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Posts Tagged ‘medicine’

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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Growing Hops Started!

This spring, I was the glad recipient of hop rhizomes from two different locals. These are the basis for growing hop vines, which leads to the fragrant flowers that are medicinal and used in brewing beer. Thanks to local generosity, I now have 10 hop plants that span 7 different types!

This weekend, I got six of the plants into the ground, with support strings for the vines to climb on. Already half of them are reaching up the string and growing a couple inches a day.

Though most people say that I shouldn’t expect much from a first year harvest, I’m glad they’re getting established and growing quickly already. Hopefully they like it here!

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