Into the woods

My daughter Molly goes into the woods as often as she can to forage for delicacies. On some lucky days, I get to tag along.

This past weekend she introduced us all to the edible wonder of the Wisconsin Wood Violet.

The violets played a starring role in a decadent dessert she made for us all that combined Wisconsin’s official state flower with its non-official state fair food — the cream puff.

She served them for dessert following a meal that included a salad made entirely of foraged greens.

Such a treat!

The next day she invited me to go for a walk with her and I popped on my fit flops and prepared to walk off those puffs. It turned out to be more of a foraging stroll than the brisk city walk I had envisioned, but I worked off a good bit of calories anyway, swatting mosquitos and bending to scoop up those tender violets.

As always on walks with my kids, I also learned a lot.

Molly pointed out wild strawberries and cherry trees I would have thought were just pretty wild flowers without my earnest guide.

I also learned about the gorgeous and apparently edible nanny berry bushes that are all over our land, the tasty mulberry bushes and the pretty but poisonous and apparently invasive honeysuckle bushes that the river carried to our shore.

All in a days stroll.

I can’t say I learned enough to forage anything on my own, but I’ll wood down those mulberry violet cream puffs anytime.

This is Molly in her element, under a wild cherry tree, harvesting wood violets and telling me all about those yellow flowers while I swatted mosquitos and snapped a photo or two.
Violets are pretty little things and very versatile. Molly was hoping to gather two cups of them on our recent venture. I was hoping to avoid getting bit by a tic.
So we ended up with a little less than a cup but that turned out to be enough.
Because they are so much hardier than they look, she was able to make her simple syrup anyway.
Those cream puffs though. So very delicious.
I could hardly contain myself.

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