It's been a while since I've done a proper post and a lot has happened since then. We've bought a farm that has a cute little cottage nestled in a holler and the land is full of ponds, cliffs, and some small caves. Our days have been busy between Ryan's PreMed schooling and my hustles and then you throw the farm into that and it all starts to make sense why we're doing it all.
Now we're in a global pandemic and many are at home without work and those that aren't are in danger of getting sick with COVID-19. While it's a terrifying and sad time for those getting sick and for their families, it's also a terrifying time for those who are facing possible financial hard times. For those who are wanting to save money on food or want to avoid the risk of going to the store I hope I can help by sharing in the next few weeks what I have learned as a homesteader and prepper. These are my tips to get you thinking for now:
You don't want a long grocery list for your store runs if and when you have to make them. This may vary per family, but my current list of necessities are as follows: oats, flour, and oil. When I say necessities I mean get down to the knitty gritty absolute can't do withouts. As an herbalist and prepper I've taken care of my other are of needs with things I've learned throughout the years. Those three things on my list are necessary for making bread (unlevened or sour dough - unless you use baking powder for basic Irish Soda Bread), oatmilk, dressings, ointments, and much more.
You'd be surprised at how little you actually need! This toilet paper crisis is actually hilarious to me considering it's a respiratory illness, but I have heard explanations such as trade issues with China and so forth but I still find it a little dramatic. We have a bidet and if necessary wash clothes will work for drying off - it's similar to what you do in the shower. Just have good hygeine practices and wash your laundry.
Food wise though, I can grow my garden and forage, wildcraft (yes there's a difference, see why in this post here), and hunt/fish on my land. While that may mean we do without things like yogurt or other comfort foods we will still get by. That's not everyone's story, though, and here is where I want to help. My recommendations to you are to grow a garden, whether it's a container garden or a full fledged patch in the yard grow what you can, and learn to identify wild edibles and medicinals. Let's start with this easy spring salad and dressing.
I'll be touching on a few plants in this salad but only for their edible purposes at this moment. Now I'm not a chef blogger or a cookbook author so my photos may be lacking finesse and I won't go so much into prep time neither calories. I'm a humble-pie herbalist - take it or leave it.
Cats ear and dandelion are both excellent for their leaves and flower heads to be added to salads. It was evening already when I was gathering, so the flowers were already closed on this one. Unlike many, I actually let my yard go a little more on the untamed side for food purposes. I'll actually cultivate any dancelions and cats ear that pop up unless they are in a definite mowing area then I'll harvest prior. I also did a workshop on all things dandelion back in 2018, it's actually where I first met my good friend and coauthor Kenny of UglyTent and SOS Outdoors. I might make the workshop available online as well so let me know if you might be interested in that.
Next are chickweed and deadnettle. Deadnettle is a little more bitter than the others. I'd suggest trying it before adding too much to your salad in case it's a bit overbearing for you. It's also one of the few I pluck the leaves from the stem as it's so big, where chickweed I just leave on the stem.
Violet is a favorite! Candied violets are a treat and both the flowers and leaves are tasty in a salad - not bitter and very subtle. Make sure you're eating violets and NOT periwinkle (to me they are totally day and night but in some people's excitement they may not realize).
That beautiful pink flower is a blossom of flowering quince, a relative of the apple. I had believed it was the kind that bears fruit, but upon further research I found that it wasn't (it's lacking thorns so it's the domesticated version). The flowers are still edible, however! Also subtle in flavor, I used it while I can since it won't bear me fruit later.
Finally, some wild scallions. These are easily identified, easy to dry for seasoning and bulbs added in eggs and so forth. I used it for my dressing.
Though not foraged, I added some boiled eggs I had gathered earlier from my chickens (about one egg per salad did the trick). I used olive oil and infused both the bulbs and the leaves of the scallions into the oil. You can add vinegar and other seasonings (salt, pepper, and oregano makes it even better) to enhance and add flavor but I kept it minimal just for the point of this post.
I had baked a loaf of bread earlier this afternoon and added a slice of it and with the slice of bread and one boiled egg just one bowl of salad filled me up. That's not an easy task for this girl - I almost always get seconds.
Did you like this post? Let me know! Also, make sure that if you recreate this salad to post it and tag me in the post! You might not have all the plants I have, or maybe you have some different edibles in your area but that is still great. Get creative with it!
Author: Tina Potter
Master Herbalist, I've graduated as an American Healthcare College Alumnus, I've become a member of American Herbalist Guild and author of survivalist series Survival Ember co-authored by professional survivalist Kenny Dietrich of Ashland, KY. I've been beyond blessed with the constant desire to learn and teach.
COMMON SENSE NOTICE: I do not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. What you do with the information I post is up to you, but it is advised to consult with a doctor before acting on alternative methods of medicine. I wish you all the best!