Unsurprisingly, many people have never even heard of pit cooking. Getting our food that close to dirt is enough to make anyone uncomfortable, and with the invention of indoor ovens, pit cooking has become widely ignored in our culture. Lately though, there has been a resurgence of similar outdoor cooking trends, including La Caja China BBQ Box | Cajun Pig Roasts.
While that’s a recent and great beach party innovation, another similar example is one of the few remaining traditions surviving the modernized world: the traditional luau Kahlua pig as shown in the video above. These traditional Hawaiian festivities . . . → Read More: How to Pit Cook in the Outdoors
Basketry is a fascinating and ancient traditional craft that dates back to the earliest humans. Our ancestors created and developed the basket as a method for transporting food, water, children, and other materials. I love the history behind basket making — it’s kind of like the invention of the wheel. Our ancestors figured out how to use the natural materials of their environment to create a system for transporting the ‘stuff’ that was essential for their survival.
Without a doubt, these first baskets were simple and without frills. However, over time, the tradition of basketry has created a variety . . . → Read More: How to Make an Appalachian Potato Basket
Syrups are a wonderful way to take herbal medicine. They are satisfyingly sweet, with honey (most common), or other substitutes such as sugar, maple syrup, or vegetable glycerin combined with concentrated herbal extracts. Good for both children and adults, syrups are used to treat a variety of symptoms and ailments such as colds, flu and seasonal allergies. Syrups can also be taken for physical and emotional well-being, such as for strengthening the immune system, relieving tension and stress, mood changes, and much more.
What is a Syrup?
An herbal syrup is a blended, concentrated form of herbal extract and . . . → Read More: How to make an Herbal Syrup
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we live in a rich and varied ecosystem. Our temperate rain forests are host to a wide variety of plants, many of which the Native people learned how to use for food, medicine, technology, craft, ceremony, and more.
The forests in our bio-region are dominated by Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar, and Douglas Fir. These beautiful trees have many gifts to offer, and some are even edible. Subspecies of the Pine family (Pinaceae) have edible needles, which are very high in Vitamins C and A. I think it’s kind of funny that . . . → Read More: How to Make Pine Needle Tea
In my humble (and perhaps a bit plant-biased) opinion, Stinging Nettle is one of the most amazing plants in the Pacific Northwest. Here at Wolf Camp & the Wolf College, we consider Nettle to be one of the top 10 most important survival plants, with a variety of uses such as food, technology (rope, craft, dye), and medicine.
With its sharp, stinging hairs, Nettle may seem like a plant to keep at a distance. However, this is a plant we should always have around! I like the Traditional Medicinals saying, that ‘once you have a friend in Nettle, you . . . → Read More: How to Make Stinging Nettle Tea
I’ve already talked a little bit about my love for Stinging Nettle (with Nettle Shampoo and Nettle Tea), but I’ve been waiting to share one of my most favorite wild edible recipes: Caramelized Stinging Nettle Chips, or what I like to call ‘Kettle Nettle.’
We first made these by accident during one of Wolf Camp’s Herbal day camps — we had just made candied fennel, and were demonstrating how to make Sauteed Nettle. Because we used the same pan as the candied fennel, the leftover sugar caramelized on the nettle and made it crisp up. When we sampled it, . . . → Read More: How to Make “Kettle Nettle” (Caramelized Stinging Nettle Chips)
Tinctures are a favored method of extracting medicinal properties from plants. They are one of the oldest herbal preparations, created and used thousands of years ago, and are still widely used today.
What is a Tincture?
A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract that uses alcohol as the solvent.
To understand what a tincture is, we need to also understand what isn’t a tincture. So, a tincture is an herbal extract that uses alcohol as the menstruum (solvent): if the menstruum isn’t alcohol, then the herbal preparation is not a tincture but an extract. An extract uses water, vinegar, . . . → Read More: How to Make an Herbal Tincture (Folk Method)
Mullein is a beautiful large plant that thrives in disturbed areas. Mullein is also full of medicinal and beneficial components like mucilage, flavonoids, iridoids, sterols, and sugars.
Mullein as a Medicine
Medicinally, Mullein is traditionally used for lung and bronchial ailments such as coughs, asthma, congestion, and colds. Additionally, it is thought that Mullein has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. This is a great plant to have on hand during the cold season!
During one of Wolf College’s Herbal overnight camps, the campers had the opportunity to use their new herbal knowledge to treat a lingering wet cough. To make . . . → Read More: How to Make Mullein & Honey Cough Syrup
Who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing, sparkling soda?
We’ve noticed that lately, more and more independent artisan sodas are appearing in our local grocery store. Most of them use organic (or even local!) ingredients, cane sugar or stevia, fermented starters, or even herbal extracts. This is awesome! We can join in the artisan/homebrew movement and easily make our own natural herbal sodas at home, using just a homemade herbal syrup, sparkling water, and some ice. At Wolf College’s Herbal camps, we like to teach how to make herbal syrups. Syrups are a favored way to make herbal remedies, since they . . . → Read More: How to Make Sparkling Elder Herbal Soda (Two Recipes!)
Ox-Eye Daisies (also spelled “oxeye” daisy) are an abundant wild edible that thrives in fields, meadows, and other disturbed areas. It is a familiar plant with a sun-yellow central disc and spreading white ray florets, found in backyards, parks, and out in the wild.
Ox-eye daisies are edible: the leaves make a nice (but somewhat bitter) addition to salads, and the flowers can be eaten raw, added to dishes for decoration, pickled like capers, or cooked in a variety of ways.
