Foraging the Spring Garden
By Jess Starwood With the abundance of spring energy comes the abundance of weeds in the garden. Instead of fighting them, why not eat them? One of the mildest and easiest to identify weeds is the common garden mallow (Malva neglecta and Malva parviflora). A related species in this family of plants, Althaea officinalis, was… Continue reading
By Jess Starwood Stinging nettle is a common and widespread plant that grows prolifically in the springtime. It’s tiny hairs that cover its stems and leaves deliver an injection of formic acid when touched—the same chemical responsible for the pain of an ant bite. But don’t let this deter you from using this tasty and… Continue reading
Eating Holly Leaf Cherry Kernels
In commercial agriculture, we love cherries for their sweet fruit and discard the pits. However, when it comes to wild cherries—those who naturally have less fleshy fruits and much, much larger pits, the tables have turned. Besides acorns, the kernels (the seed inside the pit) of holly leaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia), were one of the… Continue reading
Sonoran Desert Granola
With coconut yogurt, western redbud and manzanita flowers After harvesting the various desert fruits and seeds throughout the year, it has become time to clear out the pantry in preparation for the next season of harvest. The base of this granola is made with raw sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat groats which are light and airy… Continue reading
Tom Kha soup with Chicken of the Woods Mushroom
One of my most favorite soups but with chicken mushrooms in place of real chicken. 1 Tbsp. coconut oil1/2 onion sliced2 garlic cloves choppeda few Thai chiles, halved3 quarter-inch slices slices galangal root, or ginger1 lemongrass stalk pounded with the side of a knife and cut into 2-inch long pieces2 teaspoons red Thai curry paste4… Continue reading
Cactus & Corn Tortillas
Last weekend I hosted the incredibly knowledgeable Enrique Villasenor, local healer in training, who taught all about how to use Opuntia species of cactus (aka prickly pear) for healing a vast array of health conditions. It all goes back to “balance” he says, and this plant helps us do that. Even if we aren’t suffering… Continue reading
Wild Black Sage + Turkey Tail Mushroom Tonic
One of my favorite pairings of local wild flavors is the complex minty aroma of black sage (Salvia mellifera) with the rich heaviness of cacao. Its been a crowd-pleaser in my black sage truffles from last year, but I wasn’t in the mood for a heavy chocolate dessert. Instead, I opted to infuse some freshly… Continue reading
Wild Nettle Soup (vegan)
Welcoming springtime also means the onset of weed season. While many reach for their choice of mass plant destruction (with herbicides being of greatest concern), there are gentler and more sustainable ways to manage the green overgrowth in our yards and public spaces. Many of our wild plants that find their way into our gardens… Continue reading
Toyon Berries: A sign of the season
I’ve been fascinated by this little berry for a few years now. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is a California native shrub in the rose family that bears fruit during the winter months, most notably around Christmas time. They were used by the native Chumash tribes as food, but after a bit of research, I have not… Continue reading
Jess Starwood is an established author, chef, herbalist and educator. She holds a Masters of Science degree in Herbal Medicine and Holistic Nutrition. In 2021, she wrote and photographed her first book, Mushroom Wanderland: A Forager’s Guide to Finding, Identifying and Using More Than 25 Wild Fungi.
She also writes regularly for Edible Ojai & Ventura County, Edible San Fernando magazines and The Mycophile—the publication of the North American Mycological Association (NAMA).
Jess founded The Wild Path School where she teaches foraging, wild foods, herbalism and nature education classes for adults and children. She is a member of the Culinary Committee for NAMA and is on the board of directors for the Arizona Mushroom Society and the newsletter editor for the Los Angeles Mycological Society. She has also worked as a wild food consultant and forager for Michelin starred chefs Niki Nakayama and Aitor Zabala. Jess has been featured in National Geographic, The Guardian, and the Orange County Register.
Classes and workshops for adults and children are held regularly in the Greater Los Angeles area and west coast. Weekend and week-long wild food adventures are also occasionally available. Be sure to check out the event calendar or join the mailing list to be notified first of openings and availability.