Thursday, September 16, 2010

Enjoy Fall & Get Healthy: Go Foraging!

Sumac berries, Blackberries, and Rose hips from a recent forage

Ah, Fall... a time when colors change, and everything seems to be dressed in varying shades of red, orange, brown, and gold: the leaves, the garden bounty... nature itself. As beach days and barbeques give way to school days and soup dinners, it is nice to be able to make use of these lingering longer days by gathering treasures of nature to pleasure the senses.

On a leisurely walk to the lake over the past weekend, I was delighted to find a few last blackberries, some rose hips, and sumac berries. Foraging this time of year awards a number of satisfactions of both sight and taste, as we wish to savor the season by bringing the outdoors in:

Decor: The following gems of the season all lend a lovely autumn flair to centerpieces, fireplace mantles, window sills, office desk, or anyplace that needs to be "spiced up'" with some fall decor:  

Sumac berries
Pressed leaves
Crab apples
Rose hips
Small stones

The addition of locally-made beeswax candles adds a soft amber glow to such an arrangement, when lighted.

A Nature-inspired Centerpiece on our Dining Room Table

Culinary Delights: Some of the nature's offerings to the culinary scene include:

Blackberries (the last of the season)
Steep about five leaves in a cup of boiling water for a light tea.

Sumac berries
Sumac-ade: Pick about half a dozen clusters, place them in a pitcher, pour cold water over them, and bruise them a bit with your hand. Let steep in a cold place for a while, until the water turns a light pink. Sweeten with stevia, honey, maple syrup, or unprocessed sugar (Sucanat or Rapadura), or enjoy plain.

Apples (Perhaps a sweeter variety in your own yard!)

Rose hips
Rose hip tea: Cover 3-4 chopped fresh rose hips with a cup of boiling water and steep for 3-5 minutes. Sweeten with stevia, or as desired.

Dandelion roots (By this time of year, the leaves are pretty bitter)
Dandelion root "coffee"

    Apple picking from the tree of very generous neighbors

    Don't forget your cultivated corner of nature: Your Garden! (or a Farmer's Market). Make use of the fresh herbs while you have them available. Turn basil and parsley into pesto, and see which herbs you can easily nurture on a window sill or in a sun room over the fall and winter.

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