intended to provide metro-domesticated humans a glimpse to return to their agrarian and or indigenous roots for a substantial portion of their diet, health and material needs.

 It is no secret that a healthy diet consists of mainly fruits, nuts, veggies and fungus with occasional meat, and many foods have curative properties. Many of these are readily available in backyards, community gardens and farmers markets. To alleviate massive gaps in public knowledge that could be elementary for some older folks and unheard of for younger ones is a primary priority. While few people have gone back to pre-industrialized living, it may not be by choice at some point and could still satisfy our needs beyond what we can imagine now. A major hurdle to overcome will be a mindset of progress equated with technological and economic growth. While careers and paychecks may depend on imperialistic paradigms, many other nations are covertly and overtly victimized by colonial economics. The short and detailed history of colonialism is vastly overshadowed by the long and overlooked history of indigenous people who lived the world over. While profits, transportation and consumption are all on the rise, diversity (of plants, animals and humans), wages (adjusted to inflation) and nutritional value have all fallen since the advent of chemical based farming primarily after world war II.

The average meal comes from 1500 miles away. That takes large amounts of fuel to transport your food 3 times a day, not even considering the fuel you use to go buy it, refrigerate it and heat it. In times when resources are scarce, dependence on foreign oil, timber, steel, plastic and other high demand items weaken our economy, we also are depending increasingly on other nations for our food supply, which raises the demand for oil to ship it to us from around the world. As our megalithic waste dumps fill up with packaging and people become aware of vast corruption, public health threats and environmental degradation imposed by industrial agriculture (agribusiness) and biotechnology, people are searching for alternatives to bland food, bred and subsidized for mass production.

 The exotic, packaged foods that are out of season may seem convenient, but many people find eating within their local seasons and bioregion to be a more fresh and rewarding experience. In your nearest industrial corridor, you probably won't find the picturesque family farm that is displayed so prominently in packaging, marketing and advertising. You may find large trucks unloading goods from far away locales where workers don't have the same rights, to be processed in a less than clean sanitary factory. If you want fresh and healthy food, look around your neighborhood or backyard. What you have seen thriving there is only a small sample of the culinary diversity in your bio-region including organic, bio-dymanic, wild food, community gardens, backyard garden food, frontyard food, street food, dumpster food and the list goes on.

 While organically labeled food might be a step in the right direction, there is still no comparison to the uniqueness of food grown and eaten within a very small space and time of ripeness that you only begin to understand after years and decades of growing and eating your food. Planting, harvesting and foraging can be a positive interaction working with the your ecosystem. It can also be a benefit to your community, as food becomes a more powerful link to your friends and family. What began as a major frustration of obtaining fresh, local, organic produce became the pleasure of growing food in backyards, containers and public spaces. It has allowed me to see complementary and alternative systems of material and mental-culture. And think more deeply about consuming and preparing foods.

i m p l e m e n t s / p r e p a r a t i o n 

 

Food preparation is a pleasure to some and pain to others, depending on the circumstances. Knowledge combined with good quality food and tools can make all the difference. With the emergence of microwave culture, many implements from the kitchen have been neglected or forgotten. But never fret, you can make all the good stuff with the most basic of equipment, san all high tech gadgets, commodities and impulse buys. Hand tools and other simple implements last longer, are easier to operate and repair than modern appliances.
 


 

Bike Blender - extracycle human powered blender 


Solar Dish - dish with properties capable of heating


 

 

Wood Burning Stove - enclosure burning carbon to material





          s p r i n g 

^ Orange Fennel Salad 
< attributes : local options, vegan, raw, wild options
< preparation time : 10 minutes
< useful tools : knife, grater, cutting board, bowl, fork



* orange                                                                            * fennel                                                                             * oil                                                                                  * nuts                                                           

