For the past few months, I’ve been really interested in foraging local edible plants. Free food without added hormones or antibiotics? Yes please. My copy of Lone Pine’s Edible and Medicial Plants Canada was my guide as I set out into the wilderness to find some snacks. There’s a pond in my neighborhood around which common milkweed grows like crazy, so we picked some young seed pods and whipped up dinner.
The best time to pick them is when the seeds are young, about 1-2 inches long. At this baby stage, the pods are nice and tender and the seeds inside are soft and silky. As they mature, the seeds get tougher and less edible. Crack open a pod to check if the seeds are still nice – if you see brown, it’s definitely too mature to enjoy.
After picking some pods, I washed them in cold water, then I blanched them for about 3 minutes. They popped and hissed as they were boiled. I rinsed them in cold water afterwards to deflate the pods and stop them from cooking.
I battered them using eggwash and breadcrumbs – after that, I fried them in sunflower oil! It was my first time foraging and cooking any wild edible and the result was rather pleasant. I discovered that the smaller pods were definitely the tastiest, and the larger ones were tougher and perhaps more bitter. Milkweed seed pods have a rich flavor that borders on slight bitterness but is overall still enjoyable. They taste healthy, if that makes any sense. They were satisfying to eat and tasted pretty good with plum sauce.
It was great cooking something free, local, and organic – and it was honestly fun. I’ll definitely cook them again, and hopefully find some more edibles in the area. Next on my list of things to try is sumac “lemonade” – stay tuned!
Some months ago, I was in the midst of a self-growth journey that involved me crossing sea and ocean and living with upwards to twenty-five cats. It’s a long story that I’ll get more into later, but one early Spring night I had the most unusual dream.
I saw a tall oak tree before me, and winding endlessly around it was a massive, hairy, yellow caterpillar. It was a striking image that roused me right out of my sleep. When I managed to get a signal on my cell phone later that day, I turned on my internet data and immediately Googled the symbology behind caterpillars.
I usually don’t put too much stock into those dictionaries that tell you what your dreams represent. I sort of believe that dreams are beyond meaning, and that to analyze one logically is paradoxical to the experience. However, what I read about caterpillars on various websites (some of which looked like they hadn’t been updated since the advent of the internet) resonated with me anyhow, so I’ll share it with you now:
Caterpillars, and butterflies for that matter, are powerful symbols of growth, change, and metamorphosis. Since caterpillars eventually become butterflies, the appearance of a giant one is an anomaly or paradox. To my waking self, it signified a thing in my life, whether it was a mindset, a belief, a relationship, or habit that needed to metamorphosize before it became something destructive.
It’s funny, because almost every time I see a little caterpillar crawling up a tree or through the grass, I think back on that alarming dream. I remind myself that, like my many-legged friends, I still have a lot of growing to do.
[mid-week update, inspired by a lovely little walk I took this morning.]
Sometimes I take a minute to notice how much space and wilderness is around me for miles. I think of how many trees and flowers and bees and other millions of things are alive and working endlessly to survive. It’s easy to forget how small we are in the grand and ongoing production that is nature.
I have a good piece of advice: when life’s problems feel too big to conquer and the world feels like a crappy place, go out in nature and remember. I think it does a great favor to our mental health and wellness to ground ourselves in the great outdoors. Even if your schedule only allows you to get out there for 15 minutes a day, do it because it’s worth it.
Nature is where we find our true authentic and creative selves. It’s where we find love and inspiration. Allow yourself the discovery and cultivation of these wonderful things. You owe it to yourself and the world!