Saturday, November 23, 2013
Vermilion Foods for the Lost
When Jacob was around 6 or 7 years old we used to walk often in the woods, and we would sometimes play a game that we called "What if we were lost---?" I would say "Suppose we were lost in these woods and had to spend the night here, where could we get water, what would we eat? Where would we sleep?" And we would search for ways to gather clean water (eat berries in the summertime, eat snow in winter, collect dew drops, lick honeysuckle flowers) and find food. I remember the day Jacob figured out that a pine cone had nuts in it and we could eat that.
Today I collected vermilion things in the woods, and realized that all of them came from plants that we could use for food should we get lost. The prickly smilax (also called greenbriar as well as deer thorn) at the top left has a tuberous root that has been used in soups and stews and has also been eaten raw. Below that, the little privet leaf, while not exactly tasty, has many medicinal uses, including being good for healing wounds. The mystery leaf to the right of the privet is up for grabs, since I have no idea what it is.
On the right is a leaf from an oak tree, which makes acorns, a rich food source that can be ground up to make a nutritious flour. Across from the oak leaf at the top of the page is a leaflet from a barberry bush, the berries of which are a good source of vitamin C and can be used to make jam, jelly, juice, and wine. Beneath the barberry leaves are rose hips. Some are bigger and better than others, but if you're really hungry, any rose hip will give you a boost of vitamin C. You can use rose hips in soups, bread, wine, and marmalade. Euell Gibbons had a recipe for stuffed rose hips which consisted of slicing a large rose hip in half, removing the seeds, and then stuffing the rose hip with a raspberry.