Thursday, September 19, 2019

Glass Gem Corn- Heirloom seed spotlight

A few years ago i had seen an article on facebook about Glass Gem corn. i immediately searched online and bought some seeds. i then immediately forgot about them for two year.  Last year, i finally remembered my seeds and planted them, but they didn't do well at all. i got them in too late and it got too cold before they ever formed ears. 

i was happy to see the seeds were still viable after two years, and decided to give it a try again this year not really sure what to expect. i put in one row when we planted to sweet corn and then proceeded to neglect it all season.  When Kenan harvested the sweet corn he let me know that there were ears on the glass gem corn.  So i went out to check it. 

i admit, i kind of thought all those photos i'd seen online had been altered. It couldn't possibly look like that could it?? Yeah, it really does. Everyone i opened was a completely different. 

Some prettier than others, but all really unique and amazing!  The translucent kernels really do look like glass. Each ear looks like it has been decorated in glass beads.

This pink/lavender one is a favorite.  i only had one in these colors.

An unbelievably stunning corn bred by part-Cherokee farmer, Carl Barnes, from ancestral, Native American corn. Ears are a kaleidoscope of gem-like, rainbow kernels. 'Glass Gem  ' goes beyond pretty ornamental corn, it can also be used to make cornmeal, flour, popcorn, or traditional parched corn.  It is available on the Botanical Interests website.

i'm planning to use some of it for decoration and some for popcorn and the saving the seeds on the rest. i grew it near our sweet corn, so i'm not sure if it will have cross pollinated, but i will probably grow a row of the original seeds and a row of the new seeds just to see.  i will say i was very impressed how well the corn germinated after sitting for 3 years and how well it grew despite drought conditions here. This is definitely a variety you are going to want to grow at least once!

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Season is Changing, Time to get Baking!

September has been a mix of crazy hot days and chilly nights. We've had a few overcast dreary days and i've taken that opportunity to do a little baking again. My kids mentioned that they missed the homemade bread. i don't do a lot of baking during the summer because it's just too hot. So having a couple cool mornings gave me the itch to start baking. 

i also have a lot of produce to use up and i'm running out of freezer space. So these are just a few of the things i've been baking up this month.  Skillet Peach crisp, Blueberry Zucchini Bread and Lemon Blueberry muffins.

Working through the last of my white peaches. i still have a few yellow peaches on the tree, but they are not quite ripe yet. Red raspberries are in season again and i'm still picking late season blueberries.

Peach crisp is super easy and very yummy!

Blueberry lemon zucchini bread is definitely more like cake than bread, but it made a nice treat and the family loved it.  As these days get cooler, i'll be practicing my baking skills again.    Fall is undoubtedly the ultimate season for baking. When the mornings are chilly and you don't want to build a fire in the woodstove, there’s no better way to warm your home than by baking some delicious fall breads, cakes and pies.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Halloween is Coming Up and it's Officially Sock Season!

Although our days seem extra warm in Septemeber, it's getting cooler at night.  Stores are starting to put out heir Halloween decorations and that means it's sock season! Autumn has never been my favorite, but i am learning to embrace it. After a busy summer of growing and canning food, it's nice to finally slow down, drink hot teas and snuggle up with my favorite book and a warm pair of cute socks.

i may have a bit of sock obsession. :) i love fun patterns, earthy colors and anything themed.  i mean who could resist these adorable Candy Corn Halloween Socks?   They are so perfect for Halloween!

Chrissy's knee high socks offers super cute socks in all kinds of colors and designs!   These are a few of my favorites in the Halloween Socks section. They Ouija board ones so fun!!  Perfect to spice up any costume idea you may have!

Heading to Hogwarts this fall and need socks for your Uniform or costume? Chrissy's knee high socks has got you covered!

Looking for costume ideas? Check out these 100+ Halloween Costume Ideas with Knee Socks!

If you've been hunting for the perfect accessory to match your Halloween costume or team uniform, the wait is over. Take a peek at all of the super cute socks right now!  Looking for something really special? You can even customize socks for your special occasion or event. 

Connect with Chrissy's Socks on social media!!

i love that Chrissy's Knee High Socks are made in the USA!  Look for the Made in USA symbol when shopping to identify products manufactured in the USA, thanks to their partnerships with other mom-and-pop businesses across the nation and to their local Michigan facilities.  They also offer free shipping on orders $50 or more and promote cruelty-free fashion. They are proud to be affiliated with Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the U.S. and Animals Australia. 

