Sunday, April 25, 2010

'Shrooms now and later

One of my favorite foods is mushrooms...I'm not sure I've tried a mushroom I have not liked. Since I was a small child I recall going on annual mushroom hunts with parents and relatives. The past few years, I've either not had as much time to go looking, or the neighbors have already cleaned out the woods of the coveted morels. So, after doing some research, I decided to try growing mushrooms from some of the logs I had recently cut in our woods.

The basic idea is to use 4-8 inch diameter hardwood limbs that were felled in late winter or early spring. The procedure involves drilling 1 inch holes in a diamond pattern across the entire surface of the log, and then pushing mushroom spawn growing in sawdust into the holes. It's best to brush some melted wax over the inoculated sawdust sites to prevent them from drying out. Then, over the course of 6-12 months you manage the moisture level of the logs by keeping them shaded...and mushrooms will begin to appear. I am trying out shitake and oyster shell mushrooms on basswood and elm logs. Our youngest daughter Rhianna even helped inoculate one of the logs.

The fun really began when I was outside working with the logs and sawdust, when I heard our neighbor, Tyler, start exclaiming he was finding mushrooms with outbursts like "Holy Mother bleep" and "Oh My God". This was just below our house in our woods. Wes and I ran down the hill and joined him. Huge yellow sponge morels were everywhere. The three of us must have picked 10 pounds in less than 10 minutes. The timing was interesting, and gave me hope of not only having mushrooms now, but also later in the year. Then the rainstorm that was threatening all day finally let loose.

Last evening we dined on a dish of pasta with morels and asparagus sauteed in butter and garlic, with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, with Rhubarb crisp for desert. My parents are coming over today for a mess of traditional fried morels. Yum!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beth Battles Rhubarb...

....and wins!

Rhubarb. It's never something I have enjoyed. I vaguely remember the old people of my youth eating a bit of it in the Spring when I was little. I really don't know what they did with it. I wasn't interested.

When it started coming home in our harvest basket a couple of summers ago it was time to revisit this "old fashioned" plant. I think we might have put it in a pie or crisp but admittedly I was glad when it came no more. (Ironically what do you see if you follow my link to the Cooley Family farm, but some nicely arranged rhubarb on the picture on their home page. See what I mean; it's everywhere.)

This year we are trying to grow more food ourselves and haven't purchased a harvest basket subscription. We will buy what we want at the Farmer's Market to supplement what we can grow or glean ourselves. With Spring upon us we begin the odyssey of eating seasonally in a more enthusiastic way. Enthusiastic that is, until *rhubarb* finds us once again!

This time it falls into the gleaning category; while stopping by my in-laws' they asked, "Want some rhubarb?" Seasonal eating here we come. We couldn't say no.

What to do with this stuff? Looks like celery. Kind of stinks when you cut it up. Appetizing....

But after consulting my favorite "what to do with this weird -uh seasonal- vegetable" cookbook, I decided to try "Rhubarb Almond Flake." The almond part of the title was promising, and it looked like it had enough good stuff in it that maybe even rhubarb would turn out OK.

So I mixed up a pastry of flour, shortening, baking powder, eggs and milk. I covered it with 1/2 of a sugary mixture, the rhubarb, and the other half of the pastry topping.

THEN I remembered that I hadn't sprinkled on the other rather substantial half of the sugar mixture. Really. When dealing with anything as sour as rhubarb, forgetting half the sugar could be catastrophic. With Wes' help, it took 4 hands to uncover the bottom pastry and throw in the sugar; crisis averted!

Then I mixed up the almonds (a very good thing) with melted butter, sugar and vanilla

which gave me hope that this whole concoction could end up brilliant in SPITE of rhubarb.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

100 things we've done

The other day Beth and I decided to just list off the top of our heads things we've done that are homestead related...and we ended up with 100...I think there are more...but just for fun:

Things we’ve done ourselves (together or separately):

Gave birth to 3 children at home
Raised our own pigs
Butchered a pig
Butchered chickens
Raised egg laying chickens
Built a coop
Built a screen room
Made bread from scratch
Preserved all kinds of foods including pickles, dilly beans, apples tomatoes and jams
Grow gardens
Knitted socks, sweaters and more
Restored a prairie
Installed flooring
Installed a home theater
Installed slate flooring
Painted our own house
Installed a wood burning furnace
Felled and split firewood
Killed rabid raccoons and an interloping rat
Remodeled a basement
Built fences
Change our own oil
Repaired radiator hoses
Replaced alternators and spark plugs
Fixed flat tires
Removed stitches
Made herbal medicines
Dyed with Henna
Made a self-watering container
Made a raised bed
Herded pigs
Loaded pigs
Made apple cider
Do our own taxes
Did my own divorce
Started my own business
Fixed our own computers
Did electrical wiring
Made pottery
Recorded our own cd
Made an instructional video
Repaired brake and light hookups for trailer while on the road
Repaired weight distribution bracket for camper while in Missouri
Wrote poetry
Delivered babies
Made doughnuts from scratch
Created websites
Taught guitar classes
Taught outdoor skills classes
Taught childbirth classes
Spun yarn
Fixed bicycles
Got out of debt
Fixed lawnmowers (too many times)
Patched the driveway
Sprouted vegetables and herbs to plant in garden
Made dandelion wine
Planned conferences
Cooked a lot of meals from scratch
Recycle most of our waste
Built a composting toilet
Repaired toilets
Repaired drywall
Navigated with real maps not GPS
Installed egress window in basement
Installed programmable thermostat
Transported & raised bees
Extracted and bottled honey
Made bath salts
Foraged for wild foods
Built a trail through the woods
Hunted for mushrooms
Rescued an unhatched chick
Nursed injured animals to health
Groomed our dog
Biked to work
Trimmed hair
Disinfected our well
Tested well water
Watered animals from creek
Mastered pie crust
Created a recipe
Remineralized a tooth
Constructed a masonry floor with antique bricks
Cleaned our chimney
Repaired shower tile
Installed ceiling fans
Installed larger oven and resized wall opening
Put in whole house water filter
Installed & configured computer & phone network
Reclaimed outdoor furniture
Made yogurt
Sprouted seeds to eat
Did newborn exams and screening
Did community presentations on healthy homes and water quality
Coached softball
Built a birthing replica for demonstration
Did our own business accounting
Canoed the Wabash & Blue River and Big Pine Creek
Made homemade ice cream