Mushrooms

Spring foraging and Ramp Sliders

Easter weekend has over the years become a Ramp Feast. ( Ramps are wild onions that grow for only short period of time in the Appalachian Mountains every spring.) This year we struggled to get out into the woods. Cold, rain and snow every weekend made the prospect of taking Christopher foraging a little unpleasant. So we finally got to head out for Morels (a wild mushroom) and ramps this weekend and were surprised with both.

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Cleaned wild ramps ready for cooking

We have missed Morel season the last two years and have come home empty-handed but this weekend we found several and ended up with a few pounds of ramps from a family friends property. This was also our first real trip to the woods with Doc our puppy coonhound. What an adventure we had and what a wonderful lunch the ramps and mushrooms turned into.

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Morel and Pheasant tail mushrooms washed and ready to eat.

Our morning started with a rather long walk into the woods to find the right conditions for Morels and along the way I spotted some wonderful spring sights.

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Red Buds blooming lighting up the dark forest with the bright pink flowers.

 

 

After a few hours in the woods we had our bags were full and empty tummies. It was time to make a lunch with some of our treasures. I made hamburger sliders with sautéed ramps and mixed cheeses. It was fast, easy and delicious.

I used Kings Hawiian sweet dinner rolls for a bun and good quality ground beef. Making about 6 sliders from a pound of beef. The magic ingredient was the wine sautéed ramps. I took about 10 ramps cleaned and sliced them very thin and added them to a skillet with one teaspoon bacon grease, wilting the greens down. When the greens wilted I add 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup Marsala Wine and reduced the heat and simmer with salt and pepper for about 8 to 10 minutes. While the ramps simmered I made and cooked the burgers and topped them with a Colby/ Jack shredded cheese mixture. Assembled it all on a dinner roll with a little mayo and topped with two heaping spoonfuls of wine soaked ramps.  What a pleasure it was to eat and what a joy to make again.

Happy Spring Foraging to all of You!

 

Ramps with bacon grease and Marasal wine

Sliced Ramps with Marsala wine carmelized in bacon grease.

Ramp and Cheese Sliders spring wild food

Wine soaked ramp and cheese slider on a Kings Hawaiian dinner roll.

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Categories: Appalachina Mountains, cheese, Easter, Foraging, Mushrooms, organic food, ramps, Ramps, snacks | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Venison, Wild Mushroom, Lasagna

Deer season started today, so to honor my husband and all the wild game he provides for my family, I made this wonderful venison  meal.

I love to cook with wild foods and two of my favorites are Venison and Wild mushrooms. I had a few pounds of ground venison in the freezer from last year and about a pound of frozen wild mushroom from summer.The mushroom I am using is a  Chicken Mushrooms ( Laetiporus- Cincinnatus) the orange verity. I also had home-made Marinara sauce out of the garden. All that I needed from the store was cheese and noodles.

ingredients for Venison Lasagna

ingredients for Venison Lasagna

This was the foraged mushroom that I had a portion of frozen.

white spore, Chiken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

white spore, Chicken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

The stems of the mushroom can be woody, I saute’ them  chopped in butter with a little onion and garlic before I brown my meat. It can take several minutes to make the mushroom stems soft. I like to use bigger pieces so they do not lose their texture in the cheese mixture. I cook the mushroom mixture a little longer then what it takes to soften the onions. Set it aside to wait assembly of the lasagna.

Chopped Chicken Mushroom with onion and Garlic Sauteing

Chopped Chicken Mushroom with onion and Garlic Sauteing

I then brown about a pound of ground venison with a little oil to keep it from sticking to the pan.

Browning ground Venison

Browning ground Venison

Because Venison is so low in fat the moister you see in the photo is not oil but moister from the meat. It will cook off and I add Salt and little pepper and one quart home-made Marinara Sauce or your favorite sauce. Adding 1/2 cup water to store-bought sauce or 1 cup to my thick sauce to add the additional moister for Oven Ready Noodles. If you use regular cooked noodles you would skip the water.

Then mix together in a large bowl the Cheese mixture of your choice. I like ricotta cheese in my lasagna for two reasons. First it has a lower moister content and will not get really runny with the Oven Ready Noodles. Secondly the flavor to me is better when mixed with Italian seasonings.

Three cheeses ricotta,mozzarella Parmesan, eggs and spices

Three cheeses ricotta,mozzarella Parmesan, eggs and spices

Then add sauce to venison and place about 1/2 cup in bottom of 13 X 11 pan cover with uncooked noodles.

