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  1. I <3 fresh mushrooms

    It’s been really wonderful to expand our mushroom consumption over the last couple years. Just today I fixed a big stir fry made up of a lot of shiitakes. They’re nutritious and delicious! Just about every mushroom is medicinal and having my own organic source is a real delight. 
  2. Shiitakes for dinner, fresh from the yard. 
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  4. Alon showing off the shiitake harvest of the day, one by one.
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  6. The logs – 2 years in

    Mushroom logs are supposed to last between 2 and 5 years (some people say one year per inch o diameter on the log). It’s been two years since I innoculated my first logs and the logs have definitely changed!  
  7. As you can see below, the bark is coming off and some of the logs are fairly degraded. Somewhat to be expected…these are my shiitake logs and most of the logs you see here are still producing (just finished a flush). 
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  9. After reviewing my logs, I found that 13 of the original shiitake logs were still producing with another 4 that might be producing still. That is about a 50% loss after 2 years. For the oysters, I might have a couple producing logs, but the situation is much worse. Seems that nearly all of them were lost last summer during the hot, dry spell (while I was traveling). 
  10. In the hot, dry South, the mushroom logs need attention to keep from drying out. I keep a shade cloth over them and have them positioned in a fairly shady spot in the yard. If they get too dry, the mycellium inside will die and then no further fruiting will happen! That happened to several of my logs, and they were subsequently taken over by other mushrooms (not edible, unfortunately). To keep them from drying out, I soak them in trash cans filled with water a few times a year. With 12-24 hours per log, they get charged back up with moisture. This process also triggers the flushing of the mushrooms. 
  11. With the original 70 logs we innoculated, soaking them took nearly a week to cycle through in my two trashcans. And it was a lot of wasted effort, water and time to soak a bunch of logs that aren’t growing what I want…so this year I’ve done a culling of the logs. All the oyster logs will be retired and about half the shiitake logs. Now I’ve got about 20 logs to soak for a cycle. In addition, I’m moving the location to a spot more protected from the wind, slightly lower in elevation and (I think) a bit more shaded. Hopefully that will keep the remaining logs going!
  12. More Mushrooms, Please!

    But with a serious reduction in producing logs, I figured it was time to expand capacity again. It takes about 6-12 months to get more fruiting from logs and early spring is the perfect time to innoculate logs, so I set about it again. This year I went with sawdust spawn (from the nearby Mushroom Mountain). Sawdust spawn is just sawdust with mycellium growing on it (see below). It gets injected into holes drilled in the logs (instead of the – much more expensive – plugs). 

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  14. While the innoculation step takes longer (than just jamming a plug in), the sawdust is about half the cost of an equivalent amount of plugs. It’s also more conducive to cultivating new spawn, which I plan to do on cardboard, mulch, and more sawdust. 
    My trusty sidekick Alon, now more engaged than the first time we made mushroom logs, operating the innoculation tool that pushes the sawdust into the logs. He declared it his favorite tool and offered to do that anytime I made logs :)
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  16. In the first two days of innoculation in a few hours here and there, I’ve finished 18 logs, 12 with oyster mushrooms and 6 with shiitakes. Instead of the “lots of hands” approach, in which we busted out about 70 logs with 5 people in about half a day (see pictures and stats from that experience here), it’s mostly just me plodding along at it this time. The time per log is pretty similar (about 20-30 minutes), but I spent less money on getting the logs and a little more time preparing it. 
    So far I’ve spent about 25% of hard costs (and anticipate only a few more bucks in that). So far that’s been 
    * $7 (logs) gas for two trips about 30 miles total
    * $66 in mycelium 
    For time, it’s been about 7 hours to get to 18 logs with: 
    * 2 hours in log gathering
    * 5 hours in inoculation 

Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, a marker of how the year has evolved from its birth at the Winter Solstice to full-throttle, productive life-force wave. Between Solstice and Imbolc, we let rest and cleaned our garden’s dirt. Imbolc marked the occasion to clean out and put thought and intention into the seeds we plant for the year. As we crossed the equilibrium point of Spring Equinox, we plant our seeds and intentions to grow throughout this productive season. Now, what we planted is full of life force, in motion and even bearing fruit.

In this time of quickening, we feel our gatherings are a time for channeling more than just what we have known of the past – it is also a time to prepare for a future that no human has ever known before. We take the opportunity of this Summer Solstice to continue our journey as The Ones We Have Been Waiting For. As we each step into our own form of leadership, creation and contribution, we seek to first get grounded in our own being so that we may each walk strong in our journey. We hope that you will join us to explore, learn, celebrate and connect!

The ascent has begun! Join us as we gather to celebrate

SUMMER SOLSTICE 2011!

Rooted in beginnings, we gather to honor the solar zenith!

…Love and magic will reign the weekend as we dance and feast, sharing and building community!

We gather with the energy of the Muladhara – the root chakra located at the base of the spine. The deity of this region is Ganesha, with coral orange skin, wearing a lemon yellow dhoti with a green silk scarf draped around his shoulders. In his 3 of his hands he holds a ladu, a lotus flower, a hatchet, and the fourth is raised in the mudra of dispelling fear. Ganesha also Reigns over beginnings. Adventure awaits! Are you grounded? Together we will deepen our anchor and salute the sun from the root of being. 

We seek to co-create a sacred experience during the entire gathering. We will open sacred space on Friday evening and close it on Sunday midday. Within that container, we will co-create workshops, meals, fun activities, grounding body work, and ritual. You are invited to participate! Every participant will have the chance to offer their home soil, movement, altar items, costume, and food for the event. Every participant is also welcome to help in the co-creation process for the weekend and we hope you will!

