Food for Love Guest writer Amber Daulton, her wonderful article about the free food growing all around us, and an excerpt from her romantic suspense, Ryan's Temptation

Edible, Tasty, and Free

My husband, Greg, and I embraced the vegetarianism lifestyle around eight years ago, but only in the past three years did we realize how much free food was in our yard.

We live in rural North Carolina on the outskirts of a mid-sized town, so the edibles growing wild in our area might be different from what’s growing in yours. Temperature, weather, location, acidic or alkaline soil, and rural vs urban all play factors in what will grow in your yard. For my garden (aka front, back, and side yards), we have slightly acidic red clay soil, and crazy weather that can go from hot and humid one day to dry the next. While it’s difficult to choose what clothes to wear in the summer and fall, this weather is perfect for a host of edibles that shoot up like clockwork year after year. We harvest different wilds at different times of the year, so we always have something in storage in our freezer or spice cabinet.

Greg and I have done lots of Internet research on the foodstuff we find because sometimes there are toxic lookalikes growing right beside the edible. For example, in the spring, we have wild onions growing everywhere. The leaves are long, flat, and narrow with pointy tips, and the color is dull, matte green. When we pull them up, they smell like onions.

The poisonous lookalike, death camas, often grow near it. The lookalike has long, curved, and narrow leaves with pointy tips in a bright, shiny green color, and they don’t smell like onion. So before you forage, DO YOUR RESEARCH. I cannot stress that enough.

I’d like to draw special attention to Japanese knotweed. It’s typically considered an invasive weed, and some countries have even outlawed it because it spreads like crazy and can cause structural damage to properties. In the US, it’s not illegal to have it on your property, but you should be careful if you forage it. Even the smallest cutting could root itself in your yard and continue to grow, so make sure you properly throw away the scraps.

Although knotweed is edible year-round, you have a short harvest window; in my experience, it’s about 3 weeks. It sprouts in early spring, and you can pick it right away or wait until it reaches 2 or 3 feet tall, so you have more food per stalk. When it’s young and small, the stalks are soft and hollow, and the outer casing is easy to peel off with a knife. What you want to harvest is the soft but firm light green part beneath the stringy outer layer. The stalks will grow back, and you can cut them down again for more foodstuff. They grow super fast, however, and once the stalks grow over 3 feet, they harden up. You can still harvest it if you’re determined enough, but it won’t be easy to peel, and the edible part will have the texture of bark. You’ll have to boil it to soften it, but boiling reduces the flavor and strips it of its nutrients. So it’s best to harvest as much as you can early on and freeze it for year-long use.

Anyway, I’ve created a list of what grows in our yard and in the woods around our house, but I surely haven’t found and identified everything that’s edible there. All these are wild and edible: creeping charlie, creeping speedwell, violets, yellow and fuchsia-colored wood sorrel, purple basil, oregano, honeysuckles, blackberries, raspberries, mock strawberries, onion/scallions, plantains, dutch white clovers, red clovers, fleabane, dandelions, aster, Japanese knotweed, and mushrooms that have grown near fallen oaks. On top of this, we also have an herb bed with garlic, cilantro, parsley, thyme, and more oregano.

Today, I’d like to share one of my favorite pasta-and-veggie recipes. Greg and I have created a few variations of this casserole by adding different ingredients and omitting others, but I’ve posted the most basic recipe for you to try. Don’t be afraid of twisting it and making it your own. It really tastes great no matter what kind of wilds or vegetables you add to it.

If you try the recipe, I’d love to know what you think of it. Feel free to comment below or send me a message via my website at this link:


Baked Penne with Vegetables and Wild Edibles

16 oz penne pasta

1 large carrot, diced

½ cup Japanese knotweed, diced

½ cup onions, chopped

1 cup violet leaves, shredded

¼ cup purple basil leaves, shredded

½ cup Great Northern beans or Black beans, fully cooked

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp salt

4 Tbs white wine vinegar

½ cup Cheddar cheese, shredded

¾ cup vegetable broth

Get creative with these optional or replacement ingredients: thyme, parsley, and/or oregano; ½ cup lentils (fully cooked); any vegetable or type of cheese you want.


