These recipes all use easily forgeable ingredients on the Campus. While many of these recipes get nearly all of their ingredients from the campus you will need to get some ingredients elsewhere (salt, oil, etc.). Try to barter, trade, or grow these if you can. You can substitute honey for sugar (get the Pitzer apiary going again!). The Pitzer farm has eggs and much else -- join them. These recipes, as wonderful as they are, are only to spur you to creatively invent your own recipes as you learn more about the Pitzer ecology, please add to these and share your recipes (a zine is a great way to do this, or host a meal). Note: Many of these great recipes have been provided by Adin Bonapart (Pitzer ‘15). These are noted by (AB) -- Thank you Adin. Enjoy!


Dandelion Wine

This is a stunning light wine that takes advantage of both dandelions and the wild yeast needed for fermentation are common to our everyday environment and each other. Classically, before the industrial era and the industrialization of the world of wines (which ironically gave us quality wines) all fermentation was done utilizing the wild yeasts that were already in cahoots with the fruit. Yeast is a fungi, which is common to both the air all around us and almost any sugary organism. It is not to hard to spontaneously ferment, it is just to inconsistent for our industrial world that want’s sameness to be what is common.

Pick dandelion flowers. The morning is best for this as the hot sun tends to dry the flowers. Don’t pick right after it rains as the rain will have washed off the wild yeasts. You are going to need a good amount – so scope out some big patches. We are talking about a couple of grocery bags worth of blossoms. Pull the petals off the flower – don’t keep any of the green parts. This will avoid the bitterness. Collect 8 to 10 cups. Bring a gallon of filtered tap water to a boil, let it cool in a large sterilized bucket overnight (this is a very simple way to get rid of many of the additives in our water). Take out eight cups and bring to a boil, add two and a half cups of sugar (or good local honey), stir to dissolve. Add this back into the bucket of water. Make sure the water temperature is not hotter than a warm blood temperature (not hotter than your hand is comfortable in). Add petals stir to submerge fully, cover the bucket with a cheese cloth (use a length of cord to tie), and set aside for a couple of days. Check to see that it is fermenting. You will know if this is happening by the fact that it is foamy or frothy on the top. If this is not happening you will need to add a yeast at this point. Your local wine supply place will have a number of yeasts to choose from – a cider or champaign will work just fine (hey – it is going to happen occasionally, don’t make a big deal about it). Let it go for another week. Strain into a sterilized container (such as a carboy) that you can put on some form of airlock (while a one gallon carboy is ideal, a bucket jury rigged to hold an air lock works just fine). Once it has fermented completely (no more bubbling from the air lock, about a month). Bottle and let sit for a few months to a year. This is going to depend on your patience… Either way you are going to have something very light and fantastically refreshing when served cold. Ultra simple – you can use this basic method of making an ecosystem (steeping a flavor + wild yeast + food (a sugar) + water) to make all sorts of great simple wines/champagnes. Elderberry is another fantastic light refreshing wine. Experiment.

Drinking this you are meeting yeasts common only to a region and patch of the air joining Dandelions, sugars and thousands of years of prehuman cultural practices shepherding us once again into a shared delight. All fruits spontaneously ferment, and all creatures from butterflies to apes take a shared delight in this transformation. Pretty much all living things enjoy a good alcohol fueled buzz. It is theorized that this meeting of fungi and fruit in getting us looped to the gills played an important role in the transition from pre-human to human by making us more of a social animal (as most of us know, one of the effects of too much drink is letting ones guard down, and increased sociality). Yeast cultures and culture being common to species long before we came along…

A word of caution and delight to the dandelion wine novice: this wine might not even turn out that well. We are drinking a common peasant wine, nothing fancy. It is in the true sense of the word a vulgar wine from a vulgar weed, of a crass peasant ecosystem. But complain about how it turns out? Enjoy whatever you get, if it does not taste quite right, leave it for awhile or mix it – resist the snobbery that will exclude us from such common worlds – Thoreau writes in his journal “that man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest”. He could have said it more accurately: “one is richest when ones pleasures are the commonest.” And if it turns out to be a truly god awful batch – there are evermore Dandelions and infinitely more wild yeasts. Make another batch. Alter your ideas of taste and take delight in how much of the world is conspiring with you as you drink. (Adapted from the Eat Your Sidewalk Cookbook, forthcoming SPURSE 2015)

Elderflower Martini

Pour boiling water over a handful of compressed elderberry clusters with Bee Balm and Wood Sorrel – just enough to cover. Let cool overnight (better if it can sit for longer and even make your ice cubes to shake the gin from this). Use with a very chilled juniper centric gin. Garnish with a few blossoms.

