In 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
Every 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
Lobster 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
(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
Some 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
Making 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
Thanks 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
Cooking 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
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
Onions 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
For 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