Winter Foraging

So despite some intermittent warm days, winter is still very much in effect here in Oklahoma.  Most people don’t think of foraging as a wintertime activity, and for good reason – the truth is, there is not a whole lot to be gathered right now.  If for some reason you were trying to subsist on just what you could find in February, you’d be in trouble.  Wintertime is, naturally, a time of dormancy and quiet rejuvenation, and a lot of nature’s activity is hidden from us during this time.  Trees are bare and most plants have withered to papery, brittle remains that show only skeletal traces of their former vibrancy.  But, upon closer inspection, there is a lot to be observed at this time of year.  The anatomy of a tree’s branches, for example, is much easier to study when it’s not enveloped in a mass of foliage.  Winter is also a great time to observe the seeding and budding processes of plants.

The warm days we’ve enjoyed this winter have allowed some plants to get a head start on spring – two of my favorite weeds, henbit and shepherd’s purse, are already flowering, and we found a number of young sage plants coming up.  We also gathered an abundance of wild garlic and onions.  I’m happy to say that some of what we gathered ended up on the menu at Luvidine last week, where the chefs made a wonderfully rich aioli with the onions to compliment their legendary Walnut Creek Lamb Burger, as well as an incredible white wine and garlic sauce for their gnocchi dishes.

Much as I’ve enjoyed this reflective season, the hints of green I’ve seen the last few weeks have got me eagerly anticipating spring’s arrival.