Friday, October 30, 2015

Wild Mushroom Stroganoff with Moose Hamburger

      I went on a mushroom foray with my friend Ian a few days ago.  We drove up onto Tonga Ridge  where Linda and I had found the mother lode of Boletus Edulis a few weeks ago.  We walked a lot more and found a lot less mushrooms than I had before.  I suspect its late in the season for a place with that altitude. However, we did find three King Boletes, two of them very large prime specimens.  We also found a gallon or so of Woodland Blewits and Golden Chanterelles.  I sent Ian home with the Boletes while I kept the Chanterelles and Blewits. Chanterelles are relatively easy to identify.  Their gills are blunt edged rather than sharp edged like most gilled mushrooms. Also the gills run down onto the stem as evident in the specimens below.  I included the photo of the non-chanterelle as a warning.  This mushroom was growing among the Chanterelles, but is obviously not a Chanterelle. It is important to look at each and every mushroom and not just throw them in the bucket because they are all the same color.
Chanterelles. Note that the gills run down onto the stem

Not a Chanterelle. Note that the gills end at the stem

     I found a package of moose hamburger in the freezer last week. It was a gift from a friend that had gotten misplaced in the freezer.  I decided to use the hamburgers and my Chanterelles and Blewits to make a lovely Moose and Wild Mushroom Stroganoff. It turned out quite tasty.

Moose and Wild Mushroom Stroganoff
      The other excitement we had this week was Linda's broken foot.  As we were leaving Tuesday evening to attend grand daughter Abby's band concert, Linda slipped on the back steps. At first she thought she had just bruised her foot. By the time we got to Granite Falls High School her foot was hurting much worse.  We passed on the concert and went to the emergency room instead. As it turns out she had broken the outside metatarsal bone in her right foot.  Fortunately the bone was in the right place so it didn't require setting. They put a boot on it to protect it and gave her a pair of crutches.  Today we went into Everett and they put a pretty purple cast on her foot.  Its been an inconvenient week for all concerned.

The finishing touches on Linda's pretty purple cast

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Pleasant Weekend with Grand Children

    Linda and I have had a very nice weekend hanging out with the Veatch children.  Linda picked them up Friday evening so they could spend the night Friday night.   I got up early on Saturday to drive Madelynn to Granite Falls High School so she could catch the bus to her cross country meet.  After I got back home, I coached Natalie through making homemade biscuits.  She did a pretty good job and should soon reach biscuit self-sufficiency.
Natalie cutting out biscuits

Natalie rolling out the biscuits

     After breakfast, we went to Lakewood High School to watch part of the Hole in the Wall Cross Country Invitational.  We specifically wanted to just watch Madelynn's race, scheduled to start at 11:40 am.  We arrived ten minutes late, which was okay as Madelynn's race started 20 minutes late.  It turned out to be a much bigger event than we had expected, with about sixty schools participating . That is an estimated 750 runners divided into ten separate races.  This was the third year Madelynn has ran in this event. They have a shorter middle school race while the high school kids run 5,000 meters.  While she didn't come close to winning her race, she made substantial improvement on her time with a personal best of 25:05.  It rained cats and dogs throughout her race so she gets extra credit for grit. After the race, we took Madelynn back to her house while we took the  rest of the Veatchlings back home with us.
Madelynn crosses the finish line

    Linda has always had a strong liking for all baked goods made with pumpkin. That includes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin roll, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, and pumpkin waffles.  I saw an interesting recipe on the Yummly website a few days ago that I thought she just might like. Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. Combining one of Linda's favorite cookies with pumpkin seemed like a surefire winner.  This particular recipe came to Yummly from the Iheartnaptime blog.  The blogger adapted it from a Martha Stewart snicker doodle recipe.  She had simply added cooked pumpkin and traditional pumpkin pie spices to Martha's recipe. This seemed like a worthy use of the leftover baked Potimarron squash I had in the fridge so I mixed up a batch of the cookies in my tangerine colored kitchen aid mixer. The cookies turned out very well. They even met with Linda's approval and she maintains pretty high standards when it comes to cookies.  The only unfortunate thing was that I had made three dozen wonderfully tasty cookies just before Fast Sunday. However, the cookies will still be there to enjoy on Sunday evening.
Unbaked pumpkin snickerdoodles

The finished product

    Linda was a bit tired after watching Madelynn run three miles in the rain.  While Linda took a nap to recuperate, I took the rest of the Veatchlings to see the new Peter Pan movie.  The outing turned out well although Conner was pretty squirmy during the action parts.   We returned home to one of the Veatchlings' favorite dinners, orange chicken.

    A little follow-up to my previous post about the King Bolete Mushrooms we gathered last Monday. I sautéed some in butter which Linda had then used to make a very yummy beef stroganoff. I dried most of them in our little dehydrator which reduced them substantially in volume.  Last night I ran the dried mushrooms through the blender which reduced four gallons of fresh mushrooms into four half pint jars.  That wonderfully tasty powdered mushroom can be added to soups and sauces.  The best pasta dish I have ever eaten was a fetuccini which had the powdered mushroom added to the pasta itself. It was absolutely heavenly.

Dried King Bolete mushrooms from the dehydrator

Into the blender 

The very compact finished product


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Glorious Day in the Mountains

    I took advantage of my day off on Monday to drive up into the mountains to find a nice place to sight in my rifle before deer season. I invited Linda to come along and we had a very nice day together.  First of all the weather was beautiful, the leaves of the Big Leaf Maples in the mountains are turning yellow, and the temperature was comfortably balmy.  The drive up to Tonga ridge was absolutely beautiful.  I found a nice quiet place off the road part way up the ridge that gave me an adequate distance with a good backstop for sighting in the rifle.  We actually stopped about 100 yards past the famous "Mother of All Huckleberry Patches" that I discovered with my mother almost twenty years ago, a good story that I will save for another time.  Sighting in the rifle went quickly. We then decided to drive further up the ridge to see if there were any huckleberries left.