This is a sponsored post by Chrissy's Knee High Socks. More information about Chrissy's Socks can be found here. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

Cooking with Chicken of the Woods- Laetiporus sulphureus

Laetiporus sulphureus, are commonly known as sulphur shelf, chicken of the woods, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus because many think they taste like chicken.  As a vegetarian, i can't say i really remember what chicken taste like, but it has a texture that is similar to chicken making it really versatile and easy to use as a replacement in any chicken recipe.

This year we've really been enjoying it. We have found 4 large chicken of the woods harvests so far, and are still watching a couple logs that usually fruit. We picked way more than we could eat at one time, so we froze a ton of it.  The easiest way to preserve chicken of the woods is to freeze it.  Some folks cook it first and others just clean it and put it right in the freezer.  i wasn't sure of which way would work the best, (having never froze it before) so i froze some raw and froze some cooked (cut up strips and sauteed in butter).  Once we have a chance to use it, i'll have a better idea of which method i prefer.

While we had fresh Chicken of the Woods on hand, we feasted on it every day!  Below are a few of my favorite ways to eat it.

'Chicken' fried Steak with mushroom gravy.  This is really just chicken of the woods breaded and fried and covered in gravy.  My kids prefers to dip it in ketchup like nuggets, but the husband and i enjoy it like this.  i served it with homegrown beans, potatoes and fresh picked berries.

Basic recipe-  Clean the chicken of the woods by brushing it off and lightly wash it if needed and cut off any bad/tough spots.  Dip in seasoned flour, then dip in egg wash (egg beaten with a little water) then dip in seasoned breadcrumbs.  Fry both sides until golden brown. Transfer to plates and top with mushroom gravy. 

Mushroom gravy-  
2 1/2 TBSP butter, 
1 cup fresh mushrooms  (i used a combination of oysters, black trumpets, chanterelles and shiitake)
 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp Tamari 

Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and cook until soft. Add flour and mix about 30 seconds; then add broth slowly while whisking. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add tamari and pepper to taste. Cook until gravy achieves desired thickness

We enjoyed a lot of the Chicken of the woods breaded and fried, and then i had the idea to stuff it.
OMGoodness it is so good. i don't have an actual recipe for this, but it's easy enough to do. 

 i cooked some spinach, drained it well and mixed with mozzarella and feta.  Took two pieces of super fresh chicken of the woods that had been trimmed to similar sizes. put a scoop of the mix on one piece, add sliced tomato and then topped with the other piece.

Once i had a few of these sandwiched Chickens together, i breaded and fried them like above.  Dip each 'sandwich' in seasoned flour, then dip in egg wash (egg beaten with a little water) then dip in seasoned breadcrumbs.  Fry both sides until golden brown and transfer into a baking/casserole dish. Once the dish was filled up, i covered it with tin foil and baked it about 20 min. at 385f.  i did this to make sure the chicken of the woods cooked all the way through and the cheese was melty.  This is probably one of my favorite ways to eat it, but it is a bit time consuming to make.

For lunch, i made 'Chicken' salad sandwiches. i diced up the Chicken of the woods mushroom and simmered it in vegetable broth until it was super tender and had absorbed much of the broth.  From there you can use it  just like chicken in your favorite chicken salad recipe. Having never really made chicken salad before, i just added diced onion, diced swiss chard stems (i don't like celery), mayo a little mustard and salt and pepper. Served it on a bun with homegrown lettuce and tomato.  Fresh cucumber, carrots and peaches from the garden.

Another favorite  (and quick) way to prepare it is as BBQ sandwiches. If your Chicken of the woods is really fresh, it will shred just like chicken. If it's dry and crumbling you may want to cut it into slices and simmer it in some broth until it softens up.  i take my freshly shredded Chicken of the woods and add to a pan with a little olive oil, cook over medium heat until it starts browning a bit and then add your favorite BBQ sauce.  Serve on a toasted bun with caramelized onions and cheese. 

There are a ton of recipes out there for Chicken of the woods,it really is super versatile. It's a very firm mushroom and doesn't really get slimy like many other mushrooms do.  Besides the recipes above, i've used it to make 'chicken' pot pie, 'chicken' quesadillas, Fried 'chicken'  more! 

Do you have a favorite Chicken of the Woods recipe? i'd love to hear it! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Chasing those Wild Mushrooms!

 Well, i think it is official that we are completely addicted to mushroom hunting. Last year was the was of the wettest seasons on record for our area, and we had an amazing variety of mushrooms come up on our land.   Ever since last years mushroom season ended, i've been curious about what we would find this year...especially if the conditions are not the same.

