Foraging as a Family

Foraging is such a wonderful skill to learn as a family! Wild foods are free, fresh, healthy and natural.  Many of them provide more nutrients than most foods you can find in the grocery store and some of them are absolutely delicious. Foraging gets families outside, providing fresh air and exercise while spending time together.  Children learn all sorts of […]


Cooking With Kids

Even toddlers can help out in the kitchen!  It’s important for children to learn to cook meals and snacks — and they just plain like it. When families cook together, everybody benefits.  Kids learn skills they’ll need for a lifetime, mealtimes are more enjoyable, kids are more likely to sample more foods, it’s a wonderful way to pass on families […]


It’s Elderberry Season!

Daryl and I have been faithfully checking our elder patches for the past few weeks and he brought home a bag of our first elderberry bounty for the year this week. This particular clump of elders is bordering a nursing home that has given us permission to pick their pears and elderberries.  He harvested them in the dark, bless his […]


Azure Standard's Organic Fruits and Veggies Box

Is Azure Standard’s Organic Fruits and Veggies Box Worth the Cost?

If you don’t have access to affordable organic suppliers like Bountiful Baskets or a good local CSA, Azure Standard is one option to get a monthly box of assorted organic fruits and vegetables.  The box costs $33 (as of August 2017), plus a small delivery fee (generally about $10 for my order of about $120 worth of items, so under […]


25 Herbs and Veggies to Plant in August for Your Fall Garden

If you want to extend your back yard bounty of fresh veggies, now is the time to start your fall garden.   There are many garden crops that can handle some frost and some that can tolerate temperatures well below freezing. Root veggies such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips actually taste better after some frost, as do leafy greens […]

25 Garden crops to plant in August for your fall garden

#fyfo100 checklist of 10 ways to afford organic foods

The Top 10 #FYFO-100 Strategies for Eating Organic for Less

I’ll mostly be focusing on 10 main ways to save money on healthy and organic foods in the FYFO-100 series (Feed Your Family Organic for $100 (or less!)). Everybody has different circumstances, so different strategies will be better for different families. You do not need to do all or even most of these to save money, but the more you […]


Cooking With Kids Recipe: Sweet Flavored Popcorn

We’ve been having a weekly night for our kids with some friends and this popcorn has become a favorite  sweet snack at our gatherings — with kids and parents alike.  The kids love getting to help pick the flavors each week, and it couldn’t be easier to make. This makes a large amount, but it keeps well over the week […]

Sweet flavored popcorn

FYFO 100 Feed Your Family Organic for $100 (or less!)

FYFO- 100: Feed Your Family Organic for $100 a Week (or less!) 2

Yes, you can feed your family healthy, organic, non-GMO food and not go bankrupt doing it! Welcome to FYFO-100, where I’ll share how we feed our family of 7 for around $100 a week. Every few days, I’ll share more tips for how we make it work. You can go all-in and learn skills like foraging or canning, or you […]


Now in Paperback!

  My elderberry book is now available in a paperback edition!  We heard from many people who wanted a physical copy of the book, especially to make use of it while foraging and for the cookbook section.  I worked over the past couple of months to create the best possible paperback version, with black and white photos and illustrations throughout […]

Elderberries: The Beginner's Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and More

Elderberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Elderberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Elderflower season is coming to an end and that means elderberry season is coming soon!  Make sure you use some of this year’s elderberry crop to make some elderberry jam and elderberry pie filling, because they’re so wonderful in recipes like elderberry cream cheese cupcakes (and elderberry thumbprint cookies, and elderberry fluff, and elderberry frosting….). We’ve heard from a lot […]


Seven Plants, Weeds and Flowers That Naturally Remove Lead from Your Property

If you have soil that’s been contaminated by lead, you know that it’s probably not safe for vegetable gardening and it can also be a hazard to children and pets who play on your property. Lead can be a serious problem in gardens, ponds and wetlands, in addition to posing health risks for growing kids.   Lead contamination is a […]

Seven Plants That Naturally Remove Lead from Your Soil, Ponds and Wetlands

DIY natural sunscreen

How to Make Your Own DIY Natural Sunscreen

It’s starting to get to sunburn season! Wearing hats and staying in the shade isn’t really cutting it the way it does the rest of the year, especially if you spend a day at the beach or out in the hot sun. With that said, there are some pretty scary ingredients in even “natural” sunscreens. One alternative is to make […]


The 10 Best Houseplants for Purifying Indoor Air

Houseplants offer lots of benefits to homeowners. They can bring a little green to snowy winter months, they add some cheer and they also are just pretty. One of their best uses, however, is in cleaning indoor air.   With our modern, energy-efficient homes and the prevalence of toxins in our manufacturing processes, indoor air is likely to be even […]

The 10 best houseplants for purifying indoor air

How to make elderflower syrup (or elderflower sparkling wine)!

