Julia Prinselaar

Julia Prinselaar holds a degree in journalism from Concordia University (Montreal), and works for an environmental stewardship organization in Thunder Bay. In her spare time she gardens, hunts and gathers wild foods, with the ultimate goal of living without a refrigerator.

Please follow and like us:


Recent Articles by Julia Prinselaar

Shrubs, Bitters and WildCrafted Cocktails
posted on Monday, Aug 28, 2017
Last month, I tuned into a live webcast to learn how to make a sugar-reduced version of the Spanish summer classic, sangria. This drink is really about its presentation and has all kinds of variations—you can play around using red or white wine, and a combination of colourful berries and citrus fruits. Hosted by Santé WildCrafted Cocktails, its co-founder, Brent Ellerson, said their (sans) sugar sangria is a “healthy alteration to a classic recipe.” It uses no added sugar; only the natural sweetness from apples, oranges, lemons and berries infused…

Superior Fishing: Bringing the Fish Back Home
posted on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2017
Friend of the author Kirsti Harris displays her custom made fillet knife after fishing an unknown lake for walleye. | KIRSTI HARRIS Like most natural resource industries, Lake Superior’s commercial fishery has experienced dramatic changes over the decades. Shifting target species and their respective harvest limits have been influenced by factors like over-fishing, the introduction of invasive species, and environmental degradation since the 1800s. Still, the fishery for both subsistence and commerce continues to play a pivotal role in the history, culture and economy in our waterborne part of the world.…

10 Tips for Sustainable Foraging
posted on Thursday, Jun 29, 2017
Before the mid-1990s, many Quebecers remember growing up eating wild-harvested leeks. From the southern states to eastern Canada, there are entire festivals based around this bulbous, woodland ephemeral. Also known as ramps, these wild relatives of the onion gained a surge in popularity, filling tables at Quebec farmer’s markets and dinner plates at upscale restaurants—that is, until there were nearly none left. In 1995, the province of Quebec made it illegal to sell wild leeks in an effort to conserve dwindling populations, brought to the brink by commercial over-harvesting. Foraging…

Paddling the Turtle River
posted on Wednesday, Jun 28, 2017
At the turn of the 20th century, an eccentric hermit named James Alexander “Jimmy” McQuat built this log home on the shore of White Otter Lake, south of Ignace, Ontario. The story goes that he single-handedly constructed this enigmatic mansion from red pine logs that he felled, hauled and interlocked. Just a few years later, he drowned nearby. White Otter Castle has now been restored through local efforts and is without road access, but sees a number of visitors each year by motor boat, canoe and snow machine. |JULIA PRINSELAAR…

Celebrating Seed Diversity
posted on Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Growing up with the influences of an Italian heritage, gardening played a significant role during my childhood. As a young girl, I spent summers in the backyard of my nanna and nonno’s house, catching shade behind the rows of pole beans, and watching my nanna’s homemade scare crow blow in the wind. Each year she would dress it in one of her old cotton blouses, fashioned with an aluminum pie plate for a face. But it wasn’t until I read Michael Pollan’s keystone book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, that I felt…

Native Plants: A Wise Addition to Your Garden
posted on Monday, May 01, 2017
Native plants, like the blanket flower, attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other vital species. |ECOSUPERIOR I’ll be the first to admit that I used to think plants from around my region weren’t very exciting—maybe even a little boring or aptly commonplace. I asked myself, why would I plant spindly stalks of yarrow or clusters of goldenrod in my yard when they can be found so easily along ditches and roadsides? I wanted to adorn my garden with varieties that appeared to be special and unique. The truth is, the world…

Smelt: Small Fish, Big Meaning
posted on Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017
Author Julia Prinselaar smelt netting. | JUAN BAZTARRICA One of my earliest smelt fishing memories was as a kid, sipping hot chocolate on the banks of the Current River under a night sky. It was early spring: the snow was retreating, it was after midnight, and crowds of people wearing flashlights and hip waders dipped their nets into the ice-cold Current River, swirling them around like elongated magic wands. My family had set out for the night with friends of ours, including two girls, Jessica and Martina. The three of…

The Sauna: Winter’s Soothing, Saving Grace
posted on Friday, Feb 24, 2017
As I write this column, Grand Marais is wrapping up its first annual Hygge Festival (Feb. 9-15). Pronounced hoo-gah, hygge is the Danish ritual of “embracing life’s simple pleasures,” particularly those in the snow-covered North. Skiing through tree-lined trails, a moon-lit night hike, relaxing next to a fireplace to watch a Celtic music show at a local craft brewery—these were just some of the events offered during the festival to savour the splendor of winter in celebration of the North. Life in this region isn’t always comfortable for us Northerners.…

Tinctures: Making the Most out of Herbal Medicine
posted on Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017
In just a few months, another plant growth cycle will renew itself with the onset of spring. Horsetail, spruce tips and nettles are among the early arrivals as they send energy toward the sunlight, forming new shoots and buds of fresh leaves. Because of this, springtime and early summer can be ideal harvesting periods for certain wild edibles, as the new growth contains vital, potent medicine. In other circumstances, herbalists selectively harvest plants in the fall when they go dormant, returning energy to their roots. For herbalists, making tinctures is…

Animal Rendering: a Seldom-practiced Skill
posted on Friday, Dec 23, 2016
I was reorganizing my chest freezer last month to prepare for a delivery of beef from a local farmer. Chest freezers are one of those things that can be a useful household appliance if they’re kept tidy and well organized. Otherwise, they can easily morph into a vacuous black hole that swallows bags of odds and ends into its darkened corners. When storing food in smaller spaces, it’s helpful to keep an updated stock of your inventory. My freezer isn’t very big, with two or three bags being stacked on…

