Unknown backyard treats will come to light at the PdC Memorial Library


 By Caitlin Bittner

On Sept. 12, the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library, in conjunction with Paper Moon of McGregor, Iowa, invites the public to come get a taste of their own backyards with forager Ellen Zachos.

A former Broadway performer, Zachos is now the proprietor of Acme Plant Stuff in New York City, a business that specializes in garden design, installation and maintenance. She is an instructor at the New York Botanical garden and the author of five books. In addition, Zachos has hosted a radio show on National Public Radio (NPR) and blogged at both www.downanddirtygardening.com and www.gardenbytes.com.

If you read Zachos’ latest book, “Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat,” she promises that you’ll be in for quite a treat.

Among the fruits and vegetables you’ve placed in your gardens, you’ve probably also planted some beautiful hostas or day lilies. What you probably didn’t know is that they are edible.

“People usually think foraging is interesting, but scary—what if they identify something wrong? But this takes the guessing away; you already know what you’ve planted in your garden,” said Zachos. “When I tell people they can actually eat hostas, they always freak out. A lot of people also tend to believe that flowering quince are poisonous, but that’s not true.”

Want to know what else her book contains? Come on down to the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 12. Zachos will be giving a one-hour slide show and discussion on her latest book. Books will be also available for purchase and signing at the event.

If you decide that once just isn’t enough, Zachos will additionally be making an appearance at the Midwest Wild Harvest Festival at Badger Camp. Zachos will be the keynote speaker, as well as the instructor at two different cooking classes.

The audience at the festival will most likely be more experienced as far as which plants are edible, but now Zachos is excited to share some of her wild food cooking expertise.

What’s her favorite food to make? “Oh that’s a hard one; there are so many good things to make. Right now, I’m really into deep-fried milkweed pods,” Zachos explained.

Should you decide to check out the festival, Zachos offered one piece of advice. “Expect the unexpected. Unusual foods can be delicious. If people keep an open mind, they’ll really be surprised.”

For more information regarding Ellen Zachos’ visit, please contact the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library at (608) 326-6211.

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