Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wild Brunch

The movie Julie and Julia inspired us to create this blog. Like Julie, we wanted a life raft that would sustain our passions in a world seem bent on drowning them. In the film, Julie's final recipe was prepared as a feast to celebrate her success with a few close friends. To continue the metaphor, her life raft had come to rest on a hospitable shore. And so has ours. We thought it fitting to close our wild edible adventures this year with a feast shared with our foraging friends. Arena came, and so did Ben and Rebecca. The foragers that we knew best would finally meet. Ooga and I found ourselves hoping that they would all hit it off.

Rebecca brought honey infused with wild herbs. Arena brought mushrooms of course (black trumpets) which we cooked into eggs. We put out the last of the persimmons soft and sweet. (I love them. Ooga doesn't.) Ooga poached quince which was delicious.

But the highlight of the meal were the bee larvae. Arena brought a frozen honeycomb from a friend's hive. We placed it on the table and picked the little membraneous sacs of jelly out of their individual cells with forceps. Many of them burst under the pressure of the forceps and leaked their pussy innards onto the plate that we collected them on. It was disgusting. It was intriguing.

With macabre fascination, we poured the gooey mess into a buttered pan. Arena directed us to continue frying them until crispy. Everyone tried a bite. Arena had a generous portion. I had a cup or so. Even Baby Yub-Yub sampled them . . . without comment. I'm not sure that Ooga would ever be tempted to eat them again, but to our ancestors I'm sure they would have been a delicacy. Little packets of fat and protein.

Our friends left well fed. We shared our stories of the past season and dreamed of the next. It was the last scene of our movie.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The score: 103 down, more in the fridge

So we have reached 100, but we have not finished our adventure yet. In the fridge we have some thistle root waiting to be eaten and if we can we would like to harvest the wild parsnip and Jeruselem artichoke we identified earlier in the season. Perhaps there will even be more.

For details on the mushrooms, please read October's post on mushrooms.

93. gem studded puffball mushrooms--2

94. pear shaped puffball mushrooms--2

95. honey mushrooms--2

96. maitake mushrooms--3

97. matsutake mushrooms--3

98. beach pum--a gift from a friend; small, purple, perfectly plummy--5

99. porcini mushroom--5

100. butternut--sweet and soft, banana like--3

101. blewit mushrooms--3

102. black trumpet mushrooms--eated dried in eggs, smoky and rich--4

103. bee larvae--a whole post to come--Ooga--3, Thag--4

Reaching 100

A few weeks ago we cracked and ate a few butternuts gathered from trees growing near our parents' homes in Connecticut. They were sweet and soft, and tasted rather like artificial banana flavoring. These nuts marked our 100th wild edible.

It was an anticlimactic moment. We've been so busy this fall that foraging has been a bit catch as catch can, stash in the fridge, remember to process something quickly. But perhaps this is what fall was always like for foraging peoples of colder climbs. As winter approaches, families rushed to be prepared. Formerly, they had to make sure enough food was put by, houses were tightly sealed, kindling was dry and nearby. Today, many of us still rush to be ready. Living as we do on our crazy road out in the woods, we have to make sure the studded snow tires are on, the truck is in good repare, the road is cleared of obstacles, the wood is dried and stacked, snow clothes fit and are retrieved from the nether regions of our basement. And we also love putting up local food (I processed 70 pounds of tomatoes this fall), planting bulbs, and picking apples.

So perhaps, it is fitting that although we have now eaten 103 wild foods, the occasion of 100 was not solemn and ceremonious. Perhaps the time for ceremony is when those first marsh marigolds, those first wild leeks, those first crocuses burst from the frosty ground, signaling the end of waiting, storing, sleeping and the beginning of color and lush green flavor.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Over the past month, Arena has gifted us the following lovely mushrooms which we have sampled and admired. One evening, so overwhelmed by life and our to-do lists, we left our lovely pan of blewit mushrooms cooling on the stove. Only to discover that our cat, Thora, had found and eaten them all. She gave them a 5.

A mushroom sampler:

Gem studded Puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum) and Pear Puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme)--these mushrooms were too soft for our taste; we'd like to try them prepared by someone who knows how to cook them. 2

Honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea) --the mushroom guides say that some people love these while others find they make them feel ill. We didn't feel ill, but we didn't eat many because I didn't clean them very well and they were rather sandy. Their flavor was rather...mushroomy. Right now they rate a 2, but again, perhaps a mushroom cook would do them better justice.

Maitake--hen-of-the-woods (Grifola frondosa)--cool looking, coral like, sprawling mushroom, tasty--3

Matsutake--(Tricholoma magnivelare)--we sliced them thin, and cooked them til crispy--yummy-3

Blewit--(Clitocybe nuda)--lovely Arena gave us more after the cat sacrifice--a pretty violet blushed mushroom--tasty with a great aroma when cooked--3

Porcini--(Boletus edulis)--after tasting these, it became evident why they are widely prized in culinary cuisine--deep, rich, pleasing flavor--5

We apologize to mushroom connoisseurs if our ratings do not seem high enough. We are just not mushroom lovers. After eating several, they all start to taste the same to us. We tried here to elicit some of the differences we noticed. Please forgive our plebian palates.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Black Walnuts

Along the highway going north out of our town, there stands a lovely old farmhouse with two giant black walnut trees in the yard. A few weeks ago on one of those perfect fall days, we approached the door of this house with Yub Yub in arms and asked permission to gather the walnuts. The owners practically begged us to take them.

The best thing about this location (other than the massive number of nuts) is that one of the trees stands over the dirt driveway. The cars going in and out of the drive had crushed the outer husks of the walnuts without cracking the nutshells. The previous week's rain, along with the cars' tires, had completely rotted away and removed the outer husks of the driveway nuts. We collected 3 large bags of these mostly processed nuts and another bag of husked nuts.

Back home we put the driveway nuts into a large bucket of water, removed the ones that floated, dried them, and put the rest into cardboard boxes which now sit on our unfinished basement stairs waiting for the walnuts to dry.

We wanted to store the nuts still in the soft green husks outside where the weather would do most of the removal work. Thag decided Yub Yub's sandbox was a good storage container; there the nuts would not be rolling about the yard. Yub Yub was not too happy about this arrangement. The next day, wanting to play in the sandbox, she went over to it, and called out with exasperation, "Papa!"

