Round-lobed Hepatica Facts and Uses

Round-lobed Hepatica Facts and Uses

I came across this little three-lobed leaf while out bowhunting this past weekend. It’s bright green color stood out to me amidst the brown fallen leaves. Round-lobed hepatica, also commonly called liverleaf or roundleaf hepatica, is a member of the buttercup family and is known for retaining its green color throughout the cold winters in Minnesota.  In spring and early summer this plant has a beautiful flower, which can be pinkish, lavender-blue, or white. Round-lobed Hepatica Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa (Hepatica americana, Hepatica triloba) Round-lobed Hepatica Facts This member of the buttercup family grows well in a habitat of dry, rocky, shaded woods. This plant prefers semi-rich, well-drained soils. It is one of the first plants to flower in early spring. Hepatica leaves are poisonous in large doses. Round-lobed Hepatica Uses Due to the liver-like shape of its leaves, this plant and the closely related sharp-lobed hepatica were formerly used to treat liver disorders. Unfortunately, this line of reasoning did not yield effective results. Native Americans used hepatica in tea form to treat coughs, sore throats, achey muscles, and fevers (as well as liver complaints). The leaves and flowers of hepatica may be used as an astringent; which can shrink or constrict bodily tissues. Witch hazel is an example of another plant used for this purpose. Externally applied astringents can dry and harden body tissue, and are often used after face washing. Hepatica also possesses diuretic properties. Diuretics increase the rate of urination. Hepatica leaves can be used as a demulcent. An example of a demulcent in use is honey used for a sore throat; it acts as a soothing balm over a mucous...

Easy Venison Teriyaki Marinade Recipe

Easy Venison Teriyaki Marinade Recipe

Teriyaki augments the flavor of venison very well, in my opinion. In fact, one of my go-to recipes when I’m in a bit of a rush is this simple recipe for venison teriyaki marinade. Although I enjoy very tender cuts of venison on their own with minimal seasoning, I usually prefer to have a complimentary flavor accompany the taste of venison. Marinading venison in a mixture such as the one I am about to impart to you makes the meat more tender and of course, more flavorful. Make sure to remove any fatty or silvery tendon bits before marinading your venison. Since this meat should be grilled or fried, I would not choose a tough cut of meat for this recipe. Save those for recipes that will be slow cooked, such as stews or chilis. Ingredients 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce 1/2 cup olive oil 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 tsp ground ginger 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar Optional sprinkle of crushed red pepper The soy sauce and rice wine vinegar in this recipe really help to cut into the gamey taste of your venison. Let your meat soak in this marinade for at least 8 hours, a day is...

Backpacking Food Ideas – Fried Tortillas with Toppings

Backpacking Food Ideas – Fried Tortillas with Toppings

Eating oatmeal or cold granola for breakfast every day while you’re backpacking sucks, at least for me. I like a meal that’s hot! Crispy! Adaptable! Simple! Compact and lightweight! Does not have to be kept cold! And of course, produces as few dishes as possible. These criteria cut out a lot of foods, but you know what they don’t cut out? ¡Tortillas! Yes, it’s true, tortillas are a fantastic choice if you’re looking for backpacking food ideas.   It took a couple of years to conceive of the idea. In those years, we brought bagels, english muffins, or bread. Foolish! Sure, they’re fine if you’re camping out of your car with coolers, totes, and miscellaneous whatnot, but we don’t really do that. We go backpacking, for a week at a time. Space is a concern, and stuff gets squished. Backpacking Food Ideas – The Tortilla Enter tortilla. It is versatile. You can stuff it with rice and meat. You can add seasonings to bagged chicken and toss that in there (buffalo chicken wrap, anyone?), and HELLO, fish tacos! Now let’s switch gears to breakfast backpacking food ideas. The lone tortilla. Eat it cold, or eat it hot. Put stuff on it. May I suggest peanut butter? Nutella? General fixings one would spread on toast? You can heat your tortilla, it’s easy! Grab your camp stove, a pan, a utensil for flipping it, and some oil. I like canola oil, but you can use other kinds. Heat up the oil in the pan and fry your tortilla. The key is to just use a little oil so you can achieve the ultimate goal – crispy brown fry spots on the tortilla. You know what I’m talking about. Find On Sale Camping & Hiking products at...