                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                Fennel is found in arid and costal climates and although it has many useful properties, it is not widely cultivated. It shares a common link with both licorice root and anise, but all of which are slightly different. Several varieties of fennel exist, and can be grown and harvested year round. Florentine Fennel is most common in supermarkets, while wild or bronze fennel can be found thriving all over dry hillsides in sub tropical regions close to the sea. Every part of the plant is useful and edible from the root bulb to seed. It is used for dyes, toothpaste, medicine, food, breath mints, flea treatment and soaps. It is also an important wild plant food for birds and insects. For a fresh, crisp onion like taste, the bulb of a young plant no taller than two feet is best. Pull it up gently from the base. If you cant find a small young one, simply take a sprig of the plant to mince later as a garnish or shave bits from a stalk.
Onions are also bulbs that can be planted from an old onion that has sprouted green leaves at the top (it is best to do this in the fall for a spring harvest) Other bulbs that can be used are shallots, chives. Mint leaves are common evergreen herb found in gardens across the world. Other substitutes like Rosemary or Lavender can also make this an aromatic dish. In Los Angeles and other parts of California, citrus fruit like oranges and lemons have been commercially grown widely for a century and are commonly feral in urban, rural and suburban areas. When looking for oranges, look for ones that are slightly soft and fully orange in color. Pull it forward and backwards, it should come off easily if ripe.
Prepare the salad by cutting the orange into bite size pieces, drizzle with oil, dice young fennel bulb, or shave older stalk over the salad. Fancy additions and or substitutions might include; avocado (oil or fruit) tomatoes, garlic, salt, peppercorns, olives, jicama, grapefruit, grapes, pine nuts, walnuts, almonds. All of which thrive in arid climates with modest water. Mix and match based on your tastes and local harvest.
 
^ Wild Artichoke Stew
< attributes : local, vegan options, wild options
< preparation time : 2 hours
< useful tools : steel, cast iron or copper pot, spoon
    * artichoke or cardoon
    * oil
 
     I was recently informed of the difference between an artichoke and a cardoon. They are both in the thistle plant family, amd look very similar. The cardoon is propagated for it's stem rather than it's flower (as opposed to artichoke). It can grow in poor, dry soil and prefers costal (within 50 miles of the ocean) locations.
Although not edible raw, artichokes have a distant cousin called "jerusalem artichokes" or "sunchokes" (looks like a sunflower above ground) that are actually tubers (like potatoes), and can be eaten raw. They posses a crisp nutty flavor, somewhat akin to jicama.  Other possible additions like tomatoes, celery, mushrooms and sage can be well received by the palate.
I have found the stem of the artichoke to be better or as good as the infamous heart. Boil or steam as much of the plant as possible until soft. Try making a agave, maple syrup or brown sugar butter sauce if you want sweet, or olive oil and fennel for a more herbaceous flavor. It could be quite tasty, (not to mention convenient) to combine the sauce into the boiling water making a brothy stew rather than dipping the choke petals into the sauce (saving the nutrients in the water and labor spent dipping). The leaves are also edible but bitter depending on the variety, eaten by the romans to lower cholesterol and improve liver function (and during famines). It has been labeled "noxious" in California and Australia (people consider it a weed), even as it is a million dollar crop.
 
^ Raw Carrot Pie
< attributes : local, vegan, raw
< useful tools : mortar, pestle, knife, nutcracker, shredder
< preparation time : 30 minutes 
    * carrots
    * dates 
 
Dessert was originally an after dinner snack, meaning "to clean the table", this desert dessert was made with a healthy mind and body in mind. It was not until the refined sugar industry took root that sweets were massively available to the public. Now, beyond available, sugar and high fructose corn syrup are often the major ingredients in affordable snacks. Obesity and diabetes rates are higher in the United States and even as projections for 2008 weigh loss and diet industries rise to 60 billion dollars a year.
Carrots have been cultivated for thousands of years, originating in the wilds of the middle east and asia, where they were white, orange or purple in color and believed to have medicinal properties. Women have traditionally used a teaspoon of the seeds as a "morning after pill". The carrot is thought to have a wide range of medicinal properties such as; hangover cure, liver and kidney benefits and  It's white delicate flowers "Queen Anne's Lace" reflect the name given to the carrot by English Botanists. It is related to parsley, dill, fennel and cumin, and does not grow well in close proximity to these relatives. Dutch gardeners were the first known group to produce the orange carrots (to please the Royal House of Orange) that have become the most common variety in the market today.
Walnuts are the seeds of trees found on many continents. They have a very high fat and oil content, and have been used as an ingredient for oil paints and salads. The wood of the walnut tree is one of the most prized woods used for decor. The black walnuts, predominantly native to North America, have much harder shells and smaller meat.
Take carrots and pulverize to as small pieces as possible. I have used a cheese grater, a knife and food processors. Depending on the texture you want to eat and what tools you have access to give the dish an individual touch. Do the same with the dates and combine with the carrot. Now pick the vessel you want to serve the dish in and fill it half way with shelled walnuts. Use some sort of blunt device (ie pestle) to crush the walnuts into the vessel. Try to cover as much surface area as possible on the sides. Now scrape, pour or put the carrots and dates into the vessel. Add your favorite garnish like mint, chamomile, berries or other fruit.
 
