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Archive for the ‘Mushrooms’ Category

Never in a million years did I think I’d say it, but we ate seaweed twice this weekend. On purpose.

It all started a few weeks ago when Brent and I watched a webinar on how eating well is essential to overall health. That’s no surprise, but we did learn a thing or two. Among the handful of application points we took away was a big thumbs up for the virtues of seaweed. Did you know that this sea vegetation can help curb appetite, and provide a tremendous amount of vitamins, minerals and protein? It can also aid digestion and promote other health benefits.

Most likely, that’s not enough to make you run out and indulge in a heaping bowl of seaweed. But we enjoy an occasional cooking adventure, so we decided to do a little research and give it a try.

Before we got that far, we actually ordered a seaweed dish when we stopped for lunch at Crave at the MOA on Friday. We shared their seaweed salad and it was delicious. Really!

If you’re not used to cooking with seaweed, your first question might be, “Where do you get it?” That’s what we wondered. We started off at a local Asian grocery store, but came up empty-handed. When in doubt, give Whole Foods a shot. And wouldn’t you know, they have a whole section full of the stuff.

After pulling ideas from a bunch of online recipes, here’s what I came up with. It’s much like a Miso soup. Honestly, I had very cautious expectations as I watched the hunks of green leaves simmer on the stove. But if Brent’s response is any indication, it turned out quite nice.

P.S.: If you’re a family member reading this, don’t worry, we don’t plan to bring this soup for the holidays, but if you give us a heads up, we’d love to make a bowl for you.

Seaweed Soup
Prep and Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
12 whole dried medium shiitake mushrooms
6 cups warm water
4 medium-sized pieces 
Kelp seaweed, cut to bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced thinly
5 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 T minced fresh ginger
1 carrot, thinly sliced
4 T dry Veggie Base powder
4 T chopped dulse seaweed, cut to bite-size pieces
4 T Amino Acids or soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
3 T green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
1 tsp “Sea Seasonings” Kelp Granules (optional)

Rinse mushrooms, kelp and dulse and soak in 2 cups of warm water for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Save the water. Directions:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the mushroom/seaweed water in medium soup pot. Add onion and healthy sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for another minute.
  2. When mushrooms and kelp are soft, thinly slice the mushrooms and chop the seaweed into bite-sized pieces. Cut out the mushroom stems when slicing mushrooms and discard. Add to the soup pot along with the soaking water, and 4 more cups of water and Veggie Base. Add carrots. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. Once it returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Season with Amino Acids (or soy sauce), rice vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add green onion and serve.

Serves 6

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We’re getting home late from a long, wonderful day that felt like the first real taste of summer in central Minnesota. In order to do justice to our adventure, we’ll have to  insert some follow-ups to this initial post.

The adventure began with an email from Lisa’s friend, Peggy, a couple of weeks ago. Paraphrased, the email simply said, “I saw this and thought of the two of you. This seems like something you both would like.” Lisa started describing it and at first I wasn’t sure I understood what it was about. The bottom line is it was an open invitation for members and non-members to this year’s first Slow Food Minnesota event.

Focccacia bread fire baked with herbs and wild flowers!

What is Slow Food Minnesota? Good Question!

Slow Food MN is the local chapter of Slow Food International – [Slow Food USA Facebook]. In short, Slow Food was created as a protest against the ubiquitous nature of fast-food. The idea is predicated on how our accelerated lifestyles of western culture have separated us from our roots; our choice to live fast has severed cultural connections to land, nature, agriculture and the traditions derived from our local environment. Eating processed food and fast food while demanding it in our grocery stores has further disconnected us from where our food comes from; and it has changed our taste buds so that we don’t recognize what real, honest whole foods from our own environment taste like. Consequently, our demand for packaged and branded tastes not only affects our health, but affects our personal economy, knowledge and  appreciation for the people who grow food locally. This means that our choice to eat fast affects not only local growers, but the whole world. Slow Food is a grassroots effort to bring attention to these ideas and build a network to regain what we’ve lost, retrain our taste buds to accept, appreciate and enjoy local, sustainable, small-scale production of choice edibles. It’s a way of living and eating that seeks to build commitment to communities and the environment.

Samples of the wild edibles served at the meal including: Morels!

Let us whet your appetite for the follow up’s to this post by telling you that the meal we had was prepared by the owners of Broder’s Cucina Italiana and

Slow Food Minnesota Style!

Pasta Bar in Minneapolis. [Broder’s Facebook]. All ingredients for this fabulous meal were locally obtained. The meal featured a pig from Pastures A Plenty, foraged greens, flowers and mushrooms (fiddleheads, asparagus, garlic mustard, nettles, morels, violets, cress and other tender greens, depending on what’s in season). Shortbread dessert was included, as was local beers from Flat Earth Brewing Co., wines including the Frontenac variety.

In the follow ups, we’ll tell you about the wild mushroom discussions, farm tours and eco-tours of the land prior to the meal.

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Success!!

