Month: June 2012

Harvesting Wild Mushrooms – “Chicken Of The Woods” – Laetiporus

During August of 2010 I was enjoying some time in Minnesota with my aunt and got into talking about local wild mushrooms. She told me about the chicken of the woods – how unmistakable it is with its shelf-like structure, no stems, no gills and bright orange color. The very next day while we were enjoying a picnic dinner in her front lawn I spotted one growing right by her garden on a sawed-off portion of a big oak tree!

Chicken of the Woods - Wild Mushroom Chicken of the Woods - Wild Mushroom

The odds of that happening were so slim that I feel like “it was meant to be”. We carefully cut the mushroom and sauteed it with onions, green pepper and butter the following evening. The level of deliciousness blew my mind and I have been forever hooked on this mushroom. It is one of my most favorite mushrooms, if not one of my all time favorite foods ever. The following year I was at her house again in August and we found the chicken growing back! (so we ate it again!)

Over the winter down in Missouri I grew my own oyster mushrooms which turned out GREAT. Then in the spring I found jelly ear mushrooms in the wild, at their peak of being jelly-like, and ate some for the first time. They were more of a texture than a flavor but I would eat them again.

DIY Oyster Mushroom Kit - Day 8 Wild Jelly Ear Mushrooms - Missouri USA

Any way you slice it (ha!) the chicken of the woods mushroom is a superior mushroom. Ever since finding the one at my aunt’s house in 2010 I have been looking for more. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago in Nisswa, Minnesota that luck struck me and I found more — Much, much more!

Chicken of the Woods - Wild Mushrooms Cutting Chicken of the Woods Wild Mushrooms

OH GLORIOUS CHICKEN!!!!!

Chicken of the Woods - Wild Mushroom - Minnesota June 2012

It was growing on the roots of a living oak tree. There was a lot of dirt and grass incorporated into it so I spent many hours meticulously cleaning what I wanted to keep. I had a couple friends to help too but eventually everybody petered out and thought I was nuts. Then I cooked some and they understood!

Chicken of the Woods Chicken of the Woods - Sulphur Shelf - Wild Mushroom

Doesn’t it look a lot like chicken? The fibers run in strands like muscle tissue and stay that way after cooking, the coloring is similar to white meat or seafood and even the amount of moisture in the mushroom is similar to meat. Since I no longer make chicken a reoccurring item in my diet it’s hard for me to say “it tastes like chicken too”. To me, it has it’s own flavor which is hard to describe but very, very wonderful and I would say “different” than other typical cap/stem mushrooms.

Chicken of the Woods Wild Mushroom

I cleaned, ate and froze the remainder of over 6 POUNDS of Chicken of the Woods.

Chicken of the Woods - Cleaned "Steaks" Chicken of the Woods Mushroom

I’ll be sure to share some recipes soon, as these mushrooms are not to be eaten raw. So far I have sauteed them, added them to a chimichanga, and made them into a veggie burger. I think a creamy white sauce over pasta and spinach sounds good, along with marinating them before grilling, and I can’t forget… making “chicken nuggets” by breading and frying them!

Needle Felted Kitty Cat Figure!

Meet Sammy. Sam. Samson. Sambert! He is a soft orange cream and white cat that spends his days charming one of my dearest friends. His BFF is a yarn ball, he is a fan of tuna fish, and he is scared of bubbles. He is an indoor cat with big dreams.
Jackie & Sammy     Sammy

Since Sammy is so gosh darn adorable and loved (and also getting up there in years) I requested a bunch of his hair. My friend brushed and brushed all winter long (he loves it) and saved up enough hair for me to make this needle felted kitty cat figure:
Needle Felted Cat Figure with Real Cat Hair and Wool

Needle Felted Cat Figure with Real Cat Hair and Wool

It is made of sheep wool for the inside/shape of the cat and then it is covered with real cat hair. The tail is all cat hair. The white detail on his chest is white wool since I didn’t have all white cat hair. It was created by a process called needle felting — small barbed needles are pushed into the wool countless times which essentially weave the fibers together.

Here it is before I added the white details to his chest:
Needle felt cat with real cat hair - in progress

Photogenic!
Needle Felted Cat - Real Cat Hair and Wool
Believe it or not, this was my first needle felted cat! I’m sure he’ll be cherished for years by my friend. Oh, he is also Sammy approved!