^ Lemon Cucumber Tomato
< attributes : local, vegan, raw
< useful tools : vessel, knife or blender and spoon or fork
< preparation time : 10 minutes
* cucumbers
* tomatoes
* vinegar
* oil
* garlic
                                    This recipe is a frequent childhood memory probably because it was easy to make. Back then the food I ate involved mono-crop farms, unfair labor practices, excessive packaging, excessive shipping and trips in cars to giant box stores. Today it involves walking to the backyard, and broadcasting seeds, or harvesting fruits. Who knew making cucumber salad (sunomono in japanese) would be such a liberating social, ecological and economic venture. 
 
Cucumbers and tomatoes grow quite easily. Most varieties of cannot support themselves when they mature, so some type of fence, trellis or cage will be useful. I like lemon cucumbers because they are smaller, and thus, grow faster, minimize damage risk and a better single serving size. Tomatoes also have a better chance of survival from pest and disease in smaller sizes, and often contain the same amount of nutrients as the larger ones. I especially enjoy forgotten heirloom varieties like cherokee purple and yellow pear.  Tomatoes were once thought to be deadly, and used only as ornamentals, until natives of the new world were seen eating them. A good way to keep tomatoes producing is to pick (and eat) the small yellow flowers as they appear. Tomatoes grow well in fairly recent compost, thriving on kitchen waste and can grow up to 10 feet tall with some support. Cucumbers  will also climb high if trained to a trellis. Plants that have evolved together in gardens tend to form relationships that are beneficial. These relationships have been called "guilds" or "companion plants" and are often connected through their ethno-botanical heritage and relations. Whether wild or domesticated, italian culture plants like tomatoes, basil, garlic, onion, lettuce, grapes and olives often grow in close proximity and help each other balance nutrients, pests, light and temperature.
To begin, dice the tomatoes, garlic and cucumbers, then splash them with olive, hemp, rapeseed or soybean oil. Mix in the oil a little bit then apply a bit of vinegar (apple cider, white or red wine). Or you can put it all in a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle to make a delicious soup. A little salt and pepper will do wonders. Garnish with some small tomatoes and perhaps a mint leaf. A dish best served cold and raw.
 
^ Tuber Fruit Latkes
< attributes : local, vegan options
< useful tools : knife, shredder / grater , skillet,
< preparation time : 30 minutes
* gourd or tuber* onions
* egg
* oil
       Although not advised raw, home raised eggs can be a pleasure to facilitate. Chickens deserve more credit in today's society. In urban areas they are considered blight even though they are among the most commonly eaten food in the country. Many people are aware of the conditions of factory farmed chickens, evident in rapid rise of "free range" or "cage free" sales, often only requiring an hour of cage free time per day. Although most eggs found in a supermarket are bland, discolored and of questionable origin, having chickens in your backyard can be a rewarding experience. They can provide many services free of charge like garden fertilizer, pest control, weed control, compost management, garden preparations, companionship, entertainment and food. I can only hope some of my human friends were this helpful. Home-raised eggs are often much more tasty and intense in yolk color, (closer to orange than yellow supermarket eggs). If you have a few hundred square feet of dirt for your fowlish friends to roam free, by all means. Chickens also like massages, and will produce more eggs if you put golf balls in their nests. They are also keen on other spa treatments such as dirt baths and filing their beaks. But don't worry, they are very low maintenance ladies, especially if they have a mobile home (aka chicken tractor).
    Latkes are a traditional potato pancake, often prepared for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah in December. They have origins in many regions where potatoes are grown such as Poland, Ireland, Russia and Korea. Latkes are often made from leftover potatoes that would be compost. The main difference from the common American Hash brown is the use of eggs and or flour as a binder with the shredded potatoes (or zucchini).
My favorite thing about latkes is the flexabilty of ingredients. Almost any root vegetable will work as a substitute. Try carrots, zucchini, beets, radishes, turnips, sunchokes, garlic and onions or combine them all for a colorful and festive pancake. I prefer the combinations including zucchini because they are such easy to grow, prolific fruits (yes they are a fruit by definition). Use any leftovers to widen the texture and taste spectrum. Although fried foods are not known to be the most healthy way to prepare meals, if cooked quickly at the proper temperature, they oil "steams" the food inside, leaving only the outer edges crispy and oily, while the moisture in the food being forced out by heat leaves the inside relatively oil free (oil and water don't mix, remember).
To make the latkes, dice, shred, cut, peel, julienne whatever tubers or fruiting veggies (zucchini, squash, etc) you have handy and put them into a bowl. Beat whatever kind of eggs you have. One egg per person you intend to serve. Now combine with the cut veggies throughly. Heat the stove to about 170 degrees and fill the pan with oil. Canola, peanut and soy bean oil seem to be the most popular for frying because they don't burn as easily as olive oil. Traditionally served with dairy and or apples.