While we can add the flower heads to a salad, there are, in my opinion, tastier ways to . . . → Read More: How to Make Ox-Eye Daisy Fritters 3 Ways!
Dandelions thrive in meadows, fields, the side of the road, and in our backyards. The happy sun-colored flowers are a common sight, and are even (unfortunately) considered a weed. Despite the weed classification, dandelions are a prized wild edible — all parts are edible and contain a variety of medicinal benefits.
The root of a dandelion is used as a bitter liver cleanser, a blood purifier, and a digestive stimulant. Drinking a dandelion root decoction can help aid digestion and cleanse our livers, as well as fight inflammation. Long-term use of dandelion root can help clear skin irritation, acne, . . . → Read More: How to Make Dandelion Root Coffee
My first taste of ‘real’ root beer was during one of Wolf College’s day camps. I had never had homemade root beer before, only the commercial soda, so this was a real treat. I love fizzy drinks and herbal root beer was unlike anything I had tasted before. It had a complex taste, with the anise, sassafras, and sarsaparilla (what fun words) most prominent, along with spicy ginger and the deeper flavors of dandelion root and cherry bark. It tastes almost nothing like commercial root beer and I’m glad — it has a unique, herbal taste.
Root Beer in . . . → Read More: How to Make Herbal Root Beer
Book Review by Hannah
John Kallas’s Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate is one of my favorite wild edible field guides. I like to think of this book as a primer in foraging because it details how to find, harvest, process and eat over 23 different wild plants.
Edible Wild Plants is a comprehensive guide that addresses many of the wild edibles that we can find first and foremost in our backyards. Instead of planting conventional lettuce and other nutrient-poor plants, we can eat the “weeds” — the nutritious wild greens that already grow in our backyards, . . . → Read More: John Kallas’s “Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate” Book Review
Spring and summer mean an abundance of Stinging Nettle. Stinging Nettle grows all over the Pacific Northwest, and this spiny friend can be used for food, medicine, technology (rope, craft, dye), and even for natural beauty products.
→ Click here to read Wolf College’s comprehensive Stinging Nettle guide, including how to find, identify, harvest, eat and cook stinging nettle.
Benefits of Stinging Nettle: A Healthy Scalp and Beautiful Hair
Although Stinging Nettle may seem like a plant you wouldn’t want to touch, it is easy to respectfully harvest and process. It is a staple plant to have on hand . . . → Read More: How to Make Stinging Nettle Shampoo
Book Review by Hannah
Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use is a staple book to have at home. It is suitable for all levels of herbal experience and contains recipes applicable for all members of the family.
If you are a beginner herbalist or curious to know more about the many uses of plants, this is the book for you. If you are an experienced herbalist, this book contains insight, advice, and new and old recipes from one of the most significant members of the American herbal community.
Who . . . → Read More: Rosemary Gladstar’s “Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use” Book Review
No first-aid kit is complete without a medicinal salve. A salve is an ointment used topically (externally) that helps to heal and protect our skin. It is a natural herbal remedy that is easy to make and can be used for a variety of skin troubles — from sunburns to bee stings to eczema and beyond!
What is a Salve?
A salve is different than a cream, lotion, or balm in that it contains no water or butters (such as cacao or shea); instead, it is made from a combination of oil or lard and wax with an added . . . → Read More: How to Make an Herbal Salve
Lorraine Olivas-Romey with Hericlum Abietis – Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Guest writer Lorraine Olivas-Romey is treasurer of the Snohomish County Mycological Society through which you can join her and other members on mushroom forays and their incredible October Mushroom Show.
Wild Edible Mushroom Hunting
Foraging for mushrooms has recently become quite popular. Is it due to a “back to nature” movement, consuming food that is naturally grown, or the thrill of finding something totally organic? Whatever it is, be cautious about eating a mushroom without total identification that it is an edible. In fact, “a mushroom chooses its victim”. One . . . → Read More: Top 5 Wild Edible Mushrooms for Wilderness Survival in the Northwest
The American Camping Association slogan says “camp gives kids a world of good” and it’s so true. Good camps expose children to a safe, uplifting world of diversity, challenge, fun and success.
Nowadays, there are specialized camps for every interest. But no matter the camp, it should include experiences rarely encountered in traditional schools which have moved away from holistic learning. The arts, for instance, are less available due to budget limitations.
Group of day campers doing the edible seaweed challenge.
Camp should always be a holistic learning environment, where lessons of life, sports, technology, the arts and outdoor . . . → Read More: CAMP IS KEY – Why Summer Camp Is Critical For Childhood Development
What are herbs and why might my chickens need them?
Organically raised chickens foraging on grass at Blue Skye Farm.
An herb or herbaceous plant is generally defined as “any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume.” Herbs can be used to prevent both internal and external parasites (via ingestion or externally when a chicken rubs against/brushes when walking by or sits upon them). Other benefits are brighter yolks, more nutritious eggs, more available vitamins and minerals for the birds in general, a calm flock and a lovely coop (among others things).
. . . → Read More: Herbal and Critter Forage for Healthy Chickens
Young Man at Wolf Camp eating Chocolate Covered Mealworms
All of us have eaten insects, whether we knew it or not. As a kid, I even ate a worm on the playground to impress and gross out my friends. It’s not really a big deal. Unfortunately, adults who spent their whole lives growing up in western culture, now consider the notion of eating insects nothing short of repulsive. The truth of the matter is, insects have be an integral part of the food chain for millions of years, and as the United Nations just reported, we should start eating . . . → Read More: Tips for Eating Wild Edible Insects