Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Early Harvest

    One of the favourite days around this household is "garlic harvest" day.  It's been a cool lousy spring/early summer but the size of these garlic heads indicate they grew well in spite of the weather.  I wish someone could tell me when the hell "global warming" is coming to Vancouver Island. 
     A few days drying in the sun and then into a cool dry area where they will await their turn to be sacrificed on the culinary alter.  I've yet to find a recipe that couldn't be improved with at least one clove of garlic.  Excluding sorbet of course ....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Garden Gnome?

    You just never know what you are going to find if you spend time walking in the bush.   Commonly called the Cone  plant or Gnome plant this pink beauty is truly amazing.  It's real name is Hemitomes congestum and is not all that common.  Count yourself as lucky if you happen to come across one and especially one that is as well lit as this one ....  Now back to looking for mushrooms!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Frozen Waterfall?

   A trip last fall to Cathedral Grove which is located on the Port Alberni highway resulted in the find of the year for me.  It was the first time I had seen a Hericium abietis (common name Bears Head) outside the pages of a mushroom identification book.  My picking partner and I had crawled over the fences that lined the main walk and headed off into the surrounding bush.  I know ...  one should always stay on the marked paths but that day we wanted to check out greener pastures.  We had only walked about 100 yards when I spotted this little specimen.  If it had only been a bit larger I would have taken it as these are supposed to be delicious. 
Next time a little butter, salt, pepper ..... 

Thursday, June 17, 2010


    For anyone who has spent any time travelling the back roads of most logging divisions you are bound to have come across what is commonly called "Orange Peel" fungus.  Aleuria aurantia looks very much like someone has just peeled a very ripe orange and strewn the peels on the ground.   Most books list it as Non-Poisionous which makes me feel better because I've eaten some of these raw. 

    All they need is a bit of rinsing then slice them for a salad or any other dish that calls for mushrooms.  They have two drawbacks ... it takes a LOT of patience to get enough to make it worthwhile AND they are out at the same time as Chanterelles.  Which would you target? 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Last Gasp?

   It has to be a sign of stubbornness when one refuses to give up even though all the "experts" tell you that the Oyster mushroom season is over.  After a couple of post about flowers I just had to take a walk around one of the local parks to see if I could find a suitable pairing for a thick juicy steak.  I would have preferred several Morels or at least a handfull of Chanterelles but both really are out of season around Nanaimo ( If you disagree then I'm more than willing to  inspect your proof otherwise).  Now a quick rinse to wash off the snail spit (off the mushrooms not me) and open a fresh bottle of white wine ....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Down the Well Worn Garden Path

     While on the topic of flowers I might as well post a photo of an orchid we bought from a nursery in Kamloops over 30 years ago and has been growing in our yard ever since.  If you look very close in the centre of the photo you can see one lone flower of Cypripedium reginae (Showy Lady Slipper Orchid).  It boasted three flowers several years ago but is obviously in decline due to the encroachment of all the other plants my wife just had to have.  Ten minutes with a weed-eater should solve the problem for the short term ...  do I really want to have to make my own meals for the rest of my life?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lotus pinnatus Or Con Job?

   The first I read about this flower was on the blog hosted by The Gabriolan which led me to a posting in the Nanaimo Bulletin.  As everyone should know lining the bottom of a bird cage with the aforementioned "newspaper" seems a tad redundant but I pressed on anyway.  There was one paragraph that caught my eye though:
"Friends of Harewood Plains is hosting a tour of Harewood Plains Saturday (June 12) at 10 a.m. starting at the end of McKeown Way. The 1.5-kilometer walk takes about two hours and solid footwear is required. "
   We met up with half a dozen other people at the mentioned location and off we went to see this spectacular flower. 

We had only walked a couple of hundred yards when our guide took us off the trail to show us the first of several patches of this flower.
Now I'll be the first to admit it's a pretty little flower but!!!  This is what all the hoopla is about?  This little flower was named Nanaimo's floral emblem?  (Insert sound of palm slapping forehead)  Why the damn thing isn't even edible ....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pretty In Pink?

    Ok now that you have "collected" these critters what to do with them?  Pink salmon are notoriously soft and don't have the longest shelf life so they need quick processing.  Personally I'm partial to anything smoked so I decided to try a recipe for "Indian Candy".  I had heard mention of this treatment some time ago but I waited until my sister-in-law sent us some real maple syrup from Ontario. I found a recipe online and modified it slightly to my taste.

1/2 Gallon water
1 cup pickling salt
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup of real maple syrup
Stir all together until sugar dissolved
Clean and dress salmon.  Cut to preferred size
Put fish in brine for 48 hours.

Basting liquid:
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup water
Smoke fish for 8 to 10 hours, basting frequently,  or until very firm but NOT leathery.  You are not making jerky here.

Mention casually to your spouse that you have read on the Internet that smoked fish has been known to be carcinogenic ....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Even mother nature screws up occasionally.  On the right of the picture is a normal wild asparagus.  To the left rear is another normal asparagus.  In the foreground is an asparagus that was one inch across (metric types do your own conversion here) and flatter than a watery pancake.  I'm betting the genetic tampering here was the result of 60 or more years of airborne effluent from our local pulp mill....
     With most sou'easters blowing pollutants directly over Gabriola I wonder how many free range three legged chickens  there are ....

   One final word...  the asparagus tasted GREAT!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Alluring Or Overdressed?

   Recently I have been asked a couple of times why I like to spend so much time wandering in forested areas.
    This photo might help to explain the draw .... the sun that day was just at the right angle and I could see the outline of it's body right through the "clothes".  It was as if it wasn't wearing anything at all ....

   Oh wait ....  wrong blog!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Anyone For Chinese Food?

    Not all of my "collecting" takes place in the outdoors.  Sometimes ingredients are only found in truly unique places.  Like this spot in Victoria ....  known locally as Chinatown.  On our last trip there we found some very great tasting mushrooms that are only grown in Korea.  We will return!
   Interestingly we also witnessed several women buying food in the stores and paying the owner with what was obviously NOT Canadian money.  That money was not put in a till but quickly dropped into an open box under the counter.  Is anyone collecting taxes on these transactions or does the Canadian/BC government even know this is happening?  Does this bother anyone besides me?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Boil Or Bile?

This fungus, a slime mold, which is commonly referred to as dog vomit" or "cougar vomit" was a common sight last year on most of my mushrooming trips.  Does it really matter what it is called?  Under any name it looks disgusting ....  or so I thought until I saw the video below and realized it's a living "breathing" thing.  Now all I have to do is find a suitable recipe and I will be happy.  Anyone for lunch?

Yellow Slime Mold Timelapse from sesotek on Vimeo.