Last winter, I heard about a this really cool kickstarter campaign for a book called Foraging & Feasting. The premise of the book: show people how to identify wild edible plants with gorgeous, instructive illustrations, then encourage them to harvest and cook the plants with recipes. I loved the idea of “connecting with nature through food and art”, and I was intrigued by the author’s self publishing model.

A couple of months later, I met the author, Dina Falconi. She lives near me and was teaching a homemade beauty products workshop in our area. I had a wonderful time: Dina is extremely knowledgable about herbs and natural health care. She inspired me to start making more of my own skin care items at home (I’ve been having lots of fun with that), and I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of her new book. I just knew it would be terrific.

Dina recently sent me a copy of the book and it is indeed terrific. Like me, Dina has been influenced by the work of Weston Price and Sally Fallon Morrell, and that influence is seen in her nourishing and delicious recipes (which highlight both foraged and cultivated plants). But this is so much more than a typical cookbook. About half of the book is brimming with information on the arts of foraging, harvesting, and wild plant identification.

The other half is the recipes, which I can’t really do justice in this post. They are beyond creative and so inspirational, and organized into chapters including Beverages, Relishes, Spreads and Condiments, Wild Salads, Soups, Sandwiches, Animal Kingdom Entrees, and Desserts. There are brilliant Master Recipes throughout the book, and Dina gives multiple suggestions for ways you can change up each and every one: this book is seriously so lovely, and it will teach you so much!

I had a hard time choosing which recipe to feature, but when I received a gorgeous box of Palisades Peaches from Aloha organic fruit in Grand Junction, Colorado, I knew peaches simply had to figure in.

I decided to go with this Peach Pie because it allowed the beautiful peaches (they were probably the very best I’ve ever tasted) to shine. I served the pie at a little dinner party and everyone really loved it!


Recipe for Fresh Peach Pie with Lemon Balm-Infused Whipped Cream and Coconut Apricot Crust

Yield: Makes a 9-inch pie

No cooking or baking is needed to make this lovely pie. Fresh peaches and herb-infused whipped cream are a winning combination; the grain-free crust is easy to make and delicious.

If you don't have access to lemon balm, you can make herb-infused whipped cream with mint or anise hyssop. If you don't have either of these, you can skip the infusing and just mix 2 teaspoons of vanilla in with the cream and sweetener before whipping. Other options for making your whipped cream tasty: a little cinnamon (1 teaspoon) or nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon), or 2 tablespoons of brandy, cognac, or rum (or a Fruit or Herbal spirit, the recipes for which are included in the book). You can also infuse your cream with fruit: Dina gives numerous suggestions for how to do this is the book.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

*2 cups dried, unsweetened coconut
*pinch of sea salt
*1 cup dried, moist, pitted apricots (I soaked mine in water for 10 minutes before using because they were very dry, but this was not part of the original recipe)
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the whipped cream:

*2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, chilled, preferably organic, grass fed, and raw
*2 large handfuls of fresh lemon balm
*4 teaspoons sweetener of choice such as maple syrup, raw honey, or Sucanat

For the pie:

*2 cups sliced fresh peaches
*lemon balm-infused cream, whipped until thick and firm
*one Coconut Apricot Crust

Directions:

For the crust:

In a food processor, process coconut, salt, and apricots (drain them very well if you soaked them, like I did) until mixture holds together when pressed between your fingers. Add vanilla extract and process for 2-3 more seconds. Press crust into pie pan and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the whipped cream:

1. Place herbs in a small pot with the heavy cream and sweetener (if using honey, don't add it now: add it later, when you add the cream to the bowl right before whipping). Cover pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Let steep for 1 hour, then strain out plant material, squeezing out all of the liquid. Thoroughly chill cream to 38 degrees F.

2. Chill bowl and whisk (or which attachment, if using an electric mixer to whip to cream) in the freezer for a few minutes.

3. Place infused cream into bowl and whip until cream is fluffy and thickened, with some stiffness. Whipped cream should be luscious, billowy and shiny, not grainy (a result of over whipping). Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Whisk by hand just before serving. (Alternatively, you can whip your cream by hand: Dina suggests using a balloon whisk, and setting the bowl with the ingredients inside a larger bowl filled with ice water.)

For the pie:

Spoon whipped cream gently into the pie crust, distributing it evenly. Spread the peaches gently on top of the whipped cream. Serve right away.

Recipe appears with permission from Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi. Illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Botanical Arts Press LLC, Accord, NY.

To order the book, please visit Botanical Arts Press. You can also buy recipe notecards and beautiful limited edition botanical prints that are signed by the artist who illustrated the book: Wendy Hollender. To stay on top of other Foraging & Feasting happenings, you may like their facebook page.

To enter my giveaway for a copy of Foraging & Feasting, please do the following:

Mandatory entry: Leave a comment on this post from now through Friday September 14, 2013 at midnight (I won’t accept entries after that time).

Optional: For an extra entry, join my community on Facebook and then leave me an additional comment here in the comments section telling me you did so. If you’re already a fan on Facebook, just let me know in the comments section.

Optional: For a third entry, you can sign up for my newsletter (you’ll find the sign up box in the top right sidebar as well as in the footer of my blog). Once you are signed up, just leave another comment letting me know.

So, there you go: up to three entries for each person and I’ll choose a winner via random.com. I will notify the winner by email so make sure I have a valid email address for you. I’ll need you to respond to my notification email within 24 hours, or I will go have to go ahead and choose another winner. US readers only, please. Good luck!

*Thank you to Dina Falconi for sponsoring this giveaway, and thank you to the kind folks from the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau for sending me the delectable peaches.