Kelli Hanley Potts is a passionate devotee of “the lost skills of the home.” Her mission is to help people rediscover the rewards of doing it yourself; to reconnect with kitchen, pantry and table, through her company The Agrarian Collective. Kelli is partnering with Edible Cleveland to present “Edible Thursdays,” a highly interactive, experiential food and learning activity for our readers.
Our April collaboration is definitely a walk on the wild side. Kelli will lead the group in a lesson on foraging; the search to find and harvest wild foods. From fiddleheads to morels, dandelions and berries, Kelli will explain how to confidently embark on your own foraging endeavors.
We caught up with Kelli to learn more about her experience with foraging, and what we can expect to find at the upcoming workshop.
EC: Kelli, what appeals to you about foraging?
KHP: Foraging is one way we can become more aware of our surroundings by being in nature and closely observing what’s happening during each season. To me, it is both exciting and educational. And, I love the hunt! The sense of adventure foraging provides is a reminder to stay curious, which is a lot of fun. Foraging encourages us to seek and embrace our child-like sense of wonder, as well as reconnect to nature and where our food comes from.
From a culinary stand point, it offers new inspiration and creativity. I like to go back through old recipes and texts for recipes and instruction – what’s old is new again. People are definitely going back to nature with their eating. There is great satisfaction taken when you cook something you picked yourself. When I cook with things I’ve found myself, I find they taste even better!
EC: Why is instruction important to the beginning forager?
KHP: First and foremost, it is very important to know what is edible and what is not. Proper instruction will help you to better identify wild foods, where to find them, and when they are available. There many look-alikes in nature that can be highly toxic and even deadly to the novice. So knowing what you are searching for is key.
EC: Are there really things we can find in the wild that have a place at our tables?
KHP: Absolutely. There are many things that are prized in the culinary world that you can only find in the wild such as chanterelles, morels and truffles. But many other things we can enjoy are available outside your back door such as ramps, wild berries and wild greens- you just have to find them!
EC: Are seasons important to the foraging process?
KHP: Absolutely. The seasons and the weather play a direct role in when and where you can find various plants. We’ll cover this in our upcoming Edible Thursday class on April 17!
EC: What are some things you’ve made with foods you have found on your own foraging excursions?
KHP: Wow, where do I start? Pickled ramps make great cocktail onions, and ramps can make a wonderfully aromatic pesto. Dandelion greens, purslane and garlic mustard are making their way to innovative restaurants right here in Cleveland, but you can use them at home in salads, or simply sautéed. Crabapples, wild cherries and blackberries have many uses too.
If the idea of foraging appeals to your locavore tendencies and sense of adventure, join us for a unique learning experience!
Feast & Forage, an Edible Thursday gathering, takes place on Thursday, April 17, 7-9 pm, at the Boston Township Hall (1775 Main Street in Peninsula). RSVP at www.theaccle.com