Venison marinara sauce with oven ready noodles

Venison Marinara sauce with oven ready noodles

Cover noodles with cheese mixture and top with sauteed mushroom and onion mixture

Wild mushroom and onion mixture topping ricotta cheese mixture

Wild mushroom and onion mixture topping ricotta cheese mixture

I then top this with another row of Oven Ready Noodles and cover the top with more venison sauce topping that with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Back in the oven lightly covered at 350 degrees for 60 minutes and let stand at least 15 minutes after removing from the oven. This allows the cheese to set up while cooling and keeps the lasagna firmer when cut and not too hot to eat.

venison, wild mushroom lasagna

venison, wild mushroom lasagna

Ingredients

1 pound wild mushrooms

1 med onion

1 teaspoon or two cloves garlic

2 teaspoons butter

1 pound ground venison

1 quart or more Marinara sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

1 pound ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup fresh shredder Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 1/2 table spoons Italian seasonings

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon parsley

1 box Oven Ready Noodles… the non-boil kind

Directions

  1. Saute chopped mushrooms, onions and garlic in butter a minute or two more than when the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Brown 1 pound of venison in large skillet, add salt and pepper and 1 quart of Marinara Sauce. Simmer until warm and bubbly.
  3. In a 13 X 11 backing pan spread 1/2 to 3/4 cup meat sauce in bottom of pan, making sure to cover entire bottom of pan adding more if needed.
  4. Cover sauce with one layer of Oven Ready Noodles.
  5. In large bowel add all but a handful of cheeses. Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and two eggs. Mix until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  6. Add Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic salt to cheeses and mix.
  7. Scoop cheese mixture over Oven Ready Noodles and smooth out.
  8. Cover cheese with mushroom and onion mixture, spread evenly cover with 1/2 cup sauce below noodles.
  9. Cover with another row of Oven Ready Noodles and top with sauce, topping with left over cheese.

10.Cover loosely with tin foil  and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

 

So with high hopes I can fill my freezer again this year with fresh organic meat..best of lucky Tom, Cody and Bill may you hunting season be filled with the joy of nature and thrill of the hunt and the knowledge that you have provided another year of food for your families.

Categories: cooking, deer hunting, Foraging, Hunting, lasagna, mushroom hunting, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Venison, venison Lasagna, venison Lasagna, West Virginia, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Foraged Mushroom Stir Fry

Spring in West Virginia has been overly hot and wet this year. It is causing my family frustration with the home remodel but is making perfect weather for mushroom hunting. So I have been able without much effort to find some wonderful large wild mushrooms this year. But finding wild mushrooms is the easy part. I then have to identify the fungus and find the best way to consume the treasures. Some times that is more work then just finding an old log with a mushroom growing out of it.

white spore,  Chiken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

white spore, Chicken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

This mushroom is very common in the Ohio Valley or the Eastern US and it is named after the city of Cincinnati Ohio where it was first found and Identified ( Laetiporus- Cincinnatus). The common name is Chicken mushroom and it is edible and delicious. it is a mushroom that will regrow if collected correctly and the “stem” is left on the log or stump when gathering. This is one of a small group that grows in a rosette style rather than a single stem with cap.This is also one of the few mushrooms that freezes well. In this case the mushroom weighs about 2 pounds before cleaning and trimming and about is the size of a 13 X 11 sheet of paper. So I have enough mushroom to make several meals… in this case I will make two and then freeze the rest for a cold day to make a baked steak slow cooker dinner later in the fall.

As with any wild mushroom I will remind you that you need a good mushroom identification book or two and or person who has experience hunting wild mushrooms  before eating. Many wild mushrooms are poisonous and some are deadly within hours. I use a book titled Wild Edible Mushroom by Hope H Miller for almost all mushrooms we hunt and eat.The link above it to its listing on Amazon.com. It has wonderful color photos of the most easy to identify edible mushrooms. We are also lucky to have friends that hunt the mushrooms that are in this book and we share information and at times hunt for them together.

After bringing this boy home I needed to clean it. Because it is a large stalk style mushroom that is not tender to the touch, soaking in a sink full of cool water encourages any bugs, sticks, slugs and dirt to slowly drop to the bottom of the sink. I let mine sit in the water at least two hours. In this case it soaked over night. Then I trim the “petals” off the base root that is white, leaving only bright yellow backs on the mushroom. I even trimmed it again when I was getting ready to cook it just to make sure we got the most tender portion of the “petals” in my stir fry.

strips of chicken mushrooms on top of stir fry

strips of chicken mushrooms on top of stir fry

A stir fry is the most common way we use fresh wild mushrooms. In this case I just added the chicken mushrooms into a vegetable mix we already had in the freezer added some beef and topped it with our favorite sauce and dinner on a hot humid West Virginia night in about 15 minutes.

 

I stir fried the thin sliced steak in two table spoons oil at a high heat and then removed them from my skillet or wok. I added  2 pounds of frozen stir fry vegetables. In the mixture I used it already had the noodles in the bag. I added them to the hot skillet and stirred in the wild mushrooms. It took about 13 minutes to steam the vegetables and make sure the mushrooms cooked tender. I added the steak back in to the skillet and added  half bottle of Teriyaki sauce. Pretty simple but a Delicious way to add wild mushrooms to any stir fry.

We also love this mushroom breaded and fried in butter with a little Old Bay Seasoning as great appetizer before dinner. It is another way to introduce friends and family to the joy of mushroom hunting when you can share a large plate of crunchy, juicy ,wild food that tastes so good!

Happy eating and keep you eyes open for wonderful mushrooms that grow just about anywhere. This mushroom was about 100 feet from a barn under a thin canopy of trees on piece of log maybe 10 years old.