How to Make Elderflower Soda (or Elderflower Sparkling Wine) 2

Have you heard of elderflower soda?  This is a traditional elderflower delicacy that is so popular in Romania that it inspired Coca-Cola to release their own version, Fanta Shokata (though theirs contains no real elderflowers). It is also known as Socată or Suc de Soc. Here’s the recipe to make your own, which is another from my book, Elderberries: The […]


Square Foot Gardening: Growing Perfect Vegetables (Review)

I’m a big fan of square foot gardening and I use it in my own gardens quite a lot so I was excited to read the recently released Square Foot Gardening:  Growing Perfect Vegetables  (affiliate link). There are lots of things I liked about this book but also some major drawbacks. PROS:   The book is full of gorgeous, full-color […]

Review: Square Foot Gardening Growing Perfect Vegetables

All kinds of brilliant ways to use banana peels for your houseplants and gardens

How to Use Banana Peels for Fertilizer, Dried Mulch and More

Banana peels are some of the best food sources you can give your houseplants and your garden. Yes, you can just toss them in the compost pile, but you can put them to even better use in other ways.   Banana peels are full of nutrients that plants need. The Micro Gardener says these include: Potassium – helps promote general […]


20 Vegetable, Herb and Edible Flower Seeds You Can Still Plant in June

Think June is too late to start seeds in your garden this year? No way! There are still lots of veggies you can direct seed in your garden.   Indeed, many garden plants grow much more happily in June when the soil has warmed up. Some bean varieties mature in as little as 35 days, and herbs like cilantro can […]

20 Vegetable, herb and edible flower seeds you can still plant in June

Natural Ways to Defeat Grasshoppers

10 Natural and Organic Ways to Defeat Grasshoppers

The recent hot, dry weather has brought a small plague of grasshoppers to my garden for the first time in years, and I’ve been working hard to defeat them.     We garden organically and I didn’t want to douse our family’s food sources with pesticides and poisons. Also, they’re just not terribly effective. Timing is important in their life […]


Quick and Easy Gluten Free Buns (Vegan)

Store-bought gluten free buns are expensive and generally taste something like dish sponges.  The good news is you can easily make your own.  This recipe is my go-to recipe for quick gluten-free buns.  It’s also egg-free, dairy-free and soy-free (and vegan!), so it’s great for folks with multiple allergies.  I tend to make these at the last minute and they […]

Quick and easy gluten-free buns (vegan)

Elderberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

A Magical Life Cake and Cupcakes (Gluten Free, Delicious and Easy!) 1

Cupcake development day is going well. #glutenfreecupcakes #fromscratch #farmersmarket A post shared by @magicandmayhem on May 23, 2017 at 2:05pm PDT I have been making homemade birthday cakes and cupcakes for my kids for almost 20 years now, and they’ve been gluten free for the past 6 years.  With five kids, that means that I have baked a lot of […]


How to Find Wild Asparagus

Few wild edibles are as satisfying to forage as wild asparagus. It’s tasty, prolific, nutritious, and you can gather a huge bounty of it in just the few weeks of its season. Indeed, it grows so fast (many inches per day) that you can sometimes visit the same foraging spots twice a day and still keep harvesting new spears.   […]

How to find wild asparagus

What to forage in May

31 Wonderful Wild Edible Foods to Forage in May

There are so many fantastic wild edibles to forage in May! Many of the best wild foods can only be found this time of year, such as wild asparagus and morels.  Greens are still mild and delicious, and more and more favorites are starting to show themselves. Here are 31 wild edible foods to look for in May, along with […]


