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Come meander with me! March 17th, 2018

CADDO MOUNDS STATE HISTORIC SITE
Gentle Yoga & Foraging

ALTO, Texas –– Escape town for a relaxing and rewarding yoga practice at Caddo Mounds Historic Site. Practicing yoga outdoors is a rare opportunity to cultivate not only an intimate connection with your body and mind, but also with life-giving community ecosystem that sustains us all. The morning will be spent in a gentle outdoor yoga class taught by yoga instructor and ecopsychologist Arrie Tucker. The class will include yoga postures appropriate for anyone, a brief mindfulness-based meditation as well as a lead deep relaxation. After the yoga program you will join Brandy McDaniel for a hike and foraging program. Learn about native east Texas plants and have an opportunity to forage a salad for lunch.

There is a $25.00 charge for the program, and the fee includes a tour of the Caddo Mounds Site. Payments must be made by cash or check. This a fundraiser for the Friends of Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, Inc.
Seating is limited, so Please Call To Indicate Interest In Attending.

WHO:
Arrie Tucker, Yoga Instructor and Ecopsychologist,
Brandy McDaniel, Foraging Enthusiast/ Instructor

WHAT:
Gentle Yoga & Foraging.

*Suggested for yoga: comfortable shoes, sunglasses, beach towel or yoga mat, light clothing layers.

*Suggested for foraging: comfortable walking shoes, a bag or basket, sunscreen, hat, pocket knife.

*Other: water bottle, picnic lunch

Ample parking provided

WHEN:
Saturday, March 17, 2018 (Please Call To Indicate Interest In Attending.)
10:00 AM. Yoga, 11:15 Foraging

WHERE:
Caddo Mounds SHS, 1649 State Hwy 21 west, Alto, Texas. The site is located 6 miles west of Alto, and approximately 30 minutes from Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Jacksonville and Crockett, Texas. Call 936-858-3218 for directions or additional information.

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Dandelions

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Too much has been written about dandelions to even begin to scratch the surface. Those maligned beauties we all know and love from childhood are now despised by homeowners as weeds.

In my family we would regularly eat them either just wilted ( what would now be called stir fried) with a little bacon fat and hot pepper vinegar, or if they were very very young, you could eat them raw mixed with other greens in a salad. Still the same treatment, hot pepper vinegar and bacon grease.
It was used as a medicinal food especially for swelling of the legs and feet and for muscle spasms especially in the legs. It is one of the best diuretics out there, and one of it’s original names pissabed What makes it exceptionally good is the high levels of potassium to fight leg cramps.

But we brought dandelions to North America as a food crop and while it’s fallen out of favor with American palates, you can still find it in Asian markets sometimes labeled as mindeulle in Korean where they still use it fresh in salads.

Something that had surprised me in my research was running into a Maori woman that stated they also eat it in its early stages. Typically you find it in a stew called a “boil up” with pork bones, sweet potato, and add the greens last. The French do a similar version called pot-au-fer.

I do think it would be interesting to study how the various cultures around the world eat this lowly weed and research when Americans lost our love of bitter greens. But this is enough for now.

Our version of nyquil… or Cherry Bounce.

This is one of the recipes that is the most loved. Mostly because 100 years ago, nobody had an idea how to make it.

Now we all know that cherry is good for coughs, and this is about the only use we really had for cherries. I can remember my aunt Ode sending me out to pick chokecherries for her out in the big thicket.. but the stand is gone where we used to pick them. This does work with domesticated cherries but isn’t the same flavor.

1 quart wild cherries
1 pound sugar
1 quart bourbon (or your favorite high proof drinking alcohol)

Wash and pick over cherries, removing stems and drain. Pour moist cherries into a half-gallon jug. Pour 1/2 cup sugar over moist cherries, then shake until cherries are coated. Pour remaining sugar on top of cherries. Do not mix. Place cap on jug loosely to prevent pressure build-up. Let stand until sugar melts on top of cherries, then stir by revolving jug. Repeat until all sugar is dissolved.
Let stand for 2 months. Pour bourbon over cherries and close jug tightly. Let stand 3 or 4 months. During the 3 month period, revolve jug occasionally. Strain through cheesecloth and pour into bottles. (Makes about 1/2 gallon)

While cherries are fermenting, a mold may form on top. If it is a white, green, or blue mold, skim it off before adding bourbon. If it is a brown or black fuzzy mold, dump it and start over.
Since I don’t always have wild cherries available, I use two cans of sour cherries. I usually let stand 2 months after adding bourbon, then strain and let sit another 2 months before use.