Categories: Foraging, mushroom hunting, Mushrooms, wild food | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Flowers, Forest and Fauna: Spring time in West Virginia

As many of you already know I love to take photos,I almost always have a camera with me. So I seem to find all kinds of wonderful things to take photos of. This spring has been so busy, I am surprised, that I have even found time for short bursts of creativity where I take photos. So today I just wanted to share with all of you some of the things I have been seeing in my little corner of the world here in West Virginia this spring.

close up of a fresh Rhododendron bloom

close up of a fresh Rhododendron bloom

This is one of the views I wake up to every morning for the month of May.

Tom blending into the tree line as we turkey hunt

Tom blending into the tree line as we turkey hunt

We did some Turkey hunting early in the month of May but we struck out. No fresh turkey for dinner this year. Tom and I heard a few gobbles but nothing close enough to think about. The weather was unusually warm and dry and this may have effected the turkeys.

Pheasant tail mushrooms AKA Dryad saddle mushrooms

Pheasant tail mushrooms AKA Dryad saddle mushrooms

This meant that the weather was great for mushrooms. We found a bounty of these Pheasant Tail mushrooms while out turkey hunting. They are an easy to find, spring edible mushroom, we found many in the woods that day.

Pheasant tail mushroom on tree stump

Pheasant tail mushroom on tree stump

The first bloom of spring at the new house

The first bloom of spring at the new house

I tired of  all the snow, cold and wet of winter this year and was over joyed to see this. When this sign of spring finally opened, I felt as if I took a long deep breath, knowing winter was really over.

Spring Stream in Pendelton County WV

We did get a day to hike and fish before the spring weather got to hot( by May 23 the temps had already hit 94 degrees F) this stream was a great place to rest and fish on our day long adventure.

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Boundary marker for public land

 

Moss covered stones along the river at Ten Mile WV

Moss covered stones along the river at Ten Mile WV

We have also had a very popular back yard this year, with lots of wild baby animals roaming around. This spring Tom and I have found Toads, baby rabbits, baby squirrels, baby Doves and Robbins and a Box Turtle so far. It makes for a very educational trip out side. Now if we can just get Christopher over his fear of frogs and toads.

meet Chipper and Splinter the Barnwood builder Babies

meet Chipper and Splinter the Barn Wood Builder Babies

Red Eyed Box turtle walking across the back yard

Red Eyed Box turtle walking across the back yard

Then of course we have a photo of Christopher’s favorite wild animal… Jinn the photo bomber.

Jinn the photo bombing cat

Jinn the photo bombing cat

So thing here are busy, the house remodel is just about finished. Summer is taking hold and the heat is on. The last four days have been in the upper 80’s and 90’s. School will be over in about a week and Christopher will be starting summer swimming lessons. Most of the spring flowers are already gone for the year (I already miss them). The garden got planted but we are so late that it will be a month before I see any real growth . So Summer will be a time to hunt mushrooms in the cool shade of the dark hard woods and maybe even a weekend trip of camping. I will be ready for it sooner than it will happen but until them I keep my eyes open for more beauty that I see every day.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Baby Animals, Easter, flowers, Hardwood forest, Mushrooms, photo review, Photos, Turkey season, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Mystical Mushroom Photos

When my family mushroom hunts I take lots of photos. Some of them are just your average record keeping photos but others seem to bring back to life the feeling of the fairy garden and the deep woods legends. I have a dear friend ( Beverly) who reminded me years ago that it is important to still have contact with that magical place where we are children and free to explore and imagine. So over the last few years I have attempted to take the time that we spend in the woods to a more arcane place. To find the and photograph as many mushrooms as I can. Making the fungus seem larger than life and full of magical stories. So since I am still a novice mushroom hunter and photographer I hope you will bear with me over the next few years as I discover and explore my love for mushrooms on film.

poly-spore on tree limb

poly spore on tree limb

 

As a kid I was always drawn to the fairy art work that showed mushrooms in some way. I hope to add that feeling to my photos although some of the first photos I took of this subject matter were just about documentation of the verity that we had found. Like this first photo that actually got my interest peaked and made me want to find more. This photo shows a cluster of different mushroom we found growing on one log in one afternoon… I only wish I could find this type of thing again. I should have slowed down and taken my time with this photo but excitement got the best of me.

Large mushroom group growing together on the same log... amazing

Large mushroom group growing together on the same log… amazing

Then as the year past and I was unable to keep up with my sons and husband in hunting the eatable mushrooms I started looking at them with a more artistic eye and started to slow down ( broken bone in the foot really helped with this). So I started to look at them from that child point of view, with wonder and amazement and with the help of some photo editing I started to get photos that not only documented what we were finding but also started to show signs of the mystery that I find in the woods and with its inhabitants.

