Archive for May, 2013

Wild Edibles: How to Identify and Eat Garlic Mustard

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Disclaimer: Eating certain wild plants can be deadly!!

Be certain to consult a professional (or a really good field guide) in order to positively identify this plant before trying this for yourself. The owners of this site will not be held responsible for any lapses in judgment or stupidity when handling or consuming wild plants.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is one of those plants that for the longest time I knew what it was and that it was edible but by the time I had the time to try it, it had long since wilted (it begins to wilt away in early summer).

So if you’re looking to harvest this to eat you’ve got to catch early on in the season or you’ll miss out.

Here’s how it’s done (if you want a written description, just skip the video and go directly to the article below it):

How to Identify Field Garlic

Garlic Mustard is a biennial flowering plant in the Mustard family that is native to Europe and parts of Asia.

Here in the U.S. it’s a noxious (I like to say abnoxious) weed that crowds out our native plants. But luckily for us, it’s a very tasty and nutritious plant and should be harvested as much as possible to mitigate its spread.

The first step before eating any wild edible is to positively identify it. Fortunately, there aren’t really any poisonous look-a-likes so if you can match the following traits (most of all, smell) it’s pretty certain you’ve found it.

Here are the distinguishing characteristics:

First-Year Growth

Scallop-edged leaves in a basal rosette: You’ll find rounded, kidney-shaped leaves with scalloped edges.
Plant smells like garlic when crushed: To test for this, take any part of the plant (esp. the leaves) and crush it down to release some liquid and if it’s garlic mustard, you’ll detect the distinct smell of garlic.

Second-Year Growth

Stalk with alternate leaves: In its second year of growth, garlic mustard will develop a stalk with alternate leaves.
Toothed leaves: The second-year growth’ leaves are more deeply toothed than the first year.
Small four-petaled white flowers: Like others in the mustard family, the four-petaled flowers are a giveaway. These are about the size of your pinky nail.
Smells “garlic-like” when bruised or broken: Same as the first year

Where to Find Garlic Mustard

Although it can grow in sunny areas, you’ll more likely find Garlic mustard hanging around moist, shaded soil of river floodplains, forests, roadsides, edges of woods and trails edges and forest openings. In disturbed areas (like construction sites) you can find huge invasions of the stuff.

Here’s the range map indicating where Garlic Mustard has officially been found, however given the obnoxious, noxiousness of this plant, I’m sure it’ll be in a neighborhood near you some time soon…

How to Eat Field Garlic

Garlic Mustard can be used in many dishes that call for spinach or garlic. If, for example, you’re making spinach lasagna and replace it with Garlic Mustard, you’ll find that the mustard adds a little “kick” to it.

My favorite recipe using it though is in a pesto sauce (replacing basil). You can watch me demonstrate it in the video at the beginning of this article. Here’s the recipe…

Garlic Mustard Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of washed compressed garlic mustard
  • 1 cup of nuts (I like using 1/2 cup of pine nuts and 1/2 cup of walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, put in garlic mustard, nuts and 1/4 cup of oil.
  2. While blending above, slowly add the remaining oil until blended
  3. Stop blender and add cheese and quickly blend on lowest speed to mix
  4. Add salt and pepper to tasted

The above pesto is great with pasta or as a dip. Enjoy!

Hunger Games Book (and Survival Gear) Winner Announcement!

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Hey guys.

First off, I want to say thanks to all of you for all the great comments.

So the two winners (by random number generator) is the following two commentors:

  • Coral: (commented on 2013-05-22 14:48:36)
  • Joe: (commented on 2013-05-22 10:48:02)

You guys will be getting the following:

  • An autographed copy of The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide
  • A Willow Haven Outdoor logo sling pack
  • A 100% cotton Willow Haven Outdoor survival bandanna and,
  • A multi-functional survival tool with built in lanyard, compass, ferro rod, whistle and water-proof container for storing matches other survival kit items

To claim your prizes, please send me an email through the contact form telling me who you are as well as where you’d like the prizes shipped.

Thanks again for all the participation you guys!

