odiousgambit's Blog

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Wild Edibles off to Slow StartJuly 4th, 2016 at 1:36:23 pm
My wild edibles exploration has been pretty lame so far this year. I bought a good book for finding wild more salad-type greens, and should have been able to expand on the dandelion and onion. But honestly it has rained so much once spring started that any time I'm willing to give to 'the yard' this year has been taken up by the garden and mowing. Because of the rain, mowing has been quite a challenge this time around; of course I am up to it physically, but finding the motivation to keep up, not so much. As a result I have identified some of the things in the book and done nothing with them.

One discovery on my own though is that the wild onions early on hide a very tender and tasty part in the upper part of the shoot that cannot be found in the store variety of scullions. I've come to consider it quite a real secret delicacy.

I'm growing and canning a lot of collards and kale from the garden. As far as the wild edibles for that, I continue to add a smal portion of the poke I have encouraged to grow. Notorious as something poor people eat, you have to know what to do with it or you can poison yourself. We ate it when I was a kid, our family having poor people in the ancestral chain, but always mixed in with the other greens. I have actually come to think of it as an adulteration - something to mix in to stretch the quantity; probably such is the only proper use of it, and I do it as a nod to the past.

Next thing will be huckleberries again, my intention this year being to try and get the timing right for the best time to pick them. Early indications do not point to a bumper crop, but stay tuned.

PS: the blog the picture comes from tells an amusing story, but the author is wrong that the mere issue is the laxative effect if the poke is not thoroughly boiled and then drained and rinsed [I do it twice but some recommend 3 times]. There really is a poison involved, you can google that, and you can die eating untreated poke. Even proper treatment of the product doesn't yield something you can eat all the time. Poor people would sometimes get "poke-mouth" from eating too much and I swear I think I can remember people who had that - kind of a pale look around the mouth, along with cankers.

July 5th, 2016 at 12:25:23 pm
Yes, time of year and method of preparation can be vital. Just look at the ancient poetry regarding stinging nettles for instructions as to the time of year to harvest as food and for a tea.
Eating poor can be very healthy. Think of all the vitamins you get in a foraged green that you don't get from something that has been harvested and processed to death and shipped in warehouses for six months.
A can of mushroom soup can increase your intake of hormone disrupter Bisphenol A by 240 percent.
July 5th, 2016 at 12:27:57 pm
YOU never want a bumper crop of huckleberries... you want the birds, bees and passing hikers to enjoy them and leave the rest of your garden alone.
July 6th, 2016 at 11:05:28 am
Fleastiff, 'ain't nobody picking huckleberries' in VA that I know of - maybe just a handful of people these days, somewhere, that I never hear of. Maybe not even a handful. Now, elsewhere, they have huckleberry festivals - Montana comes to mind - presumably, a lot of pickers there.

In VA, too hot and muggy and buggy when they come in for modern folks. Plus, I'm getting convinced there are bad years, this is shaping up as that or as a delayed year. Evidence for the latter is not strong, so probably a bad year.

We had some huckleberry pickers in my grandparents day, a great uncle for sure would get them, and huckleberry pie was a favorite treat when visiting grandma. So, I do it as a result of buying wild edible books, and as a nod to the past, and because I don't know anyone else who does it. That latter part is probably kind of weird.
July 6th, 2016 at 4:46:46 pm
What about the Hucleberry Trail ? What about Huckleberry Ridge in Blackstone? What about the Punga Strawberry festival? What about the several Trailblazer Hiking groups in the state that hike trails and eat edible encounters, what about the raw foods groups in VA?
July 7th, 2016 at 3:10:07 am
Ain't talking about strawberries here, or blackberries etc., all of which have pickers in VA. The other things that come up in a google search for 'huckleberries virginia' just seem to be old names from the past attached to hiking or whatever. I don't have anyway of knowing how many huckleberry pickers there actually are, just that I have never met anyone who said they pick huckleberries. I checked blogs for a while, there are people who pick them in other states. Conditions are better, I think.

BTW I have plenty of wild strawberries around me. I resolved to pick them and slowly realized it would take forever to get as much as a bowlful, bent over the whole time. They just don't quite get thick enough, so to speak, to seem to be worth it. I have eaten them randomly plenty, when spotting a nice looking one. Oddly, they tend to have not too much flavor, kind of watery sometimes. So there's that too.