Lemonadeberry Lemonade

Ingredients: 1/3 cup dried lemonadeberries or 1 cup fresh, 1 quart boiling filtered water, 1/4 cup raw honey, or to taste.

Before brewing, separate the fruits from the clusters or start with dried lemonadeberries. Crush the berries and add them to the boiling water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, then turn off and remove from heat. Allow to steep for at least 15 minutes. Strain the liquid using a double thickness of cheesecloth to remove particles. Taste, dilute as desired, then sweeten with honey to taste. Chill, serve over ice, and refrigerate unused portions. Makes 1 quart. (AB)


Make a Lavender tea by steeping lavender in hot water for 10 minutes (remove lavender). Then cool in fridge or elsewhere to room temperature. Mash Pomegranate seeds into tea, and squeeze a few limes into it. It does not need to be sweetened but do so if you wish. Taste and dilute if too strong, chill and serve over ice.

Manzanita Cider

Ingredients: Green Manzanita berries, sugar or honey, water.

Cover green berries with water in a saucepan and simmer 15 minutes or until soft. Bruise the berries but do not crush. Let stand overnight. Decant the liquid, let sediment settle, and decant again. Sweeten as desired. (AB)

(Honey) Mead

Mead is one of the oldest human alcohols. We can trace it back to our Proto Indo-European friends. They used the same word for honey and mead – meh-du. It is easy to make. It is simply honey sweetened water left to ferment. We make this year round as our house wine in five gallon batches. You can vary this recipe as you wish. 2.25 lbs honey to every gallon of water will give you a Mead with around 10% alcohol. Collect some Juniper berries (they have high concentrations of wild yeast (the whitish dust coating them), alternatively you can use wild Oregon Grape (it has the similar whitish dust – a tell tale sign of wild yeasts. Look for plants and fruits that have this as a sign of what can give you a spontaneously fermenting outcome. That said wild yeasts are everywhere in the air around us…). A few handfuls will do. These can be found on the campus (just ask Joe). Before you begin things, sterilize everything you are going to use with boiling water, this will keep the world that you invite the wild yeasts into free of competing yeasts and bacteria. Bring a gallon of filtered water to a boil water, and let sit overnight covered with a cloth (this is an easy way to get many of the industrial purifiers out of the water). Warm the water past blood temperature. Add the honey (use good honey – get the Pitzer apiaries going again– the cheap stuff is just sugar water crap force-fed to bees enslaved to the pollination industry). Stir. Now add the Juniper berries (the temperature should now be about blood temperature). Put in a container that you can put a one way valve on (we have heard of people using a ballon with a pin prick over a large milk jug). Now put somewhere dark and warm. Check in a day or so to see that it is bubbling – this is a sign that it is fermenting. Leave a month. Then take a look – is it still bubbling? Bottle a week or so after it has stopped bubbling. Note: you can drink this right away, but bottling and letting it sit for a few months, or longer is a great idea as the flavors will develop and mellow. You can vary the sweetness of the final product by adding more or less honey. The honey is the food for the yeast. More honey = more alcohol in theory but wild yeasts tend to die off as the alcohol content increases, and so if you add too much honey you can be left with a sweet batch. Try out a batch, experiment (dried grapes (raisins) were a favorite addition to english meads in the middle ages, we have also added ginger, lemon/orange zest, clove and coriander…). Working with wild yeasts is a delicate art of communication and beseachment. Sometimes your batch will push far into the realm of “acquired taste”. Thats good incentive to start the next batch… (Adapted from the Eat Your Sidewalk Cookbook, forthcoming SPURSE 2015)

Prickly Pear Guava Tonic

Peel and mash a few cactus pears (sieve out seeds). Do the same with a few Guava. Mix into some very cold sparkling water and serve (alternatively you could use a dandelion wine).

Toyon Cider

Ingredients: boiling water, dried Toyon berries, sugar or honey.

Cover dried berries with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20–30 minutes while crushing berries. Strain and sweeten as desired. Fresh berries can be used, but dried berries are much sweeter.(AB)


Acorn Bread

Ingredients: 1 cup acorn meal, ½ cup cornmeal, ½ cup whole wheat flour, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp baking powder, ¼ cup honey, 1 egg, 1 cup milk.