Book Review (and giveaway): The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Recently, Creek Stewart sent me a copy of his latest book entitled, “The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide” to review.

In this article, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the book, what my opinion of it is and how you can win your own copy…

First off, for those not familiar with Creek, he is the author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit. He’s also a regular contributor to the popular blog, The Art of Manliness as well as the owner of Willow Haven Outdoor — a leading survival and preparedness training facility in central Indiana.

As someone who’s been practicing wilderness survival skills for some time now, when I first saw this, I thought it was going to be another one of those crappy wilderness survival books I’ve been seeing on the book shelves lately. That is, they take a popular personality (in this case, Katniss from the Hunger Games books/movie), and uses it to sell a book of “survival” skills that are just another rehash of all the other basic survival skills’ books out there — in other words, nothing new.

This book’s not like that.

Not only does the book show some unique skills I don’t typically find elsewhere (debris “nests”, hammock A-Frames, natural rain collectors etc) but it also has some new ones I haven’t seen (like the snow kabob) and it does all of this in an entertaining way by interweaving the cool survival stories and themes that are in the Hunger Games books (the movie didn’t show much of that unfortunately).

Who is this book for?

Although from reading the cover you might think that this book is only for young adults or fans of the Hunger Games series, but it’s actually full of solid survival info that applies to anyone interested in that kind of stuff (like most of you guys 😉 ).

Having said that, if you have a friend (or kid) that loves Hunger Games, this is a great way to get them into learning about wilderness survival. In fact, I could totally see this book as required reading for girl (and boy) scouts. I know when my girls get old enough to appreciate the Hunger Games books, I’m definitely going to use this book as required reading for them too.

Contents

Here are the contents of the book by chapter:

  • CHAPTER 1: Survival Mentality – Think Like a Victor
  • CHAPTER 2: Survival Shelter – Mother Nature is the Ultimate Gamemaker
  • CHAPTER 3: Hydration – Haymich Says “Find a Water Source”
  • CHAPTER 4: Catching Survival Fire
  • CHAPTER 5: Tools of a Survivor: Katniss’s Forage Bag
  • CHAPTER 6: Beyond the Fence – Survival Hunting & Gathering
  • CHAPTER 7: Survival First Aid – Healing Basics From Katniss’s Mom
  • CHAPTER 8: Navigating the Capitol: Tips and Tricks for Travel, Rescue, and Evasion
  • CHAPTER 9: Raiding the Cornucopia – Building Your Survival Kit

I think it’s pretty cool that not only did Creek weave in the Hunger Games themes and story line, but he also covers the most important aspects of survival.

Final Thoughts

All in all I really liked this book and thought that Creek did a fantastic job at making core survival principles relate to such a popular story. The way the book is written will likely get many who are not interested with wilderness survival at least open their eyes to the importance of it.

If you’re looking for a pure survival book, there are better ones out there, like the Airforce Search and Rescue manual (AFR-64) which I highly recommend. So if you’re expecting something all encompassing than this might not be a good fit.

However, if you’re looking for something more entertaining (unless you’re a bit strange, military manuals aren’t known for their entertainment factor), love the Hunger Games series, and at the same time want something to serve as an excellent primer to wilderness survival, then you’ll love this book.

Even for us old hats, it still contains some gems.

How to Win Your Own Copy (and some other prizes)

Now something for you guys…

Two of my readers will win the following:

  • An autographed copy of The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide
  • A Willow Haven Outdoor logo sling pack
  • A 100% cotton Willow Haven Outdoor survival bandanna and,
  • A multi-functional survival tool with built in lanyard, compass, ferro rod, whistle and water-proof container for storing matches other survival kit items

To get in the running, simply leave a comment here on the blog about either your favorite wilderness survival skill that was mentioned in the Hunger Games books/movie or tell me a wilderness survival skill that you always wanted to learn.

That’s it!

I’ll randomly (through a random-number generator) pick two winners and post the winners names here on Friday. Once I announce the winners, you’ll then need to contact me through the contact form on the blog telling me the address you’d like it shipped to.

“And may the odds be ever in your favor…” (sorry, had to do it)