Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita Cider

Mrs. Homegrown here:

I fell into temptation and bought Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast at the Theodore Payne Foundation this week. I should know by now not to look around that book store. Like Ulysses, I should tie myself to the mast–pay for my native plants and get out. Somehow it never works.

Seaweed, Salmon is a pretty little book. Paperback, thin, but coffee table worthy, because it’s so interesting and at the same time, skimmable. A good gift book. It’s a loose collection of folklore, personal narrative, recipes and preparation tips for wild foods, well-illustrated with color photos. (It is not, however, a plant identification book.)

Yes, I’m on the California Indian/native plant train again (see my recent recommendations) but the wild foods discussed in this book are not exclusively Californian. It covers all sorts of common wild foods, like acorns, elderberries, and rosehips, as well as wild game. They discuss coastal foods like oysters and seaweed, as well as Southwest-specific foods, like yucca, agave, and our ever-prolific friend, the prickly pear.

What I like best about it are the personal stories, and after our turkey business last week, I’m drawn to the stories about hunting. There’s one arresting reminicence of how this man’s mother went into the woods alone with a gun, took down a big buck, dressed it and hauled half of it up a tree, carried the other half back to her camp, and treed that, too…and woke the next morning to find a mountain lion stalking the campsite. And I complain about picking pinfeathers out of turkey carcasses!

It’s worth a look. I just checked and found that it’s in the LA library system (doh!), so if you’re not in a spending mood, maybe you’ll find it at your library, too.

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  1. That book sounds great. I have been doing alot of pruning of the CA plants in the yard and have been re-reading Tending The Wild to see if I could make use of some of the prunings. I was curious about a mention of Manzanita cider because it turns out that while we have manzanitas neither Gordon nor I have ever bothered to try the berries. They are just about to begin flowering now.

  2. Ginny: You make the cider when the berries are green, so come borrow the book then. 😉 It’s pretty straightforward: simmer, then let sit overnight, then decant and sweeten as desired. I’m jealous of your manzanitas–I want to try some!

  3. I would not have assumed green berries, so that’s helpful. Mine turn pinkish red but they could never be described as juicy or luscious.

    I will let you know when its time to harvest and you can come get some.

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