Posts Tagged With: West virginia wild food

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


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


  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 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 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

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.  


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

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

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.


                          Peterson field guides

               By Kent h. Mckight/ Vera B. Mcknight

again the Amazon link

  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

Wild Turkey, and our the dinner table

  Turkey season in West Virginia starts on the first week of May and runs through to the end of the month. My Husband started hunting the timid birds as  teen with some success, but  had taken many years off from hunting them recently. With more time to pursue hunting, Tom thought it would nice to see if turkeys were still in the area. Within  two trips to the woods he brough home this. A nice gobbler that was not to old to eat and enjoy.

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Then  my husband teased our older son Cody  “you need to see if you could keep up with the old man” and get one for himself. Well in “show up  my dad style” my son also got his turkey the very next day. Two large gobblers in two days what a great weekend.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 So early friday morning I got my first lesson on wild turkey cleaning, processing and cooking. With the help of family friends, we were able to get a quick lesson on cleaning a turkey.Ken suggested that we “NOT CLEAN” the whole bird. “You will only need to clean the whole bird if you are not going to roast it” he stated.Ken also suggested that we only “remove the breast and thighs of the bird to eat and leave the rest.” So by mid morning,working on the tail gate of our pick up, my husband and I removed the parts of the bird that we planed to eat. We also removed the tail fathers and wings for crafts with natural fathers. By skinning the bird instead of plucking it, the entire process took less than 20 minutes we had no feathers to remove and no entrails to clean up. The meat was fresh and clean and ready to eat or freeze quicker then I could drive to the local store to buy meat.

  With the meat removed, washed and frozen. I started the process of looking and asking friends about their favorite Wild Turkey recipes. Wild Turkey is extremely low in fat and moisture and can easily be over cooked. So, with this in mind I went to the National Wild Turkey Federations web site for help…at They have a nice collection of recipes and Tom and I chose one for Turkey cutlets.

 The process is very simple and the list of ingredients is short, almost everyone will have these items in their home. All of these items can switched out with store-bought organics… making a 100% organic main course

2 whole wild turkey breasts

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/3 bottle of zesty Italian salad dressing ( I use Wishbone)

1/4 of a pound real butter

First take the wild turkey breast and cut slices across the grain of the meat about 1/4 of an inch thick. The slices will vary in size, some  large and some small. I also cut the tender strip of meat that is on the back of the breast and removed the tough tissues  from its middle section before cooking.  

Place all the these pieces into a  gallon zip lock bag adding enough zesty italian salad dressing to cover the turkey and mix dressing  into the  meat to cover every piece.

Let sit in refrigerator for about 3 hours.

Turkey cutlets after  marinading for 3 hours

Turkey cutlets after 3 hours in marinade

heat 3 teaspoons butter in large skillet and roll cutlets in remaining ingredients of flour, salt and pepper mixture.

Fry cutlets over low heat until turkey is firm and is easily picked up with a fork. This may take more time for larger cutlets and short time for smaller ones.

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Turkey cutlets cooking

Turkey cutlets cooking

 Brown them slowly on both sides( low to low-med heat) adding butter as needed. I remove the first batch to a paper towel covered plate, putting them in a 200 deg oven to keep warm, as I fry the next batch of turkey. Two breasts easily feeds 4 to 5 adults and we have found that the kids love these home-made turkey tenders also.When serving the cutlets if they are not cooked to long, we omit any sauces. But, if you like to dip chicken/ turkey in a  sauce we used honey mustard, and it was very good.

The flavor of the turkey is mild, yet more buttery then domestic turkey,  cooked this way it has become a family favorite. As of this weekend, we have eaten every bite of the 4 turkey breasts the boys brought home this spring. My family will have to wait until next year to have this dinner again, and that is a long time coming. Now I may just have to get my gun out and get my own next year.

Happy hunting and cooking, hope to have another Wild Turkey recipe posted soon.Wild Turkey Pot Pie… this one is our own family creation. I just have to redo the spices and type up some thing our family already loves.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, country cooking, Hunting, organic foods, West Virginia, wild food, Wild turkey, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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