So, this winter, we hope to spend many an evening watching movies and shelling and storing our dried black walnuts.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Autunm Olive Pie

We have found a wonderful source of autumn olive nearby. Each bush has a different level of sweetness; it seems to us that the more direct sunlight a bush gets, the sweeter it is. Baby Yub Yub loves autumn berries (as we call them), but we have to be careful when collecting near her as our plants sit near and among bittersweet and common nightshades.

After eating what we wanted of the sweet and astringent berries, we were left with about 11 cups. Thag strained them through a collander to get the seeds out--a rather laborious process we hope will be improved by using the apple sauce strainer Arena just gave us. After straining out the seeds, we had about 5 cups of liquidy pulp.

I had thought to make a jam, but Thag had his mind set on a pie. Since the pulp was rather like mashed raspberries, I followed a raspberry pie recipe increasing the amount of flour to help thicken it. The resulting pie was fantastic, sweet tart, bright red, and oh, so yummy! I can't wait to make it again.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Time to Forage in a Busy World

Foraging and teaching are incompatible.

On a typical day my alarm sound in the pre-dawn dark at 5:30. I wolf down my breakfast to be at school, three towns away, by 6:30. I scramble to get my materials together for the day's lab. The kids arrive just as I finish. I put on my game face, share my enthsiasm, push kids to do their best even when they don't want to, keep the peace, settle disputes, celebrate successes, commiserate with heartbreaks, make them organize their binders when they look like the the sweepings from the floor of the Wall Street Stock Exchange, meet with colleagues to make sure this one has new glasses and that one gets counseling for the messy divorce. Most days I only have time to eat half of my lunch. I am at school until 4:30 or 5:00 organizing the papers and emails that have settled on my desk like the ashes after a bonfire. When I drive home, I turn off the radio because the quiet is precious and sweet. I walk in the door to the explosion of toys left Baby Yub-Yub who is hardly a baby anymore. Ooga gives me a frazzled smile, and, bless her, she has dinner ready. I play with my daughter for half and hour and look for moments of connection with my wife between my daughter's calls of delight and tantrums of dismay. We start sentences, save Yub-Yub from falling of the couch, finish the sentence, bandage her cat scratches . . . What was I saying? My wife wages a losing battle against chaos in the house while I open the computer to plan the next day and grade quizzes until we stumble into bed.

My mother who is a librarian in Connecticut tells me that she overhears patrons complain about overpaid teachers who only work six hours a day and then get their summers off. I wonder what teachers they are talking about.

I'm not writing this only (but I will admit partially) for catharsis. It is worth saying that foraging takes time. Unless I quit my job or decide to stop caring about doing it well, I will have very little during the school year--especially September. Surely there must be other would be foragers out there who are stymied by the same obstacle. Are there other foraging teachers out there? It is a cruel irony that this foraging family's busiest time, the season that we have the least opportunity to forage, is the heart of the harvest season. Foraging is a full-time job. Teaching is two. Something had to give. Please forgive us for not posting this past month.

Are there other foragers out there who are struggling to make wild food fit into crazy lives? How do you manage? We'd love your advice. . . and camaraderie.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The score: 92 down, 8 to go!

We are always busier than we intend to be. So since we have not blogged about all of these, I have included brief information about our experiences with some of these plants in addition to a score. I’ve noticed a lot of 3s below which may seem a bit low, but 3 means we like them and would use them again—they simply aren’t sensational. In addition, many plants’ scores change depending on how they are prepared. None of these scores are set in stone, since we’ve tried many of these foods only once or twice.

74. Amaranth greens—we picked these “weeds” out of our friend’s school garden. We prepared them in a stir fry and they are just as good as spinach and swiss chard--4
75. hazelnut—see posts--5
76. rosehips—we collected and nibbled these during our week at the beach in Maine—Yub Yub loves them--5
77. elderberry—in jam—5—in baked goods—2
78. evening primrose—threw them into a salad--3
79. black cherries—nibbled a few raw—have a ton in the freezer—intend to turn into cherry applesauce or stew them up with some maple syrup to stir into oatmeal--3
80. Chicken of the woods: Laetiporus sulphureus—see post--5
81. Lacaria ochropurpurea (purple mushroom)—see post--3
82. Milkies: lacterius hygrophoroides—see post--3
83. Lacterius vulemus—see post--2
84. Slippery caps—suillius granulatus—see post--4
85. wild grape—see post--3
86. flowering red raspberry—a bramble which produces a beautiful, wide reddish fruit, which we mistakenly called thimbleberry for years—drier than most other bramble fruits: Ooga—5, Thag--3
87. yarrow—prepared the dried leaf into tea—we’re not much into herbal teas—this one tastes a lot like chamomile—I dislike chamomile—our score is 2, but if you like chamomile, you will probably like it
88. pineapple weed—prepared this adorable plant into a tea—smells like pinapple when you pick it and dry it in the oven (at super low temps, of course), but smells and tastes like chamomile tea when prepared--2
89. black walnuts—we did not collect any, yet, but Arena gave us some she collected last year which we shelled and pulled the meat from—deeper in flavor than the walnuts in the supermarket—truly remarkable--5
90. hawthorne berries—a lot like rosehips in flavor and preparation--5
91. wild apples—depends on the variety—we find ancient, escaped, and abandoned apple trees everywhere around here—anywhere from a 1 to a 5
92. autumn olives—just coming into ripeness—tangy and sweet—cranberry like in flavor, but much sweeter—so far we have just nibbled them raw--looking forward to cooking them--4

Our goal is within sight, but many of the fall edibles take a lot of processing (like acorns) so we have a busy season ahead. And we have no intention of stopping at 100 just because we meet our goal. Happy foraging.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hobblebush--Viburnum alnifolium

Samuel Thayer writes that he has little experience eating the fruit of hobblebush because it does not grow in his region, and although it is more abundant to our north, a healthy number grow in the shady or acidic hemlock forests of our area. It is kind of exciting to experiment with a plant that our mentor in libris has little to say about.

I spotted this one on a local run just like several other plants I've posted about. (I am training for a marathon, so I've gotten to cover a lot of roadside territory lately.) The red, unripe berries are what caught my eye, but it is the purple-black and slightly wrinkled fruit that I came to enjoy. It's a plant that I'd encountered for years before discovering that its berries were in fact edible and, I would add, quite tasty. I even asked Ooga and Baby Yub-Yub to refrain from eating the rest so that I could get the picture for this post.