Honey Mushroom  in fresh spring dirt

Honey Mushroom in fresh spring dirt

double scarlet cup

double scarlet cup

 

Then on early morning this spring I found myself alone in the woods sitting on a high bank full of Poplar trees with no one around. Tom and I had headed to the woods to look for the famous Morels and I was just not able to keep up with them on the soft, wet, steep soil. So I sat for a long time looking at the tiny honey mushrooms that formed a Fairy Ring around one tree…. they were every where hundreds maybe thousands all smaller than a penny. I thought about the fairy ring and wondered if I could somehow capture parts of it. This is the result of thinking about our cultures mythology of the fairy ring and the mushroom.

mushroom with faded edges

mushroom with faded edges 2014

Fairy Mushrooms under the poplar trees.2014

Fairy Mushrooms under the poplar trees.2014

I have even begun to see my mushroom photos in a  way to communicate with others about my feelings as this photo shows. I took this photo along a road side on a broken trunk of a tree. I also love the way it looks with no words at all just a quite image of the slow decomposition process.

Einstein and the mushroom tree

Einstein and the mushroom tree

white tree mushroom

white tree mushroom

Some how these mysterious fungus have captured my heart and my imagination and I hope to continue to explore my woodlands for images of them that show off the beauty and mysterious world that we inhabit. So for now I will be keeping my eyes on the ground looking for my favorite thing in the woods.

Tree shelf mushroom on elm tree

Tree shelf mushroom on elm tree

Chanterelles waiting to be washed  and fried

chanterelles for dinner

turkey tail mushrooms on log with wild flowers

turkey tail mushrooms on log with wild flowers 2014

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Foraging, Mushrooms, mythology, photo review, Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Wild Mushroom ( Hen of the Woods)( Chicken Mushroom) Penne Pasta

One of my favorite things about West Virginia is finding wild mushrooms. I modified the ingredients for this dish around the holidays when Tom and I grew sick of eating turkey and ham. This recipe could use any mushroom but as I have learned more about wild mushrooms it is wonderful for the meaty and almost fibrous Hen of the woods.

Hen of the Woods...Grifola frondosa

Hen of the Woods…Grifola frondosa

Hen of the Woods can range from almost white to almost totally grey.It ranges in size from about a pound to some here in West Virginia that have come in at 80 pounds. This mushroom a choice edible. The Hen of the Woods  should not turn blue/black when bruised  and should not have  an unpleasant odor.  The small mushroom on the left of this photo is the one that we took in the house to eat as it was a gift from friends. Our little mushroom hit the scale at about 5 1/2 pounds. Just as a size reference it took up the entire dish strainer when I cleaned it.  The center mushroom was about 12 pounds and about the size of my kitchen sink.

cleaning and draining a Hen of the woods Mushroom

cleaning and draining a Hen of the woods Mushroom

Warning…  edible mushrooms are easy to mix up with poisonous ones  learn them before you eat.

As with any of my mushroom posts I encourage everyone who wants to start looking for mushrooms to buy several mushroom identification books and find other hunters in your area to help with identification.  Some wild mushrooms are very poisonous and can kill a grown human in a few hours.  Remember to only try one new mushroom at a time.That way if there is a reaction to the fungus, you know what type of mushroom it is making you ill. Cook all wild mushroom before eating this also reduces allergic reactions to the fungus. Always keep a sample of the mushroom in case you have misidentified the mushroom and need medical attention. Get an outside person to look over your findings…. can’t hurt to have a second pair of eye looking at what you want to eat.

I cleaned this large mushroom in a large sink full of warm water. The water needs to cover the entire mushroom and it should ideally soak for about 25 to 30 minutes. This allows the small bugs, slugs, dirt, leaves or any other unwanted matter time to drown or soften and float to the bottom of the sink. Remove the mushroom from water, drain and rinse again with tap water. Place the clump of wet mushroom in dish strainer to drain. The mushroom can now be canned, frozen, or cooked. I cut this big guy up and froze about 3/4 of it for the winter.

bag of frozen Hen of the Woods mushrooms

bag of frozen Hen of the Woods mushrooms

Hen of the woods is one of the few mushrooms that freeze extremely well and does not lose its firm texture  when thawed. So this one is a wonderful winter cooking staple. After cutting up the large mushroom I patted the branches dry and placed about 2 pounds per bag. Using about two cups of frozen branches for the following recipe.

Hen of the Woods Penne Pasta

Hen of the Woods Penna Pasta

Hen of the Woods Penne Pasta

serves 5 to 6  baked at 350 degrees

  1. quart Italian tomato sauce or marinara sauce
  2. 1 pound penne pasta
  3. 1 pound Italian Sausage ( we use sweet or mild)
  4. 1  green sweet bell pepper
  5. 1 med yellow onion
  6.  2 cups Hen of the Woods thawed mushrooms
  7.  2 cloves garlic crushed
  8. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  9. 2 cups shredded cheese Mozzarella, Cheddar, or blended cheese

Begin with a 2 quart casserole coated with cooking spray or butter the casserole dish set a side. Boil salted water in a large pot and cook 1 lb noodles until about 3/4 the way soft. Drain noodles and set a side. They will continue to cook when baked with other ingredients  in oven.