I actually have a wild peach tree nearby in the woods. I think it is a descendant, many generations, of a domestic variety. Each generation allowed to do this generates a wilder, more original, un-bred non-hybrid version [you see this happen with sunflowers too]. In this case it is a tasty but very small fruit. I tried to grow seedlings from the seeds but that failed for me, not sure why.
July 7th, 2016 at 5:36:37 am
What about making huckleberry wine salt? Or just huckleberry wine?

Strawberries do better either vertically or in a French Trellis (45degree angle).

Treat the peach as nature would and you can grow a new peach tree. In other words, score it with a knife as if some squirrels chompers had at it, let moisture and bacteria have at it for awhile and transport it well away from the existing tree... then plant it.

Edibles again: HuckleberriesJune 30th, 2015 at 3:11:37 am

Basically wild blueberries, although technically not a blueberry, only related. Much more flavor-packed than a blueberry. Honestly, pretty miserable to pick in VA due to heat and humidity this time of year ... but for some reason I really get into it. I may or may not pick raspberries or blackberries, usually don't, but huckleberries I dig. Not sure why but probably because I don't know anyone else who does it.

Yesterday it was slim pickings as you can see. Note also the berries are much smaller than commercial blueberries. The trick is to catch them at their peak, a small window for sure for that, but then it is [barely due to weather] worth doing.

I can really post a lot on this subject if encouraged [you have been warned LOL]

July 1st, 2015 at 6:37:10 pm
I have thousands of black raspberries this year.
July 1-15 is the peak period. Some patches
are so thick it's impossible to get into.
July 2nd, 2015 at 5:09:33 am
yes, and you are supposed to be out there picking them, Mister!

as we learned. You still able to get out of that?
July 3rd, 2015 at 6:22:45 pm
I've been bummed for a long time about raspberries. I remember picking bushels of them, gorging myself on them, having them always. They seemed to be always "there". Never had to stop play for eats, you could just eat right in the woods and keep on playing.

I cannot remember the last time I saw even a handful of ripe ones together. I find a bush and I might find not even 10. That ain't even a snack. Not really sure why they've decided to elude me nowadays. Maybe I'm just not in the right place at the right time
July 11th, 2015 at 3:29:18 am
the raspberries handy for me seem to be in decline, the bushes even seem to be disappearing. Just not enough handy this year to bother with
July 28th, 2015 at 12:59:15 pm
raspery tonic or rasberry wine?
all the hiking tonics that were popular in the sw when stills were unavailable.
September 7th, 2015 at 12:55:15 am
Instead of huckleberry, try the Bilberry. From Iceland to Finland its hand picked near the arctic circle, often by GAP year students. Makes a great jam/jelly and even greater beer (marketed as berry ale, but actually a fruit beer). Note: From the late thirties to near the end of the war, British and Canadian forces were encouraged to eat bilberry jam for night vision, the same way US sailors and Merchant Marine were encouraged to eat carrots for night vision. It was all part of the "bodyguard of lies" program from the Double Cross Committee created in order to delay the Germans from realizing that the allies had developed and were deploying millimeter wavelength radar rather than just following a diet to enrich their night vision.
January 12th, 2016 at 2:46:11 pm
glad to hear you will be posting more on this.... one of the best reference works just hit the pre=press on beers and tonics for hikers in the American Southwest and Mexico. No, that "I am not a Mexican" is not the author.
January 16th, 2016 at 4:39:36 am
>glad to hear you will be posting more

now you've done it! floodgates have opened! hope you meant huckleberries!

since I moved, found new patches over time and plan to hit em hard this year

Dandy Edible Plant ReconsideredApril 15th, 2015 at 3:23:46 am
I decided to give dandelions another try after bashing them in the last post. Didn't care for them when I tried them before, but I had tried them too late too, this is actually the time of year to do it.

This time I took a tool and dug some up properly instead of half-ass. When you cut off the roots and wash them off, this is what you get.

I made a salad and sampled the dandelions 'on the side'.

*The book says you should find the blanched part [next to the root] tasty but the rest maybe not. I found as I ate past the blanched it was still good, but stopped from eating it all just as you might with a green onion [scullion]. As the Spring wears on I suspect the other end gets less and less palatable.

