Native Cooking: Foraging and Frying Wild Food

Dale Carson cooks up a batter-dipped wild food extravaganza and a healthy yet customizable Native summer feast to feed the whole family.

I can’t remember the last time it was so lush and beautiful all around, so fragrant and lovely. There is much abundant wild food in summer. I am parked in the middle of a field sitting in my golf cart imagining instead I am astride a white pony looking around at the abundance of wild food. There are so many orange day lilies crying out to be batter-dipped and devoured.

They will need to get in line behind all the herbs that need drying—mint, sage, chive, and parsley.

For this recipe you can use orange day lily buds, as well as the edible flower found on summer and winter squash plants and even curly parsley, watercress, bell pepper pieces, and onion rings; anything you want to tempura batter really.

Batter-Dipped Blossoms

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg white

enough vegetable oil to fry battered blossoms, about 1/2 inch

a pinch each of: salt, pepper, parsley, ginger, sugar

ice water set aside (about 1 cup)

Mix batter ingredients, except water, until blended. Add just enough ice water to reach the consistency of pancake batter (about 1/4 to ½ cup). Heat oil to about 375 degrees. Dip blossoms to coat and deep fry until golden. Remove from oil with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on thick paper towels.

I like to serve these with sautéed green peppers, scallions and mushrooms on a bed of alfalfa sprouts with a dash of hot pepper sauce.

This next recipe is perfect for this time of year. It uses a ton of fresh vegetables that are available right now, and you can even customize it with wild food you forage to make it your own.

Native Summer Feast

4 strips bacon

2 large onions, sliced

3 cups sliced small green and yellow squash

1 cup fresh green beans

1 cup whole baby carrot

2 tomatoes cut in wedges

1 bell pepper, cored and sliced

½ pound fresh mushrooms

1 pound meat (beef, pork sweet sausage or combination)

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 tablespoon of each: cumin, salt, garlic

2 one-pound cans red kidney beans

½ cup wild rice

Sauté the bacon, then sauté the onions in some of the bacon fat. Remove, drain and set aside. Add the other ingredients and cook on low to let the liquids be absorbed. Loosely crumble the bacon over all and simmer on low for 30 minutes. If it all becomes too dry, add a little water or a small can of tomato sauce. This dish is good served with a green salad, cornbread and applesauce.

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking,” “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.” She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.