Cook the penne. Boil for 4 minutes or until al dente.

Butter a large casserole dish, sides, and bottom. Add half the penne to the dish. Layer with half of the carrots, knotweed, onions, violets, basil, beans, seasonings, vinegar, and cheese. Add the rest of the penne and layer the remaining halved ingredients. Drizzle the broth all over the top cheese layer.

Cover the dish. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings.




Wrong place, wrong time. Now she’s running for her life.


Beautician Chanel Leroc can wield a pair of scissors like nobody’s business. After she witnesses a murder and lands on a serial killer’s hit list, she has to figure out how to protect herself—and fast. The killer tracks her down, but her sexy new neighbor, Dr. Ryan Naylor, drives the brute off.

The police dump the pair in a witness protection program, which doesn’t last long. Either the killer has a connection to the police, or he’s far more intelligent than they realize. All Chanel wants to do is get back to her safe life and get to know her neighbor better. Instead, she and Ryan hit the road and try to survive on their own.

How will they stay alive and keep their blooming romance intact with the killer hot on their trail?


Series: Arresting Onyx (book 2.5)

Publisher: Daulton Publishing

Release Date: August 9th, 2022


Genre: Romantic Suspense

Length: 45k

Heat Rating: 4 Flames


Ryan came up behind her, wrapped his arms around her, and rested his chin on top of her head. “Dipper will be after us again if we return.”

“I’m enjoying our time here, but if we hide for the rest of our lives, then he’s won.” Please, God. Let Ryan understand. She leaned against her lover’s chest and teased the hair on his forearms. His warmth seeped into her. “Mackeroy and Detective Boyle promised to catch Dipper within a week, but they didn’t. Even after he shot up the motel and killed two people, they still can’t find him. Now, another woman has died. Who’s next?”

“I’m as disgusted as you are, but running back into danger won’t help us—or anyone. We’re only witnesses, not trained professionals who know how to locate and apprehend psychotics. Let’s give Boyle and the boys in blue a few more weeks.”

She sighed, stilling her fingers. He didn’t get it.

The married couple in the Lazy Pines Motel room next to theirs had died from stray bullets. Another motel patron had suffered a heart attack from the barrage of ammo ripping into the building, but at least he survived.

Bile burned up her throat. Those people would still be alive and whole if she and Ryan had never been there. How many more had to die before the police caught Dipper? Would the bastard ever stop searching for her? She couldn’t be indirectly responsible for another death—her soul couldn’t take it. She turned in Ryan’s hold and dipped her finger in his cleft chin.

He wasn’t a coward. No way.

He’d stood on the frontlines so many times—from facing down a gunman in the emergency room to fighting diseases and keeping a smile on a dying patient’s face. Some of the stories he’d told her damn near broke her heart.

Only one option remained. Her heart clenched from the sorrow sweeping through her. If Ryan knew the thoughts swirling in her head, he would probably tie her to the bed. She might like that under normal circumstances.

“Okay. I’ll stay.” The lie fell off her tongue like poison. She brushed her palm across the whiskers dotting his cheek. Oh, Lord. She would miss him. They lived in the same apartment building, so of course, they would see each other again after all this—if she hadn’t already made a date with a casket. The muscles in her shoulders cramped tighter. She would live. She had to.

“Let’s go to bed. I want you naked and safe in my arms.” He teased his lips over her hairline and down to her temple. “I’m going to lick the little button between your legs until you spiral into a thousand pieces.”

She shivered. He could do it too. Why couldn’t she keep her lover and do the right thing? Too bad life wasn’t fair. Mackeroy needed bait to draw Dipper out of hiding, so why not dangle what the lunatic wanted right in his face? Hell, yes. Two could play this game.

To save lives, Chanel would volunteer as bait.


Universal link -

Amazon -

Barnes and Noble -

Apple/iTunes -

Kobo -

Google Play -


Add it to Goodreads -

Check it out on BookBub -


Universal B2R


Barnes and Noble



Google Play





Official Book Trailer


About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print-on-demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

Social Media Link

Universal link –

Exclusive Newsletter (free ebook to new subscribers) –


Back to home page