Highbush Cranberry--Viburnum trilobum vs. Viburnum opulus

I first spotted them while running down highway five, a brilliant splash of scarlet amidst the tangle of green shrubs on the roadside. I'd never identified a highbush cranberry before, but I knew them when I saw them. It is a strange and wonderful thing that happens when you spend enough time reading field guides and dreaming about the plants in them. I think people who seem to develop a sixth sense about something must all do it this way. They spend so much time learning about, imagining, and telling the stories of the things that they are passionate about that eventually they know something without even knowing how they know it. I knew it was a highbush cranberry. I don't know how. I just knew.

Today, we stopped by the shrub for a closer look. There are several species which share the same common name, one of which is not truly palatable. Which one was this?

Sometimes field guides use differences of degree to differentiated species. They will state that one species is taller, pointier, greener, thicker, or more flattened than another. I find this useful when I am already familiar with one of the plants that's being compared. But I find it frustrating when I've never seen either plant in person before. That was the case here. My field guide said that Viburnum opulus, the species that I wanted to avoid, had "smaller, wider, more dentate leaves, and thinner, darker twigs" than Viburnum trilobum, the species I wanted to eat. It was not much help.

Well, I knew what genus it was in, and I'd narrowed it down to two possibilities. Neither would kill me. "I might as well just try a berry," I thought. I did. It was sour. It had the distinct flavor that all viburnums share which I can only describe as being akin to the sweet and not unpleasant smell of newly rotting apples. And it was quite bitter. I spit it out and looked back at my guide. Yup, that was V. opulus all right. We won't be adding that to our list.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cooking with Elderberries

Earlier this week, I took the elderberries from the freezer, rolled the frozen berries from the stems, rinsed them, and began to cook.

First I made a pie, playing around with a recipe I found on the internet. I used about 4 cups of berries and sweetened them with the last of our birch syrup. It was quite juicy so I added flour to thicken the filling. The finished pie looked and smelled wonderful. But the flavor, seemed okay at first, somewhat like blueberry, but it left a bitter flavor in our mouths that lasted for hours. Thag was ready to give up (he hates bitter things--especially when they are supposed to be sweet). The next day, I had another sliver and was very surprised that after the pie sat overnight it was much better. Thag agrees. I think next time I will mix the elderberries with another fruit and see if this tempers the bitterness.

I made a jam using a recipe I found at that they say is from a book called Food From the Countryside by Avril Rodway. It is the first time I have made jam without a commercial pectin. The recipe uses apple instead, and I was nervous. Commercial pectin recipes are very precise about timing, without them you go by appearance (or you have the right thermometer, which as we know from my clover experiment, I do not). This recipe said that the jam is ready when "a small quantity, put on a plate, wrinkles when cold." This never happened; however, I've made enough jam to know what nearly finished jam looks like and feels like in a pot and that did happen. It jelled up quite beautifully, actually. And it took about an hour which is what the recipe reports.

But considering our experience with the pie, we were anxious about the flavor. We shouldn't have been. It is an excellent jam--quite seedy--which is why, I assume, most people jelly them. I love seedy jams, though, and I hope to make this one again soon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hazelnut Addendum

So, shortly after visiting our hazelnut, Arena found them teeming in the understory of a nearby forested trail. We went with her to visit them, and there were at least 100 beaked hazelnut shrubs. We searched and searched for nuts. We found about six total. Arena distinctly remembered leaving a shrub with seven on it, but the squirrels had gotten them in the interum. Most of the six we found were shriveled and a bit dry, but a few were as fantastic as the one we tasted at home. It seems that though beaked hazelnuts can be found here, they produce very few nuts, and most of those go to the local squirrels.

Oh, and the amazing hazelnut bush, Thag's dad reports near his house--turns out it is a black walnut.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wild Rice--Part 2

My foraging friend, Ben, and I met early on Wednesday, mounted the canoe on my car, strapped to it a 16 foot pole, and drove nearly three hours north hoping to find a cornucopia of wild rice (Zizania aquatica). We checked into an overpriced RV campground and pitched our tent among the hulking pleasure palaces that Americans somehow call 'campers' with straight faces. "It's only a place to sleep," Ooga had reminded me. She was right, of course. (She'll tell you that being right is genetic among the women in her family.) We only stayed long enough to scarf down some hastily made sandwiches, and we were off to find our fortunes.

Lake Champlain is beautiful. The local Abenaki had a legend that when the Maker finished the world, he turned himself into a great stone edifice on Lake Champlain's shore so that he could forever admire his greatest masterpiece. But today most of its shoreline is privately owned, and a pair of guys trying to navigate its coastline by the strength of their own arms have precious few places to put their canoe in. I wonder what the Maker would say.

There is wild rice in Champlain, and in the olden days the rice beds must have grown nearly a mile out from shore. But today, the rice is relegated to the quiet coves where motorized boating is prohibited or impossible. I knew where the wild rice grew. Ben spotted it even as we pulled into the boat launch. The problem was that it lay behind a string of white buoys clearly forbidding hunting, fishing, or trespass. We paddled down that line hoping that some adventuresome rice would step its roots over the line into legal waters. Some did.

The beds were different than I imagined they would be. The rice grew thick, so thick that it seemed our canoe would surely get stuck among the tight clumps. We soldiered through anyway. Herons, American bitterns, and muskrats watched suspiciously and bolted when we paddled to close. Eventually, we could paddle no more, and I stood in the canoe as I had read, pole in hand, trying to push us along. The maple pole that I had cut that morning was too long and heavy. We made little headway. None of the wild rice around us would fall no matter how persuasively we tapped it. We were too early. The rice was not ripe.

The day was far from wasted. We spent the rest of the day paddling, watching turtles sun themselves on logs, exploring the lake shore, identifying flowers, watching birds, digging freshwater clams (and putting them back), and earnestly looking for signs of another rice bed. We paddled the rest of the day. We'd forgotten water (DOH!), so I used my filter to purify water from the lake and drank it from a bowl made out of a garbage bag. We found an uninhabited island and explored it, imagining what it might be like to survive in such a place were we marooned there.