In a large skillet break up and brown 1 lb of sweet Italian sausage. When browned all the way through remove from pan and set a side. To skillet oils add garlic and thawed mushroom and saute until mushrooms begin to brown at the edges.

saute mushrooms and garlic remaining oils in skillet

saute mushrooms and garlic remaining oils in skillet

Then add in onions, peppers, saute until onions begin to turn translucent and peppers begin to soften , under cook the vegetables so they remain some what crunchy they will continue to cook in the oven when baked.

Hen of the Woods, onions. peppers and garlic saute

Hen of the Woods, onions. peppers and garlic saute

Add cooked sausage to casserole dish followed by cooked mushrooms and vegetables. Mix together and add one quart of pasta sauce, 1 pound of cooked penna pasta.

sausage, onion, peppers, hen of the woods mushrooms, garlic in casserole dish

sausage, onion, peppers, hen of the woods mushrooms, garlic in casserole dish

Add into mixture 1 cup Parmesan cheese and mix well. Cleaning the rim of dish after mixing to prevent burning while in oven. Top mixture with shredded cheese and bake covered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

adding pasta, Parmesan cheese and sauce to mixture in cassarole

adding pasta, Parmesan cheese and sauce to mixture in casserole

 The  topping will appear melted and the filling will appear bubbly when ready to eat. We serve this will garlic bread and a romaine lettuces salad. Making a nice meal that helps incorporate  the woodiness of the wild mushroom without making it distracting in a main dish.  This is one of my husbands favorite dishes as long as I leave the pepper, onion and mushrooms in large slightly crunchy pieces.  

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Just for fun here is a photo of an over grown Hen of the woods that my husband and a friend found while working along a road side for the DOT in 2010.This one was almost to big to eat at 80 pounds and really tough.

Mark Metzger with huge chicken of the woods

Photo used with permission from Mark Metzgar 2013.

Categories: country cooking, Foraging, Hardwood forest, Mushrooms, West Virginia, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Photo review of 2013 with Mountain Mama

I just can’t help the fact that I love where I live and the people around me. I take thousands of photos every year and some never make it to  my blog and others are only uploaded on to Facebook and or sent to friends and family. So, I thought  I would take a few hours and let you see what it is that make my world go around and share in some of the best and worst moments of my year. So hers goes… GOOD-BYE 2013 and hello to a fresh new year.

Birth place of General Stone Wall Jackson, Jacksons' Mill, West Virginia  January 2013

Birth place of General Stone Wall Jackson, Jackson’s’ Mill, West Virginia January 2013

I started taking photos for a photo challenge this past year and it was fun to really push myself for ideas and places to photograph.. I did pretty well until they put my foot in a soft cast where the cold and wet and lack of being stable on my feet made me drop the challenge. This was one of the first locations that Christopher and I traveled to and explored in the very cold 18 degree weather in Jan of 2013. Jackson’s Mill is a State Owned property where they hold 4-h camps, state conferences and have saved historic buildings like this one, home of General Stone Wall Jackson. This large property and air field are only about 2 miles from my home and include a grist mill that I hope to write about in the future.

Snow on the plow at General Stone Wall Jackson's home place Jackson Mill, West Virginia

Snow on the plow at General Stone Wall Jackson’s home place Jackson Mill, West Virginia

The for the month of February Christopher and I made a photo tour of one of our favorite places in Lewis County  our historic Library.This is the location of our local book club that I help to start in the month of Feb. I love the old building and wish If I ever had the money to change the world this would be the place that I would put my money to work for my small community.

a 4 story mansion donated to the city of weston  for use as a llibrary

a 4 story mansion donated to the city of Weston for use as a library

Christopher hamming  it up with me when we found a not so used bathroom on the third floor.

Christopher sitting the bath tube of the Lewis Bennett Library of Weston West Virginia

Christopher sitting the bath tube of the Lewis Bennett Library of Weston West Virginia 2013

Spring was slowly creeping into the mountain state in March and we were  so happy to start to see life again that I started looking outside for more ideas  and this is what I found.

Tom Powers working with horses at Cross Creek Farm

Tom Powers working with horses at Cross Creek Farm

One of the few days that was really beautiful in March with temps in the 40’s  and warm enough to get started on the spring trimmings again. While Tom worked hard on getting these lovely animals ready to head back up the mountains Christopher and I wondered the country road near by to find things of interest.

Christopher walking along a country road in Lewis County West Viriginia

Christopher walking along a country road in Lewis County West Virginia

April is always a mixed bag of events at our house Tom and Cody have birthdays at the end of March and the first of April so it is always a time of celebration.  We try to adventure some where to shake off the dust and dirt from the long winter spent inside and this year was no different. We headed to Kentucky and had a ball at Makers Mark Distillery, the Kentucky Horse Park and Historic Bardstown, Ky. I hope to return to Bardstown it is one of the most beautiful and friendly towns I have ever visited and this is the “off-season” the Derby would still be a month away and the city is really alive then.

