Why do we love foraging? Who among us is immune to the charm of a perfect, wild berry? I know some folks are put off by thorns, mosquitos, and stained fingers. That strikes me as deeply tragic.
Harvesting wild food taps into our ancient identity. Once, we were all hunters and gatherers, dependent on our senses, dexterity, strength, and ingenuity to find, collect, prepare, and preserve what we could find in nature. Did our cave mothers feel enormously gratified by a big pile of mushrooms or a tiny handful of berries? Or were they just too busy and exhausted to care? I like to think they assembled by the fire in the evening, shared the day’s bounty and enjoyed a few gazing moments before tucking into a summer feast. I know, I’m a berry picking lunatic!
This summer, the mulberries have been epic! I sometimes think, between the weather and the berries, Mother Earth is giving us a special gift to apologize for the dreadful winter. We’ve been picking white, pink, and black mulberries since late June and they are still ripening! Bob and I are a little obsessed. We rarely bring a container, preferring to snack on site. But the other day, I decided I wanted to share some with you…and my favorite way to eat berries is in my yogurt.
Yogurt is my nighttime treat. I add many things to my yogurty snacks, and now it is time for me to tell you about them! Then, I’ll give you a recipe for this particular incarnation, which is special and very, very yummy.
First of all, the yogurt itself. Sometimes, I buy Greek style yogurt, but it is very expensive. So, I’m going to tell you how to prepare regular yogurt (I like Stonyfield lowfat, plain, organic) so that it is thick, smooth, and silky like the Greek stuff. All you have to do is strain it! You can use a coffee filter or a towel or paper towel lined strainer. Put the yogurt in your strainer over a bowl and stick the whole operation in the fridge for at least an hour. It’ll keep draining, so you decide how thick you want it. It can be interesting to let it get really, really thick in which case you can call it cheese…but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. You can let it get really thick and then add back liquids like fruit juice or coconut or other nut milks.
I don’t like to mess around with ice cream makers, as you know from my ice cream recipes. So, I often make frozen yogurt without any contraptions. I simply put the yogurt in a bowl or container in the freezer until it’s lightly frozen, usually about an hour. If it gets too solid, I microwave it for a few seconds and then stir. It’s low tech and works great. No, it’s not perfectly creamy, but I like the textural interest of unevenly frozen yogurt with or without fruit.
Here’s a list of my best yogurt add-ins:
Fresh fruit: berries, stone fruit, bananas, pineapple, pears, apples, mangoes, kiwi, oranges
Dried fruit: raisins, currants, dates, banana chips, apricots, plums
Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, peanuts, macadamias
Seeds: sesame, pepitas, hemp, flax, sunflower, chia
Coconut: milk, shredded, chips, manna
Nut butters: peanut, almond, cashew, almond-coconut
Sweeteners: agave, coconut sugar, date sugar, honey, maple syrup
Fresh herbs: lavender, basil, mint, lemon verbana, lemon balm
Carbies: granola, graham cracker crumbs, pretzel shards
Honey Lavender Lightly Frozen Yogurt with Fruit
This is a very adaptable recipe. Halve or multiply it. Use any of the combinations listed above or invent one of your own and leave me a comment. I encourage you to try the honey/lavender combination, with or without fruit. The honey gets slightly chewy from the freezing, and the lavender gives an almost savory quality. It’s really interesting and delicious.
1 cup plain yogurt (lowfat or full fat; don’t use fat free)
¼ cup honey
1 tbs. lavender leaves, torn or chopped
1 cup fruit, bite size pieces
optional add-ins (see above)
Drain the yogurt for at least an hour, as described above. Add the honey, lavender, and fruit; mix well. Divide into two bowls and place in the freezer for an hour. Stir. Top with more honey if you like.
Special note: I recently met an amazing craftsman, Michael Laico, on Instagram. We admired each other’s work and decided to arrange a trade. I made him a pair of ice cream bowls and he made me a beautiful walnut cutting/serving board (pictured here). We both received our much anticipated treasures on the same day. And we both were thrilled with the results of our trade. The little blue/green porcelain bowls pictured here are identical to the ones I made for him. If you like Michael’s work (of course you do), please visit his website and/or his Instagram Feed!
Epilogue: Please visit Michael’s beautiful blog to see a post about our collaboration!