Blackberry, Blueberry, Chokecherry, High Bush Cranberry, Pin Cherry Jelly, Saskatoon Berry, Cedar Jelly, Fiddleheads, Ox-eye Daisey Capers, Black Trumpet, Chanterelle, King Boletus (Ceps/Porcini), Oyster Mushroom, Birch Syrup, Maple Syrup, Labrador Tea Vinegar, Juniper Berries, Wild Rice, Elk, Deer, Moose, Salmon, Trout, Geese, Ducks…

We’re not so far removed from wild foods as you think. Some are more common like maple syrup and wild salmon (though in my mind still a treat). Others require a commitment to go out into the wilderness to hunt and gather yourself and your family. And of course, there are always people willing to do your foraging for you – for a premium price.

Responsibly harvested, I fully support dining on wild foods:
-They are healthy, being non-GMO and organic.
-They are delicious! Have you ever had the pleasure of sitting in a warm forest meadow and eating wild blueberries or strawberries. While diminutive compared to their commercially grown cousins, they are 5x more flavorful. *yum*
- Harvesting wild foods gives us yet another reason to maintain and value our wilderness areas.
- Most harvesting of wild foods in Canada is done by rural and aboriginal people. By buying their products you help maintain their communities and diversify their income.

In honor of Wild Foods Day, I made Steamed Mussels with Wild Elk Sausage and Wild Porcini Mushrooms. I have my uncle to thank for hunting and making the elk sausage for this meal. I bought the wild porcini mushrooms at my favorite modern “corner store” (it’s so much more!) called Plenty. The combo of smoked elk sausage and mushrooms with the wine and vinigar makes this meal both tart and earthy.

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This served 4, though could have served 5 or 6, as I’m happy to say everyone had seconds, and a couple fellas had “forths”. :)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound elk sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup chopped shallots
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 crushed dried red hot peppers
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked and water reserved
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 cup turkey stock (optional)
2 tbls brown sugar (optional)

4 pounds Salt Spring Island mussels, scrubbed

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausages; saute until almost cooked through, breaking up with fork, about 10 minutes.

Add shallots, garlic and dried red pepper, allow sausage to cook through and brown, about 5 minutes. De-glaze with white wine. Mix in undrained tomatoes, roughly chopped porcini, 1 cup mushroom broth and vinegar. Reduce at a gentle simmer for 10 min.

Taste the sauce, if too acidic (whoops!), add brown sugar and turkey stock. Allow to simmer and reduce for another 10 min.

Bring to a soft boil. Stir in the mussels, cover and boil until mussels open, about 8 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.

Serve in bowls (plates are messy!) with crusty bread. End the evening with a glass of port by the fire. Nice.

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Thanks to B&L for the company and enthusiastic dining, and thanks to RC for helping with the photos (some are mine, some are his…)

D.

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