We had nearly given up hope of finding another rice bed and were almost back to our launch when we pulled up on a sandy shore and caught sight of an unmistakable light green color. It was rice for sure. Ben tracked moose, raccoon, and weasels in the wet sand. I took pictures of wapato. At the far end of the beach we finally found some--rice plants whose female spikes (the upper part) had opened wide and whose seeds dropped into my hat with a gentle but forceful tap. There were only a handful of plants, and a handful of seed was all that we gathered. But that was enough to rekindle hope. We returned to our campsite dreaming of rice brimming over the gunwales. There will be a Wild Rice, Part 3.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wild Grapes

As a child, Thag's mother and several kids in her neighborhood had an ingeniuos idea. They would collect the freely growing and abundant wild grapes growing nearby, make them into jelly, sell them, and split the profits. These grapes were big. They spent the afternoon peeling them and mashing out the juice. After a while, they all started to itch, their skin burning. One boy was so swollen and in so much pain he went to the emergency room.

At a simlar time, a state away, Thag's father and the boys in his neighborhood thought to take the clusters of wild grapes and have a grape war, pelting them at each other and smooshing them down the others' backs. As they wiped their eyes with their grape juice covered hands, their eyes began to burn and swell up. One boy's eye was swollen shut. They all got to stay home from school the next day.

The burning, itching, and swelling were caused by tartrate, a chemical in wild grapes that is extremely bitter and painful after exposed contact. One can only eat a few wild grapes fresh or will be beseiged by the tartrate. So, to use them, you must juice them, and while juicing them, you must avoid contact with the juice. This was made more difficult for us because I could only find one rubber glove under the sink. So I made some wild grape juice one handed.

First I mashed the grapes with a mug and then, more succesfully, a potato masher in a large plastic bucket.

Secondly, I put the grapes a handful at at time into a jelly bag and then squeezed them (with my gloved hand) over a large plastic measuring cup.

I, then, poured the juice into a large mason jar.

This process is quite messy. (Check out the picture of grape carnage above.) And cleaning it up is a bit of a challenge as you can't touch the juice and I only had one plastic glove. I ended up with a lovely purple stain on my table leg. Fortunately it matches perfectly the shade of purple marker Baby Yub Yub used to decorated the kitchen chair earlier this week.

This mason jar is now in the fridge. The tartrate should settle to the bottom in an unappetizing sludge. Tomorrow or the next day, we will pour off the juice on top which should be tartrate free. Then we can use the juice for jelly or mix it with a sweeter juice as it is supposedly very sour.

Beaked Hazelnut

Despite the fact that hazelnuts supposedly grow throughout our area, we rarely see them. Perhaps we aren’t looking hard enough. Perhaps we live in an odd microcosm without many. But we do have one lovely beaked hazelnut growing by our shed. We have watched this lovely little shrub all season. It produced exactly 3 nuts.

We took our precious cargo home, peeled the lovely green cover, and cracked them with a rock. One was empty. One was rotten. And one was perfect. And delicious.

My in-laws in Connecticut report an extremely productive single tree near their home. Arena, who spends tons of time in the woods surrounding our area, saw her first hazelnut the other day—the one at our house. Subsequently, she reports finding a stand. Where are the fields of hazelnut bushes we should be finding? What a treasure we will find when we discover them!

Rating Scale

For those new to our blog, here is our scale for wild foods, admittedly subjective, we'd love to hear your experience with the same foods:

1 = Inedible--could not finish it
2 = Edible--had no problem finishing it, but wouldn't make it again
3 = Palatable--compares comparably with a benchmark processed everyday meal (Annie's Macaroni and Cheese)
4 = Good--will be disappointed if we don't eat it again next year
5 = Wow--this is a dish we would use to introduce neophytes to the wonders of eating wild

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Visit from the Mushroom Fairy

Although she reports that it is a dismal mushroom year, Arena keeps bringing us more delights. Today she delivered 5 different mushrooms to cook up and 1 to make into tea.

We feel a bit like cheaters when it comes to mushrooms. I can’t even fathom how one would go about classifying these mysteries. Thag, our family identification expert, is almost as far off as I am. But I suppose that’s how we learn everything. As a kindergarten teacher, I show my kids how to hold a book, “read” the pictures, and flip through the pages from left to right, well before they can put together the letters into words. Pretend reading puts them on the path to real reading. But they need a guide, and so do we. (Thank you, Arena, for guiding us.)

So today, with mushrooms covering our kitchen table, we read through guidebooks and wrote down Latin names and listed Arena’s experiences. And tonight, we cooked them up and had a mushroom taste test.

Chicken of the woods: Laetiporus sulphureus: A mushroom we knew of and Thag thinks he’s seen before. Our housemate has eaten them. Bright orange. And…delicious. Actually tastes like chicken. Clear 5.

Lacaria ochropurpurea—a lovely purple mushroom—(yes, purple!)—mild, but not nearly as good as the chicken of the woods—3

Lacterius hygrophoroides—Arena calls the Lacterius mushroom milkies and they are also called milk caps because they exude a milky liquid when picked—this mushroom had wide spaced gills. Arena reports it as a favorite. Thag and I didn’t it love it. It had a true mushroom taste to it, and I expect that if you love mushrooms this mushroom would very much appeal to you. It is very pretty when cooked—fluffy and light brown—3

Lacterius vulemus—a cousin to the mushroom above, this one was darker in color and had a fishy odor. The flavor was nutty and, oddly, dark. Neither Thag nor I cared for it—2

Slippery caps—Suillius granulatus—a mushroom known for its slimy texture—Arena reports it being soft and slimy when cooked and recommended peeling off the slimy film on the mushroom cap and removing the soft underside if possible which I did—apparently these mushrooms are often used in broth or for flavoring food—I fully expected to dislike these mushrooms, especially after peeling off the slimy skin, but they were surprisingly pleasant. Of course, it is entirely possible that I used too much butter. Not only am I a novice at mushroom ID, but I also have weak mushroom cooking skills—they rate a 4 with lots of butter, but I reserve the right to change all ratings upon tasting edibles when prepared by someone with more experience!