                               s u m m e r
 
^ Awol Avocado Art
< attributes : local, vegan, raw
< useful tools : knife, fork, bowl
< preparation time : 10 minutes
* avocado
* garlic
* onion
The word Avocado originates from "Ahuacuatl", the Aztec word for testicle tree. The name may come from the way the fruits hang from the tree in pairs, or the fertility powers it possessed. Avocado was a main source of fat in many indigenous diets and also contained many curative powers. The leaves can be applied to wounds as a poultice, the skin is used as an antibiotic remedy for intestinal parasites and infections, and the oils and seeds have an excellent effect on the skin and hair. The oil can be found in many high end beauty products. The cons of this fruit would be that it never ripens on the tree. It is best to put it in a paper or cloth bag for a week until soft on top and bottom. Once it ripens it also spoils quickly.
The fruit was brought to California around the turn of the century from Central and South America, making a happy home here ever since as one of the most valuable trees in California Agribusiness. The California Avocado industry is a billion dollar market. Some varieties can fetch $3.00 per avocado, and each tree can produce hundreds of fruit. So to save resources and fuel, plant and pick Avocados in your yard or neighborhood for one of the best sources of fat on a tree.
Cut the avocado into four pieces and peel each. Dice the garlic and onions and whatever else you have decided to include. Use the fork to mash all the ingredients together. Mix until a chunky pudding consistency is achieved. leave the pit with the guac Complimented by the likes of tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, mango, jicama, chives, basil, oregano and or parsley (all dried or fresh). 
 
^ Nut Fruit Sorbet
< attributes : local, vegan, raw
< useful tools : ice cream maker or ice filled mixing bowl           < preparation time : 1 hour
* nuts
* fruits                                                                              * honey, agave or maple syrup                                              * soy milk, yogurt or milk

Oxford Press claims that sorbet came "...from charbet, made with fruit and snow from the mountains of Lebanon, and offered to Richard I by Saladin as a peace offering", while some folklore claim it was Nero who first made sorbet from snow, honey and wine. Techniques of refrigeration have been known for thousands of years. Early humans stored meat and other perishables in the coldest micro climates of their localities, either a cave, cold pond, or other heat sheltered area. Egyptians and Chinese used two half burried clay pots inside one another, with wet sand in between to insulate and refrigerate. The inner, insulated pot maintained a significantly lower temperature than the outside. Others have collected snow in the winter and buried it with layers of insulation. While summer may not be the easiest time to come upon frozen things in arid landscapes, it is usually a welcomed treat.
Blending fruits, nut and possibly a dairy product together into a smooth, thick mixture, apply cold insulation to the area surrounding the fruit mixture and agitate for about 30 minutes. There are numerous methods such as cold churning, zip lock bag of ice shaken, with bag of puree inside. Some RV enthusiasts use a ball filled with ice rolling around their campsite. If you dont have access to ice or other frozen material (frozen food, ice pack, , a smoothie / puree will be just as tasty and easy.
 
