Sunday, July 26, 2015

Goateats revised

   Goat-eats revisited (packing)

At the risk of embarrassing my current self by exposing the remnants of a somewhat shoddy blog of my past I am re-energizing my blogging life.  Welcome.  After all, as painful as the past can be to look back at, it is and will always be a part of time and space.  I can't change it (yet) so I'll take it and run. 

I am going to Alaska for a while.  I'm going to ride my bike and sit alongside a river and do some other things.  I'm not sure what happens after that.  But I am going to find out.
Walking out of my yoga studio today for possibly the last time and certainly the last time in a while left me feeling sort of the way you feel when someone amazing dies. Like -you miss them like nothing else and your heart feels compressed in your chest but the beauty of your time with them has been so great that there is a surpassing joy even in their passing.  A loss which, in the light of the impact, makes you cry with gratitude and feel that you are the most blessed person on the earth.  A strange grief.  Walking out of the studio where I've shed veritable rivers of sweat and tears. Where much transformation of my physiology, mind and spiritual self has occurred. Amazing people taught me many of the greatest lessons of my life behind the door through which I have just exited. Struggle, struggle, frustration and bliss. Openness. A clear voice. And lots of true friends who will be missed!  

 The only other photos I have today are of the food I am dehydrating in preparation for my time on the road.  I'm going crazy and will probably be dehydrating shit for the next week straight.   It will be well worth it when I am in Canada, days away from a grocery store and hungry from biking all day.  

Kind of weird, right?   A large bell jar of homemade sauerkraut, dehydrated - I would guess down to about 3oz.  It's awesome.  Inspired by my friend, 'Dada-G', who makes the most incredible pickled, dried and oil preserved zucchini. Dried pickles. Who knew!  It's genius. (Dada-G is also a master at sourdough bread and I am almost certain that he speaks the language of microbes). 

Black quinoa cooked in vegetable broth. I am going to seriously love myself for this when I am in the Yukon. 

And this concludes my rather disjointed post.  I am still learning to format this from an I-phone app.  It's not ideal. I'm sure things will get more interesting soon.  I fly out in 8 days.  

�� Sharah

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter is setting in here in cold upstate NY.  I now live in the City of One Hundred Thousand Crows and I am far away from my favorite running trails and mushroom hunting grounds.   I am, however, quite a bit closer to the Adirondack foothills where I grew up which is a good change.  A short drive and I can walk all day seeing no one and finding all kinds of interesting things including hillsides carpeted with Savoyane and huge patches of Wintergreen, Duck Potatoes, Trout, Princess Pine and Sugar Maples all in abundance where they are scarce elsewhere.   And I still know where to find the best Sassafras patches around.

Here are some photos from earlier in the year that I have not gotten around to blogging about until now:

"Old Man of the Woods"   
This mushroom is edible, safe and easily recognized.   Most people who eat it, however, relate that it has a terrible taste.  Who would want to eat a mushroom called "Old Man of the Woods" anyway?   No, thanks.

Painted Boletes are also marginally known as edible mushrooms although not choice edibles

These Giant Puffballs would have been choice eating if I had found them a week earlier - as it was they were beginning to turn yellow inside which is best to avoid.  The Cinnabar Chants and Chanterelles in the foreground were delicious.

Edible Lobster Mushrooms are actually species of Lactarious mushrooms which have been infested with a mold which turns them from edible but unpalatable into choice mushrooms.   The same mold can attack other fungi as well so identification verification is important before consuming.  The ones I found were past their prime but smelled distinctly of seafood.   Very cool...  and only slightly nauseating.  Supposedly they are delicious.

This Gem Studded Puffball is also edible, and the slug actually looked quite nice sitting on top of it.   A complete meal?  Nice textural interest anyway.

 Orange Peel Fungi are also on the margins of edible - not choice but not poisonous.  I would rather look at them myself. 

I don't know what this guy is - possibly a Aminita Caesarea but I wouldn't bet my life on it

 Yellow Tube Fungus is yet another "edible" that I would rather look at.   Maybe someday when I have eaten every choice mushroom I can find I will test out some of these strange foods... maybe.

Besides being a good edible, this Bear's Head Toothed Mushroom (I am 95% sure this is it - I didn't eat it) is known to contain a Nerve Growth Factor, which potentially can combat Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders.  It is also thought to be beneficial in combating Cancer and Tumors.  