Camping Rain Shelters – Tips for Making Shelters when Camping in the Rain

Camping Rain Shelters – Tips for Making Shelters when Camping in the Rain

If you don’t camp very often, there is a chance you may never camp in the rain. For those of us that make a frequent practice of it, it’s pretty much inevitable. Sometimes it can be a cozy experience, if you happen to be dry; playing cards in the tent, cooking under a tarp, even sipping hot chocolate in your raincoat under a rock overhang. Note how each of these cozy situations involves being dry. Sure, running out into the rain to, say, make out in a downpour is great if you have a house or car to run into afterward. However, once you’re wet when you’re out in the woods, it can be hard to get un-wet. Best try to stay dry from the get-go. Here is where camping rain shelters come in handy. Staying dry when camping isn’t necessarily that hard, unless you have a tendency to be lazy. For example, put on your rain gear, including the hood. Add some type of waterproof boots. That kind of stuff does help. We once camped in the Boundary Waters for a week, and it rained basically every day. It was also rather cold for that time of year (July), with temps generally not exceeding 65 and dipping down into the 40’s every night. When we travel to the BWCA, we don’t bring a lot of clothes: a couple pairs of pants, a couple of long-sleeved shirts, etc. Generally just an extra pair of everything, with maybe some extra socks and undies (to help me feel more human and less like a feral forest creature). Anyways, with so few clothes and so many rainy days, we didn’t have much room for error. What it comes down to in that type of situation is stay dry, or risk hypothermia. Besides putting our rain gear on whenever we were exposed to the rain, we also created camping rain shelters. A tent is great, yes, for an easy-to-set-up and effective shelter, but you can’t cook in a tent. Also, you can’t go to the Boundary Waters and spend a week in a tent, that would be ridiculous. Tools Needed to Make Camping Rain Shelters A tarp and some rope or bungee cords are all you need to bring to make great shelters (or FORTS if you want to have fun with it). Other things that come in handy are sticks, canoes, trees, rocks, and some creativity. Your goal is to use the tools you have, and tools you can find to stay dry. Helpful Tips for Making Camping Rain Shelters Helpful tip: if you use a stick to prop up the center of the shelter as shown in our photo, put some kind of cloth around it so it doesn’t wear through the tarp.  Some key things to keep in mind are which direction the wind is blowing (make sure that side is blocked off or you will be sprayed by rain while you sit in your shelter), angle of the ground (set up on a slope the wrong way and you’ll have rivulets of water snaking through your dry patch of ground), and proximity to mosquito sources. Once we set up a shelter not far from our fire, and the wind was blowing just right to fan the smoke through our sheltered area, thereby keeping the mosquitoes at bay. Choosing an area with a level spot for cooking is helpful, assuming you are cooking with a camp stove. Finally, a good view is helpful. You may be sitting there for awhile. Blue Poly Tarp – 14′ x 12′ Here’s a basic tarp available at REI. This is the type of tarp that we generally use for making rain shelters. They fold up to be fairly compact and will last for many years if well cared for. MSR E-Wing Shelter This is more of a wish list item for me, we don’t own one. You can even use this shelter as your actual tent! If weight and space are a major concern on your trip, this is the type of item you might choose to bring with you for a rain shelter, a tent, or both. It has reinforced guy points and you can use a walking pole or ski pole to help set it...

Pin Cherry Tree Uses and Interesting Facts

Pin Cherry Tree Uses and Interesting Facts

Pin Cherry Tree Facts Pin cherry, Prunus pensylvanica, is a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae). It is also known by the name of fire cherry, due to its tendency to colonize areas after a fire, making it a valuable pioneer species. Pin cherry trees are shade intolerant, so they grow well in open areas such as fields and in dry soils. This tree species grows quickly, provides shade for seedlings of other species during its short life span of 20 – 40 years. The height of pin cherry trees usually does not exceed 30 feet.   Interesting Facts Pin cherry is also called “bird cherry” due to the fact that birds often eat the cherries that grow on pin cherry trees The fruit (seed) of the pin cherry tree is called a drupe. Other species that produce drupes include coffee, mango, olives, peaches, and plums. Wild cherries are high in vitamin C. Although generally cherry wood is expensive and desired, pin cherry wood is not commercially valuable due to its softness and porosity When the bark of any cherry tree is scraped, a cough-syrup-like scent is released. Pin cherry stones (the hard center of the cherry) and leaves of the tree contain cyanide, but the flesh is edible. Pin cherry leaves are less toxic than those of most other cherry species. Birds regurgitate the cherry stones after consuming the flesh. Cattle have been known to get sick and even die by eating wilted cherry leaves, because they are a source of hydrocyanic acid. Wilted leaves are more toxic than fresh because the concentration of cyanide is higher. Uses of Pin Cherry     Due to its ability to grow quickly, pin cherry reduces the chances of soil erosion and minimizes loss of soil nutrients. The pitted fruits can be used in jellies, jams, juice, tea, breakfast syrup, and desserts. Pin cherry trees provide food for many species of animals, including Ruffed Grouse, white-tailed deer, at least 25 species of non-game birds, and many species of Lepidoptera. This makes it an excellent species to watch if you are looking for wildlife. A recipe for cough syrup can be created using the juice of pin cherries. The flesh of pin cherries can be used as a flavoring for whiskey or brandy. If you can gather enough of the little drupes, a delicious wilderness pin cherry wine can be...