Shell acorns and grind meats in a food mill or electric blender. Leach until all bitterness is gone. Measure one 1 cup meal and combine with cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder. Combine honey, egg, and milk and add to dry ingredients. Mix just until all dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into greased 8x8 inch pan and bake at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes. Yields one 8 inch loaf. NOTE: Before acorns can be used, the bitter and constipating tannin must be leached out. Traditionally, this was accomplished by rinsing chopped or ground nuts in a stream or river until they are no longer astringent (2–3 days of moving water). One may try this in the toilet’s filling tank, or by leaching with several rounds of boiling water. People who use acorns today agree that they resemble other nuts in oiliness and flavor. (AB)

Black Mustard

Mustard is grown for its seed, from which the commercial condiment is derived. The best leaves to use are the lower ones. Though sometimes fuzzy, they mix well with other greens or in soup. Due to the strong flavor, they should be cooked for about 20 minutes in water and served with butter or a seasoned, mild dressing. The unopened flower buds can be eaten like broccoli, boiled in salted water for just a few minutes. The yellow flowers give rise to pods that contain several seeds, which can be obtained by collecting the pods and allowing them to dry. To make prepared mustard from the seeds, grind them in a food chopper or mill and roast in an oven until browned. Mix this flour half-and-half with commercial powdered mustard, moistening with a mixture of half vinegar and half water. Mustard plasters can also be made by mixing the ground seeds half-and-half with flour and water. (AB)

Cactus Rings Deep-Fried

Ingredients: 4 young cactus stems, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp celery salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ½ cup milk, 2 eggs, 1 cup flour, oil for deep frying.

Boil or steam de-spined cactus until tender, rinse in cold water, and slice “shoestring” style. Mix together salt, celery salt, pepper, milk, eggs, and flour until smooth. Put the two ends of each cactus shoestring together, forming a loop, and pierce with a flat, uncolored toothpick to hold the ends together. Dip cactus ring into batter then into preheated oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on a towel and serve with catsup while still warm. To vary this recipe, add ¾ cup shredded cheese or onion salt to the batter in place of salt. (AB)

Dandelion Greens

Slowly cooked with wild sage & oregano (+ Dandelion flowers added quickly at the end).

Dandelion roots steamed and knotweed

Dig up the roots, peel, steam until tender and toss in some diced young knotweed and steam for a minute or so. Add salt and a little poorman’s pepper for spice.

Docks quickly fried crisp

Quite good — like a bitter spinach. Just add a dash of salt.

Dock seeds roasted with Chilis

Curly dock seeds. This is really wonderful

Dock Tapenade

Roast Curly Dock seeds till an inch from being burnt. While doing this boil some wild greens (Dandelion, prickly lettuce, dock — whatever is underfoot) for a couple of minutes. Drain and squeeze out the water. Put the seeds in a food processor with some oil, salt and poor mans pepper (or anything else sharp/spicy) and blend until fine. Then slowly add the leaves until it is a fine spreading consistency.

Dock Tapenade Version Two

We kept on improving on our curly dock seed tapenade that we loved so much. The blend of wilted greens changed here with the addition of Garlic Pennycress and Shiso which joined our staple of Poor Man’s Pepper. Plus big handfuls of Dandelion and Dock leaves (par boiled to remove a little of the overpowering bitterness that comes at the end of summer), and a big glug of any great olive oil (that Leon has lying around). Blend with plenty of toasted dock seeds and a just the right amount of salt. Make a big bunch – it will be good all week.

Grape Leaves

No recipe needed. Keep an eye out for grape leaves (there’s a great row beside the farm). Collect them while you can. After blanching briefly you can pickle these: just stack and roll up in a few bunches, place rolls in jars and cover with salted lemon water that has come to the boil. Can properly or keep in fridge. Pull out and rinse as needed for the rest of the year. You can modulate the flavor nicely by blanching them in something other than plain water. (We did no such thing). They have a great tart freshness and just the right bite from a quick blanching that is perfect with cheap beer and good fillings.

Greens Wilted

These are alchemically transformed with wild mushrooms (whatever you have foraged from Dandelion to Docks – even cactus pads would be great). Saute some Hen of the Woods, and add just a few quickly blanched bitter greens. Saute just a little bit longer. Sprinkle with salt and add a knob of butter at the very end. Stir off the heat to emulsify the pan juices. Really the name of this recipe should involve mushrooms but so what? It is a nice surprise this way.

Cream Of Mustard Soup

Ingredients: 3 cups mustard greens (washed and torn into small pieces), 6 cups milk, 1 cup mashed potato, 5 tbsp butter or margarine, 2 tbsp flour, 1 tbsp salt, 1 cup sour cream, 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese.