^ Plant Eggplant Salsa
< attributes : local, vegan, raw options
< useful tools : vessel, knife,
< preparation time : 20 minutes
* eggplant
* tomatoes
* oil
* garlic
Eggplant is in the nightshade plant family, along with potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco. It is called the "crazy apple" in latin, with it's origins in Asia. It can grow for many years (especially in the tropics), but most people in temperate climates (northern US and Europe) cultivate it as an annual (meaning it dies after one season). Most people enjoy eggplant cooked, but it can also be eaten raw, marinated in oil. Some people with arthritis experience worsened conditions from eating eggplant and other nightshade plants, but eggplant is also known to lower blood cholesterol.
 Traditionally (3 generations now) it has been micro-waved until the inside is soft, then scrapped out and mixed with other veggies and herbs. Also it can be steamed for similar results. My version, (although raw eggplant is not recommended by the Center for Disease Control) calls for the cut eggplant, tomatoes and minced garlic to be soaked in an oil for between 1 and 12 hours, and serve with. If you prefer, try barbecuing marinated or raw slices of eggplant with cheese or ground nuts on top for a tasty appetizer.
 
 

^ Elephant Yucca Omelette
< attributes : wild options, feral options, native, vegan options
< useful tools : knife, ladder, skillet, fork
< preparation time : 10 minutes
* yucca flowers
* garlic
* tomatoes
* onions
* egg, tofu or tempeh
 

There are 56 different kinds of yucca from the southwestern US down to Chile. They usually have a gray or brown fleshy trunk, growing anywhere from 4 to 30 feet in height. At the top there are about 50 green blades about 1 foot long, with sharp tips. Most have white edible bell shaped flowers which emerge from the top in summertime. Also known as the flor de izote,it is the national flower of El Salvador and considered a delicacy. 

Commonly know as the Joshua Tree native to the high altitude Mojave Desert region. It is used commonly as a drought tolerant landscaping tree in southern California, the southwest and Florida. While it's growth may be slow, it can easily spread shoots to other areas and is not easily removed once established.
Other smaller species of yucca are harvested for their root and made into a starchy, mashed potato like dish. With the Yucca has also been used for fiber and cordage by indigenous cultures of the Americas. 

It is recommended to boil the flowers for 5 minutes or so). Then add to an egg scramble, quesadillas and salad, it adds a fresh, bittersweet onion and endive taste.

^ Apple Mint Lemonade
< attributes : vegan, local, raw, feral options
< useful tools : juice squeezer, knife, vessel
< preparation time : 10 minutes
* lemons
* apples
* mint
In the last days of summer, everyone needs a cool refreshing drink. Lemons are thought to have origins in India or Egypt, and have been prominent in Europe since greco-roman times. Although too sour to be eaten whole by most people, lemons have been used as a flavoring, preservative, marinade, pickled, juice, aromatherapy (for stress reduction), alcohol (limoncello) and for citric acid production from a high vitamin C content.  Ayurvedic medicine uses lemon juice with hot water to promote liver health, digestive and immune system function (and help hangovers).
In suburban areas, lemons are often the most common fruit tree found in the home landscape. They are hardy of many weather conditions, drought tolerant, produce heavily, store well on the tree and need little pruning care. For their ease of yield I have included them here. One of my favorite ways to utilize lemons is as a natural additive to bland, store bought apple juice or tea. Only a few varieties of apples are productive without a winter chill, often they are small, mealy and pest infested, and making juice or sauce the best option in warmer climates. Perhaps you want lemonade with a hint of apple, or apple juice with a zest of lemon, I find both fantastic with a little herby garnish like mint, epazote, allspice or majoram, my take on an Arnold Palmer.
Cut the apples into quarter pieces, remove the core and seeds, juice with whatever you have into a vessel (bowl or cup). The cut the lemons in half and do the same. Crush the mint leaves (limes too, if you have them) and combine all ingredients. If you dont have apples or apple juice around, add 1 cup of water per lemon, and consider a sweetener such as agave, stevia or honey.



                                                                    f a l l



^Potato Rainbow Gathering                                                   < attributes : vegan options, local, dumpster options                 < useful tools : knife, skillet, stove or oven                            < preparation time 20 minutes

* potatoes
* salt
* oil, avocado or butter


Many crops such as potatoes are genetically modified organisms (GMO). They are almost impossible to distinguish from an ordinary open pollinated organisms or heirloom variety except for the fact that GMO's are immune to certain chemical agents and they appear more uniform is size, shape and color. Economically important varieties are modified genetically to grow bigger, more uniform and disease and pest resistant.

Most often served as "french fries" in the US, the first term for potato was "pommes de terre", or "earth apples". Belgium may have been one of the first recorded places to chop and fry a potato in oil and or fat. It was subsequently adopted across Europe by the turn of the century, and exploded in the US after the Russet Burbank potato was developed with the intention of selling them as cut, frozen "fries" reconstituted. Each North American eats an average of 30 pounds of frozen potatoes each year.