Make Your Own Elderberry Schnapps! 3

Here’s another easy recipe from my new book, Elderberries: The Beginner’s Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and More (available now on Kindle and within the next week or two in paperback!). This is a beautiful, deep purple schnapps that is so simple to make with either fresh or frozen elderberries.  You make elderberry […]


elderberry cream cheese spread

Elderberry Cream Cheese Spread 2

Here’s a quick, easy and delicious recipe to make use of elderberry jam that you may have put up.  I featured it in my new book, Elderberries: The Beginner’s Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and More, which went live on Amazon at the Kindle store on Friday and should be out in print […]


Book Review: Alchemy of Herbs

I was excited to hear about Rosalee De La Foret’s new book, Alchemy of Herbs*, as the author is part of the Learning Herbs site that I have followed for years.  I highly enjoy their blog posts and newsletter for kids about the benefits of plants that you can find in the wild.  Our family makes heavy use of healing […]


What to Forage in April

April is a fantastic time to forage for wild edible foods. The weather is generally beautiful, and it’s great to get back out in the outdoors after a long winter. Greens like dandelions and nettles are tender, mild and at their peak for cooking, teas, salads and medicinal uses. Many of the best wild edibles can only be found this […]


Quick Mix-and Match Glazed Mini Donuts (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

Our 9 year-old, Alex, asked last night if we could make mini donuts together for breakfast for everybody today.  I said yes, and dug out this recipe that I came up with a few years ago.  This is a really easy but delicious recipe that also includes lots of fruit and/or veggies, since each batch contains a cup of whichever […]


The unknown pear is identified!

The unknown pear from Lake Talcot has been identified!  I’ve seen it for years, and have never known what it is. The best term I ever found was “immigrant pear”, because it was something early immigrants brought over as animal feed.  Chasing a lead down the rabbit hole today, I finally found it. I give you… Pyrus pyraster, the European […]


Foraging, 9/15/16

Today’s foraging report:   It’s raining, so we have a very short window for picking but we’re showing a friend how to can tonight, so we needed pears. We picked two kinds at Talcot and one at GS, so I thought since we had them on hand I’d do a comparison.   In the back row we have GS pears […]


Foraging, 8/16/16

Yesterday we went to my parent’ house and picked 2 large boxes of pears. Today I checked one of my secret sites, and sure enough — 2 more boxes of pears off one tree (the eating ones), and I didn’t even get to start on the other (much fuller) one (the canning pears). Plus there’s a tree there has apples […]


Foraging, 8/22/16

The pears are DONE. Between my parents’ house and my secret spot, we ended up with 11 gallons of pear halves. The first 5 were turned into 15 quarts of sauce, and I see a similar fate for the others when Alicia gets home. Now to start picking some more.


Foraging, 8/25/16

My latest apple foraging find. The tree is full of these apple (LPC)s, a source says it only fruits every few years. I just got lucky! They’re up to 3″ across but only 1 1/2-2″ high, medium flesh (not too crunchy or mushy), sweet, delicious, and starts browning pretty quickly. No idea what kind it is, but I’ll be going […]


Foraging, 8/26/16

Our foraged apples for the day. The one in the left is one recent tree (LPC), the crabapple is located nearby, and the huge apple is a new tree we found on property nobody lives on. Huge, white flesh, crisp, delicious. And it’s a dwarf tree so all the fruit fits in one large box.           […]


Foraging, 8/27/16

Apple update — I think I’ve identified the first LPC tree (with the wide but short apples). I think it’s a Baldwin, and they’re delicious. I may have to go finish picking the tree. How to identify the Baldwin apple variety Baldwin apple variety identification characteristics. Compare your Baldwin apple with our extensive apple identification database. applename.com Save


Foraging, 8/29/16

Today’s foraging finds. The right one is from Jeffers, the left one is Sam’s Club, and the middle is a small tart one from Chipotle. Save


Elderberries, 8/30/16

The elderberries are ripening! From 2 small spots, we picked almost 14 cleaned cups of berries, so just shy of a gallon. The major patches are yet to come — I haven’t even checked them yet!


