Monday, July 28, 2014

Wild Edible Foraging and Cooking Class

This past weekend under beautiful skies at Riverside High School, over 20 people joined me for a wild foraging event! The first part of the day, we walked the campus and identified a dozen different edibles including daylily, plantain, curly dock, burdock and milkweed. We sat and discussed the many reasons why someone would want to incorporate wild edibles into their diets and the specific nutrient content of each plant. We also discussed when to harvest and how to prepare each plant. It is always interesting for met to find out the various reasons people are embarking on this journey which seems to be growing in interest. I do it for many reasons. The nutrition and medicine are a big part of why I love to cook with wild edibles but it's also knowing exactly what is in my food. When you harvest your own food, you have a lot more control over the amount of chemicals you are consuming. I also do it for the exercise and just the sense of empowerment that such an activity brings.

But my favorite part of the day was the second half of the class where we actually created a meal in the classroom that featured wild edibles. We created Wild Spinach Pie, Wood Sorrel Hummus and Daylily Dessert.  The food was amazing and quickly consumed by the class.

This coming fall I'll be doing an in-depth series on specific wild edibles and teach everyone how to identify, collect and prepare acorns, burdock, sumac and dandelion. For more information, go to

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More From Euell Gibbons - Common Mallow

This plant is called Common Mallow or Malva neglecta. Malva has Greek origins and means soothing, softening, and generally pleasant to the skin. This is a plant that you may find growing abundantly in your garden but probably have been tossing it out with the weeds. I'm hoping to convince you that this is a plant that you need to allow to flourish and take advantage of because it has so many useful and fun attributes!

This plant produces small green fruit often referred to as "peas". They are delicious and very easy to gather. They can be eaten raw or cooked like any other vegetable. They also have another very useful function which is that is produces an extremely mucilaginous water that can be used to create a stiff foam much like whipped egg white produces. Euell Gibbons describes this process in his book Stalking the Healthful Herbs. In this book he goes into detail about creating a may apple chiffon pie but it can be done with any fruit, wild or domestic.

To get this liquid, gather a  cup of the mallow fruits. Boil them with 3 cups of water for 20 minutes. Strain out the fruit (but definitely eat the fruit - they are delicious!) and allow the water to cool. To speed up the process, you can put the water in the frig for 20 minutes.

While that cools, get your fruit ready. Put 4-6 cups of your fruit (I love blueberries, raspberries and apples) in a pot on the stove under a low simmer. Add one cup of water and the amount of sugar you would like to sweeten it with. Euell adds one cup which I think is way too much. I'd go with 1/3 cup. You can also add lemon zest, ginger  root, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove depending if you like those flavors. Add 1-2 tablespoons of corn starch or arrowroot powder as a thickener. Stir frequently until it is thick like pudding. Take off heat and let cool. It will continue to thicken.

Now let's get to the mallow part. To help whip up the mallow, take one egg white and put it in a mixer. It won't be long before it starts to whip up. When it does, slowly add your mallow liquid and it will continue to froth. When it is a thick, frothy mixer, fold it into the fruit mixer and dump all of it into a graham cracker crust. Put in the frig to set. When the whole thing has chilled, it is ready to eat!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Girl Scout Jr. Camper Badge

Resiliency Training has partnered with the Girl Scouts to give the Troops an opportunity to earn their Camper Badge through fun and interactive activities. The knowledge, skills, and fun the girls will have during this program will give them memories that can last a lifetime! During this program, the girls will talk about the importance of protecting themselves from the elements if they are outside overnight. They will create their own paracord bracelets that they will get to keep as a souvenir of the day. They will use their bracelets to learn how to lash together a tripod to create the framework for a debris hut which they will create as a team. The girls will learn cooperation and feel empowered with the knowledge they will gain from the class.

The program will also teach how to correctly build a fire and start a fire without a match. Fire safety will be emphasized at all times.

To find out more about the Girl Scout programs offered by Resiliency Training, visit the website at or call Shannon at 262-515-5331.

Hi Shannon! Thank you so much for the photos!  And even more importantly, thank you for the terrific camping adventure!  The girls had a blast learning and practicing their new skills!  You have a wonderful program and we are so happy we found you! Do you have a part 2 to your program?  If so, we’d be very interested in it for next year. Thanks again. Your program is awesome!  I will be recommending it to the other troops at the school. Enjoy the summer!”
M. G.
Girl Scout Cadette Troop #3003 Leader

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Girl Scout Flower Badge Program

Resiliency Training has partnered with the Girl Scouts of SE Wisconsin to create a great program for the Junior Flower Badge. This program can be done year round and it is a great way for the troop to learn about the wonderful healing abilities that certain plants have as well as the different parts of a flower and what they do. In this fun, interactive class, the girls will be assigned the different parts of a flower and act out what those parts do. They will then work in teams or pairs to label the parts of the flower on a handout. Next the girls will learn about the medicinal qualities in plants and make a healing salve with a popular garden flower called calendula.

