Forest Lurkin’ and
Vegetarian Cookin’


My name is Martin Otis but Otis is my married name. My “maiden” name is full of vowels, has a Z in it and ends in ski. My husband and I lived in a cabin in the woods on the Northern California coast for five and a half years, but we’ve relocated to Kentucky. I’ve never been to Kentucky before. When I’m not out in the woods somewhere I spend a lot of time in the kitchen making vegetarian, vegan, heritage-inspired foods and drinks.

What is Heritage Cooking?

Zupa Szczawiowa by Tasty Decoy

Kristin Cannon sums it up best: “Heritage cooking means embracing and highlighting a culture through food. They’re historic, family recipes that have been passed down generation to generation. For some, they’re made-from-scratch recipes that use simple, whole ingredients and traditional, old-fashioned techniques and tools. They’re recipes rich in both flavor and history.”

As a reader of this blog, you can expect many explorations of Polish, German and Czech foods. My father was Polish but he’s been gone for a few years now. In my kitchen I often visit the foods and flavors that I grew up with—but I also like to explore other Eastern European recipes I am just learning about, too.

When it comes to my much better half…well, his family can lay claim to being Kentuckians back to the time when it was still a part of Virginia. I am more than happy to leverage his lineage and use this as my opportunity to explore his side of the family’s (as well as The South’s, in general) foodways.

However, regardless of the cuisine I’m into at any given moment, you can always come to expect one thing: the end results will always be the absolute best vegetarian dishes I can muster. Fully vegan and/or plant-based options will also be explored to the fullest of my abilities when the ingredients I can get on hand (and my imagination) are willing enough.

As a final note, I would like to make one solemn promise that I plan to keep: that no matter what foods I create in my kitchen, I will do so with the upmost respect and admiration for the cultures and peoples that it originated with.


When I’m not foraging, hiking or cooking I spend an inordinate amount of time researching Polish/Slavic folklore. Some of that will undoubtedly find its way onto this blog from time to time. Like the folklore of many cultures, it might come across as strange…but folklore is an integral way of getting to know about a distinct group of people. I also look forward to learning more about the folkways of Kentucky now that I am a resident of the Commonwealth.

Eat Local.
Eat Wild.

Feral Pear and Roasted Madrone Bark Infused Vodka by Tasty Decoy

If eating local is a trend, then millions of people for countless generations have been far trendier than they’ll ever know. It has really only been roughly the last hundred years where industrialized agricultural and food transportation systems have made not eating local the trend de jour.

Eating local not only ensures that you’ll be consuming the freshest available ingredients, you’ll also be directly supporting your local economies. The farmers, the bakers and the artisan food purveyors wherever you live are far more worthy of your time and money than any big box grocery or restaurant chain. Shop at and get to know the vendors at your local farmer’s markets, support the mom and pop food shops in your neighborhood and frequent farm to table restaurants as often as you can afford. Your stomach, your health and your community will be extremely grateful for it!

Foraging—or eating wild as I like to call it—is the penultimate form of eating local. There’s something just so primally satisfying to finding food on your own in nature. However, it is not without its dangers. As longtime followers of this blog (and my shenanigans on instagram) have heard me say time and time again:

You can eat anything. Once.

I can’t stress it enough: do not eat any wild plant/mushroom/tree/shrub/herb/whatever unless you are 100% certain of what it is and that it’s safe for you to consume. The particulars of foraging safely is a lengthy and detailed subject. The best advice I can offer is to find someone who knows what they are doing and learn directly from them, if possible. Field guides are extremely handy, too—but I have found that they are not always the best source to learn from for some folks. Check online for local foraging groups, homesteaders and local wild eaters. I have found more often than not that we’re a friendly bunch who will enthusiastically share our knowledge…just don’t ask us for our mushroom spots!

I hope you’ll come back and visit my blog from time to time. May you have good eats and good hunting. Until next time!