Foraging, 8/30/16

It’s been an odd year for foraging. Something about the spring weather, but this year we had bumper crops of asparagus, elderberries, pears, and apples (some trees that haven’t produced in years are going crazy). On the other hand, there were no mulberries, black raspberries, gooseberries, wild plums, or pin cherries. I guess pick and save what you can and […]


Trio, 9/1/16

Today’s foraging haul – Lake Talcot pears (2 very full bags, many more to pick, wonderful for canning), Chipotle apples (1 very full bag, very tart, going to make cider), and Sam’s Club apples (1 full bag, crisp, for pies and baking). Also checked on the elderberry patches – we may be too late! Save


Foraging, 9/2/16

This is what we have waiting to process right now (canning as sauce or freezing for baking. Also some cider). Talcot pears. LPC apples. Chipotle apples. Sam’s Club apples. We missed out on the Talcot apples (they were early, and we weren’t) but there are plenty of pears left. There are also more apple trees to check. Save


Foraging, 9/3/16

11 pints and 3 quarts of applesauce canned, and pears getting prepped. We should have 6 quarts of halves in syrup.


Foraging, 9/5/16

Another non-foraging day of foraging. I picked many elderberries and prepped them (elderberry wine is on the slate this year), didn’t get to ask about a pear tree (but will), didn’t get around to asking about an apple tree (but will), and got some free roadside tomatoes. Also prepped a bunch of pears for canning, so there’s that.


Foraging, 9/6/16

Forage a jolly good fellow… Around doing everything else, we found out there’s no elderberries left near Lakefield (And precious few walnuts), but there’s still some elderberries west of town. We also got permission to pick a new pear tree, and cooked down some of the Sam’s club apples. It makes a very tart green applesauce (7 pints canned).


Trio, 9/7/16

Talcot pear, Jeffers Apple, GS pear.  The Talcot pears have a “bite” to them that makes them not great for eating, but wonderful for canning.  The Jeffers apples are wonderfully mild, and the GS pears are great for eating, not so much for canning.


Apples, 9/7/16

Foraging today: we finally picked apples from the Jeffers tree (about half a bag, I need a better picker), we prepped and canned 7 quarts of pears, and we’re off to get more. A slow day. Jeffers apples: full red when ripe, soft white flesh, I’d say sauce and cider. And eating, of course.  


Foraging, 9/12/16

Many foragy things going on today. I prepped and cut enough pears for 10 quarts to be canned (and they are), and then we got out the juicer. The results of the juice experiments: Chipotle apples: incredibly tart Sam’s Club apples: green juice, very tart LP crab apples- kind of tart, nice flavor, pink juice LP apples – mild, delicious […]


Foraging, 9/13/16

It was back to the foraging today. I picked a bag of GS pears for a friend, and 2 bags of Robin apples for us. For 10 minutes of picking, we ended up with 7 quarts of beautiful pink applesauce (6 canned, one for eating).


Foraging, 9/14/16, part 1

So far today we’ve bagged up over a gallon of frozen chopped pears from the GS tree, and I’ve chopped and frozen another gallon plus of Sam’s Club apples (they’re tart, they’ll work great in bread).  I’ve also peeled and prepped enough Talcot pears to make 8 quarts and a hair left over. Time to NOT do things for a […]


Foraging, 9/14/16, part 2

  1) The Windom hospital cut down its apple trees! I’m really sad, those were wonderful Red Baron apples. I mean, I still have too many to pick and process, but I liked those apples.   2) They *do* still have pear trees, though. Two different kinds – the larger ones (almost all gone) have a very thick, leathery skin […]


Roasted Tomato Sauce (Simple and Delicious!)

Nothing smells better on a fall day than roasted tomato sauce. With back yards and farmers’ markets brimming with fresh tomatoes right now, this is the perfect time to make up a batch.  Once you try, you’ll never want make tomato sauce any other way! If you’ve never made roasted tomato sauce, you don’t know what you’re missing. This pasta […]


25 Garden crops to plant in August for your fall garden

If you want to extend your back yard bounty of fresh veggies, now is the time to start your fall garden. There are many garden crops that can handle some frost and some that can tolerate temperatures well below freezing. Root veggies such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips actually taste better after some frost, as do leafy greens like […]


Roots to Stems: How to use every part of your produce!

Root to Stem Cooking: How to Use Every Part of Your Produce

  When you stroll through the farmers’ market or pick up your CSA box, you’re likely to find something that you won’t find in area supermarkets — whole plants.   Local growers tend to leave the leaves on root vegetables like beets and carrots, keep the flowery fronds on the fennel and otherwise give you a lot of extras with […]