Sip, don’t drink! This is not a suggestion; it is a warning.

What was life like in 1917?

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Photo from about 1922 of my grandparents, great grandmother, and all but one of the siblings. My mother is the girl to the far left with the black belt. Only my aunt Sissy wasn’t born yet.

I recently came across an article talking about “What was life like in 1917” with beautiful fashion models, and very old looking pictures of WWI. But that’s not how I see it.

My aunt Ozell was born in June 1917 and my mother was two years old. This was around the time of the passion flower story. My grandparents were sharecroppers on 120 acres near Loco, Oklahoma and my grandmother and great grandmother were in high demand for medicines and help. There were no hospitals in the area so if you got into trouble, there was no place to go.

I remember the description of the house they were living at the time, that there was just a fence around the house without a gate so these beautiful well dressed ladies from the city would have to get down and crawl under the fence because they couldn’t trust their skirts to go over it. So they had to get down on the ground and take off their big pretty hats to go see my grandmother.

I remember they had a kitchen garden mama could remember them coming home after working all day in the field, they’d get home and tend to their garden after dark. And the landowner’s cows broke down the fence and ate the garden.
My grandmother was absolutely furious. Crying, she grabbed the gun and started marching down the road to the owner’s house going to shoot the cows that ate her babies’ food. Papa trying to stop her and eventually great grandma Nancy Ann going “Honey, we don’t NEED a garden to eat!” Unfortunately that’s all I can remember of that story at the moment.

Papa registered for the draft, but was too old and had too many kids. Rene could remember him sitting by the lamp reading the paper about the troubles in Europe. I have a scanned copy of his draft card around here somewhere.

1917 wasn’t that long ago. Just a blink past living memories.

Something that bugged me.

My cousin posted an article a few days ago about a Lakota chef putting out his own cookbook of only native ingredients. No dairy, no wheat, no beef or chicken or pork.

That really is great and I encourage it. But one thing that got me all kinds of ranty was the tag line “You can have your turkey dinner but no creamy mashed potatoes.”

Um… excuse me? Besides the fact that potatoes are a new world food, I’ll give you that they didn’t reach the Lakota until the Irish brought them back. BUT. I can think of four potato-like starchy root vegetables that do grow here that we DID eat. Sunchokes, Winecups, Bull Nettles, and Wapato or Duck Potato without even trying. We don’t do creamy, but what about the nut butters we did do? Hickory nuts, pecans, even down to sunflower seeds. It’s just foolish and discounting an entire swath of foods we have a long history with.

I have to turn around and wonder if anybody has tried to re-cultivate the giant ragweed that we believe was cultivated here 600(ish) years ago. If you’re wondering where that statement comes from, there is evidence that humans cultivated ragweed as food.

As a complete aside, I do find it amusing that ragweed is filed in my brain under “vegetable based oils and butters”.

What irritated me the most about it wasn’t the book itself, but the assumption that our native foods were lacking in some way. That we can’t make good food. I can walk out there right now and with a little planning and forethought, harvest some kind of critter for meat, this is the time that roots are ready to be harvested, so there’s no lack in starchy sides… anything from nutsedge to the winecups in the yard to the sunchokes on the side of the highway or the wapato growing in the wetter areas. There’s fresh greens just ready for picking… some do need cooking, but many right now don’t… and won’t until it starts getting warm again in the later spring. We may not have many maples down here, but we have sweetgum and cottonwood and others for syrup.

Texas has more food than you could imagine. And especially during the “dead of winter” when the northern states are locked in snow and ice. We have more forgotten food at our fingertips and under our feet and more variety than any modern grocery store. Saying we “can’t” do something or that we are lacking or insufficient is a disservice to our ancestors and the land itself.