Details:

I finally figured out the updating of the page in this site to add the graphics I created to explain the different dimensions of connection with others in the community (partners, friends, play mates). You can now find those images on the references pages:

Your Place in the Community

Feedback welcome!

On a night when I tried a new first in the creative realm (no further detail until after the surprise :), I’m posting about another first for me this year – a new recipe. Or more accurately, a new dish that I am making, since I don’t really follow recipes very well.

Wood ear mushrooms

A couple of weeks ago, I was working in the yard and saw a lot of jelly mushrooms. They are the jelly ones that are translucent and sometimes come in the shape of an ear growing on branches. We get a lot around the yard (when oak branches fall, generally have them) and I’ve been gathering the branches with these in our mushroom compost pile for over a year. They were in a massive flush!

harvest of wood ears

I walked around the yard with Alon (who wouldn’t let me get his picture) and we harvested a bunch (see pic)!

After celebrating the abundance and giving thanks, next on my to-do list when this happens is a crash course in mycology. I was pretty sure about them, but wanted to be really sure. So here’s the low-down:

  • These are in the order Tremellales , and there are no known poisonous in this order.
  • This mushroom (most likely Exidia recisa though appears like
    auricularia auricula)

    is common throughout N. America and goes by many names,

    Tree ear, Wood Ear, Jew’s Ear etc. I didn’t perform a spore print but the most common – though frequently not in the books – look alike is Exidia recisa, which has some info posted here.
  • Related species is the a. polytricha (Mo Ehr), which is common in Chines markets and dishes, including Hot & Sour soup.
  • Both the auricularia are edible and apparently have a very similar mild flavor.
  • Auricularia species contain polysaccharides, which act as immune system stimulants and anti-carcinogens. These mushrooms are also reported to affect blood cogulation and may affect coronary artery health.

Check this site (with references) for more mycological geek time.

Given that this is a key ingredient in Hot & Sour soup, I just had to figure out how to make that! I found a recipe and modified it (on the fly, surprise surprise). I cooked it despite not having 2/3 of the ingredients! I even forgot the sour, and it was still really good! (when I cook something that makes Tirza very happy, it’s definitely worth paying attention to!).

Later that week we visited a Chinese grocery (a treat for the Nomads) and stocked up on several helpful ingredients. Below is pretty much what I up doing for the Souper Sweet Valentine’s Day event. Since the soup won “Best International” and we were asked to share our recipes…here we go:

Hot & Sour Soup Recipe from the Nomad’s Cafe

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha or red chili paste+garlic
  • 3/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sliced shittake mushrooms
  • 1 can peeled straw mushrooms (don’t know these and haven’t used but were in original recipe and sound good!)
  • 1 can sliced bamboo shoots
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 4 large carrots cut in match sticks (or whatever, if you don’t like cutting:)
  • 1 cake soft tofu, sliced into 1/4 inch cubes (didn’t do this either)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup dried black fungus (wood ears), soaked in water for one hour, drained and sliced.
  • finely chopped scallions for garnish

If you like your soup more brothy than chunky, add even more water (I’m still trying to figure out the ratio…I more than doubled what it called for and it’s still chunky).  Note that all spices are approximate and should be adjusted to your pallet (I don’t actually measure anything when cooking this).Also, as a confession, I leave out the corn starch and didn’t miss it in the experience at all.

Preparation:

  1. Bring stock to simmer, add soy, shittakes and stray mushrooms, Sriracha/chili paste. Simmer for 10 min.
  2. Add white pepper, vinegar, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrots, wood ear fungus, tofu. Simmer 10 min.
  3. Pour in the eggs in a very thin stream over the surface. Let stand for 15 seconds before adding the sesame oil.
  4. Serve with garnish of scallions.

Hope you enjoy! If you have comments or questions, feel free to add them below.

This year marks our fifth year celebrating the Solstice! After a summer solstice that blew us away, we’re excited to be expanding in community and experimenting in new ways to bring forth this shared community. So…this time, we’ll be combining our Solstice Gathering with a Yule Gathering that’s been happening for a number of years as well!

A few changes this year:

  • Date: We’re doing it on Dec 18th, which is the first time we’ve not done it on the actual solstice.
  • Place: We’re doing it at Melanie and Shawn McElroy’s (second time we’ve done it not at our place)
  • Ceremony: Combining some elements from their Yule celebration with our Solstice. Notable traditions so far include candle lighting, direction calling, and burning the Yule log that was the May Pole at Beltane!

We’re excited to bring in new elements of ceremony and to join forces with new collaborators. We hope you’ll join us for a night of welcoming in the new season and celebrating in community. Please find the event details and RSVP on the Facebook event here.

This summer I’ve been watching a few hop vines take over the vertical space beside the garage. They are amazingly productive plants and quickly reached the end of the 10-12 foot runs I had given each of them. Of the 8 or so plants I planted, the Cascade, Centennial and Chinook varieties have made hops this year. I’m hoping the Magnum still will also.

Hop production is pretty light in the first year, so hopefully next year my hop productivity will allow me to switch a few beers to my own source. But for now, I’m happy experimenting with what I have grown.

I added my own hops (Chinooks) to a recent batch of beer. The beer was meant to be a lightly-hopped amber ale. I added a handful of the hops at the end of the boil (should contribute more floral than bitter to the brew).

I’ll probably add some more hops when it gets to the secondary fermenter as well. I look forward to seeing what results!

We’re excited, as you might imagine. 4 years of celebrating the solstice at the Nomads Lounge, and this is a new level of evolution in terms of ceremony! Event will be on Monday, June 21, 2010. There will be 3 distinct parts of the evening: dinner, ceremony, and party. Make sure you know when the time to be here is! Check out more on the Facebook page

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