While last spring was remarkable because the world had shut down, spring this year is remarkable as parts of the world start to slowly re-emerge. It was a collective, tragic, exhausting hibernation the past 16 months. When things dramatically stopped last year, my senses became more acute to the subtle, beautiful things in my life, such as wild flowers sprouting from sidewalk cracks, the remarkable shades of green leaves in the forest behind my home, and the symphony of birds that awoke me early every morning.
The covid winter was challenging in many ways but I was very fortunate to always be in good health. On the food front, I became uninspired in my daily cooking and my diet devolved into mainly smoothies, popcorn, and salads. My sole cooking inspiration was to bake breads and cakes for friends and family and the ingredients that were exciting were the ones that I foraged.
The Israelites were perhaps the ultimate foragers, receiving manna in the desert. And, although agricultural laws like ma’aser–designating crops for poor people, leaving the corners of fields (pe’ah) for gleaning and shmita apply only to Israel, their concepts and applications are still very relevant everywhere: how to live in harmony with the land that nourishes us without exploiting it and to ensure that everyone has equal access to food. The concept of letting agricultural land lie fallow for a year, does encourage me to think about wild foods and how nature in its untamed state provides for humans and helps me deepen my connection to both the local forests and tree lined urban areas in my neighborhood (albeit we need to forage responsibly and lightly. Foraging will not feed the world!) And, that growing food and how we consume it are acts of social justice, ensuring that all have access to foods.
Now, as a fully vaccinated person, I am re-emerging in the world but not wanting to fully lose some of the covid behaviors I have taken on that gave me a deeper connection to nature, including daily hikes in Rock Creek National Park and foraging. On my street and in the woods nearby are lots of serviceberry and mulberry trees (black and white), plus wild strawberries! With the deafening sound of the cicadas (it’s not a background noise–it’s just simply there always until they sleep at night), it’s been fun to go out with friends to pick the berries, staining my fingers purple. Next to bloom are the wild raspberries at the end of this month!
The recipe I made is ridiculously simple and is just a way to showcase and enjoy the foraged fruits. Homemade granola is easy to make and adds a crunchy texture and mild sweetness to the dish.
2 cups whole oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2-1 tbsp date syrup
1 tbsp barberries or raisins
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 cup berries
2-3 cups vegan yogurt
3/4 cup granola
1. Pre-heat the oven to 185 degrees.
2. Pour the oats into a bowl. Add the cinnamon, salt and mix. Then add the vanilla, olive oil and date syrup. Mix well.
3. Pour onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread out so that the oats do not clump.
4. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or so, checking to make sure it does not burn. It should be crispy, though. Remove from oven and add barberries. Let cool.
1. Pour vegan yogurt into a bowl. I love Oatly yogurt but there are lots of delicious brand.
2. Sprinkle the oats and fruits on top.
3. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses for a tart flavor contrast.