Tag Archives: morel

Foraging

Due to the bizarro weather we’ve had around here lately, Mother Nature is all out of whack. Estimates on crop losses from the orchards around here are around 90%. Other edibles that aren’t as sensitive to frosts are ahead of schedule. Take morels for example.

My usual “window” for foraging morels runs somewhere from the 21st of April to Memorial Day. This year, hubby and I started finding those elusive fungi the last week in March. These photos are actually from the first three weeks of April. We did pretty well for a while, and I did dry some to use throughout the winter, but the season that started three weeks early seems to have dried up three weeks early as well. When I went searching on Mother’s Day 2012, I found only one, and that was an accident. It had been kicked over by someone or something and dried out long before I stumbled upon it.

Despite the fact that I didn’t find any morels on this year’s hike, I didn’t come home empty-handed. Dylan and I ran into my friend Stephanie and her kids. They were looking for ramps, so we joined them. Dylan and I came home with a mesh produce bag filled with ramps (or wild leeks). I’ve used some of them in cooking since then, but my real goal was to can them. More precisely, to pickle them.

If you can find them, pickled ramps can be quite pricey. I’ve made them before and everyone that’s ever tried them loves them. However, I’ve become quite a hoarder. I dole them out sparingly to friends and family members that will appreciate them as much as I do. When we open a jar, it is hard not to eat the entire thing. Once all the delicious ramps have been devoured from the pickling brine, I add it to BBQ sauces, marinades and dressings; the flavor is exquisite.

From the bag Dylan and I brought home, I managed to can five half-pint jars. This isn’t enough for me to check #58 off of my 101 in 1001, but it is a good start. It also gets me 1.25 quarts closer to my pickle goal for #53!

For the recipe, check out my Jerked Onion recipe from the Can Jam and substitute whole ramps for the cut onions, or click here for a printable version: Jerk Pickled Ramps Printable Recipe

 

 

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#94 Have a Date Night With my Hubby Every Month

Mr. Hippie doesn’t like to run. Or hike. Or read. Or, do a lot of the things that I enjoy. He doesn’t hang out with me at derby. Mr. Hippie does like to watch TV. And play video games. And play solitaire on the computer. He likes to watch sports and drink beer and be a regular guy.

When I added this goal to my 101, I anticipated that Mr. Hippie and I would be having a “formal” date night every month. I tried at first to make that happen. We went to the Winter Microbrew and Music Festival. We saw Lewis Black at the City Opera House (on the same stage we got married on in 1998.) We went bowling and even went out to dinner a couple of times but what I realized, is that despite our different interests, we do a lot together.

We have a fairly regular shopping “date”. We get groceries, chicken food, run errands, whatever. We talk. We hold hands. We enjoy each other’s company.  A couple weeks ago we ran out to the feed store to order two new chickens. On the way home we stopped at Traverse City’s newest brew pub, The Filling Station and had a beer together.

Most Friday nights we make pizza. He rolls the dough, I make the sauce. He cuts up ingredients, I dress pizzas. Sometimes while we eat pizza we watch a movie. Other nights, we play Scrabble.

Although hubby doesn’t like to hike for the sake of hiking, he likes to hunt morels. In the spring we go out two or three times a week in search of the elusive fungi.

Recently Mr. Hippie has taken up frisbee golfing. I’m not good at it, but sometimes we do that. I’m more in it for the hike and the alone time with Mr. Hippie, but throwing the frisbee is fun too.

Last week was spring break. Our Traverse City State Theatre shows FREE movies all week. The kids and I went to several matinees, but Mr. Hippie and I saw three movies last week on the big screen. We ate popcorn, drank soda and enjoyed our dates.

My point is, I’m crossing this goal off the list. It might be different if my kids were younger and we had to arrange childcare in order to leave the house alone, but after seventeen years, we are still best friends. Sure, we irritate each other sometimes, but mostly, it’s all good. We have a date night almost every week, and we don’t have to work at it; it’s natural.

 

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January Spice Rack Challenge: Rosemary 3 Ways

I found several different recipes that I wanted to try for this month’s Spice Rack Challenge but in addition to the Spice Rack Challenge, I still have my 101 in 1001 to think about.  So, I opted for recipes that would allow me to do double duty.  Cheating?  Maybe.  Efficient?  Definitely.   Besides, is it cheating if I do three posts with three different rosemary recipes?

Buffalo Stroganoff with Rosemary and Morels over Homemade Pasta

 

All three recipes turned out great.  First I made homemade pasta with rosemary, garlic and cracked pepper.  Several days later I used the pasta as a base for a Dark Days dinner of Buffalo Stroganoff with Rosemary and Morel Mushrooms.

