Foraging in My Mind

wild persimmons

Wild persimmons

Today it has rained all day, and it’s predicted to rain all night.  So it’s been a grey, cold day, and the yard is getting mushy.  I’m not complaining, though.  Hopefully this will go a long way toward breaking our persistent drought.

There seems to be some interest in one of the forums I post on in wild edibles.  So I was going through my files tonight to find pictures to share with them.  It was fun remembering the days I found the different plants, how much I enjoyed discovering them, and remembering how alive and happy I felt.

Black cherries

Black cherries

Since I have no camping or Casita news to share with you, I’ll let you go along with me as I recall happy foraging days in the past.

If there is interest, I’ll keep going through my files and posting more of these photos.  If not, then this is a one-day trip!  🙂

Wild strawberries.  My favorite!

Wild strawberries. My favorite!

Baby oyster mushrooms

Baby oyster mushrooms

Wild violet leaves

Wild violet leaves

Wild violet flowers

Wild violet flowers

Poke salad shoot (poke salat up north)  :)

Poke salad shoot (poke salat up north) 🙂

Bracken fiddleheads

Bracken fiddleheads

Bull thistle flower stalk. Cut the stalk and hold it in a gloved hand. I use Leatherman pliers to peel the bristly skin off the stalk. What is left tastes like celery and can be eaten raw or cooked. The stalk becomes woody and inedible once the flower starts blooming.

Indian putty root.  This plant is too rare to use for food.  I did once, just to see what it was like.  The raw bulbs taste like a starchy, crunchy water chestnut.  Cooked, it will stick your teeth together, and is best used as a glue.

Indian putty root. This plant is too rare to use for food. I did once, just to see what it was like. The raw bulbs taste like a starchy, crunchy water chestnut. Cooked, it will stick your teeth together, and is best used as a glue, which is what the Indians did.

Daylily corms

Daylily corms

Mild, oniony-tasting daylily shoots

Mild, oniony-tasting daylily shoots

Pipsissewa.  This is a medicinal plant, not an edible.  But I just loved this picture, so am posting it, too.  The Native Americans used to make a lung tonic tea with it.

Pipsissewa. This is a medicinal plant, not an edible. But I just loved this picture, so am posting it, too. The Native Americans used to make a lung tonic tea with it.

Hen of the Woods (Maitake) “Bacon”

Hen of the woods mushroom "bacon"

Hen of the Woods "bacon"

I’ve been working dried maitake mushrooms into our menu lately for their awesome medicinal properties.

I reconstitute them for 20 minutes in warm water, then use the tough stalks to make broth, and the more tender tips in other recipes.

The broth is great for cooking brown rice in and for making gravy.  The mushroom itself can be a little chewy, so I cut it in thin strips before cooking.

hen of the woods mushroom broth

Maitake mushroom broth

The other day I wanted something different, so I cut the caps into small strips, then fried them until crisp, sprinkled them with salt, and drained them well on paper towels.  They were very savory — intensely flavored — and would work wherever you would normally use bacon crumbles — over scrambled eggs, in salads, and my favorite–sprinkled over mashed potatoes and maitake gravy!  They are superb, and addictive!

I did one batch in virgin olive oil with a little butter, and other batch in peanut oil with a little butter.  The peanut oil batch was definitely the best!

bolete

Here's the bolete in my earlier post in its mature stage. Inset is when it was younger.

Here’s an update on the bolete I wrote about in my last post.  I found a fully mature version near where the others grew.  The cap has changed to brown.  The only way you can tell it is the same mushroom is by the stalk and the yellow pores.

The interior of the mature mushroom — stalks and cap — were riddled with bugs, though.  I will spare you a photo of the gory details.

I normally stick to chanterelles and boletes, and avoid gilled mushrooms except for a handful of distinctive ones that I know are safe.  There are so many dangerous ones that it’s not worth taking the chance on misidentifying one.  But I thought I really ought to branch out and start trying to learn more about them.

So I photographed these mushrooms in several stages of growth.  They had white spore prints.  I believe they are in the Amanita family — a family that has many fatally poisonous members.

amanitas

Amanita family mushrooms

Our weather is predicted to be in the 90’s for the next two weeks, at least.  So I won’t be out doing  much mushroom hunting until it cools down a little.

P.S. David Fischer has identified these mushrooms for me as Amanita “close to A. rubescens,” as far as he could determine from my small photos.

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