• Christmas Tree for dinner?

    Cut or not to cut? This year I had a dilemma. We had a chance to cut a nice fir from our own woods to serve as holiday decoration and inspiration. But I was hesitant. If million of people cut their trees every December, we have million trees less on our planet. The other choice was …

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  • nettles herbal tea benefits

    Nettle – spring tonic and a useful sting.

    Nettle. Stinging nettle. Why does it sting? Is it to protect itself from herbivores, or may be to serve humans? Here in Northern Wisconsin May, early June (before blooming actually) is a perfect time to collect nettles.  When I pick them barehanded, I don’t mind an occasional sting, it feels good, it feels medicinal.  In …

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  • Honey – the food of the gods

    Most of us have a jar of honey at home.  But do we know how beneficial it actually is? People used it since ancient times in Egypt, Rome, Greece, Slavic region, India and China.  It was called the food of gods, bringing health and longevity and it was the only sweet food known to people …

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  • Fireweed – Russian ancient traditions in your tea cup.

    Fireweed – what is in the name… I love when I start seeing beautiful pinkish-purple flower tops of blooming fireweed in August. Fireweed is a narrow alternate leaf plant from Evening primrose family, Epilobium Angustifolium. It loves to grow in burnt or logged areas in slightly acidic soil in full sun.  Sometimes you see it …

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  • Mushroom mania

    It happened again, it hits me every year, in the fall.  I get a strange magnetic pool, that drags me to the woods, with the basket on my shoulder, and a pocket knife at my belt, to discover the hidden forest gems, the mushrooms.  It is a thrill, an adventure, anticipation of what is there …

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  • Wild cherry cough syrup

    Collecting wild cherries During second part of August is a perfect time to collect wild cherries.  They can be a little dry and astringent when they are not completely ripe and therefore they are great for jam.  But what I discovered several years ago was even better: wild cherry cough syrup! If you have a …

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  • birch benefits

    Birch gifts – sap, tea and other uses throughout the year.

      The birch trees grow in temperate forests of the North.  It is an official national tree of both Finland and Sweden and an informal national symbol of Russia.  It is also the most common tree growing in Norway.  There are many different kinds of birch: white or paper, river, silver, weeping, yellow, Himalayan, cherry …

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  • Presenting Wild Oyster Mushrooms! It is the middle of June in Northern Wisconsin, and we see them popping up everywhere! They grow with one flat side attached to the tree trunks of dead wood. Sometimes you have to look high. They lack the traditional mushroom stem, and have gills underneath the cap. Their smell resembles anise, and it is one of the main clues. Mushrooms are whitish yellow in color and can grow quite large, so just watch out for competitors inside, insects love to eat them too!

    Wild Oyster Mushrooms – delicious and sustainable fungi

    It is the middle of June in Northern Wisconsin, and we see Oyster Mushrooms popping up everywhere!  They grow with one flat side attached to the tree trunks of dead wood.  Sometimes you have to look high.  A lot of the times they lack the traditional mushroom stem, and have gills underneath the cap.  Their …

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  • This is a prime time for picking fresh edible basswood leaves, or as it is called in Europe - linden. The leaves are nice light green and almost roundish shape. They are so soft and also feel very soft when you eat them. The taste is slightly sweet and very pleasant, they are not as crunchy as lettuce. Leaves are the best tasting when they are young. The older leaves are tougher and harder to chew.

    Basswood leaves for salad – that linden is delicious

    Basswood is a beautiful tree that provides us with its shade, wood, bark, leaves and flowers.  In Russia most of the wooden spoons and bowls are carved from its wood.  The fiber is so soft, people compare it to butter for the ease of carving.  People have used the bark for centuries for making ropes …

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  • If you are in the woods these days you might notice the first large wild green of the season. The forest floor is still pretty bare, and these islands of green are really bright. It is a wild leek, or ramp, or wild bear onion (allium tricoccum). It loves shady wet areas. Smart bears love this plant, it fills them up with chlorophyll and vitamin C after the long winter’s nap. If you bite into fresh leaf the taste is intense – very distinctive of a fresh garlic. It gives us energy and shakes off the last tiredness of winter. All the spice in it improves appetite, blood flow and metabolism.

    Wild leek pesto – first spring vitamins from the forest

    If you are in the woods these days you might notice the first large wild green of the season. The forest floor is still pretty bare, and these islands of green are really bright.  It is a wild leek, or ramp, or wild bear onion (allium tricoccum). It loves shady wet areas.  Smart bears love …

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