Easter and Kentucky Derby hats in a window store front in Bards Town, Ky

Easter and Kentucky Derby hats in a window store front in Bardstown, Ky

 Historic John Rowan house. Old Kentucky State    Park, Bardstown Kentucky

Historic John Rowan house. Old Kentucky State Park, Bardstown Kentucky

With spring in full force May is always focused on our gardens, yards, flowers and ramps. I did some blogging about the wild onions if you want to learn more about wild onions and how to use them. Our family loves to spend the day in the mountains with a picknick lunch and a bag full of ramps.

Spring ramp digging Christopher holding a the first ramp

Spring ramp digging Christopher holding a the first ramp

I also start to see the wonderful spring flowers appear and could not help myself for taking a few photos of them.

white Peony at the Stoneley Farm

white Peony at the Stoneley Farm

June 20th is our celebration of state hood here in the Mountain State.  This year Tom and I spent the day working on customers horses.Were lucky enough that afternoon to find thousands and thousands of wild flowers in bloom along the long-deserted road between farms. My favorite is the wild roses that have  a million tiny thorns and are in this hot pink color. The smell fills the air for miles and you just want to stop and enjoy the warm sun, the sweet smell and a long country road.

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Terry Washborn's shed with wild roses and trumpet vines

Terry Washborn’s shed covered in wild roses and trumpet vines

July found us Camping near Canaan Valley  in the mountains of West Virginia. We found a remote camp ground where the water of the Potomac was warm and clear and the weekend was lazy and we found time to act  silly and share family time.

Tom and Christopher wearing the big bear hats just being silly

Tom and Christopher wearing the big bear hats just being silly at Smoke hole caverns

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

August found us looking for wild mushrooms and boy to we hit the jack pot all summer and fall. I was over whelmed with the variety color and size of the mushroom we and our friends found. What a great way to spend a hot humid afternoon. Head for the cool shaded woods and come home to a feast of wild West Virginia mushrooms.

wild chanterelle Mushrooms found in Harrison County, West Virginia

wild chanterelle Mushrooms found in Harrison County, West Virginia

Wild mushroom, Hen of the Woods, found by the trunkful

Wild mushroom, Hen of the Woods, found by the trunkful

wild Bollete cap

September started a new stage to our lives as Christopher started school. We said good-bye to my little guy and said hello to a student. We also said good-by to Christopher’s  Step Grand father and shared in losing someone from Alzheimer’s and the destruction that it has put my family through.

Christopher'd first day at school Sep 2013

Christopher’s first day at school Sep 2013

Honor guard the funeral of Minter Mowrey

Honor guard the funeral of Minter Mowery

The fall was creeping in and Oct is one of my favorite months if you can miss the rain that begins to fall.  We found a beautiful weekend and took off to take photos in the northern part of the state and see an abandoned State Penitentiary in Moundsville. I found its structure breath-taking and it history ominous. It was one of the most interesting places I have had the opportunity to photograph in years.

veiw of Moundsville State Penitentuary, Moundsville, West Virginia

view of Moundsville State Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia

Christopher and I on top  of the Indian mound in Moundsville West Virginia

Christopher and I on top of the Indian mound in Moundsville West Virginia

The next two months are a total blur. Hunting season begins and the holidays  add to  the already busy time so it seems I must have forgotten to take any beautiful photos.  But my family  had a successful fall with many happy evenings telling hunting stories and me and the kids processing the meat for the long cold winter. I also am happy to report that my little book club has reached its 9th month of  continuous reading and we are still going strong.

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck

Janice, Sandy and Christopher at our Thanksgiving Book club meeting

Janice, Sandy and Christopher at our Thanksgiving Book club meeting

Then as I was just getting ready to decorate for the Holidays I finally gave into the pain that I was experiencing in my foot and came to find out that I had broken a bone in the bottom of my left foot . This is what Santa gave to me about the 13 th of Dec.

My New air cast and 6 weeks off work

My New air cast and 6 weeks off work

I am currently off work  and feeling better. I hope to get things back to ” normal” what ever that is in a couple of weeks. This was also the best time for me to have this happen as work is slow and I could spend more time with my family over the holidays. I also learned to slow down and sit still a little better from this adventure and that was a lesson I found very hard at first but it is growing on me now. I plan  more rest in the new year and learning about that  not pushing my ageing body quite so hard.

fire works over the West Virginia State Capital 2013

fire works over the West Virginia State Capital 2013

 HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERY ONE !

may I see and hear from all of you through out 2014.

Categories: About me, Appalachian Mountains, Death, family memories, Holidays, Kentucky, Louis Bennett Library, Maker's Mark, Mushrooms, photo review | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Puffball mushrooms, Safty tips and Recipe.