In a blender, purée greens in a little of the milk. Pour into a saucepan and add rest of milk, potatoes, butter, flour, salt, and cheese. Simmer gently until cheese is melted (about 10 min). Remove from heat, stir in sour cream, and reheat gently until smooth. If desired, freeze and reheat slowly. Serves 8. (AB)

Mustard Chips

Ingredients: fresh whole mustard leaves, fresh mustard flowers, olive oil, garlic salt.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix together the mustard leaves, flowers, oil, and garlic salt in a zip-lock bag or large container. When the mustard has been thoroughly coated, place the leaves and flower heads on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until crispy. (AB)

Mustard Dip

Ingredients: 1 cup sour cream, ½ tsp salt, 2 tbsp raw mustard leaves, finely chopped and rinsed.

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for several hours before serving. A convenient way to chop the leaves is to place them and a little water in a blender, purée for a few seconds, and strain through a tea strainer. Measure after straining. Serve with chips or crackers. (AB)

Danish Mustard

Ingredients: 2/3 cup mustard powder, 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, pinch of salt, ¼ cup cider vinegar, ¼ cup oil, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice.

Beat together all ingredients and place in a tightly capped jar in the refrigerator for a few days before using. Makes ¾ cup of a sweet, hot mustard. (AB)

Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle has a flavor similar to spinach and cucumber when cooked, and is rich in vitamins. Soaking nettles in water or cooking will remove the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten safely. Nettles can be used in a variety of recipes, such as polenta, pesto, and purée. Nettle soup and nettle tea are common uses of the plant. To make tea, steep the nettle leaves in a solution of sugar and lemon juice. (AB)

Stinging Nettle Soup

Ingredients: 1 lb stinging nettles, 2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 white onion (diced), ¼ cup basmati rice, 4 cups vegetable broth, salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 2 tsp of salt. Drop in the stinging nettles, and cook 1 to 2 minutes until they soften. This should remove the sting. Drain in a colander, and rinse with cold water. Trim off any tough stems, then chop coarsely. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat, and stir in the onion. Cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, broth, and chopped nettles. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. If desired, purée the soup with an immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (AB)


The thistles, which include several genera, are related to artichokes and may be treated in the same manner. They are boiled until tender and eaten like the artichoke. The young leaves, stalks, and roots can be soaked overnight in salted water and then cooked and eaten. The thistle heads are best when picked just at the height of flowering, boiled, and the heart (actually the receptacle) dissected out. A substitute for rennet used in coagulating milk for cheese-making can be obtained from the dried flowers of some thistles. (AB)

Thistle & dill soup

A wonderful rich broth. As simple as the title suggests: water, sow thistle and dill simmered with a touch of salt for twenty minutes or so.

Thistle Hearts Au Gratin

Ingredients: 2 cups thistle hearts, ¼ cup butter, 1/3 cup flour, 1 ½ cups milk, 6 oz. Gruyére cheese, shredded, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp white pepper, ¼ tsp dry mustard, ¼ cup toasted silvered almonds.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Snip thistle heads from plants with scissors, boil until tender, and remove hearts, reserving liquid (tenderness is judged by the ease with which a fork pierces the bottom). Melt butter in saucepan and stir in flour, until smooth and bubbly. Add milk and ½ cup water in which the thistles were cooked and stir until thickened. Add cheese, salt, pepper, and mustard and cook over medium heat, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth. Arrange thistle hearts in a casserole dish, pour sauce over, and sprinkle with almonds. Bake 15 minutes. Serves 4.(AB)


Native Americans ate the ripened fruit raw or roasted, usually with the bitter outer skin removed. It was sometimes worked into cakes and dried for future use. Try Yucca flower petals tossed in omelets, or add them to tomato or onion soup. They may also be added to tossed salads or deep fried like squash blossoms. The fruit may sometimes be gathered early and ripened at home. Ripe fruit may be seeded and sliced and used as a substitute for apples in a pie if the outer peel is removed. (AB)


Field Salad

You can do this anywhere. It gives you a chance to eat what is right under your feet and to recognize the various forces at work in your local ecosystem. Just bring a bowl, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar – and even these are optional. Just pick and eat – or get as fancy as you wish. We like to give the leaves a quick wash and then toss with a drizzle of vinegar and oil. (Bring some water with you to wash things). Try eating this salad one leaf at a time. It is a chance to savor the differing bitternesses. Serve with a good local water or your own homebrew.