Last week, we vacationed with my family on Old Orchard Beach in Maine. The low tide there is extensive and stretches out long and flat. One evening, while walking along the rivulets that lead out to the water, my father and I both found tiny (1-2 inch) clams floating in the water. Baby Yub Yub delighted in watching the seagulls carry them up high and drop them to break them open and eat the tender clams. Soon after we found a family digging up these huge 5 to 6 inch clams and filling their sand pails with them. They showed us how to spot the small sucking down of air in the sand that the clams make, then dig down 8 inches or so and uncover the clams. We got pretty good. This led us to wonder about clamming rules. (All the family's clams went back into the water and we covered ours back up in the sand.)

Thag chased down one of the beach patrol women on her sand jeep. She did not know any of the rules. The extent of our knowledge was that you probably need a licence and many areas are closed due to red tide or sewage overflow. However, after realizing how easy clamming is, we wanted to know more about how we could do it.

So, back home, we went online and we would like to applaud the town of Freeport for its awesome information and shellfishing hotline. They even have a shellfish warden (perhaps other towns do, too). Freeport's information was much more accessible and user friendly than the state of Maine's government site which led me to a 197 page document geared toward lawyers and commercial shellfish collectors.

What I gather is this (and I would love corrections or clarification here!): one cannot gather clams under 2 inches; there is a red tide hotline; you can gather in state parks without a licence; you are limited in the number of shellfish you can gather. I think when we return to Maine this September, we will call the town we are visiting and ask about their regulations. Perhaps wild clams are in our future...


Sunday we picked elderberries. The bushes here are in varying stages of ripeness from very ripe to not ripe at all. Sometimes this seems to depend on how much sun they are getting, but other times two bushes growing next to each other have fruits on either end of the gathering season.

Before this summer, I only knew of two elderberry bushes in our area. Now I see them everywhere; it is amazing what this project has done for our ability to identify plants from a distance. You get the knack for seeing the shape of a plant. What before was just a horizon of green leaves is now a canvas of rose bushes with elderberry peaking out from behind and grape vines hanging above.

Yesterday, as Thag ran, he noticed a whole hedge of ripe elderberries. So this afternoon, with Baby Yub Yub sleeping in the car, I drove slowly along the road as he scouted them out. They are easy to collect; usually the whole head is ripe at once, so we just clipped them with garden shears into our grocery bags.

Back home, we froze the clusters, then, later, pulled the frozen berries off their stems. Apparently raw elderberries make some people feel nauseated and don’t taste terribly good. We didn’t mind the few we tried. But tonight I made the elderberry and peach cake from Ronna Mogelon’s Wild in the Kitchen, and it is fantastic.

Later this week, I plan to make elderberry jam or jelly. Some people say they are too seedy for jam. Anyone out there tried it? Is it similar in seediness to raspberry jam (I love that texture.)?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wild Rice--Part 1

For those who don't already know, wild rice (Zizania spp.) is a tall aquatic grass that provided a staple for the native peoples of the Great Lakes and is one of the few wild foods (along with maple syrup) that is sold today on a large scale in North America. But despite the importance of this plant as a food, I have never seen a single leaf of it--a sorry fact that I am determined to change.

I spent the better part of a recent summer morning tracking down the elusive , wild rice. First, I used the range maps in my handy copy of Wetland, Woodland, Wildland, a guide to the ecological communities of Vermont, to pinpoint places where wild rice might grow. In all of our state, it seems there were only three large bodies of water where wild rice marshes remain--Lake Memphremagog, Lake Champlain, and the Connecticut River. Within those general regions, our guide listed three public lands where wild rice marshes could be found. I used my DeLorme Vermont Guide and Gazetteer to track these down. Two were on Champlain. One was on Memphremagog. All were a good drive away. It looked like this wild edible would require an expedition.

In the Midwest, wild ricing is still an important food tradition for many people and is conducted commercially. It seemed like the type of thing that might be more heavily regulated than just picking dandelion greens or elderberries from the roadside. So, to make sure that we were doing things within the bounds of the law, I called the government. But who to call? I started with Fish and Wildlife, but apparently wildlife refers only to vertebrate animals. The folks there had no idea how to answer my question. They sent me on to the Department of Agriculture which seemed logical to me. Wild rice is, after all, a major food crop. I don't think the woman who answered my call had ever heard of it though. She would have sent me to Fish and Wildlife, but, of course, I had already called there. Hmmm. Next I tried calling the National Wildlife Refuge where one of the rice marshes was supposed to be. "That's funny," said the director, "Can you tell me why you're asking. Before this year, I'd never received a request like this, but within the past few months I've gotten three." Apparently there were some folks from Connecticut who wanted to set up a commercial ricing venture on Lake Champlain. I assured him that I certainly wasn't going commercial and that I was merely a wild food enthusiast looking for a new food adventure. He politely refused my request pointing out that the mandate of the refuge system is to safeguard habitat for wild creatures.

While I am grateful that our society has been wise enough to set aside lands like this, I was still at a loss for a wild rice destination. Next I tried calling the folks who manage the state-owned land on Lake Memphremagog. The guy there convinced me that 1.) their wild rice community was too small to be worth my trip and 2.) that it was a really cool place to visit with some intriguing ecological history. He was very friendly (as were all the folks I spoke with) and seemed genuinely interested in my project. He gave me the number for his boss who he thought could answer my questions about ricing laws. So I called him next. After more than 90 minutes on the phone with all these various agencies, I finally got my answer. Yes, wild rice is technically legal to gather on any state land in Vermont (as well as other foraging for personal use so long as the plant is not protected). However, he recommended that I should contact the administrator of the particular place in which I'd like to forage. So, one more phone call . . . turned into three as I could seem to get this last guy on the phone.

I still have not heard back, but seeing as everything this year is ready for an early harvest, I am worried that further delay may cause me to miss the season. So, I am planning an expedition for this week to the only place in all of Vermont where I think I can gather wild rice legally and will just have to use my judgement about whether it is ethical to gather there. I'll let you all know how it goes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lamb's Quarters Pie


1 pie crust, store bought or homemade

6 to 8 cups fresh lamb's quarters

3 eggs

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese



1) Preheat oven to 375

2) Rinse, chop, and steam (or lightly boil) lamb's quarters

3) Beat eggs in large bowl

4) Mix ricotta, cheese, and lamb's quarters into eggs.

5) Add salt and pepper to taste.

