Eat Mendocino

2 women, 365 days, 3,878 square miles


6 Comments

Roadside foraging: finding food in the most unexpected places

Truly, I have missed all of you. I needed a little break after July’s blog-a-thon so I spent a couple days alternatively doing a deep clean of my apartment and watching the entire season of Firefly. And now I feel so behind; it’s amazing how much can happen in just a couple of days in the adventures of a locavore.

Over the weekend it was verified that I have to spend a lot more time with goat udders before I am going to be able to coax milk out of them. It was also confirmed that taking the goats on a walk to pick blackberries is super fun and wonderfully symbiotic: they browse on the thorny leaves while the humanfolk go for the sweet fruits.

Milking goats (or trying to)

Yesterday I met up with sisterwife Melinda in the Anderson Valley to make a series of stops for milk, butter, plums, apples, walnuts and corn and a little wine tasting at Goldeneye.

As we were heading to the river for a sunny dip before return, Melinda suddenly says, “Our day just got more complicated,” and she looks into the rearview mirror and pulls over to turn the car around.

I assumed we had a cop on our tail. Nope, I should have known better; the “emergency” was an elderberry bush on the side of the road and obviously we couldn’t just drive past such an opportunity. We dug out a cardboard box from underneath glittery high heels and feathered boas in the backseat of the burlesque-mobile to do some impromptu gathering.

With this haul of elderberries, I will be making elderberry syrup and drying some for tea (recipes forthcoming). A cautionary note on elderberries: eating large amounts raw is very dangerous because they contain high levels of cyanide. So snack on a few while picking and cook the rest before enjoying. The most surprising roadside treasure is yet to come, though.

Today while I was walking my dog in downtown Mendocino, I saw a check laying on the side of the road. It was written for a very, very, very large sum of money, but unfortunately not made out to me. Sigh. I picked it up like any benevolent neighbor would (with the theme song of Firefly playing in my head). When I got home I tracked down the number of it’s rightful owner and called to let them know it was in good hands. It’s a small town, but I didn’t know the guy. I explained that I was the eat local girl and he recognized me from my article in the Real Estate Magazine. He said he had picked it up at the Navarro Store and once he started reading it, he sat down to read the whole thing there. Turns out that he and his partner have been growing a lot of food in Comptche for decades and they have everything from veggies to apples, peaches and AVOCADOS right now. I told him he could feel free to bring me some of this goodness, and he said, “I owe you one, I’m going to bring you food for a month.” So, I picked up a lost check and didn’t strike it rich, but I’m going to get local avocados, which is basically the same thing.


3 Comments

Not-So-Simple Living Fair in Pictures

We had to make all kinds of difficult decisions this weekend at the Not-So-Simple Living Fair at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville. With an impressive schedule of practical and inspiring workshops we had to choose between acorn processing, goat nutrition, wild foods, sourdough baking, green building, cheesemaking, chicken processing and so, so, so much more. We chose the ‘divide and conquer’ approach and tried to glean as much knowledge as possible.

This gathering is not your typical festival. It’s an outdoor classroom and quite unique in that all the attendees are truly committed to learning and teaching (not just running around in feather earrings). It was awesome to be surrounded by so many friends, mentors and neighbors who are living closer to the land every day. I don’t think I’ll be wearing a dress made out of a tanned hide anytime soon, but I am completely rejuvenated by spending two days with people who don’t want to go “back to the land,” but are moving forward with the land, and understand the value of sharing knowledge, information and skills.

There is no way I can summarize all the specific learnings of this weekend, and I will have to share more in upcoming posts (like how to cure poison oak, and how to harvest and roast bay nuts.) For now, here’s a peek at a very full and incredible weekend. Click on the pics below to view them in a slideshow with captions.


3 Comments

Harvesting Sea Salt on the Mendocino Coast

Today we discovered the North Pole, and that Santa does exist – in the form of crystallized salt formed on tidepools on the rocky shores of the Pacific Ocean. For those of you who have been following the salt saga, you know that it has been our most finite resource in the last seven months. I have come to call salt, “white gold.”

Today, we set out on a salt mission, backpack loaded with spatulas.

Searching for sea salt

In this video, I demonstrate our unabashed excitement at discovering some salt deposits.

And in this one, Gowan is delicately harvesting sea salt like the mermaid that she is.

As we scooped up these precious crystals, I looked at Gowan and said, “we are totally winning.” She agreed. No matter what else we have accomplished in the last 7 1/2 months, this is monumental. Salt security means that a locavore can rest easy, and harvesting it ourselves basically means that we are Santa Claus. Tonight we will sleep like babies.


1 Comment

A Ukiah Haiku

Figs!

Today’s mission was to find as much inland fruit as I could, in-between throwing on heels for work meetings and pounding glasses of water. I bought seven pounds of figs, which are my absolute favorite fruit ever (I’m Greek, duh), and then some friends invited me to harvest plums. Probably hauled about five pounds – some yellow, some red. Good thing I’m not afraid of canning anymore because I’m going to be making jam all weekend.

Harvesting Plums in Ukiah

When you spend all day gathering fruit, you are prone to poetry. And, when in U-k-i-a-h, you must write haiku, obviously.

The weight of fertility

Summer’s swollen fruit
Bend tree bones and test limbs
Like sweet milken breasts

Mendocino plums