Mushroom season starts off early with the morels. i usually start looking around the second week of April. This year i was a bit disappointed to check all my regular spots and not find a thing.  i started checking probably at the end of March and went out every couple of days, but my usual spots appeared to have dried up.  Refusing to give up i continued to look and the first week of May, i stumbled upon a brand new patch that was covered in huge yellow morels! 

We had a good amount of rain in the spring, So as we transitioned into summer Chanterelle season was in full swing.  All year Kenan has been telling me he didn't have time to chase mushroom  with me this year. He was way too busy, he wasn't going to do it again. i was welcome to, but he was staying home.

Then the chanterelles started popping...

Can we say addicted?? 

i'm not sure how many chanterelles we picked this year, but it was probably just as many as least year.  We went out numerous times and completely filled this basket and filled my freezer.

 While kayaking one afternoon, i spotted this Chicken of the Woods on a log near the edge of the river. i almost tipped my kayaking trying to get to it!  i had to climbed onto a floating log in order to reach it, but there was no way i was going to leave it behind!

We started finding the Chanterelles the first week of July this year, and by August we were still finding a ton. While collecting chanterelles we are always on the look out for a few other choice mushrooms.  Now that we knew the Chickens were sprouting, we were out looking almost every day.   i love finding the Black Trumpets, which are often found near chanterelles but are much harder to spot! 

We have a couple logs on our property where we found Chicken of the Woods last year, so i like to go out and check them periodically. Chicken of the woods is supposed to come back every year, although i think sometimes it skips a year depending on conditions. 

While checking on a log that produced really well last year, i happened upon this one!  i was able to fill my basket with super fresh chicken! 

Our plugged shiitake logs also did incredibly well in July and we filled our freezer with those as well.

While checking on a Chicken log, i found my first Cauliflower mushroom.  At the time it was still really small, so i left it for a few days.  When i went back to find it, i found a second one!  It's always exciting to find a new edible mushroom on our land, especially ones that are super easy to identify like the Cauliflower.  This shows the selection on mushroom we were foraging and harvesting at the beginning of August. Chicken of the woods, Smooth chanterelle, Black Trumpets, Shiitake, Cauliflower, Cinnabar chanterelles and Oysters. 

This is one of the two chicken logs we'd found last year and were hoping would sprout again. i  always forget where it is and have a hard time finding it when i'm out looking.  i was out picking chanterelles with my boy, when he said 'i see a log over there covered in chanterelles.'   To which i replied, 'Chanterelles don't grow on wood. They are probably Jack o'lanterns, or maybe it CHICKEN??'   So we abandoned our chanterelle patch to check out the log covered in orange fungus.  It was my boy's first time finding chicken of the woods and it was massive!!  This photo only shows one end of the log. The log curves around a large tree and it was impossible to fit it all a photo because of the angle. There is just as much if not more on the other end of the log. 

We loaded up our basket until we couldn't find any more in it and came home. Kenan went back the next day to pick the rest. It was the freshest chicken of the weeds we've ever had.  We spent a week eating a variety of chicken of the woods dishes and freezing as much as possible.  After this, i don't think i'll ever have trouble finding that log again!  After this harvest it got really dry. All the chanterelles dried up, and the woods were pretty much empty when it came to any kind of fungi growth.

Almost a month with no rain and temps close to 90, it is so incredibly dry here.  The garden is dying back, even the weeds are dry and imagine my surprise when Kenan tell me the log behind the house that i've been watching for 2 years has finally fruited!!  i first found this log two years ago but the chicken was already too old to pick so i have been watching it ever since. Last year, when we had an amazing mushroom year,  it never did a thing. This year when it's crazy dry and drought like conditions it fruits! i really don't understand it.

We have another log we are watching, but so far it's showed no sign of fruiting. Last year it had already produced by this time of the year, so it may also be an every other year log.  Last year we were also still picking chanterelles right now, so i'm hoping if we can get a good soaking rain we'll start to see more mushrooms popping.  

Despite the last month of drought, we've had a pretty good mushroom season. We now have 4 different logs on our property that  we know produce chickens, and two trees that grow cauliflowers, and two that grow Lion's mane.    It's really neat to not only find new edible mushrooms each year, but to constantly be learning about them and learning what trees to look for and what environments best suits each variety.   

Now i need to add the disclaimer, that you should never eat a mushroom that you can not identify 100% by yourself.  If you are wanting to send me a picture of a mushroom you found to ask if it's edible, then you shouldn't be eating it.  

If you are interested in learning about the mushrooms on your land there are a lot of good resources available online. 

A few of our favorite books are Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora.

You can also check out Learn your Land on facebook and youtube.