6) Pour lamb's quarters mixture into pie crust

7) Bake for 40 minutes.

This recipe was a 4.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Itinerary for a Near-perfect Foraging Weekend

  1. Begin the day at your local farmer's market and accidentally bump into your good friends and their three year old.
  2. Decide that the kids need a swim and let them romp around in the brook behind the market. Watch them giggle with delight.
  3. Drive out to the foraging spot. Let your daughter run through the wide open fields. Scan the field margins to find wild grapes, wild carrots, and new plants that have beautiful flowers even though they are not edible like virgin's bower.
  4. In an old red pine plantation, find the biggest patch of bull thistle that you've ever seen. Look for the first-year rosettes that you will gather in the fall.

On the way out, pick milkweed pods and staghorn sumac berries.

Stop off on the way home to show your wife the feral mulberry bush on a suburban street right across from a nascent killer black cherry crop. (Thanks Arena.)

Find a loaded grapevine just down the street.

At home cook up milkweed whites. Serve on toast with tomatoes.

  1. Set the sumac berries to soak in cold water for sumac-ade.

On Sunday, go to a free circus and cheer on your friend who does a graceful performance on the hanging fabric.

While at the park, weed purslane out of the public garden for a tasty salad.

Head on over to your friend's garden, gather so many lamb's quarters and amaranth that you think you won't be able to eat it all.

That night, cook up and feast on an amaranth green stir-fry and a lamb's quarter spinach ricotta pie.

  1. Go to bed thinking that everything is right with the world.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Instructions for picking wild blackberries

1) Find a spot teaming with blackberry bushes laden with fruit.

2) Cover every inch of your body with tight fitting garments.

3) Wear a hat.

4) Bring more containers then you think you will need.

5) Pick all the ripe fruit you can see. The sweetest berries are all black, soft, and fall off the bush as you touch them.

6) Get down on your hands and knees and look under the bushes. You will find 3 times as many ripe berries as you have just picked. Fill your buckets.

7) Still on your knees, look right and then left. You will again find many more berries.

8) Smile.

9) Pick until all that clothing and sun get too hot and sweaty.

10) Make plans to do amazing things with your berries like turn them into jam or pies.

11) Eat them all up while looking at recipes!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Three Edible Summer Mushrooms: Berkeley Polypore, Black-staining Polypore, and Chanterelles


I have a confession. Mushrooms scare me. I am even a little anxious about touching them. My mycophagically inclined friends assure me that there are only a few poisonous species and that, for the most part, they are readily identified. Their assurances do little to calm my racing heart when I take a wild mushroom and put it in my mouth. I think that my fear arises from my ignorance. Learning about plants was like learning a whole new language. Alternate, opposite, simple, compound, entire margins, toothed, pinnate, palmate, spike, raceme, head, sepal, pistil, stamen . . . Over the years, I have become fluent in this vocabulary. I've drawn a map of the plant kingdom in my head. I can see patterns that extend across different plant families that make even strange plants somewhat familiar. There are times when I see a new plant that I've never encountered before and know exactly what it is because I've seen its picture in my trusty guides so many times. I have none of this background in mushrooms. I come across a new one, and I don't even know if its the same species as the one across the street.

It gives me a little empathy for those that are trepidatious about trying some of our wild delicacies. Our guests nervously asks, "Are you sure this isn't poisonous," when I offer sumac lemonade or purslane salad. I do not scoff at this hesitation. It is the hesitation of people who live long. Mushrooms remind me of that.

A phone call from our friend Arena is always good news. She is gently introducing us to the world of the edible fungus. She called us this week and offered to show us some of her mushroom discoveries. Friday was pouring rain. Ooga and Baby Yub-Yub, who hadn't taken a nap, had to bail out of our trip. In some ways, the rain is great. The hot, dry summer had made for a frustrating season for the mushroom harvester. But the rain did make for a soggy trip.

Arena gifted us with three precious chanterelles. We drove around our town in my big pickup truck as Arena helped me cut a Berkeley polypore mushroom, showed my the access trails to some good foraging grounds, introduced me to a corner where black cherries are hanging low right across the street from an escaped mulberry, and took me to another site where we cut the tender tips from a black-staining polypore mushroom. Arena, we are so grateful for your help. You are the first inductee to the Foraging Family Hall of Fame.

That night we celebrated a sedar meal with our friends Ben and Rebecca who share our interests in wild food and plants. Rebecca is an herbalist extrodinaire (Visit her website at .) and Ben and I share a common background in nature study, tracking, and wilderness survival. Their evening blessing was made over an elderflower mead (so cool) that they made based on a recipe from a book about folk wines that we had rescued from a recycle bin and given them years ago. (We'll write more about that later.) We contributed our portion of the day's mushroom harvest.

Arena had suggested a longer, slower heat for cooking the wild mushrooms, so we set butter in three different pans, covered, and fried them lightly. I didn't check them often enough and overcooked the chaterelles a little. They were still excellent. I can only guess how good they must be when prepared well. The Berkeley polypore produced a lot of liquid. Was it rainwater that it absorbed? Was it an oil from the mushroom itself? The black-staining polypore smelled strongly and left a odor on my hands. Everyone agreed that it tasted like meat. (Later, Arena called and said that she didn't like the flavor and hadn't eaten it. Not knowing what to expect, we'd eaten it to no ill effect.) The Berkeley polypore smelled awesome and Ooga and I agreed that its flavor improved after it cooled a little. (Mushrooms are so weird.)

That evening we talked about mysterious plants, living off the land, work, and traditions. Wild food . . . best served with good friends.
However, after we left, my mushroom neurosis kicked in. Was I feeling OK? What if we'd made a mistake? Some mushrooms shouldn't be consumed with alcohol, right? We'd had that elderflower mead. I was up late that night researching mushrooms in my guides and online. Then something cool happened. I realized that I was creating a map in my head of the mushroom world just the way I had done with plants. I was putting things into groups and learning new vocabulary. I saw myself starting on the journey to mushroom awareness. Oh, the adventures to come.

Elder Flower Mead

Beautiful and tasty.

The Score: 73 Down, 27 to Go

When describing our project to Ben's uncle, he asked, "So has any plant actually gotten a 5? Or are you just eating lots of nearly inedible plants?" He was skeptical that wild food could be yummy. We knew it could, but even we are amazed at how many 4s and 5s we discovered!