This class can be done anywhere indoors or outdoors. It is sure to be a bit hit with all the girls! To see more about this class, go to or call Shannon at 262-515-5331.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Time to Collect Mullein!

When the cold season is upon you in the middle of winter, you will be grateful that you took the time to collect the leaves of this amazing plant called mullein.

Mullein is a biennal plant. The first year plant (shown above) produces a rosette of large velvety green leaves. These plants persist through the winter and the following spring, will produce a central spike that will grow a foot or more above the plant and end with a flower stalk with random five petal yellow flowers.

The 2nd year plants are just beginning to flower here in Portland, Oregon. Back home in Wisconsin it will probably flower in about another two weeks. There small yellow flowers will pop out randomly on a tall stalk that rises from the center of the plant. You can collect and dry the leaves from the first or second year plant for the decongestant medicine it produces. Before I came to know this plant, my colds if I got one, would go to my lungs and produce copious amounts of mucus. This wonderful plant prepared as a tea acted almost immediately to relieve any congestion I had and made short order of the cold itself.

To make the tea, collect and dry the leaves then put them in a sealed container. I refresh my supply yearly to make sure the medicine is as strong as possible. When you need the tea, crumble a tablespoon of leaf into a tea holder and pour 2 cups of hot water over the mullein and cover the cup. If you do not have a tea holder, you will have to strain the leaves out before drinking your tea. You do not want to get the leaves in your throat as they have tiny hairs that could irritate your throat. You should always cover your tea as the medicinal properties of the plant are volatile and your medicine will be less potent.

Friday, June 13, 2014

There's a Salve for That Class July 20, 2014

Perhaps after going through the Medicinal Tea Class you will now feel compelled to extend your medicinal plant knowledge to salves. On July 20, 2014, we will be hosting a class titled There's a Salve for That! Most of us are surrounded by medicinal plants that grow wild but we just don't know it. For just about any first aid situation you can think of, there literally is a plant for that. Once you identify that plant, all you have to do is learn how to harness the medicinal properties in a salve and you will have that power to your disposal for up to a year! You can replace all your store bought first aid creams with remedies that you can easily create in your own home. Since everything you put on your skin goes into your body, its a good practice to eliminate the chemicals that come in store bought creams that can do more harm than good in the long run. In the salves that we make not only are they extremely effective but they contain only all natural products.

In this class, we will start with plant identification in a near-by park as well as in an urban community. Then we will head back to the classroom to make an herbal salve made from ingredients we found in the field. Each participant will go home with a 1 oz tin of salve and handouts. This process is so easy and fun that it is a class for both adults and kids.

The goal of Resiliency Training is always to empower individuals to be self-reliant so you will gain the tools and knowledge you need to continue make salves on your own. And we will always be available for consultation after class if you have any questions. To sign up for this class, go to

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wisdom of Euell Gibbons -Cleavers

I have been reading the series of "Stalking the...." by Euell Gibbons as a way to expand my understanding of wild food and the bits of wisdom he includes I have not seen anywhere else. The books he wrote are true treasures of knowledge that I want to help pass on to future generations. So for those of you that may not have heard of this wonderful series, I urge you to go pick up the books but if you don't have the time, I will highlight some of the things that I found particularly interesting.

I am currently staying on the NE side of Portland though I live in Wisconsin and most of the plants in his books I am already familiar with but haven't encountered them in such vast  quantities that I am seeing in the woods near me in Oregon. I suppose that probably has to do with the high rainfall and fairly easy winters they see here. One plant in particular that I am seeing of in my wood ventures is cleavers. This is a plant that clings to you with such ferocity that it may stop you in your tracks and prevent you from moving forward without the use of a machete. In his book, "Stalking the Healthful Herbs", Euell Gibbons has a chapter dedicated to this plant and the uses for it rather took me by surprise. Apparently is was once common knowledge that a tea or meal made from this herb was used by English ladies for weight loss.

To prepare this herb as a vegetable pick it in early spring - pull the stem and leaves. Steam the plant for about 5 minutes and it is ready to eat! Euell describes it as tasting like spinach. Euell also mentions that the seed-like fruits make the best coffee substitute of any other plant he has tasted. This plant is apparently in the same family as coffee (Rubiaceae) which would explain the taste similarities. For this coffee substitute, gather the little hard fruits during the summer when they are full sized and roast them in an oven until they are golden brown. Use the fruits as you would coffee. There is no caffeine in cleavers. To  use this plant medicinally, collect the plant in May or June when it is in flower and dry it. Keep it in an air tight container and use as a tea for the weight loss properties.

I will be trying all of these ideas out shortly. Thanks Euell!