Finished Rosemary-Lemon Marmalade

 I also made Rosemary/Meyer Lemon Marmalade.  I can honestly say it was the best marmalade I have ever made.  It was part of Tigress’ Can Jam round up last year and originally came from Prospect the Pantry.  I should share this marmalade, but I think I will end up hoarding it.

I also made Rosemary Lemon Muffins.  I intended to make Rosemary Lemon cupcakes, but I toyed with the recipe and ended up with more of a muffin.  I found three different recipes for lemon cupcakes and married them.  The result is a light but sweet rosemary/lemon corn muffin.  The flavor is excellent and I think I will make them again, but I will go back to the original recipes and tinker a little more first.

Rosemary/Lemon Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick real butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups corn flour (flour, not the grittier meal)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest from 2 lemons, divided
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 T. fresh minced rosemary, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream melted butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly after each.  In a separate bowl combine flours, salt and baking soda.  Alternately add 1/3 of dry ingredients and 1/3 milk to wet ingredients mixing after each addition.  Add lemon juice, half the minced rosemary and half the zest; mix for one minute more.

Ready for the oven

 

Combine remaining zest, rosemary and 1/3 cup sugar.  Reserve.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.  Fill each tin half full. Sprinkle Rosemary-Lemon Sugar onto each muffin.  Bake 17-20 minutes.

Rosemary Lemon Muffin

I used jumbo muffin tins so mine needed to cook 23 minutes.

Feeling inspired?  Have a good rosemary recipe?  There’s still time for you to join the Spice Rack Challenge.  Hop on over to Mother’s Kitchen to sign up and post your recipe before Friday January 21st.

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Mother’s Day Hike

Have you ever been in the Right Place at the Wrong Time?  I spent a lot of time there Mother’s Day afternoon.

 I managed to find the places where all the morels were but I was too late.

  How about the Wrong Place at the Right Time?  I was there too.  One hill I search on usually has two or three of these:

False Morel

Tryin' to fake me out.

False morels usually have longer stems than true morels and the false morels are two separate pieces.  True morels are all one piece. 

False morel: cap separated from stem

False morel in two pieces

Finally after a couple of hours searching I ended up finding these:
My Mother's Day surprise

Small but rewarding harvest.

After awhile I gave up on morels and just wandered around the woods enjoying the loveliness of it.   

Trillium

Flowers for Mother's Day

I looked at the Trillium and the other wildflowers and then started digging ramps.  I filled this produce bag until it burst and decided I should stop. 

Wild Leeks

Bursting at the seams!

 I’m going to pickle them Jerk-Style like I did onions for the Can Jam.   As I headed toward home I found this:

In a new spot!

Lucky me!

Mother’s Day Bonus!

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Morel Season in Full Swing

So hubby beat me to the punch on the first morels this year, but we went out again this morning.  At last!  My first morels of the season.

Can you see them?

Hard to find.

Look closely; they're elusive.

How about now?

Hidden in the leaves and grass.

Even close up they hide well.

It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the ground cover, but it’s worth the time spent.  Here are the same mushrooms in my hand for size comparison.

Mushrooms often grow in pairs or clumps.

Number four and five.

We spent about three hours hunting and ended up with this:

Pile of morels

Nice variety of mushrooms from the same general area.

The big whites are just starting to appear.  Hopefully I can get out again soon.

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The Morels Are Here!

During the Dark Days dinner challenge, I wrote a post called Morel Madness.   It included some of last year’s mushroom harvest.  If you’re not familiar with them, morels are highly prized mushrooms.    Although I recently saw a half pint of fresh morels at the grocery store for $15, dried morels online range from $10-$20 an ounce.  Around here, morels are a pretty big deal.  Traverse City might be the Cherry Capital, but Mesick is the Mushroom Capital

We usually start looking for the elusive fungi around Mr. Hippie’s birthday, April 21st.  The weather has been strange so I checked a few spots early but didn’t have any luck.  I came home from work this afternoon to find these:  

soaking in salt water

First 'shrooms of the season.

Mr. Hippie beat me to the punch!  I’m not complaining; where there’s one, there are more.  Plus, I get to help eat them. :) 

Some people will tell you not to soak your mushrooms, but take my advice: soak your mushrooms.  Last year I didn’t soak some of my mushrooms right away and the bugs that were in them consumed a good portion of the mushrooms.  I didn’t spend all that time finding them so that the bugs could eat them.  

I put the mushrooms in a bowl, salt them liberally and fill the bowl with water.  It chases the bugs out.  Let them soak an hour or so, drain them and cook them or dry them to use in the future.

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