A few photos of mushrooms shedding their spores... I don't know what sort of mushrooms these are but they are still nice to look at and the spore prints are very cool.

 Grasshopper - a good source of calories and good for a picture.  I think I will start eating these guys about when I get around to eating Orange Jelly Slime Fungus.   Yuck.  

This very cool Yellow Garden Spider has built a "Stabilimentum" into her web.   No one really knows why some spiders put these designs in their webs.  This one is a linear decoration and for whatever purpose, whether camouflage, to attract insects or simply as a form of spider art, it is very beautiful and interesting.    

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Loosestrife, New Jersey Tea and Pipsissewa

Not akin to the invasive purple loose strife which is threatening our native cattail (and other wetland plant) population, this Whorled Loose Strife is quite a pretty native wild flower.

Whorled LooseStrife has tranquilizing properties as well as being an emetic (can induce vomiting)

New Jersey Tea
Both Whorled Loosestrife and New Jersey Tea provide an alternative to Chinese Tea leaves if you are looking for a delicious and N.A. native brew.  I have not tried loosestrife, but I will tell you that New Jersey Tea is delicious and hits the pallet somewhere between green and black tea.  It has a fantastic bitter quality which you find in actual Tea and which is quite impressive.  

New Jersey Tea brewing

Shin leaf is a relative of the wintergreen family. As are most wintergreen varieties it is traditionally used for indigestion and as a poultice.  It is may also be used for "sore eyes"  

Not to mention that it is a really beautiful plant.  But then, I tend to nerd out on plants so I suppose it's beauty is relative.  

Turkey Tail Fungus

Turkey Tails come in several colors and are quite aesthetic (camera strap = sorry)

Dried and made into tea, turkey tail fungus are touted as and effective anti-cancer medicine    

I wish I knew what sort of caterpillar this was... anyway it is quite exquisite 

Pipsissewa is a type of wintergreen which is beautiful and somewhat hard to find.  Once you learn what the leaves look like and where they are located (I tend to find them in red pine/white pine mixed with oak forests)  you can find the flowers in late June.  

Pipsissewa is, from my understanding, an Abenaki name.    

It is clearly used as an antiseptic and rubefacient (irritates the skin causing a dilation in capillaries and increased blood flow) and given these properties is used as a poultice.  

Pipsissewa has commonly been used for dropsy and rheumatism. Pipsissewa is also commonly cited for it's use in treating ulcers and 'cancer of the stomach'.

Abenaki uses include pain relief, chest colds and a sweat inducer.  The Leni Lenape used it for fever reduction. 

This little mushroom seemed to be gilded and studded with diamonds

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feasting on Fungus

"There are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters"  
This is the well known mantra of many wild mushroom eaters, and as cheesy as it may sound it is a good thing to keep in mind if ever you are considering eating a mushroom you have found anywhere but the grocery store.  

With this understanding I have ventured this fall into the world of delicious and intriguing edible mushrooms.   The following is a synopsis of the mushrooms which I have picked and eaten in the last month or so.   There are not many but they have been delicious and I have learned a lot about mushrooms which has been extremely satisfying.  

These are Common Oyster Mushrooms.  Notice that the Gills (the deep furrows which hold the spores) extend down the stem of the mushroom.   Also, the stems are slightly off-center which is very typical of Oysters.  The mushroom it's self is delicate and smells appealing.   This specimen was growing on a standing hardwood tree - although I found several other nice Oysters nearby which were growing on a dead and horizontal hardwood.   These particular mushrooms had little black beetles infesting some of them which was actually a welcome thing as they are another identifying factor.   There are many species of Oyster mushrooms and none are poisonous, though some are less palatable.  There are no poisonous lookalikes therefore this is a fairly safe mushroom to eat without concern.