  This time of year in West Virginia is a blend of late summer heat and cool rainy days. Perfect weather for wild mushrooms. This last week has been full of friends dropping by saying, ” While we were out in the ( you pick the place), woods, river bank or yard, we found this… mushroom. We were wondering if you can eat it ; do you know what this one is? Well most of our  friends do know something about mushrooms so they do look for the edible ones but it is always nice to have some one back you up on what you have and if you should eat it.

two puffball mushrooms cut in half each one larger then a large onion

two Puffball mushrooms cut in half each one larger than a large onion

    On Tues a friend dropped these two mushrooms off at the house he found them on the creek bank behind his house.  Puffball mushrooms are very common and easy to find but to need  cut in half when small to make sure they are not Earthballs or confused with a starting bud of the POISONOUS AGARIC mushroom. At this size a Puffball can not be  confused with any other mushroom making it very safe to harvest. Earthballs are small round mushrooms that are a dark purple inside and smell very strong they are not for eating. The other poisonous agaric mushroom also forms into a white button when small and eventually forms a traditional ” toads stool” when mature.                                                           

 If you were to confuse the two while small the safety tip is:

    Slice open the ball and see if an egg-shaped cap appears inside the button,in some cases it looks like the soft outline of a mushroom growing inside the button. Do not eat the ones that have anything inside other than creamy white flesh.The inside of the Puffball is white and looks like cream cheese.It can be sliced and fried or chopped for other uses. Use them fresh and do not let the mushroom turn grainy or chunky that is a sign that the mushroom is deteriorating and spoiled. Always cook wild mushrooms some people are sensitive and could get an upset stomach when eating any mushroom cooking does help reduce the chance of an upset.

The frist step to cooking a Puffball is to remove the outside skin. This leaves you with the creamy white clean insides to eat.

The outer skin removed from a large Puffball mushroom

The outer skin removed from a large Puffball mushroom

     Again this was a 1 pound mushroom  so with company on the way for dinner I thought an appetizer was in order and took half of the mushroom and chopped it fine and made a warm mushroom dip with garlic crackers. The dip  left on the thin side has many uses like sauce for chicken or over noodles for a meatless mushroom meal.

This is what the thickened dip looks like and it was a hit with company as I finished making the rest of dinner.

Puffball warm chip dip

Puffball warm chip dip

    Warm Puffball chip dip

1/2 pound mushroom finely chopped ( any mushroom will do)

1 stick butter softened

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced onion

3/4 pound of sour cream

1 bouillon cube (dissolved) or 1 Korr chicken broth tub

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons flour ( optional, omit for sauce)

chips, crackers, or vegetable slices

 1. Saute mushrooms in a large frying pan on medium heat with 5 tablespoons butter and lemon juice until tender.

2. Add finely chopped onion.

3. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Add sour cream, bouillon granules, and salt and pepper and simmer 3 minutes.

5. mix flour and two table spoons butter together into a paste  use as a thickener for dip.

6. Add paste to hot sauce and stir until thickened.

7. serve warm in a fondue pot in small slow cooker for party’s.

 yields about 3 to 4 cups.

   In my effort to learn more about mushrooms I have gained lots of safety tips and the above recipe from the wonderful book listed below. It is the book that we use the most.  I think every beginner should have a copy the photos are wonderful and the information shared is simple and easy to use. I take it with us every time we are out in the woods.

             “Wild Edible Mushrooms”

             tips and recipes for every mushroom hunter 

                                by Hope H Miller.

The book is easily found on Amazon at this link http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Edible-Mushrooms-Recipes-Mushroom/dp/0762771437/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382016858&sr=1-1&keywords=Wild+Edible+Mushrooms.

My son also bought me a second identification book for my birthday it is more of a traditional field guide with thousands of mushrooms and drawings. It is useful to give a second description for a new mushroom and is handy for ones that look so similar. It is recommend having at lest two books to use while trying to identify wild mushrooms.

                         “Mushrooms”

                          Peterson field guides

               By Kent h. Mckight/ Vera B. Mcknight

again the Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Field-Guide-Mushrooms-America-Peterson/dp/0395910900/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382105122&sr=1-2&keywords=mushrooms+field+guide

  This book covers a larger verity of mushrooms and is handy when a question about what verity you are looking at or what ones are edible.Since we focus our time on the edible ones I use this book less often, but find it useful. Amazon lists several field guides, and regional guides to help with identification.

 Mushroom hunting has been on of the best hobbies that our family enjoyed  the last few years. It is something everyone can do and share in from the littlest in our family to the oldest. The locations are not limited to the woods. As I explained the Puffball above was found in my husbands best friends back yard along a creek bank .So even a nice walk through a park or  stream side maybe the place to find wonderful mushrooms to share. It is the time together walking, cooking and eating that makes this experience so much fun and healthy. It is nother way for me to eat healthier and be less dependant on society for my food. It is hard to believe but just one Puffball made about 3 quarts of meatless soup and a wonderful dip for entertaining all free for the taking. It is a lesson I am so glad I am learning.

Tom and Christopher mushroom hunting in Jane Lew , Wv

Tom and Christopher mushroom hunting in Jane Lew , W.V.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: cooking, family fun, Foraging, Jane Lew, Mushrooms, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A New Passion… Mushroom Hunter.

    This has been an idea in my head for years…. Hunting Mushrooms. I find that my passion for foraging just grows year after year. I spend more and more of my free time in the woods looking for wild edible foods. This year my son bought me two mushroom hunter guide books for Christmas. He bought them after a conversation we had about how we should take up the hobby so that we can spend more time in the woods in the summer. Summer is our OFF season, trout fishing is over and deer hunting is not in season, so we really had no reason to go into the woods in July. That all changed a couple of weeks ago when we began Chanterelle mushroom hunting for ourselves.