Thousands of types of potato and other tubers have been cultivated in the Andes Mountains alone. When the potato famine of 1845 affected Ireland's crops (which were primarily only two types), the diverse crops of the Andes remained unaffected. 

For these reasons, I have chosen to use a variety of varieties so to speak, encouraging a diversity of crops either by voting with dollars, or planting old, sprouted potatoes. When planting, cut them up so that the eyelets position themselves with their sprouts facing towards the sun, with at least two on each potato piece. They do not need to be particularly deep, just make sure they are not visible on the surface. A well drained and watered soil will be needed for most varieties. They will grow and flower quickly, but it is important to not eat the leaves, stems or flowers as they are poisonous. When the leaves have turned brown and dry, it is time to uproot. If you have a pitchfork that works well, otherwise just lift gently from the base of the plant. They will be in an interconnected clump of roots and legumes, best eaten right away. Wild relatives of the potato can be found throughout desert and sub tropical regions, like yucca and manroot, (also known as wild cucumber) while the thorny cucumber-like balls are not edible, the root is sweet and can weigh over 50 pounds. Native Americans harvested bulbs, corms, rhizomes, taproots and tubers (all of which produce food underground), earning them the crude name "root diggers". 


Take the tubers in to your kitchen and wash them throughly. Decide if you want to bake, mash or fry them. Steaming and mashing them is the most healthy option, although baked and fried are both tasty. I leave the peel in the dish no matter which way I prepare them because most of the nutrients are on the edge of potatoes. Also herbs like rosemary, chives, garlic or parsley can compliment the starchy spud. Traditionally, baked potatoes are served with sour cream, mashed with gravy or fried, with ketchup. Almost all recipes call for some sort of fat like butter or oil. I have found leftover guacamole to equally appealing as a butter substitute with a little more flavor and spice.

^ Wild Acorn Bread                                                               < attributes : vegan, local, wild, native                                  < useful tools : knife, cloth, bowl, oven                                  < preparation time : 2 hours

* acorns
* dates
* liquid
* baking powder
* salt

Acorns have been a staple of the diet in many different cultures all over earth. The oak tree from which acorns grow is a symbol of strength, fertility and stamina. Oaks have other valuable characteristics such as their hard wood, ability to create habitat for other organisms that are useful to humans such as mushrooms, birds and insects. Celtic, Korean and other European peoples have gathered acorns for millennia, and used them to make breads, puddings, soups and flour among other things. Acorns contain protein, carbohydrates and tannin, which is a very bitter substance, used for dying fabrics to a brown color.

As the acorns appear on the oak tree, small little yellow green patches begin to emerge from the dark green leaves creating a bright new palate of colors in the landscape. As these acorns turn to brown they are ready to be collected and processed, although they can be preserved for long periods of time in their shells. Once removed from their shells, leaching is the next step. This can be done by leaving them in running water for a few days in a basket or net. They can also be boiled, having the water changed about 10 times depending on the variety of acorns (white oaks have less tannin than black oaks). Now they must be dried, either in the sun all day or in an oven at 150 degrees for a few hours on a flat sheet. Once the acorns dry they can be ground into flour, which can be used in a variety of ways. It should not taste bitter anymore, having removed the tannic acid. To make bread, mix dates, acorn flour, corn or other flour and some baking powder and salt add a liquid like fruit juice or a milk of nuts or dairy until a desired consistency is reached. Put the loaf in an oven for an hour or two until you can put a knife in and out clean.
 

 

 

^ Pure Pumpkin Soup                                                         < attributes : vegan options, local                                         < useful tools : oven or fire, knife, spoon                               < preparation time : 2 hours

* pumpkin
* onions
* bread
* broth
* oil

  In Korea and Japan, the word translating to "pumpkin" is slang for an unattractive woman, but in the American South and Midwest, the word "pumpkin" is used as a term of endearment. Pumpkin and squash cultivation began in Mesoamerica some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago when Native Americans used the "Three Sisters", three main plants used for agriculture: maize (corn), beans, and squash (pumpkin). Usually planted in together in geometrical patterns, the cornstalk provides support for the beans, and shade for the squash. The squash provided ground cover to limit weeds and the beans provided nitrogen for all three crops.
Pumpkins can be eaten in a variety of ways; baked, roasted, boiled, mashed, made into pies and soups. The seeds can be eaten and roasted (often salted and spiced), when the white shell or husk is removed, the green seeds inside are called pepitas. The heaviest pumpkin on record weighed 1502 lbs and was grown in Paletine, IL. Most pumpkins weigh between 5 - 15 lbs. In the US, more pumpkins are used as decorations than for food. Using pumpkins as lanterns during Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic custom brought to America by Irish immigrants. Today Halloween is a national holiday, and a consumer extravaganza where children are showered with sugar.

