Posted in finds, recipes, wild things, tagged fairy rings, mushroom hunting, mushroom ravioli, mushrooms, parasol mushroom, truffle oil, wild mushrooms on September 28, 2009 |
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With all this rain flooding the Southeast, wild mushrooms have popped up here and there. I’ve seen several fairy rings, including the one below, which I snapped in my neighbor’s back yard before they mowed them down. Fortunately, none have appeared in our basement. (For those who don’t know, we are in the process of stripping everything out of the basement to have it waterproofed, and mushrooms did in fact once grow through the nasty old carpeting that we ripped out a few months ago.) But we did get the cuties above that I noticed today while pruning some bushes under the magnolia.
When we lived in Poland I wanted to go mushroom hunting but never had the opportunity. We’d see entire families coming off the train, baskets covered with tea towels dangling from their arms, and know they had gotten up before dawn to sniff out wild mushrooms in the forest. One day we bought chanterelles at the enormous flea market from an old lady wrapped in a mangy coat and two threadbare scarves. She told us to cook them with eggs, and we happily followed her directions.
I just read that certain wild mushrooms in Russia are to be avoided due to Chernobyl. Until recently, governments as far west as Germany tried to keep people from hunting and eating some mushrooms because of the nuclear fallout. I guess it’s not surprising. When I was teaching at UT, I had two students in the same class who suffered from thyroid cancer because their families were visiting Europe during the Chernobyl disaster. How crazy is that? But let’s not linger on that sadness right now. We’re talking about fungi.
I’m not familiar enough with mushrooms to do much identifying. I read about them from time to time, but some things really just require a teacher, someone to point out in person the difference between the poisonous species and the safe ones because they can look very similar. For instance, chanterelles, with their orange caps, resemble Jack o’Lanterns, which cause bad stomach problems. The ones below might be parasol mushrooms. That’s my best guess right now.
I feel sorry for people who don’t like mushrooms. A few weeks ago, I purchased a slender bottle of truffle oil, and I have to resist the urge to drizzle it over everything and OD on something that is supposed to be used sparingly. It is expensive after all, and we are in a recession. But it’s just so delectable.
- Wonton wrappers (found at any old grocery store) or homemade pasta
- Homemade farmer’s cheese or ricotta
- Assortment of mushrooms (porcini, chanterelles, etc.), diced
- Onions, diced
- Garlic, minced
- Fresh herbs (basil, oregano, dill, etc.), chopped
- Truffle oil
- light grey Celtic sea salt
Saute the onions until translucent. Add mushrooms and garlic until softened. In a bowl, mix the cheese and herbs. Stir in the vegetables. Place a teaspoon of the mixture onto a wrapper, brush the edges with water, place another wrapper over the top, and press to seal. You can press with a fork to make sure the edges are sealed and to give the ravioli some semi-fancy crimping. Drop them in boiling water and fish them out when they rise to the top. Drizzle with truffle oil and sprinkle with sea salt. You can use any sea salt, of course, but I highly recommend experimenting with different salts. You’d be surprised at how much the flavor varies. Light grey Celtic sea salt is divine. Sometimes I spoon a little basil pesto over the top before adding the truffle oil and salt. If you end up with leftover filling since I didn’t specify amounts, sit back and eat it out of the bowl.
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Posted in gardening, recipes, tagged canning, Mason jars, pickled green beans, pickled okra, pickled vegetables, pickles, rosemary lemon green beans, spicy pickled okra on September 20, 2009 |
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That’s the title of a cookbook I saw the other day, and I knew it had to be the title of this week’s blog post. It’s so sweet and country.
It’s time to break up with summer, and, although I feel a twinge of sadness, especially at saying goodbye to fresh tomatoes, I’m thrilled to welcome fall into my life. Fall is my favorite season, and, surprisingly, we’ve actually felt a nip in the air lately, that special autumn feeling that first brushes against the skin in the evening and eventually settles into our bones. Normally, summer lasts until well into October around here, but the weather’s been odd this year anyway, cooler and rainier. The thought that we might actually have fall as a genuine season and not a couple of weeks of drifting leaves has me up early to enjoy the crisp morning before the humidity descends in the afternoon.
Onto fall foods. I’ve already made one casserole on a chilly weekend afternoon, and I can’t wait for the first autumn soup to start simmering on the stove. I’ve planted a fall garden with radishes and various greens, some of my favorite veggies. The okra is still growing (eight feet tall, and I can barely reach the tops to pluck off the fruit), but I’ll have to pick the rest of the peppers and beans soon. To prepare for fall, I dug out my Mason jars and pickled some okra, green beans, and cucumbers.
The cukes are just regular dill pickles, but the other two are extra special because they are for a friend’s wedding in November. She wants to put a jar or two of pickled vegetables at each table, so I made her spicy okra and rosemary lemon green beans. I’ll keep a few jars around the house though. I’m always happy to find new uses for rosemary since our bushes are trying to conquer the herb garden. Recipe suggestions are below. I don’t bother with measurements; I just put in what feels right.
Spicy Pickled Okra
- okra, trimmed
- chili pepper of your choice, chopped
- whole garlic cloves
- mustard seed
- dill weed or dill seed
- cumin seed
- white vinegar (5% acidity)
Rosemary Lemon Green Beans
- green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces, spots snipped off
- organic lemon peel
- white wine vinegar
This summer I’ve made rosemary lemon green beans and rosemary lemon vodka. Can’t decide which I prefer. What will you be canning as grey skies creep in?
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Last weekend I went camping near the Hiwassee River with some friends and was pleasantly surprised by wildflowers blooming everywhere. We set up camp at Lost Creek, where Claire thought there was a jellyfish sitting in a burnt cup that floated along the creek. Hey, there is such a thing as a freshwater jellyfish. But it was just some plastic that looked gelatinous under the water. Wonder what it’s like to be a gelatinous creature.
Anyway, we went rafting on the river, which was hilarious and occasionally frightening. We paddled in circles a bit and got stuck on rocks more than a few times, bouncing to try to push off. I whacked my front teeth with the end of my paddle and couldn’t believe they didn’t crack. They were sore for a week. At one point, rain poured down so hard it hurt my face, and Julie fell out, but we snatched her up. We spent a few minutes on a tiny island after hearing thunder, and Lisa shared some Japanese snacks from her USA fanny pack, which then got soaked when she went swimming. Toward the end we got out and floated in our life vests, which felt sublime. Forget tubes and noodles. All you need is a life vest.
Another wild mushroom. This one’s even better.
Jewelweed: a good poison ivy remedy
United States Post Office, Reliance, Tennessee. Also, this place sells homemade lotion in tiny Tupperware containers with mailing labels on top.
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Just a few things going on around here lately.
Shelling purple-hull peas on the porch.
Washing raspberries plucked from the bushes next to the St. John’s Wort.
Spider friend hanging out on the porch. She’s got the most glorious web. Garden spiders build stabilimentum–the thick zigzag in the middle of the web–which either attract prey, camouflage the spider, or ensure that birds notice the web and don’t destroy it by accidentally flying into it. The females are much larger than the males, and they eat them after mating. Human guys don’t know how lucky they have it. So often in nature males exist simply to assist in procreation and then they die soon afterward.
Wild mushroom in the neighbor’s yard. Love when these pop up. Some folks down the street had a giant fairy ring last fall, but they mowed it down before I had a chance to get a picture. I couldn’t fathom why they would just run their lawn mower over something so special.
Sweet li’l bird that sleeps in the eaves of our porch every fall. I love how it snuggles up. Hm. It’s pretty dirty and spider webby up there.
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