Our first foray into the wilds of Sakatah Lake State Park just west of Faribault, Minnesota proved fruitful! Ha! Sorry I couldn’t resist saying that. We were geared up for a fun day and we weren’t disappointed. There were plenty of foragers who joined us as the trip was organized by the Minnesota Mycological Society. Over 60 people arrived at the Park and were ready to forage by 10am. Our quarry was Morchella esculenta, or the common morel mushroom. And in case you didn’t know, it is the official state mushroom of Minnesota.

The season is still rather early as our winter hung around for an extra 3 weeks. The trees haven’t even leafed out yet. You can still see through the woods as if it were the middle of April. It made it a little easier to get low and see to the ground, however the ground cover is springing up pretty fast now. Another week and the morel mushrooms should be perfect. The group found quite a few, but they’re not very mature yet.

A word of advice, you will want to take precaution against ticks and mosquitos. The best way to do that is to treat your jeans, your shirt and your socks with permethrin. You can get it in the form of an aerosol at most camping stores or as a spray. We opted for the spray. Don’t treat this stuff lightly. Do NOT spray it on while wearing your clothes. You must treat the clothing and let your clothes dry for at least 2 hours before wearing your outfit. You do NOT want to spray yourself with this chemical. We purchased the Sawyer brand and treated our clothes earlier in the week. Tuck your pants into your socks and wear gloves. There are plenty of prickly shrubs and you will get scratched if you’re not properly covered. When we arrived it was overcast and had been sprinkling. This was a good thing because otherwise it could’ve been warm to be covered up as we were.

Not a bonanzaa, but a typical basket. Conditions should improve over the next week.

Finding the morels is not as easy as you might think. They blend into their surroundings as they are a grey to golden yellow in color. At this time of  year, look for dead or dying elm trees with a nice sunny southern exposure. The ground needs to warm up a bit for the fungus to fruit, so this year especially you’ll need to look carefully. Another item to carry is a long stick to bend ground cover over while you peer closely. Some folks used old ski poles, others had their favorite hiking rod. Still others had carved their own sticks with wooden morel mushrooms at the top of the staff. I opted for something provided by mother nature. I found two nice sticks each about 3 feet long. A used hockey stick works pretty well too.

Another find were hundreds of wild onions. These are similar to spring ramps or wild leeks. They are rather potent for their size, so you don’t need very many. But we can tell you how delicious they are! We sauteed the wild onions with our vegetable medley for diner tonight and it was terrific! Are you wondering about how the morel’s taste?

Early May Morels from Minnesota!

Well, we can tell you that we just sauteed them in a little butter with salt and pepper. They were outstanding! They are a very meaty mushroom. Eating them is like taking bites off of a steak. We’re looking forward to our next foray near Lake Pepin.

If you like biking, you’ll enjoy Sakatah Lake State Park too. The Sakatah State trail runs about 40 miles from Fairibault to Mankato. It’s an old, paved railroad bed and the biking is easy. There are plenty of rest stops with picnic tables. Bring a lunch and enjoy the fresh air. We biked for about 90 minutes at a leisurely pace and covered about 14 miles.

By the time we were ready to bike, the sun had emerged and warmed us up providing a little of the season’s first humid air! Spectacular!

Are you finding any morel mushrooms? Have you gone foraging before? If you’re willing to share a good location to find some, please feel free to type a tip or location in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

Other sightings today included a bluebird, early spring wildflowers (Dutchman’s Britches) and several species of woodpeckers.

Blue bird

Dutchman's Britches

Rest stop on the Sakatah State Trail, Minnesota

MMS - MN Mycological Society Members

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We’re going mushroom hunting with the Minnesota Mycological Society this weekend. How complicated could that be?

#2 DSW Boots

Well, much more than we first thought. Utmost on our minds is the warning about the risk of ticks. Having a good friend currently suffering beyond description with Lyme disease for many years now, we’re taking those warnings seriously. So, that meant spraying down our clothing with permethrin this week. Check!

We also needed something into which we can collect our load of mushrooms. So tonight I bought a basket. Check!

Among other things, we also had to find a suitable pair of boots since we’ll likely be trudging through some muddy territory. Being a man, Brent’s first thought was: Fleet Farm. Hmmmm. I went along and we bought two pair of boots. Admittedly, I made the purchase rather hesitantly. You should have seen Brent’s face when I claimed that they just weren’t “cute” enough. C’mon girls, you get it, right?

So, by the end of today I had three different pairs of boots in front of me. They all have their benefits and their down falls. I’m curious which pair you think I should pick!

#1 Fleet Farm Boots

#1 FLEET FARM BOOTS 
Benefits: reasonably priced, most durable and sturdy, best traction
Down falls: least “cute,” worst fit

#2 DSW BOOTS
Benefits: pretty cute, best fit, most versatile
Down falls: highest price, perhaps a little high of a heel for hiking

#3 Target Boots

#3 TARGET BOOTS
Benefits: darn cute, lowest price
Down falls: merely a “decent” fit, not overly versatile, a little “much” for mushroom foraging?

Vote for which pair you think I should keep!

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Here are a couple of random things I noted today:

•  I noted that even with the economy in despair, the MOA and REI were packed today. I suppose people are about fed up with bad weather and the rain drove them to search for indoor activities.

