Making Gravy Out of Acorns

My father taught me how to make gravy. Growing up in New Orleans, he worked as a chef around a lot of French cooking. He had plenty of praise for “browning flour.” He called browned flour “roux.” Browning flour takes a little skill because it burns easily. The best skillet to use is cast iron, along with a metal spatula to scrape the flour so it doesn’t burn. A quarter cup of flour is all you need. More finesse is needed to add liquid to the flour but hang in there. You can get the lumps out. Add the liquid slowly and make sure it’s not hot. Cold is best. It will become a paste and with more liquid, it will become the desired gravy consistency. The liquid should be flavorful. Soup stock is preferable, the tastier the better. You can either make your own or purchase it. To turn it into acorn gravy, you only need to add a quarter cup of acorns that has gone through the leaching process I explain in my book.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Acorns And Eat’em…

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERIt is slim pickings in my neck of the woods this year. There are no acorns coming from the Blue Oak or the California Live Oaks on my property. And I see very few California Valley Oak acorns along the stream where they were prolific last year. I’m sure I will find acorns. My son lives in the California Coastal Mountain Range and I have a variety of elevations and ecosystems available to me here in the Sierra Foothills and further up into the mountains. I feel bad when I see the squirrels and the wild turkeys looking for them and not finding them.

I am pleased to note that the “Acorns And Eat’em” book will be available in ebook form on November 15th. You can order it here:

http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Let me know how the acorn harvest is this year in your neck of the woods.

Thanks!

Suellen Ocean

Eating Acorns and Sharing with Woodpeckers

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERNature never ceases to amaze me. Did you know that a woodpecker has a tongue that is twice the length of its beak? It is so long, when not in use, it wraps up inside the bird’s head cavity. When it is in use, it drills down ant hills and scoops out the prey. Here’s the sad part. When there aren’t enough acorns, woodpeckers die. And you know the dead trees that are full of holes that are full of acorns? Those are called granaries and they take years to build up and support woodpecker communities.

As more and more people learn to enjoy cooking with acorns, I hope they will not forget the myriad of woodland animals who depend on them for food. It’s that time of year. Let’s gather acorns. But let’s leave an abundance for the birds.Secret Genealogy IV Cover

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns, http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973 and Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-IV-Native-Americans/dp/1500756105

 

 

ACORN CHOCOLATE CHIP RAISIN WALNUT COOKIES

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERMy freezer stalled on me. Unfortunately, I had bags of shelled acorns that I was saving in there. They got a little moldy so I tossed  them outside. The deer ate every last one. I also had a tupperware dish of leached acorns. They were still good. Poor me, I had to think of some way to use them before they went bad with my refrigeration on the blink. Cookies to the rescue! You’ll find the recipe below. Remember, you must first grind and leach the acorns. To see how it’s done, watch the how-to video, Acorns and Eat’em www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG-5EDrHDhM

There is no added oil in this recipe. Fats in here are in the chocolate chips, walnuts and in the acorns.

Mix with spatula:

1 cup leached & pre-cooked, drained & cooled acorns

½ cup honey

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla

Add & mix well:

2 cups whole wheat flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup milk

Then add this too & mix well:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnut pieces

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Always watch your cookies, oven temperatures vary.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Acorn Chocolate Cake Cravings… Can’t Wait ‘till the Acorns Drop

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERI think about acorn chocolate cake way too much. If I made one today, I’d have to throw a party, otherwise I’d eat the whole thing. That’s a good idea! An acorn chocolate cake party. Right at harvest time. We could all go for a walk and gather acorns and then eat cake made from last year’s acorns that I kept in the freezer.

If there’s anything that will catch people’s attention, it’s something made with acorns. They’re so tasty, it’s hard to believe that they’ve not become a commercial success. It’s just as well. The animals go nuts over them. In areas where they’re sparse, they’re eaten in a week or two. The crows and turkey vultures guard over them from above, while mice, birds and squirrels run in, grab them and run off.

I only gather acorns from areas where the harvests are plentiful. I know how important they are to wildlife. They wait for them. I’m waiting for them too. Can’t wait for that chocolate cake.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Hunter Gatherer Types… It is Time to Start Thinking About Oaks and Acorns

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERYes, the summer has just begun but before you know it, your favorite oak trees will be bursting forth with green acorns. As the days shorten, the acorns will turn brown and drop to the ground. That’s when you grab your basket and start gathering. The acorns will look beautiful in a basket sitting on your mantle or kitchen table but don’t leave them there very long. Get cracking. If there are any worms in them, they will eat your acorns and make them unappealing. They will still be good to eat, a few nibbles from them won’t hurt but make haste. Crack them and either freeze them for later leaching or leach them and then freeze them. Acorn chocolate cake… I can taste it now.  Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Just What America Needs… to Play in the Woods

