Monday, August 04, 2008

Improved Merriwether - Now With Added Class!

"I ran across your blog entry... "
-One of many emails I get.

I get a lot of emails about adventuring from people in the Houston area and I get a lot of emails about money from people in Nigeria, Hong Kong, and Ireland, but recently I got an email about money for adventuring in the Houston area.

Is that cool or what?! My blog is finally paying off and it only took 60,000 visitors!

Yep, someone down at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Preserve saw my edible plant posts and convinced the people in charge I should teach a class on the subject. Woo Hoo! So, this coming November I'll be teaching a five hour course on local edible wild plants.


Of course (ha ha ha) I need to brush up on things, so this last weekend I held a practice edible plant class over at the nearby Peckinpaugh Nature Preserve. I was able to convince two friends and three strangers to walk with me as I pointed out wild munchies and other useful plants.

Classy People.

Long-time reader "Wildcat" is the guy on the left with the stick. Various body parts of his have appeared in this blog but this is the first full frontal of him. Clark was the one taking the picture.

We are entering a good time for wild edibles. Elderberries, and prickly pears were juicy and ripe. Greenbriar shoots, tendrils, and leaves were in supple abundance. Saw palmettos were producing buds as usual but their fruit weren't quite ripe. Neither were the muscadine grapes, though Clark did find one that was ready to eat (which I ate). If you've only eaten store-bought seedless grapes you don't know what you are missing!

The bamboo shoots, yucca flowers and pokeweed were past their edible stages and it was far to early for acorns. Water lily seeds were also not ready, but canna lily roots were. Since I was the one talking I didn't get many pictures, though Clark taped the whole thing. With luck I might be able to do some YouTubing thing with that, but considering how little free time I would hold your breath...

The feedback from my students was way more positive than I expected and they want me to do it again with each change of the season. Being the egotistical guy I am, how can I resist? So now I'm offering my services as an wild edible plant teacher to scouts, youth groups, church groups, and cheerleaders. Sidenote: I don't have a lot of free time so I'll only be able to do about one class a month at most unless you pay me enough to make it worthwhile. By "me" I mean Misseswether as she'll have to give up some of her her usual "I'm not a mom" time.

Details and registration for the November class at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Preserve should appear on their website next week. Their price is $40 for Arboretum members and $65 for non-members. Prices for my non-Arboretum classes (aka bribing Misseswether) are open to negotiation. Boy/Girl Scouts and other youth groups can probably get me for a box of Hostess snack cakes and a bottle of Vanilla Coke. Cheerleaders can get me even cheaper...

And now, a few more pictures.


Pokeweed, which has very poisonous berries, as well as mature leaves, stems, and roots. The only time this plant is edible is when it is very young before it has any red coloring, and even then it's recommended that you boil it in several changes of water to avoid poisoning yourself.

Elderberries. Remember, only the flowers and ripe berries of this plant are edible, everything else is very poisonous. Also, you want to make sure the berry clusters are kind of flat like broccoli. Elderberries in globular clusters are toxic.

greenbriar root.jpg
Greenbriar root. These are rich in starch, but it takes a lot of work to free the starch from the giant, fiberous root/tubers. You have to slice it up, pound it some, boil it, then filter out the reddish gelatin-like material. This material is bland to slightly bitter and a tablespoonful of it will gel up one cup of water. Of course you realize what this means: Vegan jello shots in the woods! Um, Boy Scouts should probably ignore that last bit.

Non-vegan food source. We found this beauty crossing the path in front of us. The thing was almost as big as my head! We didn't eat it. Note, the cigarette butt above the turtle as well as an entire room's worth of carpeting, carpet padding, linoleum tiles, and wall trim were hauled out of the Peckinpaugh Nature Preserve Saturday morning. Thank you Montgomery County recycling center for taking this trash from me free of charge! Folks, don't dump this crap in the woods, okay? I'm out there a lot, if I catch you doing this you will not like what happens next.

All in all, it was a another great morning in the woods.

Peace be with you.

p.s. To learn more about wild edibles check out my Edible Wild Plants Blog

1 comment:

wildcat said...

Thanks for doing the walk, it was quite informative.