Soap: an Easily-made Survival Tool
posted on Monday, Nov 28, 2016
When we think survival, we often turn to the four basic needs we rely upon to sustain ourselves: food, water, fire and shelter. Enough food in a balanced diet; clean water to drink; fire for heat and warmth; shelter from the elements. Arguably the fifth basic need is one that’s at the forefront of fending off illness and disease: hygiene and sanitation. A home apothecary of natural remedies can help treat ailments and ward off infection. But before you go wandering into the woods to gather roots, flowers and leaves…

Nature’s Palette: Dyes from Plants and Materials
posted on Friday, Oct 21, 2016
Here’s a challenge: try going a day without using products that contain synthetic dyes. Or better yet, a few waking hours. I tried and didn’t get far. After waking up and entering the bathroom to wash and dry my face, I paused at my towel. A mosaic of fuscia, purple, turquoise and black, these colors were almost guaranteed to be synthetically produced. Our sensory world is saturated in dyes, coloring the everyday things we use: personal care products and cosmetics, clothing garments and textiles, food and packaging, the printing of…

Wild Rice—Delicate Crop, Meticulous Process
posted on Tuesday, Sep 27, 2016
On a sunny afternoon in early September, I was paddling down a winding river in northern Minnesota. Flanked with reeds and tall grasses and the odd beaver lodge, the edges of this marshy wetland were interspersed with stalks of wild rice. I was with a group of North House Folk School students, and most of us were in unfamiliar territory. But before we knew it, the river opened to denser patches of rice about a mile downriver. Parching wild rice over a small fire. | JULIA PRINSELAAR I hadn’t seen…

Preparing for the Compassionate Hunt
posted on Tuesday, Aug 30, 2016
Up here in Northwestern Ontario, bow hunting season for white-tailed deer officially opens in most areas on September 1. For many, open season is also the end of summer vacation, a return to school or work, and generally getting back into the fold of a daily routine. But long before the daylight hours wane and the leaves change colour under crisp, autumn nights, avid hunters are out on the land, taking weeks—sometimes months—to prepare for the long, quiet waiting game in the woods. In John Kaplanis’ case, hunting and harvesting…

Cultivating Wild Food Spaces
posted on Monday, Aug 01, 2016
One of my fondest memories of living on the Canadian west coast is hiking the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet. Cutting along the rugged, rocky shoreline of this small Vancouver Island fishing village, the scenic oceanside trail winds through forests of western red cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir. Beneath these towering giants is an abundance of berry bushes—mostly the thick-skinned and mildly sweet salal. Their taste and texture is akin to the Saskatoon berries common in the Great Lakes region. In Canada, there are more than 200 varieties of what…

Yellow-foots and Trumpets: Lesser-known Edibles
posted on Monday, Jun 27, 2016
When I think of chanterelle mushrooms, I’m often reminded of the golden-coloured, thick-stalked, chanterelle, a choice sought after by market buyers and culinary enthusiasts across North America. Known for its apricot fragrance and mild to peppery taste, cantharellus cibarius is one of the most popular and prized edibles in the wild world of mushrooms. Yellow-footed chanterelles look similar to trumpet chanterelles: both grow in moist, swampy areas. | PAUL DROMBOLIS But there are other mushrooms in the chanterelle family—at least 13 known species on our continent. The majority of them…

Cordage: an Ancient Skill with Modern-day Uses
posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2016
If you’ve ever had to bind, tie or weave materials together, chances are you’ve utilized the product of an ancient survival skill: making cordage. Cordage is commonly used in basket weaving. | JULIA PRINSELAAR Rope, twine, string—all of these are different types of cordage. Traditionally, the fibers from certain plants were (and still are) twisted and wrapped together to form long, sturdy strands that were then woven into garments, baskets, household items and tools. Today, many of these items are made from synthetic materials like nylon, but they’re still produced…

Foraging for Fiddleheads
posted on Wednesday, Apr 27, 2016
Before planting the garden, or even working the soil, there are certain foods growing abundantly in wild spaces. As the snow melts, the rivers swell and overnight temperatures remain consistently above freezing, crowns of emerald-green ferns begin to peek through the forest floor. Fiddleheads are among the first flush of wild foods to become available in the spring. Fiddleheads budding through the forest floor. | KENDAL DONAHUE For anyone who forages for wild food, this is a really exciting time. Hunting for fiddleheads is an easy and accessible activity that…

Harvesting, Preparing and Eating Dandelions
posted on Monday, Mar 28, 2016
Harvesting, preparing and eating dandelions
Dandelions can be prepared and served in many ways. The blossoms are relished by honeybees. | STOCK Eating dandelions is all the craze. Although the dandelion is considered a first class enemy by golfers, groundskeepers and homeowners who cringe at the sight of a bright yellow flower rearing its head on a lush, green lawn, European and Asian nations have benefitted from its wealth of nutritional properties and variety of uses for generations. Dandelions also offer a crucial food supply for pollinators in search of an energy source at the…

Raising Backyard Chickens
posted on Monday, Mar 28, 2016
Almost 60 years ago, my grandparents immigrated to Canada and settled in Thunder Bay. Over the years, they were followed by their parents, relatives and other Italians who joined the influx of newcomers to the city, collectively populating the historic Bay & Algoma neighbourhood. My mother can recall seasonal chicken culls in the basement of the house where she grew up as a child, but the details are not gruesome or gory—if anything, food-related gatherings, at any stage of the process, were family affairs that brought the grandparents, parents, cousins…