Archive for September, 2014

Nothing like Home: How to Make a Cattail Pillow

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Nothing ruins a camping trip than leaving some comfort of home that you feel you cannot do without.  In my case, that is my pillow.  Yes, I know I can roll up clothes or fold my arms but nothing fits the bill when it comes to my pillow.  While I have suffered and survived from what I like to call the “home blues,” I can promise you I have survived, except one trip.  This particular trip I was really suffering from a head cold and needed to elevate my head.   While I tried my pack, arms, clothes and a log as a pillow substitute, I never could get it right until I found my cattail fluff.

You are probably saying at this point, what?  Yes I said cattail fluff.  Believe it or not one of the terms used by Native People for cattails can be translated as “fruit for papoose’s bed.”  In doing so, I am going to take this “fruit” and create my own pillow.

While you can use a pillow case, you probably do not have one sitting around the campsite.   Instead, pick up an old sweatshirt and T-shirt along with a little rope.  Now that you have your pillow material, you will also need some rope.  Once you have the supplies, except the cattail fluff, you are now ready to create your pillow.


To begin this process, one will need to tie off each sleeve at the cuff.  Next, put the T-shirt inside the sweatshirt and cover up the neck hole.  This later step is very important.  If the hole is not covered well, the fluff will come out the neck.  Once these two steps have been completed, you will then need to go out and find lots of fluffy cattails.

After the cattails have been found, you can begin the harvesting process.  What this means is that you remove the fluff from the cattail and place it inside the prepared sweatshirt.  The cattail fluff is very fluffy so to create a full pillow one will need to add and push down the fluff.  As you do this, work it into the sleeves.  Once the sweatshirt is as full as you would like, tie off the end of the sweatshirt with rope.

Now that your pillow has been created, it is time to enjoy it.  What makes this pillow extra special is the fact that if it gets flat you can simply fluff it up again with more cattail fluff or just shake it up.

Campfire Recipe: Cattail Shortcake with Wild Berries

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Boy, do I love a good dessert after a great meal.  While camping has its own desserts associated with it, I like to “think outside the box” and create a little taste of home that incorporates wild foods.  Whereas I normally camp in privately owned areas, prior to harvesting wild edibles check with the park and/or campground. 

Once you have the o.k., you can begin picking your dessert.  The first thing you will need is cattail pollen.  While this may sound complicated, it really is not and only takes a clean, plastic milk jug with lid.  Once you have your jug and it has been cleaned, place the lid on the jug and turn it upside down.  Holding on to the jug by the handle, cut a hole in the jug so that it is right across from the handle.  Next, find some cattails whose tails are green to very light brown.  Once you have this, place the tail in the hole and shake the tail.   You will find about one tablespoon of pollen in the lid of the jug.  Continue to harvest until you have what you desire.

After you have your pollen, you are ready to create your “wild” dessert.

Cattail Shortcake with Wild Berries


1 cup all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup milk

3 Tablespoon margarine

1 cup cattail pollen

1 egg

2 Tablespoon sugar

Sweetened fruit of choice

Whipped cream or powdered sugar, optional

Tools include mixing bowls, measuring spoons, two Dutch ovens, and charcoal



  1. Mix margarine and sugar.
  2. Beat egg and milk together.  Add to ingredients in step one. 
  3. Mix dry ingredients and add to mixture from step two.
  4. Light 54 charcoal briquettes.
  5. Divide the batter between two Dutch ovens and place lids on.
  6. Once the charcoal turns white, place two rounds of 18 each on a fire proof surface. 
  7. Place one Dutch oven on one charcoal circle.  Repeat with the other Dutch oven.
  8. Place nine briquettes on one Dutch oven lid and repeat with the other.
  9. Cook for 30 minutes.
  10. After the required time, remove Dutch oven from briquette circles and set aside.
  11. Remove the lid and run a knife around the edge of the shortcake to loosen.  Turn Dutch oven upside down over a plate.
  12. Top with half of the sweetened fruit.
  13. Repeat with the other Dutch oven.

Top with remaining fruit and whipped cream or powdered sugar.

Campfire Recipe: Persimmon Waldorf Salad

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Campfire cooking does not have to be boring and limited to bean and weenies.   It can be down home cooking or as elegant as a 5-star restaurant.  But what makes it really great is using the freshest ingredients possible.  This can mean taking a trip to the Farmers’ Market or foraging around your environment.   Before you jump into eating what is around you, make sure you know the plant material and check with the property owner.   Public parks do not allow foraging but privately owned establishments may just give you the o.k.  The recipe below combines the best of both worlds.  Some ingredients can easily be found at the market, while others can easily be found in the fall.

One hint though when it comes to picking persimmons.  Make sure the persimmon is a golden to dark brown.  While green persimmons are edible, the tartness of this fruit will leave you puckered.  In doing so, one must only pick sweet persimmons, which are indicated by a brown color.

Persimmon Waldorf Salad


2 ½ cups diced apples

2 ripe avocados that have been diced

1 cup each of the following:  American persimmons, alfalfa sprouts, chopped walnuts

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste



  1. In a large mixing bowl combine apple, avocados, American persimmons, alfalfa sprouts, and chopped walnuts.
  2. Wash the lemon or lime and roll on a hard surface.
  3. Cut the fruit of choice from step two in half.
  4. Take a fork and insert it inside the cut side of the fruit.
  5. Twist the fruit in one direction while you are twisting the fork I the other.
  6. Continue with this process until you remove all the juice.  Repeat the process with the other half of the fruit.
  7. Stir and season as you would like. 

While this recipe does encourage one to pick persimmons, you can also pick the walnuts needed for this recipe.  One word of caution though, if you are picking persimmons in areas with deer do not pick them off the ground.  In some cases, persimmons found on the ground can be contaminated with E. coli.  To avoid this, just pick the fruit off the tree. 

Please note that the persimmon has a seed in the middle of the fruit.  When fixing the above recipe, make sure to remove the seed.  If you want a little folklore, take a look at the seed by cutting it open.  If the sprout inside is forked, it is going to be a mild winter.  If it is spoon shaped, there is going to be a lot of snow and if it is knife shaped the winds are going to be chilly.