*The contribution to the salad was similar to arugula. I wouldn't want an entire salad of dandelions or arugula either one, but as an ingredient.

*The nutritional value is there with various vitamins, including C. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2441/2

*They are certainly plentiful.

Final conclusion: might as well harvest some this time of year along with the wild onions. They are coming up while the regular garden is just getting started.

April 15th, 2015 at 8:28:14 pm
Just a heads up, cattails should be shooting any day now. If you're feeling brave, I'd hear a report. I hear they're best when they first shoot, before they get too fibrous and green.

I guess it's one of those plants of plenty. You can eat the shoots or the head straight away, or fry them. The roots can be peeled and pulverized to make flour, or boiled and chewed for their starch (spit out the fibres). As far as survival stuff, for something to give you the vitamins that meat and bugs doesn't, cattails provide much and can be eaten for all times they are green.

Maybe I'll just do it myself...
April 16th, 2015 at 8:30:21 am
Yes, the book is big on cattails. I'll keep an eye out for some, but often it is the case that cattails are in a place you get to in a boat. Right now I can't think of where I've got some handy. Please do check it out! I'm sure there are plenty of instructions on the net as to how to prepare them.

Speaking of Survival tactics - I have a modest interest in such - the fluffy head is one of the few things that work as true tinder. Sometimes 'tinder' is defined the same as kindling, but to survivalists tinder is the kind of stuff that will get going from a flint and steel spark. Mere kindling doesnt work for that; in fact there are few things you find in the woods that is true tinder. So, cattails are a pretty big deal to Survivalists all around.
April 17th, 2015 at 1:38:00 pm
Indeed they are. Birch also works if you find yourself away from the swamp. The paper-like bark can be processed by hand into little more than fluff, though the younger trees prove more difficult. The older trees are best as you can often find bark that is already peeling and dry. Fortunately for us, both should be within a walk of where we'd find ourselves stuck.
April 17th, 2015 at 3:56:53 pm
Dent de Lion easily became named dandylions. Arugula is native to North America, not Italy. Just about anything fresh from a garden is going to be better than something processed and steam tabled. Sailors often grow sprouts for vitamins and poor fishing results.
April 18th, 2015 at 2:05:40 pm
one thing for sure, all tinder must be absolutely dry to catch from spark - like Sahara desert dry
April 19th, 2015 at 12:49:27 am
Please let us know if you get any quotes from a weed broker for your dandelions. One man claims 900 dollars per season but gives few details.

Tinder/kindling/flint: You would probably be kicked out of a black powder roundup but outfitters sell this paint tube stuff that will set fire to a log that is soaking wet. I'd go with that stuff in a survival pack rather than trying to rub two boy scouts together to start a fire. The trouble with fires is that they give away your position to the Game Warden.
April 19th, 2015 at 3:26:25 am
>go with that stuff in a survival pack rather than ...

Survival Skill imagination goes pretty far ... like imagining that you somehow wound up in the wilderness with nothing but the real basics and in a mess. You have matches you thought were waterproof but with what you have to strike them on etc, they are a bust. But, your back up is flint and steel [this is actually often recommended]. Now you need to find tinder ... it won't work on kindling.

With the kind of warfare today seems the military teaches a lot of survival tactics now. Guys get interested in the whole subject. Hunting magazines usually have an article on it.
April 19th, 2015 at 9:36:54 pm
Yeah, there are some people who carry a brass water tight match case with waxed matches... and give half of their supply to a companion to carry so that if anything happens to one person, not all matches are lost.
July 27th, 2015 at 2:22:36 pm
so any dandelion jelly yet?
any dandelion beer yet?
any dandelion wine yet?

Edible Wild PlantsApril 7th, 2015 at 6:59:05 am
I have a book on edible wild plants, and it comes in handy. Although I agree in general with anyone who says you really need to know someone familiar with harvesting any particular item*, sometimes the book suffices. A particularly nice feature of this book [a Peterson guide] is that it warns you about poisonous lookalikes.

Take dandelions: an unmistakable edible [not that I am a fan]. However, if you knew nothing about them prior to picking up the book, the book is not that much help, even with photos. Once you know a dandelion when you see it, though, you never mistake it again for anything else.