   With help and encouragement from my husband’s friend Mark Metzger, Tom and I took off on a Saturday morning to a woods that my husband has hunted for years. We had photos and seen real examples of the mushroom we were looking for. We read where these tasty morsels grew but you never really know what you will find until you try. Our hopes were high that the mushroom hunt would fill our bags, we were not disappointed. We ended up with about two pounds if bright yellow flesh ready to eat.

Here is a photo of our friend Mark with a mushroom of a life time,a portion of a 100 pound “Chicken of the Woods” mushroom found in a drainage ditch while at work. Working for the DOT sometimes has its advantages… Mark Metzger with huge chicken of the woods

    It was this photo and story that pushed me into this new adventure. I wanted to see, find and eat something like this. I knew that edible mushrooms were just waiting for me to find and enjoy them. We started off looking for some of the easiest to identify wild mushrooms so that we were sure to stay safe and get an easy start on this new project.

  Our first steps were to pack up for the trip. I read and reread the ways to ID  the Chanterelle, the mushroom type we wanted to find. We packed several “green” grocery bags, a roll of paper towels, a couple of pocket knives and water bottles. We all dresses very comfortable yet in jeans. This time of year you tramp through wild roses and brier batches along every hill-side. We did not travel along pathways or trails, we brush busted through groves and thickets. I also took along our “for beginners” identification book just in case of confusion and of course my camera.

  It took Tom, Christopher and I  several minutes to get to the proper location for chanterelles. They only grown in the darkest part of the woods under mostly oak trees. To find an area with the correct environment took about an hour of hiking. GE DIGITAL CAMERA

We past thousands of mushrooms that morning of every color, style and size. One of the most interesting ones was this beauty, possibly a Morgan mushroom.

what we think was commonly known as a morgan ploypores mushroom

what we think was commonly known as a Morgan polypore mushroom

  Since we were not totally sure what this thing was we left it to grow and just took a photo of it. I at some time hope to use the photos in paintings and drawings. 

   The grove we found our mushrooms in is old and thick. The canopy was full,  making the ground dark and damp, very little vegetation lived on the ground. Only the wondering grape vines and the yellow of the chanterelle were visable.The chanterelle’s bright yellow trumps are hard to miss in the dark of the woods. We literally passed from one level to another on the hillside picking as we move down. Of course I was so excited to see the little guys I forgot to stop and take a picture of the hill-side covered with little yellow flower like mushrooms (live and learn). We ended up with about two pounds of mushrooms from this location. We also left some of the smaller ones for later and to make sure that the spores dropped on the ground for the next generation of chanterelle.

Tom passing fallen tree to area where we found the Wild Mushrooms

Tom passing fallen tree to area where we found the Wild Mushrooms

   Also while wondering in the woods, we found another type of edible mushroom in a random passing of dead trees called  boletes. I collected them also but made sure not to mix the mushrooms in the same bag and rapped each in a paper towel to remove some of the moister that was on all of the mushrooms. Some were still water-logged from the weeks of rain we had just gotten through.  This type of mushroom also has no gills but has the shape of any common mushroom, but it does have a more flattened cap and velvety appearance.

frist botele mushroom found that day

first Bolete mushroom found that day

  We brought home about 6 Bolete mushrooms and was able to identify them as Bragger’s Boletes and will look for them again when we head out next time.

     The most popular mushrooms that also grow in West Virginia are Morels. They are an easy to spot spring mushroom that also grows in the dark oak groves of the Appalachian mountains. Tom and I did not have time this year to pursue hunting them but our friend Mark was able to find some. We have added this to the list of things we hope to do next spring.

Mark Metzgar with Morels and a Lewis County, West Virginia widow sign

Mark Metzger with Morels and a Lewis County, West Virginia widow sign

    Edible mushrooms are fun to collect, spending a day off in the woods is refreshing, but it is even more enjoyable to eat what you have found. I have always been a fan of trying new things in the kitchen so cooking up a batch of wild mushrooms is not hard.  Tom, Bill(a family  friend) and I cleaned and fried up our treasure in flour and butter.I added a little salt and pepper for flavor cooked them over low heat. The taste was a rich and strong mushroom flavor… and they melted in you mouth. I really wonderful way to start a meal.

flouring the mushrooms

flouring the mushrooms

  I can’t really put into words what it is that I love so much about foraging for food. It is like treasure hunting for me. I get an idea about what I want to find and some how God and the earth provides me a place and time of year to find it. I enjoy my time in the wilderness it recharges and invigorates me. Foraging also allows us to see lots of wild life. On this trip to the woods we found a spotted fawn, several song birds, what Tom and I believe was a Bob Cat sleeping in a tree and lots of squirrels. What a wonderful way to spend time with those you love,sharing time in the woods, finding wonderful treasures, then taking them home to eat a fun meal together. Dose life really get any better than this?

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Foraging, Hardwood forest, Mushrooms, organic foods, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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