May 13th, 2014
11:15 AM ET
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In the aftermath of the massive Rim Fire that started in August 2013 near Yosemite National Park, rare and expensive morel mushrooms have hunters on the prowl.

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Filed under: Disaster • Environment • Foraging • Heat • Local Food

5@5 - Practically free ingredients
May 7th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Editor's note: Brothers Matt Lee and Ted Lee recently both hosted and cooked at the James Beard Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards ceremony. Their latest book, "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen" won an International Association of Culinary Professionals award in the American cookbooks category, and the duo are about to launch Cookbook Boot Camp, a two-day intensive workshop for professional chefs and others eager to publish cookbooks of quality.

Like many regions of the country, South Carolina's Lowcountry experienced a cold, hard winter that seemed like it would never end. And it wreaked more than a bit of havoc on the ingredients we forage for - and typically find abundant - come Spring. Something about their being less plentiful made us realize how much we love them and wish they had a bigger platform, a more prominent venue, leagues more supporters.

It’s exciting to have farmers in the South digging deep into seed banks, finding heirloom grains and legumes that haven’t been tasted for decades. But we’d also like to shine a light on these five naturalized plant ingredients that already grow in abundance and are often overlooked. So this is a call to action to chefs in the South - and elsewhere - to get hip to the brilliance of FREE FOOD.

5 practically free ingredients we wish more Southern chefs would use: Matt Lee and Ted Lee

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Filed under: 5@5 • Foraging • Local Food • Scorpacciata • Southern • Spring Vegetables • Think • Vegetables

A mushroom farm under London?
October 18th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
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London's abandoned rail and tube lines have been put to many novel uses down the years functioning as bomb shelters, impromptu party venues and film sets for Hollywood movies.

But a new idea to create a mushroom garden in a tunnel beneath Oxford Street is perhaps one of the more unconventional attempts to breathe new life into the UK capital's forgotten subterranean murk.

"Pop Down" imagines a section of the defunct "Mail Rail" tunnel - a narrow gauge railway used for transporting mail around London which closed in 2003 - being repurposed as a mushroom farm and pedestrian walkway lit at street level by glass-fiber, mushroom-shaped sculptures.

Read the full story: "Mushroom garden" offers tunnel vision for a greener London

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Filed under: Environment • Foraging • Local Food • London • News • Sustainability • Travel

5@5 - Foraging for flavor
June 5th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

For Logan Cox, there is food all around you.

The executive chef of Ripple in Washington, DC, says take a look at the ground and most of it is available for your consumption - so don't be afraid to dig in.

"All of these items should be thoroughly washed in cold water two or three times before using. Avoid lawns or places that use chemicals," says Cox.

"The more brush, the better. If foraging in wild places, bring a book, guide, or a smart phone that has the Google Goggles App to confirm what you find. "

Five Lesser Known Edible Items To Find in Backyards or Nearby Wooded Areas: Logan Cox

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Filed under: 5@5 • Foraging • Local Food • Salad • Spring Vegetables • Summer Vegetables • Think

May 1st, 2012
10:00 AM ET
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Oregon truffles fare well in blind tastings against their European counterparts. Meet Jack Czarnecki, a mushroom forager, oil maker and restaurateur who's making it his mission to raise the profile of his native treasure.

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Filed under: Foraging • Oregon • Travel

June 28th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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What do you do with a 12-year-old niece who has just started her summer vacation and is already bored? You put her to work picking blueberries.

I picked Susie up early so we would beat the heat. My pick-your-own fruit history was limited to apples and peaches, so I wasn’t sure how labor intensive, bending, stooping or squatting, the picking would be. It turns out to require a bit of all three, but not to a point where my back hurt.

We arrived at Homestead Farms in Poolesville, MD just before 10 a.m. loaded with re-usable plastic blueberry containers and sturdy bags. After a quick tutorial on how to identify and pick ripe berries we were off. A ripe blueberry is entirely blue. If the berry has a hint of red on it then it will still be a bit tart.

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Filed under: Farmstands • Foraging • Lick the Screen • Local Food

Scorpacciata: On ramps
June 8th, 2011
12:45 PM ET
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Scorpacciata is a term that means consuming large amounts of a particular local ingredient while it's in season. It's a good way to eat. Let Mario Batali pronounce it for you.

"Ramps...huh?" "What the heck is ramp puree?"

As soon as we posted the menu for last night's White House State Dinner, the question began rolling in from my colleagues, commenters, folks on Twitter - and I realized I oughta get my head out of my ramp patch and explain.

Ramps are a member of the allium family (Allium tricoccum if you care to get all categorical about it) and are akin to a wild onion. The flavor is pungent and slightly nutty - somewhere between garlic and leeks, and both the leafy tops and tender bulbs are edible.

Food fanatics get all het up about them because they're, well, incredibly delicious - but also because they're somewhat of a rarity. They're difficult, if not impossible to cultivate, so they must be foraged from the wild or as is often the case, bought at a premium from someone else who's gone out to do the dirty work.

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