Monday, October 14, 2019

Wild Edibles with Tom Smith

The Wild Edibles Nature Experienceship was a huge success! Tom Smith delivered his plethora of knowledge about the plants of Utah throughout the class and there was a lot to take in. We began the day in the JFSB in a classroom made specifically for the teaching and learning of culinary skills. Tom began by explaining some native Utah gems that he personally used throughout the year. The biggest hit and most versatile was acorn flour. The group got to taste homemade acorn flour cookies with chocolate chips and pine nuts, which were incredible! He also talked about some essential oils that he makes from sagebrush and pine trees by distilling them and creating a paste for easy application.

Afterward we hit the grounds of BYU to discover some edible plants on campus! We explored around the Thomas L. Martin Building, Carl F. Eyring Science Center and the Life Sciences Building. It was very exciting and tasty, we tried all kinds of needles, berries, flowers and leaves! It was the perfect atmosphere to absorb all of Tom’s interesting facts and ask as many questions as you would like.

After our excursion, and with the little space left in our bellies, we arrived back in the kitchen to cook some of the very plants we saw on campus! We feasted upon elderberry nectar on ice cream and cheesecake and a yummy purslane root casserole (something you could use to replace green beans at Thanksgiving!). Tom also introduced us to a little bit of his background in the Alaskan fishing industry and dished out some salmon cream cheese dip and cooked salmon seasoned with juniper! Lastly we got creative and munched on acorn crackers, raw cacao nibs, mint jelly and sumac tea (a personal favorite).

Everyone had pen and paper ready throughout the whole event, Tom was full of knowledge for these hungry, passionate, nature enthusiasts. Our group ranged from elementary aged to adults and there was something for everyone. The best part was everyone was surrounded by others who had a strong interest in the culinary and medicinal use of plants, so there were lots of ideas shared around the room. With Tom’s approachable nature and dry humor, the atmosphere was the perfect place to embark on your desire to become more in touch with the world around you or to propel you forward with new ideas and tips to apply to your established practice. We could not have done it without Tom and we had a great time with all of those that participated!

Lexi Chamberlain, museum educator

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