Friday, April 19th, 2013 at
In Langdon Cook’s instructions, you boil the nettles briefly to remove the stingers. Photo by Gregg Davis.
It’s markdown season at the grocery store, now that the tourists are in absentia for a while, joined by the locals who migrate to parts warmer during mud season too. So it’s time for the good deals—such as the $1 bag of slightly soft “Red Skin Yellow Flesh Colorado Sunrise” potatoes that Gregg and I argued over in the grocery store last week.
“They’ll go bad,” he said.
“I’ll use them all once,” I countered, throwing them into the cart.
Everything gnocchi without moderation
A few days later, as the universe would have it, I came into a wealth of dried nettles and porcini. I won’t say how I came by them, but you can probably guess. So it was logical that I should decide to make nettle gnocchi. Read the rest of this entry
Monday, April 1st, 2013 at
Dried hawks wings (Sarcodon sp.) slices for the crumbling & reconstitution.
Don’t be deceived. I did not make this soup with tiny mushrooms. Rather, I made but a tiny amount of soup.
“Tiny Mushroom Soup” is my new strategy for making something worthwhile with what remains of my dried wild mushroom bounty from the last two summers. That way, if the soup comes out awful, I haven’t wasted a gallon of mushrooms in the process.
Truth be told, I don’t know much about mushroom cookery. It has taken some serious experimentation to get where I am now, which isn’t very far, and more often than not I find myself completely baffled by icky, gooey mushroom sauces and omelets that are so mushroomy weird that Gregg has to eat them because I’ll hurl if I attempt another bite.
Still, it appears luck was on my side tonight, because this soup came together naturally and turned out to be a hit in our house, the cause of repeated, emphatic utterances of “Mmm!” by the one-day hubbie. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday, March 7th, 2013 at
Wild chicken stew with slippery jack powder.
Lately I’ve been powdering my dried wild mushrooms, batch after batch and species after species, then attempting to use the powders in various kitchen concoctions.
First were the porcini (Boletus edulis), from which I made a divine sauce, followed by not-so-bad hawks wings (Sarcodon imbricatus) venison marinade and cream sauce. Short-stemmed slippery jacks (Suillus brevipes) were a logical choice after that—in part because I have so many, and in part because I refuse to believe them inferior despite their reputation.
I went through a phase obsessing about Suillus brevipes this fall.
Said me on the Facebook: “Not to harp on the (short-stemmed) slippery jacks or anything, but I’m growing very fond of these guys. I’m tempted to say they rival Boletus edulis, but I think Butter at Hunger and Thirst might have my head for it.” (This because Butter is such a porcini fanatic as to pass up the short, slippery dudes.) Read the rest of this entry
Thursday, February 14th, 2013 at
A fall mushroom hunt yielded, clockwise from top left: hawk’s wings (S. imbricatus), porcini (Boletus edulis), Albatrellus confluens, and various puffballs. The sauce in this post is made with hawks wings.
This next mushroom sauce is the stuff of deep, dark forests and shady places, featuring flavors so strong and wild as to cause disquiet to a delicate palate while satiating those of us who desire to delve so deep.
For the second in my mushroom sauce series, then, I present venison soaked in a marinade of hawk’s wings (Sarcodon sp.) and wild red wine vinegar, topped with a Sarcodon cream sauce.
The hawk’s wings came from a two-year-old jar labeled “mature fruiting bodies” that I collected in my early mushroom hunting days. Back then I was more nervous about Vera Stucky Evenson’s advice in Mushrooms of Colorado and the Southern Rocky Mountains (1997): “Only mild, young fruiting bodies should be eaten, as this fungus makes some people slightly ill.”
That year, like I did with many mushrooms, I collected the healthy hawk’s wings specimens I found—including mature fruiting bodies—but then sliced, dried, jarred and labeled them for later use. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday, February 10th, 2013 at
A two-bedroom apartment doesn’t leave a lot of room for a wild pantry, but there’s enough in these jars to keep me entertained.
Hello, jars of dried leaves. Hello, pickled stonecrop. Hello there, you acorns and hickory nuts that mom mailed from the east coast, you vodka concoctions flavored with every which wild thing. Hello, jars of sliced, dried mushrooms.
It’s been a long time—eight months exactly—since I paused in the pantry long enough to consider the wild and wonderful bounty therein. Instead, I’ve been off in the real world, making a go at a professional writing career.
But two mornings ago, on the first day of my newfound liberation (read: I quit), I found my way there and stood and stared awhile before sojourning to the computer to see what’s been going on over on the other side of the internet where my dear friend Butterpoweredbike maintains her foraging weblog, Hunger & Thirst for Life, and reading her own account of pantry pondering. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 at
A small porcini bounty, found mid-August around 11,500 feet in the Colorado Rockies.
Since late July, my dear friend Butterpoweredbike has been emailing me about finding pounds upon pounds of porcini.