One way to make soup out of a pumpkin or other round squash is to cut a hole in the top and remove all the contents (seeds and pulp). Seperate the seeds for drying, planting or roasting, and use the pulp as a base for the soup. No need for a pot, use the empty pumpkin. Add a liquid to the base depending on taste, milk for creamy, broth for a less viscous soup, or both. If you do not add broth, oil (olive, rapeseed, sunflower or hemp) and water are recommended. Greens (arugula, kale, spinach) and other veggies (brussel sprouts, brochili, carrots, leeks, onions) will also provide lots of nutrients, especially in soups because nothing is lost in the cooking process unless it is burnt.




^ Blue Corn Pupusa                                                               < attributes : vegan options, local options                              < useful tools : knife, bowl, grill
< preparation time : 2 hours

* corn
* vegetables
* oil

Corn is basically a monster grass (like bamboo) with it's roots in the American continents. It has been a staple crop of the Inca, Aztec, Maya and other civilizations. There are thousands of varieties with a diverse set of colors, tastes and characteristics. It is now the most widely grown crop in the US.               


Far from being just food for thought, corn is used today as a thickener (corn starch) a sweetener, (corn syrup) a medical surrogate (GM corn is used to grow pharmaceutical ingredients) as well as a fuel crop for ethanol production. While this may sound like a useful plant, it is highly subsidized by the US government, takes vast amounts of water to grow and has little nutritional value the way it is grown in the commercially.

                                                                               Pupusas have their origins in El Salvador, where they are traditionally made with corn flour, cheese, beans, vegetables (and their flowers) and often animal meats such as pigs, cows and chickens. The dried corn is ground into a flour and combined with water and lime juice to make a dough. Then the dough is stuffed with the ingredients of preference, made into a pancake shape and usually pan fried or grilled. Served with a bit of sour cream, pickled veggies and some hot sauce, it is one of my personal favorites of Latin American dishes I have experienced.



                                       
                                                                       w i n t e r


^ Double Mushroom Iceberg                                                 < attributes : vegan, local, wild and feral options                     < useful tools : pan, stove
< preparation time : 20 minutes

* mushrooms (2 varieties recommended)
* oil
* fixins






Mushrooms have been eaten and cultivated my humans for as long as any other food source. They are more closely related to humans than plants because they inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Fungi and animals are now in the same super-kingdom, Opisthokonta. It is probable that they were an early ingredient to some of the first fires created by humans, as both fuel and transportation of heat and fire. Mushrooms also have many medicinal properties, including lowering risks of many types of cancer, strengthening immune systems and aiding in digestive functions. Mushrooms are relatively high in protein, averaging about 20% of their mass when dry. Further they contribute a wide range of essential amino acids. Mushrooms and fungi are low in fat (between .3 and 2%) and high in fiber, and provide several groups of vitamins, particularly thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, and ascorbic acid. Unless the fungi are at least slightly cooked, you will only benefit from the fiber passing through (and cleaning) your digestive track (which isn't all that bad).

First, find two kinds of mushroom, I recommend any except for White or Crimini. Do not pick a wild or feral mushroom unless an expert has positively identified the species or sub species. A good farmers market usually will have some locally grown mushrooms. It is never a bad idea to get some of them dried because they will keep longer. Soaking dry mushrooms for 20 minutes can revive them to their original fleshy state. Some companies sell mushrooms growing kits, both plugs (wooden dowels inoculated with mushroom spores) logs, and bags plastic bags filled with either husk, sawdust or sandy soil inoculated with spores (spawn). They are fast and easy to grow, often producing fungi continuously for months or years. Some of my favorite varieties include tree ear (aka wood ear or judas ear) Shitake, Chanterelle, Hedgehog, Black Trumpet, Bluefoot and Oyster Mushrooms. Identify what your favorites are at your co-op, then consider ordering a kit or spores. Some mushrooms can grow in your garden once the colony has been established, it will continue to fruit for many years and also provide nutrients to nearby veggies.