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERWhen the weather turns beautiful and everyone wants to head outside, what better way to do it than to have an idea in mind. Some people like to river raft down the nation’s free-flowing rivers. Others like to ride bicycles or motor scooters. And America loves to garden and man, do we ever love to camp. What else do we like to do? And how do we get ideas for trying new experiences? Robin Blankenship, of Earth Knack, an organization that has been teaching primitive living skills for decades, has a new book out; How to Play in The Woods. Her new book gives “many easy and accessible activities and ideas about how to have fun out there.” How to Play in the Woods is a handy reference book for campers and outdoor enthusiasts who need to brush up on basic survival skills. If you need encouragement and motivation because you want and need to be interactive with nature… check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/How-Play-Woods-Activities-Survival/dp/1423641531

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

The Beginnings of a Wild Foodie…

Secret Genealogy IV CoverThere are a lot of books about Native Americans and when I wanted to learn about eating acorns, I thought sure that I could go to the library and find a book that would tell me how to do it. That was not the case. I went through countless books and the only thing I could tell was that they were using water to leach them. I did not know how long the Indians leached them, nor did I know if they kept them cool in the process. I was just a girl who loved nature and wanted to live and sustain myself within the woodlands of Northern California.

So I gathered acorns. By the pillowcase full. I totted them up the hill to my house and with a large river rock, cracked them open. Then, I put the shelled acorns in a white plastic bucket and covered them with water. I had to guess how long to leach them. They don’t leach well if they aren’t ground up and without refrigeration, they get a scum on them. I lived without electricity so I couldn’t keep them cool. I just poured the scum off and rinsed them really well. I ensued a lot of stomach aces though. Not from the scum but from the tannic acid not removed well enough.

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERWith a lot of trial and error, I finally figured out how to leach acorns. The answer is; long enough to get the tannic acid out. Each oak species has different tannic acid amounts. You have to experiment yourself. My guess is that you will need to leach them anywhere from one week to a month. The tan oak acorns I used in Mendocino County, California required only one week’s leaching. But the acorns I gather in the Sierra Foothills require three times as much leaching.

Don’t be discouraged. They’re worth the wait. Acorn dip with blue corn chips… the thought of it makes my mouth water. That’s probably the little bit of tannic acid that is retained that gives the acorns and any dishes you make with them, their distinctive flavor.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns, http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973 and Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-IV-Native-Americans/dp/1500756105

Eating Wild Foods… Is it OK to Eat Sprouted Acorns?

Secret Genealogy IV CoverIt’s spring now in California and in some woodland areas, there are still acorns on the ground. After all the rains, they may begin to sprout. That’s okay. A little sprout on the acorn won’t hurt. But when the sprout starts getting longer than half-an-inch, you may want to toss it where it can grow into a tree.

Sprouted acorns have grown from a starch to a sugar state. You may notice a difference in the leaching water color. It can range from black to white, depending on the species, the freshness, and whether it is in a starch or sugar state. Just because the water is white, doesn’t mean it won’t be bitter.CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVER

For the record, I’ve had plenty of tan oak acorns that had sprouted well over an inch. When it gets that long, it’s growing a root. I broke it off and processed them as I did any other acorns. It was all fine.

Native Americans record burying their acorns in mud until they turned purple, and then they leached them. The acorns that I used with the long roots attached, were tan oak and they developed a bright pink on the tips. So my thinking is, the Indians were burying their acorns in mud so that they would gradually sprout, bringing them into a sugar state.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns, http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973 and Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-IV-Native-Americans/dp/1500756105

Food & Cooking… Which Acorns Taste the Best?

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERProbably one of the most frequent questions I get asked about eating acorns is, “Which acorns taste the best?” Now mind you, almost all acorns (without leaching) are bitter-tasting unpalatable little things. I recommend against putting them in your mouth. But leached acorns, that’s a different story. What I mean by leaching is; grinding and rinsing in water. But the deal with acorns is, you have to rinse them in water for a long time. The best way to do that is to grind them in the blender (with water) and then keep them in the refrigerator in the water for however long it takes to get the bitter tannic acid out. I have not tried acorns from all over the world. However, I have tried them from all over California and there are some bitter and not so bitter acorns. The leaching time ranges from one to four weeks. Because they are acidic and you are rinsing them, they won’t go bad in the refrigerator during the leaching process. The best tasting acorns I’ve ever had are the Tanoak acorns that grow along California’s coastal ranges and a little bit inland. I found a week was plenty of time to remove the tannic acid.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973