Here are some of the plants we have used from the Pitzer Campus:

  • Dandelion
  • Chicory
  • Chickweed
  • Poor-man’s Pepper
  • Clover
  • Curly Dock
  • Pig Weed
  • Shepherds Purse
  • Wood Sorel
  • Poke Weed

(Adapted from The Eat Your Sidewalk Cookbook, forthcoming SPURSE 2015)

Purslane Salad with Wild Apples

Purslane loves cracks – asphalt, hard soil you name it – it is ready for it. It is wonderful at slowly replacing parking lots with something else… When you go out to harvest it, just cut the leaves off and the plant will keep growing back. Pick it and sell it at your local markets. It has plump shiny leaves and a wonderful mild lemony flavor. Wilt, saute, puree, or use as salad. We just gave it a quick wash, added some sheep sorrel (this is wonderfully sour), and a big bunch of Garlic Pennycress (a peppery, garlicky green). This allowed the salad itself to be its own dressing (mixing the mild lemons of purslane with the delicate sourness of Sheeps Sorrel and a light roasted garlic bite of the Pennycress). Add some apples to balance things out with a touch of sweetness. Just lightly toss first with vinegar and a touch of salt and then with a bit of aromatic oil.

(Adapted from the Eat Your Sidewalk Cookbook, forthcoming SPURSE 2015)


Deer Tartar in Steamed Grape Leaves

Deer (aged for a month is ideal). Very cold, finely chopped

Chives, a handful

Sorrell, a similar handful

Pine needles (the soft tips – just a light sprinkling will do.

Yerba santa – again a very light sprinkling will be more than enough

Salt and pepper – to taste – a good amount of salt is key

Mix everything together, taste and adjust to get a flavor that you find interesting.

Serve on fresh grape leaves that have been steamed until just tender.

Deer Ravioli

Make the Pasta: Amaranth flour, Egg yolks, Olive oil, salt. Make a mountain of the flour on your work surface. Make a depression in the middle, put in the egg yolks, olive oil and salt. Mix slowly with a fork. Once it roughly hold together knead a few times and let sit for 30 minutes or so. Roll out. Make the filling: Venison chopped fine with spring onions, herbs of your choice, salt and pepper. Saute lightly (it will finish cooking as ravioli). Finish and cook as you would make ravioli.

Lambsquarter Ravioli

Make this ravioli as you would the Deer Ravioli. Simply substitute lambsquarter leaves for the venison and saute until cooked.

Rabbit Pie

Making a pie from a rabbit is generally a dumb idea. Not a bad idea, just dumb – Rabbits as a rule don’t have a lot of meat on their bodies and boning them is not the way to go. That said if you are into boning a rabbit or have a lot of leftover rabbit meat this is a great option. As for cooking them, hang for a couple of days to a week for a bigger rabbit. They are very lean so take care with roasting (add some good fat). The key to a good pie of this sort is flouring the cubed meat and browning it well. The flour will thicken the sauce. Keep the flavors mild as not to overpower the hare. Onions and leeks caramelized are exceptional. Some wine to deglaze the pan. The head and neck make a great stock.

Make a flakey pastry – do it how your mother taught you or any other way as you wish. Here is one way: Flour, butter, salt, some very fine rosemary (substitute any freshly foraged herb that you feel goes well with rabbit) and ice cold water. Mix the flour salt and herbs. Now break up the butter into this – this is where the magic happens – butter is an alchemical mixture of water and oil and it is the water in the butter turning to steam that makes things flaky. The oil in the butter prevents the rest of the water (in your dough) from fully mixing and getting really gluteny. To do this well you need the butter to be cold, and of varying sizes from salmon egg to the first joint of your pinky. Once the butter is cut in mix in just enough cold water to bind. Carefully and gently “knead” – really just fold over itself a half dozen times to mush the flour/butter into layers (turn between each folding). Let rest for an hour or so in a cool spot.

You could pre bake the shell if you are so inclined. But a good hot oven, cold pastry and a warm filling will keep everything just right.

Bake at 375 for just under an hour. (Adapted from the Eat Your Sidewalk Cookbook (forthcoming, SPURSE 2015)

Sage Sauce

This is an ideal sauce for either of the Ravioli recipes. Collect a good handful of Sage. Using only the leaves (remove all the stem), saute in butter on a low heat for a good 15 minutes. Add a little salt. Drizzle over the pasta immediately before serving.

Squirrels Roasted with Pine

Keep the fat found under the skin (if any) and render it and use in place of the oil in this recipe.

The Marinade

In a large glass bowl mix beer (whatever you are drinking) with a few tablespoons of vinegar, salt, and a generous amount of a decent oil. Finely slice wild onion, a handful of cloves of garlic (there is a great wild garlic that comes up in spring or you can also use the leaves of Garlic Mustard), and mix. In a mortar crush fresh pine needles with some coarse salt. Grind the needles and the salt so they release their aroma. Add the pine needles, salt and a tablespoon of miso (try making your own) to the marinade. Let it rest and marry for a short while (if you have a couple hours it does seem to matter). Then in go the squirrels to the marinade and a sprinkle of some crushed poor man’s pepper. Let the squirrels marinade, overnight is ideal – give them a quick turn when you remember.

On Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the oldest ecologies on the planet - bacteria meeting already fermenting worlds and taking them in a new direction. Vinegars are wonderfully easy to include in your cooking repertoire. Here is the simple version: just take leftover wine and add some vinegar. Keep covered with cheesecloth or a piece of clean light fabric. Store away from the light for a couple of months. Use a glass bottle or ceramic container, (metal or plastic is not ideal). Keep adding leftover wine to your larger container. Remember if you add a lot it will take awhile for the bacteria to convert the wine to vinegar. You can add fruits or other items to your vinegar and you can bottle as you get enough. It will outlast us all – our friends in Detroit had one they brought from Italy over 30 years ago.

To Grill

Place the squirrels on a bed of pine branches that have plenty of pine needles on a low to medium heat grill. Sprinkle some salt and medium coarse black pepper on the squirrels. Once the branches catch fire (like a little forest fire) close the grill so the fire dies down and the meat absorbs the pine smoke. Let the squirrels cook for about 20 mins turning them and keeping covered. You can increase the heat towards the end to obtain a beautiful color and grill marks. Do not overcook the meat, the squirrels are very lean and the meat can be very dry if overcooked.

(Adapted from the Eat Your Sidewalk Cookbook, forthcoming SPURSE 2015)


Acorn Roca Bars

Ingredients: 1 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 cups flour, ½ tsp salt, ¾ cup finely chopped (leached) acorns, 12 oz milk (or semisweet) chocolate, ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream together butter and brown sugar. Blend in egg and vanilla. Add flour and salt. Stir in ½ cup acorns and spread the thick mixture in an ungreased 10x15-in pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the chocolate over the cookie mixture, smoothing as it melts. Mix together ¼ cup acorns and coconut and sprinkle this on top of the melted chocolate. Cut and cool. Recipes with walnuts and hazelnuts may also substitute acorns.

NOTE: Before acorns can be used, the bitter and constipating tannin must be leached out. Traditionally, this was accomplished by rinsing chopped or ground nuts in a stream or river until they are no longer astringent (2–3 days of moving water). One may try this in the toilet’s filling tank, or by leaching with several rounds of boiling water. People who use acorns today agree that they resemble other nuts in oiliness and flavor. (AB)

Buckwheat Pancakes

Wait until the white flowers turn rust colored, then collect the blossoms, sort out the sticks, and grind up the seeds and chaff into a flour using a flour or coffee grinder. Combine at a ratio of 1/4 cup buckwheat flour per 1 3/4 cup of your favorite pancake mix for Wild Buckwheat Pancakes. Adjust ratio if you want more/less buckwheat flavor. (AB)

Currant & Pine Nut Pancakes

Ingredients: ½ cup fresh currant berries, 1 cup chopped pine nuts, 1 cup all purpose flour, ½ tsp. salt, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 cup milk.

Mix all dry ingredients. Slowly beat in milk to make a smooth batter. Drop by spoonful onto greased skillet. Soy milk or water may be substituted for milk. Serves 4. (AB)

Currant Pie

Ingredients: 1 tbsp melted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tbsp vinegar, 2 eggs (separated), ¼ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ½ cup chopped walnuts, ½ cup currants (fresh or dried) tossed in 3 tbsp flour, 9-in pie shell.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine melted butter, brown sugar, vinegar, and egg yolks. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and walnuts. If using dried currants; soak in hot water for 5 min, then add floured currants to rest of ingredients. Beat egg whites and pour into mixture. Put into pie shell and bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm, with a dollop of whipped cream if desired. Serves 4–6. (AB)

Cactus Jelly

Ingredients: 1 gallon Prickly Pear fruits, water, 5 cups sugar, ½ cup plus 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp cinnamon (optional).

After removing spines, peel, wash and quarter the Prickly Pears. Put in a kettle with just enough water to cover. Cook slowly until fruit is tender and light in color (about 20 min). Run through a jelly bag or cheesecloth. Don’t squeeze the bag too much or juice will be gummy. Leave for several hours. Skim off any particles that come to the top. Add 1 cup of sugar (or 2/3 cup honey) and 2–3 tbsp lemon juice per cup of extract. Cook until syrup drops in sheets from spoon, about 30 min. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Cinnamon may be added for spiced jelly, about one tsp per 5 cups. Makes about 3 pints. Commercial pectin may also be used to jell the jelly in lieu of cooking. Follow the recipe for apple jelly.