46. Lamb's Quarters: use like spinach, versatile and common: 4

47. Common Plantain: tough, cook well, hide in other foods: 2

48. Milk Weed flowers: hard little balls, easy to cook, nice change from greens, we threw them in a savory pancake batter: 4

49. Ox-eye Daisy leaves: A little spicy, the basal leaves are sweeter and easier to gather than the stem leaves, we made it into a tabouli: 4

50. Red Clover flowers: sweet, easy to identify and collect, we made vinegar, iced tea, and attempted syrup, the baby loves them and sucks on them all the time: 4

51. Wild Lettuce: we cooked it well and put it in quesadillas, we have since learned that we ate the most bitter of the wild lettuces and reserve judgement until we try others: ?

52. Wild Strawberries: small, sweet, and succulent: 4

53. Purslane: how did we not discover this great salad green earlier? So mild and tender, we are encouraging the weeds in our herb garden: 5

54. Day Lily buds: A great vegetable, easy to use in a variety of ways: 5

55. Cattail Spikes: We ate them like corn on the cob, sweet and fun, the baby loved them: 5

56. Red Raspberry: no description necessary: 5

57. Black Rasberry: around here even sweeter than red raspberry, but scarcer: 5

58. Crayfish: Our first animal, sweet and mild like lobster, but with a texture more like crab: 4

59. Blackberry: A fantastic year for blackberries! : 5

60. High bush blueberry: 5

61. Low bush blueberry: even sweeter than high bush, but harder to gather: 5

62. Huckleberry: hard little seeds, but otherwise tastes like blueberries: 5

63. Day Lily flowers: superior taste, the best flower I've tasted, but eat in moderation: 5

64. Sumac flowers: tangy and sweet, make into a lemondade: 5

65. Dewberry: much like blackberry, but grow low along the ground: 5

66. Basswood nut: we ate them too soon, but they were sweet and soft, we will keep trying: ?

67. Goose Tongue greens: salty and yummy, they didn't turn out as well when we prepared them ourselves, see post for more info: 3

68. Elder flower: our good friend Rebecca made a mead with them last year. It was fantastic, and I generally don't like alcohol at all. I will make it next year. Rating is difficult. The mead was a 5, but I'm not sure how to rate the flowers themselves.

69. Chanterelles: Not a good year here for most mushrooms. Too little rain. We cooked up three little chanterelles and they were fantastic: 5

70. Black Stain Polypore: Ben collected with Arena. She called later and told us she felt they were not good. We had already eaten them. They had a strong smell and a distinctly meat like flavor. Not unpleasant, and our reading has confirmed that this is a common description. Would like more info and to try again: 3

71: Berkley's Polypore: Tastes like oysters: 4

72: Mulberry: Looks like blackberry, but much tangier: 5

73: Milk Weed pods: The insides prepared alone are sweet and mild, the buds whole are supposedly similar, but ours were clearly bitter: we need to do more research

It is kind of exciting to write this post. Here we are--mid summer--more than half way to our goal. Summer has presented so many new plants to us. At this point, it could be easy to get a little cocky. However, we've spent as much time recently reading about and identifying plants we will gather this fall as we have gathering the current harvest. This preparation has been a little intimidating. Many of the fall plants are plants we've never eaten and require much preparation as well as some trips outside our immediate gathering area. But we are excited about the adventure.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Goose Tongue Greens

We have the best friends. Last night we were invited to dinner at our Vermont parents' house. Carl and Deb have adopted us and saved us from many disasters.

One of the dishes they served was wild goose tongue greens. Carl and Deb have built a second home in New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. They spend several weeks a year there and each summer they collect this marsh sea grass to eat. They prepare it by boiling it lightly. It needs no seasoning as it is naturally salty. We loved it. Deb sent us home with a ziplock bag filled with raw goosegrass greens to prepare at home.

We have had many discussions about whether or not to count plants fed to us rather than collected and prepared by us. Since our tagline is one family, one year, one hundred wild foods, we have decided there is nothing wrong with counting wild plants we recieve from others.

However, this presents an interesting dilemma, and it is especially strong with the goose grass. When we eat a plant collected and prepared by others, we don't really know what we are eating. We have not identified the plant, nor have we seen where it was collected. We are only eating one part of the plant and it is usually already processed. With the crayfish Tifin gave us, identification was relatively easy. Not so with goose tongue.

I have just spent an hour on the computer and in my books reading about "goose tongue." It seems there are a few plants that have this common name, most of them edible, but not the same plant. I found many references to what I think Deb and Carl served us, a marsh grass that grows in the Bay of Fundy with a long history of being eaten by the peoples native to the area as well as French Canadian settlers. The pictures looked encouraging, but I found several different scientific names. It also had an array of common names from the most common passe-pierre and goose tongue to cleavers and goosegrass.

When I checked my Peterson's guide, I found galium aparine (one of the scientific names listed for Deb and Carl's plant), with the common names cleavers and goosegrass. This plant, however, does not seem to be what we ate last night. Though edible, it is not a marsh grass, grows "throughout," and looks nothing like the pictures of passe-pierre I found online or the plant we were served.

I need to do more research on the genus galium as it was the most common one associated with the marsh sea grass. Perhaps that will lead me in the right direction. Regardless, we ate a fantastic wild green, not from our area, that many people eat and enjoy. We will count it on our list, though we aren't quite sure what it truly is. Hopefully, one day we will travel with Deb and Carl, buy a local field guide, and collect this delicious edible ourselves.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blueberries and Basswood: Two Good Reasons Why We Are Not Experts

"It is fascinating to observe how, after only a year or two of avid interest in a topic, some people begin to feel like experts. Whether it is basketry, yoga, or tracking, some people feel the need to be
teaching something almost as soon as they begin learning it."

--Samuel Thayer in Nature's Garden. Birchwood, WI.: Forager's Harvest Press, 2010.

We are not experts. We could go on indefinitely with example to this effect (see our clover disaster post . . . oh, and did we ever tell you the story of the horrible wild lettuce that we ate which we found out later was just not the right species of lettuce) but here allow us to focus on just two.

