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Summer Scavenging Tips and Recipes

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The other day I took a walk around the block after lunch at work, and I came back with a whole bunch of fruit and herbs that I basically stole from the neighbors trees. Luckily, I work in a residential area, and no one was around to see me swiping their harvest in broad daylight. No wonder they call me The Ultimate Scavenger – I’m almost like the Honey Badger, I don’t give a shit. I take what I want.

Scavenging has been a hobby of mine forever. I used to just scavenge people’s fridges and pantries, but it suddenly dawned on me that there is FREE food all over town! You just have to know where to get it and what to do with it. I must have been inspired by that SF Forage guy, Iso Rabins, who I heard give a talk at the SF Public Library not too long ago. Now every time I see something wild and edible around, I start thinking about how I can use that to make something amazing. Technically speaking, foraging is good for the community and can help end hunger of homeless people and broke-asses alike by making use of the 101 oranges that grow on one family’s tree. It’s not like they are gonna eat the all anyway…right?

Follow my “Foraging Footprint,” and get out there and hook, snatch, gather, hoard, pick and scrounge every last bit of food on your block. Here are a few recipes that will make you want to scavenge all summer long:

Rosemary Lemonade

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons)

1 cup of sugar

2 cups of water

4 sprigs of Rosemary

Soda water


*(Optional: a splash of cheap vodka from a handle)

Make an infused simple syrup by boiling the sugar and the water until it is thick (about 20 minutes) with the Rosemary. Remove the herbs to avoid too strong of a flavor. Let cool completely (about 1 hour). Add the lemon juice to the syrup. Add a lot of ice and a some soda water to make it bubbly. Throw in some Vodka if that suits your mood. Garnish with a fresh sprig of Rosemary.

BBQ Figs with Honey Ricotta and Mint Garnish

8-10 figs

1 cup of Ricotta Cheese

1 tbsp of honey

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Mint leaves for garnish

Pick 8-10 fresh figs from a tree in your neighborhood. Make sure they are ripe! They should be brown, and soft and smell sweet. Throw them on the BBQ until they get a bit charred. In the meantime, mix together the Ricotta, honey and vanilla. When the figs are cooled down, top them with a scoop of the cheese mixture and garnish with mint leaves you found in someone’s garden!

Plum and Blackberry Cobbler


2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 stick of butter

1 tsp salt

Fruit Mix:

15 plums (Peeled and pitted)

1 1/2 cups of blackberries

1 cup of sugar

squeeze of a lemon

Preheat oven to 350. You can probably borrow the dry ingredients from a friend, if you offer to make this dessert at their house. Pick the fruit from someone’s trees and you can probably find the berries on a wild bush somewhere close by. Mix together the sugar, flour and salt and then add the butter until you get a crumbly paste. Stir together the fruit mixture, gently. Place them either in a greased baking dish, or into a pre-made pie crust. Cover the fruit with the topping mixture. Bake 45 minutes or until golden.

For tips on how to learn more about foraging, check out:

Photos courtesy of:

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Heidi Smith - The Ultimate Scavenger

Heidi Smith - The Ultimate Scavenger

Heidi works for a non-profit cultural exchange organization helping others experience life from a different perspective. She likes magnetizing the obscure and scavenging the city for fun, free things to do. She is a world traveler, a freelance writer and a spontaneous chef. She is also said to be part-mermaid.


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  2. Mieke Johnson
    July 25, 2011 at 3:44 am

    I love the ‘honey badger’ metaphor – hilarious!  

  3. Mieke Johnson
    July 25, 2011 at 3:44 am

    I love the honey badger metaphor – hilarious!

  4. Mieke Johnson
    July 24, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I love the ‘honey badger’ metaphor – hilarious!  

  5. Mieke Johnson
    July 24, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I love the honey badger metaphor – hilarious!