On the other hand, the book was helpful with wild onions, which I have nearby in abundance. The book clearly indicates that that there is really no mistake to make. It's a "looks, walks, quacks like a duck" thing. You know when you've got an onion out of common sense, and you can't accidentally pick a poisonous one.

Here are some just picked. I can't tell the difference in taste from what you'd buy in the store, they are no stronger. The only tender part, though, is the white part, once you get to the green I notice it is very tough typically compared to what you buy.

I might blog on edible wilds, and my garden ... we'll see.

*don't even think of harvesting mushrooms without help, except maybe the Morel

April 8th, 2015 at 2:19:47 am
In the PNW mushroom hunters are told to leave a little aside for the coroner to identify.

Remember that SuperTramp in Into the Wild... died from a mis identified edible plant.

At many herb gardens some items are mislabled by accident, others by intention.

One former sailor girl is now taking a masters in botany and seems to love every minute of it.

Knowing a bit about Medieval poetry might help. Keeps you remembering the times of the year when stinging nettles are safe and how to seek solace from the nearby dock plant if you've handled a stinging nettle carelessly.
April 8th, 2015 at 2:26:33 am
The Dock
Come here, son: look! that leaf is dock,
Beside the dandelion clock.

Wherever stinging nettle grows
There, too, the healing dock leaf blows

As if to show some grand Design
Of Mother Nature, all benign,

Who suffers with her children's pain
And longs to make them well again:

Who cannot but provide relief
As in this sting-­removing leaf.


Or are there flowers that can abate
The pain when people love, or hate?

No: men and towns to dust return:
The fires drink up the clouds, and burn.

Oh no, relief is never there.
Come, we must go: and son, beware,

For where the balmy dock leaves stand
Are stinging nettles close at hand.
April 8th, 2015 at 3:50:08 am
>In the PNW mushroom hunters are told to leave a little aside for the coroner to identify.

ha ha. The scariest thing about mushrooms is to eat poisonous ones and "feel fine" - so you eat a whole bunch. You might die weeks later.

No experience with stinging nettles myself

DyssomniaFebruary 12th, 2015 at 8:04:49 am
good ol' google, I was going to see if I could coin a word: dysomnia

I put it into google and as it goes with that wonderful function it has, google tossed up the correct spelling. I guess it's not too surprising it's been around, Dyssomnia

I had been thinking about it, my minor sleep disorder is not insomnia, in fact it's instead a problem how fast I go out and start snoring. It seemed wrong to call it insomnia.

I typically get no more than 5 hours of solid restful sleep; that does cover the critical REM period etc., and is basically enough to stay healthy I think. I may or may not go back to some light sleep for an hour or so after the 5.

Failing that coining attempt, I think I can coin an acronym, PESS, borrowing from PTSD which we all know. I hereby declare PESS to be Post Employment Stress Syndrome. This is the sleep-killing appearance in a retired person's dreams of all the problems and cares of his working days - in my case often ending sleep at the 5 hour mark ! And a syndrome, something less than a disorder.

This whole coining claim is kind of tongue in cheek, but I really would like to get rid of my PESS!

I also declare the below PESS acronyms inconsequential LOL


February 12th, 2015 at 9:12:54 am
"Post Enucleation Socket Syndrome" sounds terrible. Had to Google. It could be worse.

No disrespect intended, but isn't this common with all *ahem* people of distinguished age? I know my grandpa is 81 and dude is up at 4:30a every day. My Pops ain't up that early, but I don't think he's seen even seven hours sleep since, I dunno, probably before I was born. And he still works 6 days a week.

Sleep is a bitch for me, too. Right now, and for the past several months, I cannot fall sleep until between 3a and 5a, cannot get up before noon. And that's with me trying. If I just surrendered to it, I could sleep to 4p, easy. What's odd is that even after months of this, my first day in BVI, and every day after, found me getting up at 8a at the latest and bedding by 10p. 2 days after I returned, right back to 3a - 12p.