Reason #1: After our blueberry excursion at our favorite swimming spot. We followed it up with another blueberry picking evening on a warm, dry granite mountaintop. The previous year we had collected a "huckleberry" there and thought that we could add another species to our list. It turns out that all the berries from these plants were dry and sour this year. Maybe they weren't ripe yet? They certainly looked ready. Did we really know what ripe looked like? We decided to check our guides to find out for sure and switched our gathering over to Vaccinium angustifolium, the lowbush blueberry, a plant that we know so well that even if Euell Gibbons himself appeared from the bushes to argue with our identification, we'd be confident that we knew what it was. Boy, were they good too. At the end of our forage, we went around and gathered a branch from each shrub and took it home to our field guides.

I stayed up late into the night with my keys and my hand lens trying to figure out just what these "huckleberry" plants were. Now, I feel pretty handy with a good key. I know the differences between spike and racemes, between bundle scars and petioles. But I could not tell what these shrubs were. I couldn't even tell if they were a kind of blueberry or not. In fact, in the one species that I was dead certain was a blueberry, I couldn't even seem to find the defining field mark, tiny warts that supposedly speckle the stems.

At some point I decided that I'd need more help than my trusty field guides and went to sleep.

Conclusion: OK, so maybe this isn't the best story of my inexpertise. Blueberries and their relatives are not the easiest plants to key out to species. However, the story does illustrate clear limits of my plant knowledge. I am not a professional botanist. I am just a guy who really loves plants and likes to learn about them whenever he can.

Reason #2: We took Baby Yub-Yub wading in a nearby river during the hot afternoon and sat in the shade of a bridge while we ate our lunch. While Yub-Yub chased the local dogs through the shallows, I noticed a basswood tree growing along the shore. It's flowers had passed, and beneath the leafy wings that used to shelter the blossoms, there were now little green nuts. I'd thought I'd read somwhere that these nuts were edible, so I filled my hat and took them home. Sure enough, according to several of our edible plant guidebooks, basswood nutlets were tasty if impractical to process. So I started to peel and eat the tiny white nutmeats. I thought they tasted mild. Ooga thought they tasted . . . . unripe. Truth is, we don't know if they're unripe or not. Should we wait until they turn brown and hard and fall to the ground. So far we've felt no ill effect, but I'd prefer not to find out the hard way by eating a bunch of unripe fruit. I've already done that with apples before when I was on a survival campout in August. Sure, they looked round and tender, but after eating three or four I felt nauseated the whole afternoon.

Conclusion: Ooga and I are at a very early stage of familiarity with most of the plants that we eat. Although we are comfortable with identification ("huckleberries" excepted), many of them, we've never eaten before. It's a lot like our daughter who is just learning how to tell whether a blueberry is ready or not by its color. Or perhaps a more apt metaphor would be that time I bought an Asian pear at the grocery store because I'd never seen anything like it and . . . hey, I like pears. Well, for those of you who don't know, Asian pears are nothing like the familiar pears from the orchard farmstand. We tried cooking it as suggested by the short description at the grocer, but it didn't really pique our fancy. Do we write off Asian pears as something we don't like? Do we assume that we prepared it incorreclty? Do we even know if it was ripe or not?

Think of all the specialized knowledge we have about everyday foods we know:

Leave those green bananas on the counter for a few days before you eat them. Don't eat the potatos raw. You don't need to refrigerate rice, but your milk won't last long if you don't. The apple core is tough and not necessarily worth eating. Lately, I've been very aware of our inexperience. Although we are learning a lot from this project, we are not experts. We are stumbling toward knowledge by fits and starts. It is a great place to be. We are full of wonder and enthusiasm. We are constantly being startled and surprised and delighted by new discoveries.

Mr. Thayer, we are in no hurry to become experts on wild food. We are novices and amateurs. But amateurs are motivated by love (amare in Latin from whence the word amateur came). Forgive us if we are too anxious to share through this blog the excitement we have found.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Blissful, Blueberry Day

As if our lives are not busy enough, Thag has decided to run a marathon in September. Sundays are his cross training day, and this past Sunday I got to go with him thanks to an impromptu babysitting stint by our beloved housemate (What are we going to do when she moves to Kazakhstan? (yes, she is really moving to Kazakhstan)).

We went to our favorite swim spot and dove in. The water was amazingly warm thanks to the hot, hot weather we've had. In the midst of our swim, we climbed upon some glacial erratics surrounding the lake and ate handfuls of wild blueberries.

Clover Disaster

Again and again we come upon the realization that owning the right tools would make this project easier and more enjoyable. In this case it was a candy thermometer.

In late June, I decided to take advantage of the end of the clover blossoms by making clover syrup. I’d read several recipes and they sounded easy and delicious. In most recipes, you make an infusion of the clover flowers, let this sit for a long time, and then add sugar and boil it until it is a syrup. The trick is not to boil it too long or it becomes clover candy. Also, do not put your finger in the boiling syrup to test it. If you do (and I did) the burning hot syrup will harden on your finger and you will have to peel the candy off your finger and leave it in ice water for the rest of the day. Then, you will have to clean out the pot with the hardened candy in it.

Day Lily Flowers and Day Lily Buds

Oh sweetness! These clearly rank a five. I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying these.

Now you may be thinking, "Day lilies are not wild." Well, yes and no. They are a cultivated plant, but they escape easily and thrive on their own. We count anything not planted as wild. (And, encouragingly, most of our wild food guides and cook books count them too!) The unfortunate thing about day lilies is that they love road sides. We prefer not to collect along the road as petrochemicals, rock salt, and pesticides collect there. But it is where we found all the wild daylilies.

Several weeks ago, Thag and I collected day lily buds. I prepared them in a white wine and butter sauce and they were divine.

This weekend, we collected both the buds and opened flowers. I made the stuffed day lily blossom recipe in Ronna Mogelon's cookbook, Wild In the Kitchen. So rich, and so fantastic. For a main dish, I created a day lily risotto using both the buds and the flowers. Everyone loved it, included baby Yub Yub.

Unfortunately, shortly afterwards I was sick to my stomach and our housemate was ill all night. Both Thag and Yub Yub were fine. We aren't sure what to attribute our illness to. It would seem it was not the day lilies as we all ate them. However, our housemate and I have not seen each other much and these were the only foods we ate in common that day. She and I do not have any other food allergies or sensitivities. Has anyone else had any bad experiences with day lilies? They are a superb food so I'd hate to discount them.