• Brent was actually the one to notice this one. I bought a couple items at “Forever 21” (yes, even though I bypassed 21 a while back). When I got the bag home, Brent noticed that “John 3:16” was imprinted on it. Never having shopped the store before, this was new to me. I learned, with the help of Google, that the storeowners are believers from South Korea. Seems there’s all sorts of thoughts about this store online. From my brief experience today, all I know is I like the verse and I got a couple of really cute tops at a great price.

• I noted that I LOVE how Brent and I finally have a good system down for syncing our electronic calendars. He looked at me kind of goofy when I gushed this remark to him just now, but I really do love it. It’s helping manage our lives better already. We’re doing this with a combination of iCal and Mobile Me. It has taken two years to figure it out, but we’re finally getting there.

• I noted that it takes great discipline to not buy the store out when you shop REI. Brent and I had a couple goals as we fit ourselves for two new hobbies. I’m sure this will be the subjects of future blogs, but we needed to pick up some Permethrin. We hadn’t heard of it either, until getting into mushroom foraging and needing to repel and kill ticks. And we needed a few biking supplies. Do you think spring is actually here so we can hit the trails?!

• Speaking of REI, we noted that if you want to take one of their free bike maintenance class, you need to register early. We didn’t. It filled up. Bummer.

• I noted that it must be prom season. While at the mall, I saw dresses for sale all over the place. There were groups of girls wondering the mall in their fancy frocks and girls piled into fitting rooms, trying on assortments of them. It was here that I overheard this conversation:

“This is a good dress for you. It’s cute, but doesn’t look like you’re trying too hard to be cute.”

“Oh! You’re right! That’s true.”

“Unlike the other dress. In that one, you looked like you were trying too hard. Especially since you’re only a freshman, you don’t want to overdo it.”

“Oh! You’re so right! I would’ve never thought about that. It’s true. What about shoes?”

“Well, I will be getting new shoes, but then switch into tennis shoes when I get there. That’s what EVERYONE does!”

“Oh, that makes sense, ok.”

First of all, this conversation reminded me why I’m thankful to no longer be in high school. Secondly, I wanted to tell the freshman that God created her uniquely, not to rely on this “friend” for all her opinions. But she’s still young. She will learn.

There you have it. Random observations from a Saturday out and about town. Do you have an observation or two to share from your day? We’d love to hear them!

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It’s that time of the year – Morel hunting time! Last year was early, but this year is more par for the course and the season is promising to be good as there’s been a lot of moisture in southern Minnesota.

Lisa and I attended the annual Morel Mushroom Foray preparation meeting at the University of Minnesota tonight. If you think I’m crazy about mushrooms, or just plain crazy to want to eat wild mushrooms, well, okay. But I’m not the only one. There were well over a 100 people at the meeting tonight. Membership with the Minnesota Mycological Societyor MMS, is up. We’re new members as of last month. It’s a really good deal and it gets you out into the woods with some fun people. Memberships are Student: $15, Individual: $20, Family: $25

MMS meeting at the University of Minnesota

I’m excited about getting an early start this year with the MMS group. You might recall that I blogged about our foray in the fall to collect autumn specimens in Lebanon Hills regional park in Dakota County and that I found a 7 lb Hen of the Woods less than a mile from my front door.

We’re geared up for a couple of foraging expeditions in May. Have you ever foraged for wild mushrooms? Do you have any spots you’d care to share? We understand if you want to keep your place a secret, but otherwise we’d love to hear from you!

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Once in a while our schedules converge and we find ourselves with something on the calendar nearly every night of the week. This is likely par-for-the-course for those of you with children, however, we strive to avoid these situations. But this week the situation is unavoidable.

We have the Minnesota Mycological Society meeting to start the week. This month the mushroom lovers will be discussing the upcoming foraging forays for the annual spring morels. I have to convince Lisa to sign the waiver so we can participate in the foraging. Lisa mentioned this in an earlier blog. She wonders why my hobby must include a death and injury waiver. But I think she secretly is looking forward to it!

That meeting is to be followed by a celebration of the latest class of Stephen’s Ministers at a nearby church. Stephen’s Ministries has been an important part of my development as a believer and to see the addition of new Stephen Ministers will be a happy occasion. In short Stephen Ministers are trained to provide one on one Christian care to hurting people. The training takes six months, so it will be fun to meet the latest class.

Another exciting opportunity will be a concert on Friday. As a part of the lead up to Easter, we’re going to attend the Andrew Peterson concert at New Hope Church (scroll down the linked page for Gospel information at New Hope.) Concert time is April 15 @7:00 p.m. (Doors open at 6:00 p.m.) The concert is free, so if you’re interested, please show up!

You can check out a sample of Andrew’s music here:

We have painters coming to paint two rooms in our house as well this week. Plus we started building shelves in one of our closets. So we’ve cleared furniture and emptied closet contents in preparation for that work, so the house is in a temporary state of confusion.

If you have any advice for how you manage through busy weeks, please leave us your ideas as comments as we’re sure it will help!

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