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Braised Short Ribs With Mushrooms Recipe

Category : Main Dishes, October, Recipes

Shiitake MushroomsIn honor of the 2013 Wild Mushroom Show, hosted every October in Bellingham by the Northwest Mushroomers Association, I wanted to create a mushroom recipe. The main question in my mind was about which type of mushroom to use. The list wasn’t as long as you might imagine. While there are multitudes of edible mushroom varieties that grow wild in this area, and I love hunting for them and looking at them, I have zero skills at identifying them. I sadly crossed all wild mushrooms off my list. Continue Reading

2013 Wild Mushroom Show

Category : October, Wildcrafting

2013 Wild Mushroom ShowEvery year in October the Northwest Mushroomers Association (NMA) hosts a Wild Mushroom Show at Bloedel Donovan Park in Bellingham. It is a unique event, and a remarkable demonstration of the diversity of nature. It’s also really fun!

Members of the NMA gather fresh examples of as many varieties of mushrooms as possible which grow wild in our area. Tucked in with moss to help keep them moist, hundreds of mushrooms are displayed in trays. Labels identify the Latin names, common names (if any), and icons indicating edible or poisonous varieties. Continue Reading

Creamy Lobster Mushroom Sauce Recipe

Category : Holidays, Recipes, Sauces and Dips, September, Vegetarian

Creamy Lobster Mushroom SauceLobster mushrooms have a meaty texture, even more than portobellas. For that reason they are often used by vegetarians in recipes instead of meat. People also use lobster mushrooms to dye fibers for knitting or weaving.

Lobster mushrooms are particularly fascinating in the strange world of fungi. Read my article about Lobster Mushrooms.

If you’re interested in learning more about mushrooms and how to identify, collect and eat them safely, I’d recommend contacting the Northwest Mushroomers Association (NMA). Call Jack Waytz at (360) 303-4079 or Margaret Dilly at (360) 675-8756, or see their website at: www.northwestmushroomers.org   Continue Reading

Lobster Mushrooms

Category : Wildcrafting

Lobster Mushrooms(First published Sept. 2012)

Lobster mushrooms and I first became acquainted when I had some for lunch at a friend’s home. The son of a college friend had brought some lobster mushrooms he had foraged earlier that morning near Bellingham. I had never heard of them, but was enchanted with their bright, orange-red color–the color of a lobster shell. He prepared them by simply cutting them into pieces and sauteing them in butter. The taste and scent intrigued me further–a distinctive flavor with shellfish overtones. In short, they were a surprising revelation, and I’ve remembered them fondly since then. Continue Reading

Chanterelle Cheese Sauce

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes, Sauces and Dips, Vegetarian

Chanterelle Cheese SauceSome sauce recipes have become “classics” known to everyone. For example, experienced cooks learn how to make an Alfredo sauce, a buttery bechamel, and an herbed tomato sauce.

One reason these sauces are classics is their versatility. They can be used in many ways with many different ingredients. For example, bechamel sauce can be used as is over potatoes, or as the basis of a mustard sauce for chicken or a creamy herb sauce for steamed vegetables. Herbed tomato sauce can be served over pasta, grilled meats, or spread on toasted bread as a crostini appetizer. Continue Reading

Northwest Mushroomers Show

Category : November, Related Organizations, Seasonal Menu Ideas, Wildcrafting

Northwest Mushroomers Association - Edible MushroomsFor 21 years, the Northwest Mushroomers Association has organized a annual public show of an enormous variety of local wild mushrooms. Since I’d never attended a mushroom show before, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at Bloedel Donovan Park recently.

