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Posts Tagged ‘food’

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.

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Tonight I presented our first experience inoculating logs for mushroom cultivation at the Mushroom Club of Georgia meeting. The whole process, since initial idea till now (with completed logs) is only two months (or less). We’re new to this, but we dove into it and learned a lot in the process. I put together some slides to show the process, what we did, how much time it took, and how much it cost. See slides below. Since it’s TIrza and my anniversary today, special thanks to Tirza for making it a community night!

It was great to learn from others tonight about some of the details and experience items. Great panel with lots of experience:

  • Katharine and David have been growing mushrooms for 14 years and have a wealth of local experience. They talked about there process for adding a few new logs each year to keep a steady supply, how they stack them, and getting logs off the ground (with bricks/blocks) to make them last longer. They also answered a lot of questions from the audience and let me know that I should see oysters in 3-4 months but shiitakes won’t be for a year.
  • Brandy Arts talked about the approach to fungi integration into life and gardening she learned from working with Paul Stamets. Lots of great resources in a digestible form in Mycelium Running. She proposed integrating fungi into gardening as a source of fertilizer. She says the school she teaches at (where Alon is at!) will be doing a project to use hair + mycelium to clean up oil. Send those kids to the Gulf Coast!
  • Rod Stafford geeked out on his chemistry-lab-inspired mushroom cultivation setup. He brought in petri dishes, the sterile jars filled with rye seeds and mycelium and then the bags where he grows the mushrooms. He showed pictures of a laundry basket filled with hay that was busting out oyster mushrooms! In September, he’s giving a talk about his “lab in a box” setup. Amazing patience and attention to detail he has!!

Slides from our experience:

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Mushroom Log Day Tomorrow!

Tomorrow we’ll be working on our mushroom logs! 80+ logs and 2,300 spawn will become one 🙂

We’ll be working all day at the Nomads Lounge. If you’re interested to learn about cultivation of edible/medicinal mushrooms, please feel free to drop by. Also, if you want to be more involved and are willing to help out for a couple of hours, you’ll be rewarded too!

RSVP for event and find details on Facebook page.

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Saturday 23, 2010  I am out into the cold morning and off to pick up Carter.  Alon didn’t sleep well last night and I feel like I didn’t sleep at all.  No time for coffee, if this sale is anything like the Trees Atlanta sale its going to be packed when it opens at 9.  We arrive at the Food Bank and 9:10 and there are mobs of people.  Surely all these people are not here for the tree sale?  But surely the Food Bank would not schedule another event for today.  The Organizational Change Alliance has their meeting inside starting at 10 and thats enough to ask of one parking lot.

Crossing the street, it was clear that all those people were here for the tree sale.  I went straight for the persimmons and pomegranates that were my reason for coming – gone.  Sold out at 9:15. I grab a plum tree and look around raspberries – sold, blueberries- not a trace, pawpaws – gone.   I am not committing to apples or pears unless I know a lot about the variety and the root stock. I have about 1/8 of an acre for fruit trees and thats not much space if I plant full size trees.

Almost all fruit trees are made of two different trees – the root stock and the cultivar.  The root stock is chosen for its hardiness and its size.  The tree will only grow as big as the root stock allows.  Put a Macintosh apple cultivar on full size root stock you get an apple tree that will get a tree that is 20-40 feet tall.  Put the same cultivar on a semi-dwarf or dwarf root stock and you keep the tree to as small as 4-6 feet. I prefer to put in small trees and have more variety.

So I took my plum (a pollinator friend for a plum I already own) and got into the long, long line.  Waiting was no bore, because I ran into at least a dozen friends.  Even people I don’t know were coming up to me and saying hello.  ALFI wisely set up a line for ordering trees to be delivered next week.  I would have ordered 4 times more, but I am going to SOCON 10.  So I bought my plum and headed over to Cafe Campesino’s booth to get my cup of coffee.  They just opened a shop selling organic, shade-grown, fairtrade coffee in the Atlanta Curbside Market.

I spoke with Kyla after the sale.  She says that the sale was so successful ALFI will be able to hire a full time employee next year.  The difference between being an all volunteer organization and being having a single employee is a massive step for an organization.  It allows for consistancy of communication, planning, and volunteer organizing.   Orders may be up to 5 times the amount of plant material sold the day of the sale.  Amazing.

Heres what I think ALFI did right

1. Well designed invitation.  With a catchy title, neutral but attractive colors and clear information.  I saw this invite on a lot of different websites, on Facebook and in emails from several friends.

2. Fiscal sponsorship.  ALFI is not an independent organization.  It is a project with fiscal sponsorship from Georgia Organics, this means that the project operates under the umbrella of GO.  All of ALFIs money must go through GO.  GO probably takes a small percentage to cover bookkeeping and accounting expenses.  ALFI doesn’t have to set up its own legal entity.  I am a huge fan of fiscal sponsorship.  It creates synergies and helps prevent duplication of efforts.  It also slows the outrageous proliferations of nonprofit organizations occuring now.

3. Grow it Yourself.   ALFI hit the message right on.  Grow it yourself, Do it yourself, Take care of yourself. People are looking for self-reliance.  The recent turbulence in the economy and the growing instability of the globe has people seeking more control over their lives.  Whether its growing their own food, doing home improvment projects, or taking control  of their investments, people are taking charge of their lives.

4. Organization.  This event was well organized right from the start.  They had clear lists of which trees they would have.  At the event they had pre-printed order forms and booklets of information about the trees.

5. Tap into communities. ALFI got their invite and messages firmly planted into different communities. If 3 of your friends are going to the same event, you might as well go also.  They successfully tapped several functioning communities including local food fanatics, community gardeners, tree planters, and food bank supporters.

May all the baby trees be blessed with a well dug hole, regular watering, and safe passage through their first year.

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