Note: Cacti of the flat stemmed variety were a staple of the Native Americans of most Western states. The entire plant was often used for food. Ripe fruits can be eaten right off the plant or cooked when green, but care must be taken in handling to avoid the many sharp spines. The young pad is flamed to remove the spines, then the stubs are sliced off with a sharp knife. The pad may then be sliced into strips and substituted in green bean recipes, stews, and other dishes. The syrup made from mature fruits can be used to flavor candy, sauces, ice cream, and many other dishes calling for fruit. The spines and rinds are removed easily by placing the fruit in boiling water for a minute or two; they can then be easily peeled. (AB)

Deep-Fried Elderberry Blossoms

Ingredients: 2 tsp salt, ½ cup milk, 2 eggs, 1 cup flour, oil for deep frying, powdered sugar.

Pick and wash clusters of elderberry blossoms. Stir the salt, milk, eggs, and flour until smooth.

Dip the blossoms into the batter, then drop into preheated oil and fry until golden and firm. Drain on a towel and serve with powdered sugar while still warm. Caution: do not eat the green stems, only the flower clusters. (AB)

Elderberry Syrup

Ingredients: 1 qt elderberries, 3 cups water, ¼ cup sugar or honey, 1 lemon (juiced), 1 tbsp cornstarch or flour.

Crush elderberries, add 1 cup of water and sugar or honey, and simmer 15 minutes. Strain, add 2 cups of water to the seeds and pulp and strain again. Add the liquid to the lemon juice and adjust sugar if desired. Bring to a boil and thicken by stirring 1 tbsp corn starch or flour in 1 tbsp cold water and stirring this into the simmering syrup. Makes 5 cups.

Note: Both the flowers and the fruit are edible, and the stems are made into a variety of instruments and dyes. Many Indian tribes brewed the blossoms into a tea which was used for fevers, upset stomachs, colds, and flu. It was also considered good for newborn babies and for teeth. The flowers can add flavor and fresh vitamins to pancakes, muffins, and cakes. Although the fresh fruit is not always palatable, after drying or cooking it can be made into delicious sauces, jellies, wines, and syrups. Wine is also made from the flowers. Because of the delicious taste of products and the ease of gathering large quantities, the elderberry is a favorite in the households of many foragers. The elderberry is also an important source of food for many bird species. (AB)

Elderberry Cream Pie

Ingredients: 3 eggs, separated, ¾ cup elderberry syrup, 1 envelope unflavored gelatin, 1/3 cup sugar, pinch of salt, 2 tbsp grated orange or lemon peel, ¼ tsp cream cream of tartar, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 baked 9-in pie shell.

Blend over low heat the egg yolks, elderberry syrup, unflavored gelatin (or vegetarian alternative), 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. Do not boil. Add grated orange or lemon peel and pour into a bowl; refrigerate until firm. Beat the egg whites until stiff and add cream of tartar and ¼ cup sugar, beating continuously. Beat heavy cream until fluffy and fold half into the egg-white mixture. Fold the egg-white mixture into the refrigerated sauce. Pour into pie shell and garnish with remaining whipped cream. Serves 6. (AB)

Horehound Candy

Horehound has been used to make a candy prized for its soothing effect on sore throats and coughs. A tea was used by the Cahuilla for flushing the kidneys. The plant can be boiled or dried without losing its flavor. One cup of fresh leaves or ¼ cup dried leaves boiled in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes will make a strong concentrate. This concentrate can then be diluted with 2 parts water to 1 part concentrate for a tea. One part concentrate may also be added to 2 parts sugar or honey and a pinch of cream of tartar, brought to hard crack (290°F), and poured into a buttered plate for the old-fashioned cough drop candy. A bit of lemon added at the last minute improves the flavor. A cough syrup can be made of 1 part concentrate and 2 parts honey. (AB)

Manzanita Jelly

Ingredients: ½ gal. Manzanita berries (ripe or green), sliced peel of ½ lemon, 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cups sugar.

Treat the berries as you would apples and follow any recipe for apple jelly. Alternatively, cover berries with water and crush. Add lemon peel and cinnamon stick, and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth or jelly bag. Return the juice to a boil, and for each 5 cups of juice add 4 cups of sugar and boil rapidly until the liquid sheets, rather than drops, off the spoon. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Makes 5 cups. (AB)

Orange-Currant Bread

Ingredients: 2 large oranges, 3 tbsp melted butter, 1 egg, 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt, 1 cup currants (fresh or frozen), ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional).