Meanwhile, in the last month and a half, I moved to a new home and a new job while trying to finish up my old jobs, working 100 hours per week or more, ad infinitum. What a change from the fancy-free wild food forager I formerly was!
So I lived vicarously through her finds, and this year, Butter did it right—she figured out the favorite forest conditions of the Rockies’ prize fungus, then consulted her maps and with a little help descended upon prime locations that rendered unto her a porcini windfall of staggering proportions. (This is in great contrast to the awkward fumbling we both did last year in the early days of our mushroom hunting obsessions, which were, coincidentally, the early days of our friendship.)
Still, despite being embroiled in a staggering amount of work at my new job, I made a point to search my spots when time permitted, generally one morning per week—but came up empty handed each time.
That was until two weeks ago, when Gregg and I found seven or eight young kings at our favorite porcini place.
Interestingly, the timing coincided with Butter’s pronouncement that porcini season was over. Read the rest of this entry
Saturday, April 7th, 2012 at
Don’t eat the grass; eat the musk mustard.
Try as I might to remember, I almost always forget my shopping bags when I go to the grocery store. I rarely forget them, however, when I go into the wild.
It’s a good thing too, because Friday’s foray among the wild former farmlands of Denver’s outskirts was a shopping trip to remember; I found so many awesome “deals” [read: free green food] under the capable guidance of my dear friend, metro-area forager, Butterpoweredbike.
The Mile High City was bursting with plant life, the ground dappled with sunlight streaming through new foliage and flowers on the trees. “Stop. Listen. Do you hear that?” Butter asked. “It’s the sound of the wind through leaves. It wasn’t like that a couple days ago,” she mused happily as we skipped back with our afternoon forage of nettles (Urtica spp.) and musk mustard (Chorispora tenella).
I had managed to sting my injured knee through the hole in my pants while collecting the nettles, but Butter gave me a handful of mallow (and grass) to chew up and spit onto it. After weeding the grass from the handful, I did as instructed, and it seemed to do the trick. Afterwards we were nibbling musk mustard on the side of the trail when two gents walked by and said, “Don’t eat the grass, girls! That’s for the dogs.” Tee hee. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at
As of September 2011, the South Park Ranger District does not require a mushroom permit. Fungi foraging in the neighboring White River National Forest, however, requires a free permit for personal use.
Note: I wrote this article at the behest of a Forest Service representative; it is re-posted here, plus subtitles, with permission of the Summit Daily News, which ran it on October 1.
Just as collecting firewood from the national forest for home use requires a permit, so too does foraging for fungus in the White River National Forest in and around Summit County, Colorado, including areas that were once part of the Arapahoe National Forest.
Fungi Foraging Permit Free but Required
“Mushroom gathering requires a personal use permit that we have been issuing for free at the Dillon Ranger District Office,” said Cary Green, timber management assistant for the East Zone White River National Forest. The limit is five gallons of mushrooms/day — the equivalent of one 5-gallon bucket or two grocery sacks — with a total season limit of 67 lbs. Other popular Forest Service permits include those for Christmas trees, boughs and transplants. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday, September 8th, 2011 at
Gem studded puffballs from the backyard.
Looking back to the puffball entry I wrote on August 13 last year, I can’t believe how long it’s taken for my backyard colony of gem-studded puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum) to emerge this season. Emerge they have, however (in early September, finally!), and with them a host of other puffballs as well.
First there were the big puffballs I found on September 3 amidst the sagebrush in an open field on a hilltop in a dry aspen forest in Fairplay, Colorado. This after Gregg’s parents took me on a crazy off-roading adventure (which they didn’t think was all that crazy) consisting of a mile-long drive up a hilly mining road strewn alternately with rough talus and nasty ditches from the spring runoff to get to the trailhead. It’s true that I’m a wee bit squeamish about off-roading, but Gregg’s usually cautious parents seem to have a penchant for it ever since they emerged triumphant from an ill-advised tour in their Jeep Grand Cherokee over Mosquito Pass from Leadville to Fairplay a few years ago. Read the rest of this entry
Friday, September 2nd, 2011 at
Newly picked Lactarius deliciosus aka delicious milk caps. Note gills are light orange, not white.
It rained quite a bit a few days ago and now the mushrooms are up again, though we’ve found only one bolete in recent days—a magnificent one, but past its prime so we left it. I wonder if the season for boletes is past?
No biggie. Boletes are good but so are Lactarius deliciosus, a mushroom I had not intended to try because it has gills, but when my friend Butter announced that she was looking for it, I starting looking too—and then found them in abundance.
Delicious Milky Caps
Lactarius deliciosus is just as it sounds: milky and delicious. It’s creamy light orange, both on the cap and gills (which should not be white). Deliciosus is what happens when you sauté it in oil for a while—though just how delicious it is seems subject to debate, with Vera Stucky Evenson (1997) saying, “Although a popular edible in other countries, Colorado’s variety of this species are not always delicious.” Read the rest of this entry