Following a recipe that I found I battered them and breaded them with cracker crumbs and then fried them in butter.   I only ate two - it is always good to start with a small portion as some people have allergies, or may react negatively even to non-poisonous wild mushrooms.  The flavor was delicious although the texture was a bit slimy and not my favorite.   None the less, the experience was great and I will not hesitate to eat them again, perhaps trying another way of preparing them.  
It's a strange thing, I know, but I dreamed about these mushrooms the night before I happened upon them as I was running on a trail near my house.  I was actually not expecting to find these brilliantly orange Chanterelles, called Cinnabar Chanterelles.  You can be sure that I was extremely happy to find them and they were one of the reasons I became so fascinated with mushrooms this fall.  They are small but found in abundance.  In fact, I have found so many of them that I no longer always stop to pick them when I am out running (although I am always ridiculously delighted to see them)

Cinnabar Chanterelles have a fantastic flavor - this Quiche was one of the best I have ever made, deriving it's flavor from the sauteed Cinnabars.

A bit later in the season I started finding regular Chanterelles.   They are amazing.   Take a look at the "false gills" that these mushrooms have.  They are shallow ridges that extend a ways down the stem rather than the more severe and "sharp" gills of many mushrooms.   Chanterelles are brilliantly colored and these, unlike the Cinnabar variety, are not extremely delicate.  

Chanterelles have an flavor that you have to experience in order to understand.   They have a richness which is awesome and addicting.  I can see why people look forward to Chanterelle season all year long.   These "Chanterelle Puffs" were amazing!

Chanterelles, however, can be a bit trickier than Oysters to identify correctly.   These are some sort of "Gomphus" mushroom - they do not have true gills and could easily be mistaken for Chanterelles - however, the gills are deeper than Chanterelles' gills are and the velvety dark patch on the top of the mushroom cap is a give-away that they are not Chanterelles.   

These "Vase Chanterelles" also can be deceiving - but once you know what to look for they are easily avoided.   They are vase shaped - even holding water (sorry about the picture on the left, I took it with my phone on a day I realized that my sd card was at home).   They are quite impressive mushrooms.   Unlike the above mentioned Gomphus species, the "gills" on these Vases are very shallow and extend down the entire length of the mushroom.

Once you can identify a Chanterelle they are very hard to mistake - but don't think that anything resembling a "Chant" goes.

These Black Trumpets I did not cook, which I highly regret.  I hope that I find some more as these were my favorite find this year.   They smell absolutely amazing - like fresh fruit.  I had been searching for them without success when I stumbled upon them at the farm as I was out cutting some ash poles.   They have a very short season and turn into to a slimy mess quite quickly.   A week after I found these I came upon a huge patch of expired Black Trumpets which was a sad day for me.    But, there is still time this year and I hope to find some to eat.  If not, I will have a fun challenge for the next mushroom season.  

I have many more mushroom pictures and much more information to post - yet this concludes my feasting for this year.   Let me leave you with a few photos of  Destroying Angels, a beautiful pure white mushroom which is amazing to look at but will try to kill you if you venture a bite:

Here is a link to Cornell University's Mushroom Blog which outlines a fascinating story about mistaken mushroom identity and near death:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


American Mandrake, also known as Mayapples, Wild or Ground Lemon, Racoon Berry, Indian Apple, Wild Jalap, Maracocks, Citron and doubtlessly by many other names is deadly poisonous yet it also produces some of the most delicious wild fruits you will ever taste.  

These are Mayapples in early April.   Like many poisonous plants Mayapples are also extremely valuable medicinally.   The Phodophyllin which is lethal in too strong a dose, blocks cell division and has been used widely and successfully in treating cancer.  

(Mayapples in early May)
American Indians used (and I would imagine still use) Mayapples for a variety of purposes.   The roots are used as a potent Cathartic (purging drug/laxative).  It has also been used to treat ear infections, warts, skin eruptions, syphilis and worms.  

Mayapple plant in mid-late May

Mayapples were cultivated by the Algonquins and probably by other Native people as well.
A good patch is hard to miss as they are very distinct in shape and are really quite lovely.

Here in upstate New York Mayapples flower in late May or early June.  The flowers droop underneath the umbrella-like leaves. 

Mayapples are mentioned by both Samuel de Champlain in Canada and John Smith in Virginia in the early 17th century.   Many accounts of Mayapple refers to it's use as a suicide drug or as a poison.   If you accidentally eat a Mayapple root, or too much of the leaf or stalk, inducing vomiting can save you - but if you do not do so death can occur in a matter of hours. 

Mayapple fruits have an indescribable taste.   All I can say is that you should look for them in August and try them out.  You will understand why I wait expectantly all summer to harvest them.

I prefer to spit out the seeds, although I have never heard of them making someone sick.