     We drove another mile or two up the gravel road until the terrain leveled out some.  We parked alongside the road and explored one of the numerous old logging roads that crisscross that part of Tonga Ridge.  The bad news was that there was no sign of any huckleberries.  I suspect that it had been a bad year for the berries due to the extremely dry summer. October is rather late to be looking for berries anyhow.  We did notice a few mushrooms. There were some Panther Amanitas as well as some Amanita Muscaras. Both of them are very pretty, but poisonous.  We also found a few Russulas and various other types, but nothing to get my mouth watering.  Linda paid me a huge compliment when she told me that I was about the only person she would trust to tell her that a mushroom was edible. We decided to give up on the mushrooms and drive further up the ridge to find a place with a good view.  As I was waiting for Linda at the truck, I heard her call out my name.  She had stepped a little bit off the logging road and had stumbled upon a mushroom she thought looked interesting.  As it turns out it was a Boletus Edulis, known in English as the King Bolete, and mushroom that is not only edible, but described as choice and delectable.  As we explored the immediate vicinity we discovered a large number of the King Boletes and picked enough to fill our small ice chest.
Boletus Edulus or King Bolete

   Further up the ridge, near the trailhead, we found a place with a better view, suitable for a nice selfie of the two of us.  The views from the road are not as expansive as they used to be. I hadn't gone up to Tonga  Ridge in about ten years. During that time the trees have grown considerably taller.  After the photo op we drove back down the mountain, heading for home.  We stopped at Zeke's Drive-in on our way home for a celebratory ice cream cone and blackberry milk shake. We arrive home in time for me to watch the last three quarters of the Seahawks vs Detroit on Monday Night Football.
Me with my favorite mushroom hunting buddy

    I spent most of the evening cleaning and preparing the boletus for drying or cooking. The boletus dry very easily and can also be easily reconstituted. the dried mushrooms can also be powdered in the blender and used to flavor soups and sauces. The mushroom powder can even be used to make mushroom flavored pasta. The King Bolete is the only mushroom whose name I know in five languages. They are called Porcini in Italian, Cepes in French, Baravik in Russian, and Steinpilz in German.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Family History Pie and Grape Harvest Update

    I held a training session this evening for the family history consultants in our ward.  I felt that it went well. I'm particularly concerned about motivating our youth consultants to have more confidence in their abilities and the faith to trust God that He will give them the help they need.  As a post-training treat I served two pumpkin pies.  One pie was made with a "normal" pumpkin pie recipe, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.  The second pie was spiced with just ground allspice.  This was how my grandmother, Sylvia Lee, made "squash" pies.  I really liked her squash pies, but I can't seem to get mine to turn out exactly how her squash pies tasted.  When I asked her for a recipe many years ago she told me that the only difference between her squash pies and her pumpkin pies was that the squash pies were seasoned only with ground allspice. As she didn't measure exactly, she couldn't tell me how much allspice to use.  I suspect I may be using too much allspice. I have been mirroring the cumulative amount of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves from my pumpkin pie recipe to determine how much ground allspice to use. I will have to start reducing the amount and see if that turns out closer to the taste of Grandma Silvia's squash pies.

Pumpkin Pie on the left, Squash Pie on the right

     The squash pie was well received by the family history consultants as well as by Linda, Don Jensen, and his wife Heidi.  I even got some compliments on my pie crust. I gave everyone a slice from each pie.  Everybody seems to like both pies, some preferring the pumpkin pie and some preferring the squash pie. Actually, they were technically both squash pies as they were made from the same Potimarron winter squash. I may have already done that little rant in my blog how the term "pumpkin" is botanically meaningless. There are four separate subspecies of squash, Maxima, Moscata, Pepo, and Mixta, all of which have some cultivars which are called pumpkins. Potimarron is from the Maxima subspecies which includes the hubbards and most of the better winter keepers. It looks like a Red Kuri and I still have a lot of them.

      Grandma Sylvia was not a wonderful cook in that she had a somewhat limited repertoire. I don't think she did much cooking for her family as she grew up. Then she married my grandpa Guy Dudley Tunnell when she was just 18 and suddenly had to cook for Grandpa Tunnell and his three boys from his first marriage. I'm sure that was quite the "Trial by Fire". However, she made the best of it and there were a few things she became quite good at making. Besides her squash pies, she made the most wonderful beans and cornbread.

    I finished juicing grapes yesterday evening. My total production for 2015 was 16 gallons of canned grape juice and a little more than 9 quarts of raisins. I may have made 10 quarts of raisins as Linda and some of the grandkids have been helping themselves to the raisins during the past few weeks. That is an incredible harvest from just eight grape vines.  Now the only canning projects looming on my horizon are chickens and finishing the applesauce.

     I had a wonderful surprise at work this past Friday.  My good friend Ian brought by a nice little bag of Chanterelle mushrooms.  I used part of them to make an eggplant dish.  The recipe didn't call for mushrooms, but it seemed like a good fit. I made this sauce using onions, white wine vinegar, chanterelle mushrooms, and cream. I wasn't particularly crazy about the eggplant by itself, but the sauce was very good.  As long as there was lots of sauce on the eggplant, it was tasty. Since I have more eggplant in the garden I need to find a few more good eggplant recipes.  The rest of the Chanterelles are going into a French mushroom soup. I went ahead and cut up the mushrooms and sautéed them in butter as Chanterelles don't keep very well as fresh mushrooms.

Cantharellus cibarius