Preheat oven to 375°F. Blend the orange juice and grated rind with melted butter and egg. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and add to liquid ingredients. Blend in currants and chopped walnuts. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 1 hour. Serve warm or cold with butter and honey. Serves 6. (AB)

Prickly Pear Syrup

Ingredients: 1 qt Prickly Pear fruits, water, 2 tbsp lemon juice, ¾ cup sugar.

Remove the spines and peel the cactus fruit after boiling them for a minute or two. Slice the fruit, discard any excess seeds, and add lemon juice and sugar cane to taste. Cook until mushy, drain off the juice and strain it through a fine strainer. Add more sugar (or honey) and reduce to a syrup. Use in making punch, toppings, pies, etc. Makes 1 cup.

Redberry Syrup

Ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 3 cups redberries

Melt the sugar in the water in a small pot set over medium heat. Once the sugar has melted, add the berries and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, crush the berries with a potato masher and cover the pot. Let this steep off the heat for at least 1 hour, and preferably 4–6 hours. Set a food mill with the fine plate over a bowl. If you don’t have a food mill, use a medium-meshed strainer set over a bowl. Pour the berry mixture through the strainer or food mill and sift out all the seeds. Some choose to allow pulp to get into the syrup. Pour the finished syrup into a glass jar and keep refrigerated. Makes about 1 pint.

Note: The fruit from the shrub is a red berry, hence the name. Native Americans traditionally ate the berries right off of the bush. Redberries ripen in July in Southern California, and only stay on the bush a short time as birds quickly eat most of them. (AB)

Thistle Stalks And Apples

Ingredients: 1 lb young thistle stalks, 1 cup boiling water, 1 tsp salt, ¼ cup butter, 2 medium green apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin.

Peel and cut thistle stalks into 2-to 3-in pieces. Boil in salted water until nearly tender (about 20 min). Drain and keep warm. In a skillet, over moderate heat, melt butter and sauté apples until tender but not mushy (about 10 min). Add stalks to apples and mix well. Serves 4–6. (AB)

Toyon Fruit Leather

Ingredients: 4 cups fresh Toyon berries, ½ cup water, lemon juice, honey (or agave), cinnamon, nutmeg.

Rinse berries and remove stems. Place in a pot and cover with water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add desired sweetener, lemon juice, and spices to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes. Blend with a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour a layer about 1/8-in thick onto a baking sheet. Let dry in oven, food dehydrator, or sun, covered with cheesecloth. Cut into strips.

Wild Berry Sauce

Ingredients: 1 ¾ cup fresh Madrone berries (stems removed), ¼ cup fresh Toyon berries (stems removed), 1 cup water, ½ cup apple juice, ½ cup honey, 1 tbsp arrowroot or organic cornstarch, 1 tbsp grated orange zest.

Mix berries, apple juice, and honey in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes. Stir arrowroot or cornstarch into 2 tbsp apple juice. Pour into berries and stir constantly while bringing to a boil. Remove from heat and add orange zest. Allow to cool before serving. Store in refrigerator. Variation: If Toyon berries are plentiful, instead of Madrone berries, simmer 1 cup Toyon berries, 1 cup water, 1 cup apple juice, and ½ cup honey and then follow the same recipe.

Wild Granola

Ingredients: 4 cups rolled oats, 1 cup chopped almonds or other nuts, ¾ cup coconut, ¼ cup maple syrup, ½ cup vegetable oil, ¾ tsp salt, ½ cup prepared oak nut flour, ¼ cup dried and ground wild berries (Madrone, Manzanita, Toyon), ½ cup fresh Toyon berries (if available).

Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine the oats, nuts, and coconut. Add syrup, Oak nut flour, oil and salt. Combine and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add ground berries. Top with fresh berries just before serving.

Yerba Santa

Native Americans and early settlers used Yerba Santa leaves as a remedy for colds, flu, and asthma. It was either smoked or made into a tea by the Miwok, Pomo, and Yuki of Central and Northern California. At times, both leaves and flowers were steeped for tea and drunk for the above ailments as well as stomachache and rheumatism. They were also warmed and used as a poultice on aching or sore areas. Mashed leaves were applied to cuts, wounds, abrasions, and fractured bones to keep swelling down and aid in mending as well as relieve pain. To make tea, tear up 2–3 fresh or dried leaves, and pour boiling water over them. Cover and let steep, add lemon and honey to taste. Some people enjoy chewing on the leaves for a refreshing taste. (AB)

Yucca Fruit Snack

Boil fruit of the Yucca for 20–30 min. Drain, cool, peel, and seed. Mash pulp and return to pan. Cook until desired consistency for jam. Sweeten if desired. Thickened with flour, this makes a good filling for turnovers. To dry for a snack, spread in thin layers and dry in a slow oven. Roll or fold. (AB)