When forced into "normal" sleep, I can usually manage. When in Surv I could get up at 5a and bed at 9p. And it felt "good" to do so. But I get almost like an addiction withdrawal. I get anxious, like I need to stay up and spend a waking period in the dark. It's been like this ever since the age of 15 or 16, and it's a righteous pain in the ass.
February 12th, 2015 at 9:24:12 am
Borrow an overnight recording pulse oximeter... its free, they deliver it, demonstrate it and pick it up the next day. Home health care companies make a fortune so they want your business and will let you test yourself for free. I borrowed a recorder from a hospital with solely the promise to return it before 0800 the next day. No ID, no deposit, no charge, no nothing. Brought it back to them early and joked about not having been able to hock it. I was shocked I could just lug it out the door with no problem.

Turn the alarm function off and print out the next mornings results.

See how many times you stop breathing, how low your oxygen saturation goes, how many times it reverses.

End the jokes about snoring being a disease that only the sufferer's spouse has.

This is serious.

Is your shirt size 17 or greater?

If your free printout is bad you can get a doctor to order an over night sleep study in a lab or in your home. Usually covered by insurance.
February 12th, 2015 at 9:33:00 am
>No disrespect intended, but

none intended but plenty received! LOL

>Sleep is a bitch for me, too

I predict it changes for you some day. Well, as you put it, sooner or later you become a person of 'distinguished age', and there are in-between phases. I can certainly remember wanting to sleep 12 hrs as a teenager, and always going to bed past midnight as a young adult

>See how many times you stop breathing, how low your oxygen saturation goes, how many times it reverses

My wife says the snoring may be awful but I don't seem to do the apnea thing, so I take that to heart
February 12th, 2015 at 8:42:24 pm
NOTE: spouses are not really good judges of apnea episodes. Get the electronic testing. Its free.
February 12th, 2015 at 10:55:39 pm
Flea makes a good point. Sleep disorders are nothing to mess with. To say they could ruin your life is so severe an understatement it makes me blush to say it. Get a sleep test. It's the easiest test ever.

Also remember our talks about dreams. Sometimes dreams are fluff. Often they are communication from the subconscious. Pay attention to them.
February 13th, 2015 at 2:59:07 am
my dentists and doctors can tell you what it's like to try to get me to come in for exams

>Also remember our talks about dreams

I think you may find yourself doing some of your super evalutaion on some of my PESS dreams LOL

February 13th, 2015 at 11:23:38 am
As I have wrote about some of my own issues, you know I'm the same way about doctors. But, man... I'm telling you, sleep can ruin your life on levels you cannot even conceive of. The fact that you're even here talking tells me it has not become "serious". Yet. But watch yourself, take inventory, be self aware. Weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, these are all possibilities for those with sleep issues. And these are the issues I would rate as "minor". How can risk of death be "minor"? Lose your mind. Then you will know things worse than death.

On dreams, I still think you give me too much credit. But I'd help if I could =)
February 15th, 2015 at 2:40:42 pm
Come in for exams????? Its done in your own home, they deliver the equipment, give you a five minute demonstration and pick the equipment up the next day. And its FREE, you print out your own results the next morning. No fee, no blood, no urine... but alas no pretty nurse either.

Sleep Apnea equals 15 fold increase in risk of Motor Vehicle Accident.
March 7th, 2015 at 4:14:42 am
Regarding Sleep: Its really a brain regulated vote-pooling of various low level sleep-inducing signal systems and wakefulness-inducing signaling systems. Primary pathways are Ca++ channels, neurons, astroglia, Adenosine. Does anyone know of a mathematical model which given input values of some of these factors will correctly present the values of the unsupplied factors that would be needed to sustain sleep homeostasis?
March 17th, 2015 at 5:17:54 am
>Does anyone know of a model .....

Multi-timescale Modeling of Activity-Dependent Metabolic Coupling in the Neuron-Glia-Vasculature Ensemble
Renaud Jolivet. Jay S. Coggan, Igor Allaman, Pierre J. Magistretti. February 26, 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004036

Close but no cigar!

The brain has remarkable information processing capacity, yet is also very energy efficient. How this metabolic efficiency is achieved given the spatial and metabolic constraints inherent to the designs and energy requirements of brain cells is a fundamental question in neurobiology. The major cell classes in mammalian nervous systems include neurons, glia and the microvasculature that supplies the molecular substrates of energy and metabolism. Together, this neuron-glia-vasculature (NGV) ensemble constitutes the functional unit that underlies the cost infrastructure of computation.
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