Thank you, Jessica Knauss, for inviting me to join this blog hop about fiction and food. I’ve asked Carol Anita Ryan, author of Right Now Is Perfect, <rightnowisperfect.com> to join the hop too.
When I started writing a series of prehistoric adventure novels, I didn’t know I’d end up learning about many subjects, including wild foods. A local foraging guru showed me a fabulous world of wild edible and medicinal plants out there. I’ve found I love the adventure of finding, preparing, and eating wild foods.
We’re surprisingly ignorant about the plants that surround us, but ancient people knew all about the wild foods available each season; they had to. Elders warned young people not to eat the fruits or one plant, to peel those of another, to cook and mash another. Their accumulated knowledge allowed the tribe to survive.
This is the world I write about in Misfits and Heroes: West from Africa and Past the Last Island, the second book in the Misfits and Heroes series, both set 14,000 years ago. The first book follows a group of travelers from the coast of West Africa across the Atlantic. The second follows explorers island-hopping eastward across the South Pacific until they decide to pass the last island and head out into the open sea.
Now, for the questions:
Do you snack as you write? Sadly, yes. Sweet or salty? Both. The current vice is blue corn chips, but chocolate cookies are never very far away.
Outline or seat of the pants? Both. I have a general outline and section guidelines, but once I’m writing a scene, I tend to just go with it, or “pants it,” as one writer put it.
Do you stick to a recipe or wing it? I always begin thinking I’ll stick to the recipe then find I’m missing some ingredient but I have something sort of like it that might work if I just adjust those other ingredients, and so on. Sometimes it works out very nicely, but then I can’t remember exactly what I did to make it work. With wine, I find I have to take careful notes. Otherwise, I just repeat the same mistakes on the next batch.
What’s next? My WIP is the third book in the series, where both groups meet in what is now known as southern Mexico. Beyond that, a fourth is lurking in the wings.
How hot is it? Like Ginger Myrick, I tend to suggest sex rather than describe it. Some sections are romantic, but the book’s accent is on adventure rather than romance, though romance is certainly part of the adventure. I guess it’s a 3. Maybe. I’d love to hear from a reader on that score.
Now, for the recipes:
Wild foods can be very simple to prepare or incredibly complicated. I tend to go with the easy stuff. Here are two very easy possibilities:
Pick fresh dandelion flowers from an area you think is safe from chemicals and pets. Rinse off any visiting bugs, shake the flowers out and let them dry on a towel.
Heat oil in a heavy pan.
Mix up one cup of flour, one egg, and one cup of milk.
Swirl dandelion flowers in the batter and fry them until golden brown, then flip them over until the other side is brown. Then remove and set on paper towel. While they’re still hot, dust them with kosher salt. Enjoy! Even people who have never eaten wild foods will (probably) love them. They have a very mild flavor, not bitter like dandelion leaves, though they’re great too.
When daylilies (aka ditch lilies) are in season, pick a couple of handfuls of buds and four open flowers from an area away from car exhaust and lawn chemicals. Remove the stamens and pistils from the flowers. Cut the stem ends off the buds rinse them off and let them dry. Include the buds with the tossed salad fixings you like best. The buds have a very mild flavor, a little like asparagus, and go with almost anything. Fill the cup of the flowers with herbed cheese and put them on top of the salad as an edible garnish. Their very mild flavor goes well with something stronger, like garlic or pungent herbs.
Then I hope you go crazy with more wild foods. So delicious – and free!
Be sure to check out the other blogs in the hop!