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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Friday, May 23, 2014


Spring is in the air, as the song goes, but its also in the ground amidst the trees and the stinging nettles, the  trillium, phlox, trout lily, Dutchman's breeches, violets and many more wildflowers that the warmed ground starts to pop forth.
It's the beginning of the growth cycle which starts the filling of our freezer with our own harvested organic food, fresh from local forests. Like an Easter egg hunt, it's fun, great exercise and other than your time and possibly gas for your vehicle, it's free food for your fridge and freezer.

What am I talking about? Fiddleheads and morel mushrooms, of course. 

In Canada's coastal provinces such as  New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Mother's Day signals it's time to start checking any flooded areas for the first signs of a non-flowering wild fern called fiddleheads. These natural perennial and delicious vegetables grow up from the ground as spores rather than from seeds and boast about 10,000 variations. 

WHAT DO THEY TASTE LIKE?   With the outer part being firm and green, a fiddlehead at first bite tastes like asparagus, but then the inside has a softer leafy fern, so you will notice a following consistency of broccoli tops. Excellent when cooked, drained and tossed with a bit of lemon or vinegar. Pre-boil, rinse well and use in other dishes like casseroles, soups and stir-frys. Endless uses for this spring-must that is higher in anti-oxidants than blueberries!

WHAT DO I LOOK FOR? As they rise from their base or their "clump" fiddleheads are tightly coiled, closely resembling the ends of a fiddle. With the type that is best to eat, both sides of the coiled fern have a covering of light, rusty brown rice-paper (NOT black) like skin that as the fern uncurls, falls off. It is rumoured that hummingbirds like to use this dried fabric as lining for their nests. 

NOW WHAT DO I DO?When picking, we take the time to flick the exterior red fluff off before putting the fiddlehead in our bucket as it makes for much easier cleaning when the day is done.
 Once thoroughly rinsed at least three times in cold running water to separate any leftover fluff from the greens, fiddleheads must be boiled in a pot of water(to get them clean enough to eat) for at least three to fifteen minutes, depending on your taste for crunchy or soft vegetables. Rinse well before eating.

 After the stalk reaches a certain height, fiddleheads begin to uncurl, eventually standing straight and full, pretty when placed on the table as part of a floral arrangement but too bitter to eat.
It is the tightly coiled fronds that you want to pick for eating.  It is best to pick them before their stalks are barely out of the earth. That way they will be nice and firm and will keep for weeks in the fridge.


Morels are a wild mushroom that pop their heads out of the loamy earth only in the early spring. Although most species of mushrooms are found in very distinct habitats, the morel can be found in forests of spruce, cottonwood, Douglas fir, maple, beech or poplar trees. They can be found singly or even better, in large groups (it's like winning the lottery when you find the odd big patch).


 Black morels (which appear first) tend to be more exclusively in hardwood forests, but not around any particular type of tree. Finding them is often like a connect-the-dots game. When you find one, be still and look nearby. When the spores that created the morel you just picked were jettisoned years ago, there likely was a wind pattern that blew the spores in a particular path. There may have been a nutrient source or environment (soil type, moisture, pH, etc.) that was conducive for growth. Look for the patterns.

Morels are particularly fond of areas that have burned the previous year. They seem to prefer soil that has been saturated from floods, snowmelts, swamps and rain so wear waterproof rubber or hiking boots when you go.

You can find the black, yellow and grey morel mushrooms growing near logs, under decomposing leaves, under dying elm trees, ash trees, popular trees, pine trees, or in old apple orchards


.Not only is it the best-tasting mushroom, the morel is also the easiest to identify and safest to eat of all wild mushrooms. Generally, if you find a sponge-like protuberance, 1 to 6 inches tall pushing skyward among fallen forest leaves and grasses on spring days between 60 and 80 degrees, you're in luck. The stems and caps of morels are hollow, and the stem is attached at the base of the cap. It makes a great first mushroom to learn because its spongy shape is so distinctive and easy to identify. If you cut the morel open, it should be completely HOLLOW. If it's not do NOT eat it. And remember, any wild mushrooms MUST BE COOKED BEFORE EATING.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Support The Smithers Relay 2014

Come one, come all.

It doesn't matter that Houston won't be hosting a Cancer Relay this year. I am counting on the fact that Houston still wants to support the Canadian Cancer Society because cancer doesn't stop for anyone or anything.

This year an expected 30,000 PLUS BC people will go down this terrifying road. How did we get to the day when those kinds of numbers started? And more important, what can we do to get that number down?

We obviously need to learn more about what promotes cancer to grow and take off with your life. We need to educate everyone on the simple ways that they can help themselves to lessen their chance of getting cancers and we need more research into how to stop cancer for good. All of that takes money.

We have come a long way from the days of bloodletting to cure ailments. We now know how dangerous smoking and second-hand smoke is. How pesticides and toxins in our beauty products and in the foods we eat and the air and water can harm us. Studies have shown that indoor tanning before the age of 35 raises the risk of melanoma by 75 per cent! Who knew that ten years ago?

If you do get diagnosed with cancer, the CCS is  there for you almost instantly. You are supplied with a wealth of pamphlets, numbers to call, people to see to get you through. Dietitians, physio therapists, support groups,mental therapy. It's all available. You're in good hands. But again: it takes money to pay for this spectacular world of assistance. That money comes from these important fundraisers, the largest being the Relay for Life.

Get your friends together and get a team started. Let's make Houston a presence at the Smithers Relay this June 7 from 10-10 at the (previous) Chandler School outdoor field. A fabulous view of the mountain tops, close to downtown, walking distance to Safeway for lattes and grapes.

This year's focus is petitioning for the ban of Flavoured Tobacco. And promoting your ONE THING you will vow to do to become more pro-active about your cancer prevention.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with me at Thanks everyone.