Asparagus Season, Oh My Favorite!

Asparagus Habitat

If you look closely at the top photo, in the upper left hand side you can see the asparagus growing out of the ground. This is in “lake country” Minnesota. I grew up here just like this asparagus 😉 It lives really close to the lake and has some big spears because the plant base is fairly old. I think it’s going to get moved to higher ground this year because the thick grass that likes to grow in the soggy soil is really hard to keep out of the asparagus patch.

I love roasted asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. It works perfectly in a stir fry and I’m really wanting to try and make pickled asparagus this year if I can harvest enough out of this patch.

Asparagus Spring 2014Asparagus Harvest Spring 2014

This was my first cutting of 2014. I’m savoring it.

Asparagus Harvest Spring 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (Gluten Free)

This was delicious. My first time really cooking “gluten free”. I really love the coconut flour and can’t wait to make some more foods using alternative flours!
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp - Gluten Free

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp - Gluten Free

3.5 cups rhubarb
2 cups strawberries
1/2 cup white sugar

~6 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats *gluten free
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 Tbsp ground golden flaxseed
cinnamon
nutmeg

Mix rhubarb and strawberries with white sugar in a pan (I used a glass pie pan). Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and then cover rhubarb and strawberries with it. Bake for ~30 minutes at 350 degrees.

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!

Project: Mushrooms From A Box!

We’re all excited over here because today in the mail I received THIS from my amazing friends! It’s a DIY kit for growing edible oyster mushrooms at home.

DIY Oyster Mushrooms
DIY Oyster Mushrooms

I’ve wanted to try this since I first heard it was possible years ago. Tomorrow I will cut the box and start misting it to get them to start growing. Stay tuned for progress posts!

Rainy Day Ultimate Oatmeal

It’s raining and I’ve been eating a lot of spiced up veggies lately… So today I wanted something different… something warm, fruity and creamy… so I made oatmeal on the stove. Then I added walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and wonderful juices from the berries. Oh, that’s peanut butter smeared on the side of my bowl too – I love the combo of oatmeal and peanut butter. (Better than ice cream!)

Rainy Day Ultimate Oatmeal

What do you put in your oatmeal?

Green Clementine Smoothie

Clementines are a variety of Mandarin Orange. I found a bag of them on sale today so I picked them up. Yay! It’s unfortunate how little fresh citrus fruits I get to eat because the quality and prices in the stores around where I live is terrible nearly year-round. Nope, not close enough to the equator. The good news is that clementines are usually great quality, come in a big bundle/box, and are sometimes on sale. If you have never tried them I really suggest that you do. They have much thinner peels than oranges and are really easy to peel open, typically don’t have seeds and are very sweet and juicy. Of course they are very healthy – containing a lot of Vitamin C, B Vitamins, potassium, calcium, ++ fiber, water and antioxidants – especially when you eat the peel too! I LOVE the sharp taste of the peel in smoothies. It can really hide the taste of other ingredients, such as the taste of spinach/greens or beets, if you don’t like those flavors. OR it can scare you away completely — if that is the case just omit the peel and you’ve still got a lovely smoothie. Check out what I made today:

Green Clementine Smoothie

  • Handful of Spinach *or other greens
  • 3 Clementines * or tangerine, orange
  • +peel ~ 2in x 2in piece *experiment for your tastes
  • Strawberries ~1 cup
  • 1 banana
  • Pineapple ~1/4 cup
  • Flax Seeds ~ 1 Tbsp
  • Soy Milk *until blendable ~ 1 cup

I’m going to be saving all of my peels and putting some of these ideas to use too – 5 Clementine Peel Ideas!

Photos to come! I feel bad publishing text-only posts!

Cookie Season 2011

After this last week of December I’m unplugging the oven.
Cookie baking is addicting! The following cookies are making an appearance this season:

Sugar Cookies. I love the addition of lemon, so I add some fresh lemon zest and juice to this recipe – Soft & Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies They are chewy and crispy!

Snowballs! The memory of these cookies sprung, up from my childhood I suppose, into my mind a couple of weeks ago so I made some. Perfect match to the memory! Delicious cookies… a favorite…

Chocolate chip cookies with oatmeal and walnuts. The back-of-the-bag recipe that I modify by throwing in about 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, white chocolate chips and heath toffee!

Salad is going to taste so good all of January.