Clarity in BWCA Lakes – Water Quality in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Clarity in BWCA Lakes – Water Quality in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

The Boundary Waters is renowned for its outstanding water quality. As you can see below, the water in BWCA lakes tends to be beautifully clear, allowing you to see the lake bottom when standing in shallow water even a couple of feet deep. Over time, lakes generally acquire more nutrients as sediment and organic matter, such as leaves, naturally enters the water body.  This will happen more quickly in areas with deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves regularly, as opposed to coniferous trees that lose their needles less frequently), or with excessive nutrient run-off, such as fertilized lakeshore properties. These nutrients  (particularly phosphorus and nitrogen) promote the growth of algae; the algae in turn die and decompose, as organic things tend to do. This process of decomposition uses oxygen, which makes it less available to other organisms in the deeper water, such as fish. Visually, you will notice that over time the water becomes less clear and more cloudy, often green. This process is called eutrophication. Eutrophic conditions impair the drinkability of water. In the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota, where water is relied on during camping and canoeing excursions, there is a volunteer BWCAW water quality monitoring program managed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. As you can imagine, through this program visitors to the BWCA volunteer to collect water samples from BWCA lakes while on their trips through the wilderness. Collecting this data is important because lakes in the BWCA are remote and not accessible by vehicle. If you would like to participate in the program, contact the MPCA at 800-657-3864. If available, a water quality testing kit will be sent to you for use during your trip.  Follow this link for more information on this...

Simple Venison Stroganoff Recipe

Simple Venison Stroganoff Recipe

This venison stroganoff recipe earned me the pleasing compliment of “you’re going to make me fat” from my husband. This actually isn’t the most fattening thing I cook, but the quantity of the meal that my husband shoveled down his throat was rather prodigious. He would get fat if he kept up that pace every night. This recipe is great for a weeknight, or a weekend. If you are in a hurry, like I was tonight, take a shortcut by using a stroganoff pasta mix such as the one made by Bear Creek. If you are making weekend stroganoff, or simply have more time to spare, here is a great recipe for the stroganoff base: Ingredients: one package egg noodles, cooked (or cooked potatoes, or mashed potatoes, or rice, or bread) – whatever you use, this needs some kind of starchy base to be poured onto one large onion, diced 1 small package mushrooms (or as many or few mushrooms as you want) butter 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced 1 pound venison loin, fat and sinews removed, cut into bite-sized pieces 1 8-ounce container of sour cream splash of brandy salt and freshly ground black pepper – or Venison Seasoning Prepare noodles according to package directions (or prepare your other base, such as mashed potatoes). Meanwhile, fry the diced onion in butter (use canola oil for a more healthy option). Temporarily remove the onions from the pan.  Season the venison with the salt and pepper, or the venison seasoning. Turn up the heat in the fry pan and add more butter or canola oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes until they start to brown. Add the garlic and venison and sear for a few minutes, turning the meat chunks occasionally.   Add the splash of brandy – if you would like to, light it on fire! Only do it if you can do so safely. Add the sour cream and simmer for a couple of minutes. Pour this mixture over the egg noodles and enjoy! If you choose to make the “weeknight” option, prepare the stroganoff mix according to package directions while the onions, mushrooms, and venison are frying. Add the extras to the stroganoff mix when both are complete. For some venison goodies, check out the links below. I use The Complete Venison Cookbook all the time and can attest to its greatness. <A HREF=”http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_cw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fwilderwaypoi-20%2F8010%2F1b81c2c2-5bb0-4495-b309-85dcc340b43c&Operation=NoScript”>Amazon.com...