After a wonderful weekend in Wisconsin I feel rejuvenated and inspired. The Midwest Wild Harvest Festival was inspiring. I taught, I learned, cooked, ate, judged a wild foods cooking contest, and hunted down the elusive, native red mulberry with Sam Thayer.
One thing I didn't
do was use the cornelian cherries I collected in Madison the day before the festival. The Olbrich Botanic Garden (don't miss it!) has vast allées of Cornus mas
: established, stately trees, full of fruit.
Unripe cornelian cherries are intensely sour. When the fruit ripens from vermillion to deep red and drops from the tree, it's ready to eat. I filled my pockets full of fallen fruit and hightailed it out of there before any overzealous volunteers could reprimand me. I may have squealed with delight or done a little dance on my way to the parking lot. I really couldn't say.
At the festival Melissa Price (Sam's wife) showed us how to extract acorn starch from the nuts. She and Sam use it instead of corn starch to thicken fruit for pie filling and bars. (See where I'm going with this?) After 3 weeks away from home, I'm itching to get into the kitchen. I'll let you know how it goes.