 


^ Green Eggs and Yams                                                       < attributes : vegetarian, local                                              < useful tools : knife, pan, stove                                           < preparation time : 20 minutes


Old yams, like other tubers and bulbs, can be placed into the soil, and will sprout leaves and flowers relatively quickly. It is best to wait until the stem and leaves have died and turned yellow or brown before harvesting them.

Lettuce and other greens are some of the easiest plants to grow. The seeds can be bought at any market for a dollar or two and you will have an abundance of greens that should last through the season. You can grow it in a pot next to the kitchen window, or anywhere else it gets partial or shaded sunlight for about half the day. If it wilts, put it in a more shaded area, especially during summer. If it seems to be growing too slow, put it in more light and give it more root space (a bigger pot or in the ground). If it starts to grow tall fast, and taste bitter, let it go to seed for next year's planting.

First cut the yams into chip or french fry sized pieces (the smaller you cut them, the faster they will cook). Start pan frying them first with a dash of oil if possible let them cook on low heat for about 20 minutes. Then add the eggs, (whichever way you like, sunny side up, pan scrambled, or the like). Once the eggs are two thirds done, add some greens.



^ Vegan Chopped Liver                                                          < attributes : vegan options, raw options, local                        < useful tools : fork, skillet, knife, blender                             < preparation time : 30 minutes

* nuts
* oil
* onions
* mushrooms


Liver products are not as popular as they once were in the US, and vegetarian fare is on the rise. There has always been a strange relationship between meat eaters and the mock food of non meat eaters. Meat eaters consume processed meat so much that it is no longer resembles flesh, and non meat eaters often attempt to duplicate the texture, flavor and visual characteristics of meats. Animal foods have been part of the life cycle for as long as humans have been present on earth and before. Slaughter-ware-houses however, have not been part of the life cycle of earth until the last hundred years or so, out of the last 65 billion years. Veggies, bulbs, nuts, and fungus have been, for that they are honored in this recipe.

Nuts and mushrooms together provide a nutritional combination that is similar to meat in protein and fat contents, and often it is easier to digest and absorb those nutrients and vitamins. Beans like soy beans, green beans, lima beans and the like provide fiber and carbohydrates. Onions and mushrooms have anti cancer properties and help strengthen the body to fight heart disease and colds.

First chop the onions and mushrooms to fit the frying pan, and saute them in oil (olive, coconut, hemp, peanut or other) until soft and slightly brown or the onions are translucent. Combine in a mortar or blender



^ Raw Loquat Jam                                                               < attributes : vegan, raw, local                                             < useful tools : vessel
< preparation time : 10 minutes

* loquats

Loquats are known to be of indigenous origin Asia, where they have been domesticated for over two thousand years. They thrive in a wide variety of conditions of climate, soil and light, and after being pollinated by insects, they produce a peachy colored fruit in late winter or early spring. The leaves are analgesic, antibacterial, antiemetic, antitussive, antiviral, astringent, diuretic and expectorant. Quite a resume for such a small fruit. The size ranges from 1 to 3 inches with at least one 1/2 inch pit.

Jam is a sweet pasty substance usually made from combining heat, sugar, fruit (with pectin) and preserved in jars. Most common sugar comes from politically  unstable regions where farmers are watched by guards with guns and governments, murderous rebel groups take bribes from international agribusiness firms. Loquats are delicious with their naturally present sugar however, and not often commercially available. Many people regard them as ornamental trees and plant them on medians and front yards, unbeknownst to residents and locals. I suggest appreciating the fruit in it's own season and eating it as quickly as possible, because without sugar and pectin, this will not last more than a week or two. Try using what ever fruit is in season to make a raw jam, strawberries, raspberries and melons can often defy the seasons and grow year round in Southern California and other hot dry climates.

To make remove the pit(seed) and thin peel, then pulverize the peel into small pieces. Keep the seeds for planting, or roast them on a fire, grind or mill and put the grounds in your coffee making device to make loquat coffee. Continue mashing the rest of the fruit and put it into a jar in a cold place. It is a fine compliment to smoothies, ice cream, yogurt, pies, cake, other pastries as well as salad dressings or salsa.