At the ticket table I was given a brochure to help me get oriented. I couldn’t miss the rows of tables down the center of the room containing the specimens (see photos I took), but other features weren’t as obvious. For example, experts were available at one table to help people identify wild mushrooms they’d found. Another table allowed people to try making spore prints, one of the most reliable methods of identifying mushroom genus. Continue Reading

Mushroom Stock

Category : Recipes, Soups, Vegetarian

Mushroom StockMaking soup stock is a fairly simple process, but getting the flavors balanced can be a little tricky sometimes. Not so with this mushroom stock. It’s made with the tough stems and trimmings from fresh mushrooms (though dried mushrooms could be used instead, if necessary). Just about any combination of flavorful mushrooms will work easily and taste wonderful. Continue Reading

Pasta With Mushroom Sauce

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes, Sauces and Dips, Vegetarian

Pasta With Mushroom SauceThanks to the Northwest Mushroomers Association (NMA) Show in Bellingham (see photos I took), I was able to connect with Cascadia Mushrooms and purchase a beautiful assortment of locally grown mushrooms. Many of them also grow wild in our area, and I’d encourage you to contact NMA if you are interested in learning how to identify the edible varieties. Continue Reading

Early Summer Stir-fry

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes, Vegetarian

Early Summer Stir-fryCooking a perfect stir-fry dish requires careful planning as the ingredients are being chopped and prepared. Especially important is to group the ingredients by cooking time. Continue Reading

Rainy Day Crockpot Beef Stew

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes

Photo of Rainy Day Crockpot Beef Stew One of the special delights of eating local food is trying new ingredients or using familiar foods in new combinations.  I haven’t cooked much with sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes. I tried using them in a cottage pie recently, and was delighted with the flavor. This time I tried using them in a hearty beef stew.

The flavor of sunchokes is distinctive, slightly sweet, and fairly strong. It blends better with other flavors if the sunchokes are cut into small pieces. For this stew I recommend a quarter-inch dice.

This is a variation of a traditional beef stew that uses a lot of mushrooms and a thick wine sauce. Locally raised stew beef cooks up tender and tasty. Continue Reading

Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions

Category : Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Photo of Sauteed Mushrooms and OnionsOnions are vegetables that can be stored throughout the winter in our area. Onions are pulled from the garden when the tops bend over, and are dried before storing in a cool place. Onion bulbs planted in the late fall will sprout early in the spring after a mild winter.

The flavors of mushrooms and onions blend beautifully when sautéed in butter, perhaps seasoned with local herbs such as garlic, thyme, or rosemary. The sweet carmelized flavor of onions, the earthy flavor of mushrooms, and the fragrant effects of warmed herbs make a nice side dish or topping for red meat entrées. They also combine well with many other cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and zucchini. A little wine added during cooking enhances the flavors. Continue Reading

Have You Tried Bison?

Category : March, Seasonal Menu Ideas

Photo of Have You Tried Bison MenuEvery weekday, when returning from Bellingham after dropping my daughter off at work, I see a small sign along Slater Road advertising bison meat. I’ve been curious to learn more, and even detoured a couple of times to find the farm–Twisted S Bison Ranch (near Ferndale)–which looks beautiful. They are only open to the public on weekends, though, so I haven’t yet stopped by to visit.

Last week I went to Terra Organica (Flora and Cornwall in Bellingham) to see what locally produced foods they had available. Imagine my delight to see a full range of bison products from Twisted S in their freezers!

Local bison is available only occasionally. Twisted S raises as much as they can, but bison take a lot of grass acreage and family farms in our area are not large enough to supply all the demand for bison in Whatcom County. Most of the year, Twisted S brings in frozen bison from North Dakota. The quality of everything  they sell under their brand is consistently excellent, but if you care about getting locally raised bison (and I hope you do), you’ll need to call ahead and find out when it will be available. Continue Reading

Sautéed Mushrooms and Nettles

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Category : Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian, Wildcrafting

Photo of Sauteed Mushrooms and NettlesFor many people, stinging nettles conjure up images of nasty burning sensations caused by brushing against the nearly invisible spines or flowers of an otherwise lovely green plant. Nettles grow wild in damp, shady woods, and can reach several feet high.

However, when picked fresh before they start blooming, nettle leaves are a healthy spring tonic and a nutritional powerhouse. Cooking breaks down the chemical that causes the stinging sensation on skin, so cooked nettles are perfectly safe to eat. Continue Reading