Thursday, April 28, 2011

my crappy kitchen wall moment

posted by Melissa
I have spent several hours in the past few days faced with vocal demons that swelled and spewed silently from my past incarnations and landed right in the front of my personal inner dialogue.

They just showed up, unannounced.  Uninvited.  And ruthless.

Especially since I was riding this wave for a while now where I thought I had left them behind.  Like I learned to surf and they were buried in the sand on shore, every wave I would ride in, the more sand that would cover them up.  And surfing feels soooo good.  I guess I assumed they had decomposed by now, back to the earth, the cycle of life.

Nope.  Not a chance.

It left me wanting a break.  Not just from the voices of self degradation, all gritty and scratchy on the skin like the sand they were never truly buried under.  But from everything.  From laundry, dishes, cooking, school, being a wife and mother, being a friend, brushing my teeth, and blogging.

There I was sitting slumped over on my kitchen chair, the one that makes black scrape marks all over the wall it sits in front of.  It is so annoying, and yet I do nothing about it, I probably never will.  It's one of those things like a curtain rod that you finally get up, but it is a little crooked and you think...I'll fix that one day, probably next week when I have more time.  Geez, I mean, at least I got it up there today.  And then it just become what is.  And we live with crooked curtain rods.  At least I do.

Hunched over and staring into the pink hued space of my kitchen, I muttered that I wanted a break.  I don't mean to sound melodramatic, I do assume that all of you have these...oh what does that whiny, rich white lady call them form that book where she travels the world because she's sad...oh yeah, "bathroom floor moments".  Or in my case, "crappy, scraped-up kitchen wall moments".  Only I can't just get up and fly off to some country that starts with the first letter I think of.  (I really should give that book another chance.)

A break.  I thought about how I pretty much have been having a break this month, at lest with the blog, not posting as much as I would like.  But the break I longed for wasn't like that.  It wasn't like deciding you are going to take the day off and get back to everything tomorrow.  My break would be like taking a week off and coming home to find that someone straightened the curtain rods, patched up the kitchen wall and repainted it, cleaned the house, did the laundry, made a dentist appointment for you and your kids and maybe even posted a super funny witty blog post in your name.

"as beautiful as it is powerful"

posted by Melissa
This post is an informative piece on one of my favorite medicinal mushrooms, Reishi.  I use it for immune support and mood support, as many of my teachers and herbalist friends have described it as "grounding".   In fact, it is often used herbally as an adaptogen.  An adaptogenic plant or mushroom is one that is used as a tonic, a restorative, to bring the body back into a balanced state.

Below is a more in depth look at the mushroom, medicinally and otherwise.
All information is cited from Mycellium Running, by Paul Stamets, unless otherwise stated.

Reishi mushroom,    
Ganoderma lucidum

Other common names:   ling chi, ling zhi (Chinese for "tree of life mushroom"), the panacea polypore.

Ganoderma lucidum, from Wikipedia
Description:  It is kidney shaped and woody textured.  It grows 5-20cm in diameter and has a shiny surface that appears lacquered when moist and dulls as it dries.  The cap is dull red to reddish brown, and even black at times.  It often has a white area of new growth at the outer edge of the cap and white pores underneath.  Spores are brown.  Sometimes spores from the underside collect on the cap, giving a powdery brown look when it dries.

Natural Habitat/Distribution:  This saprophytic mushroom is found on a wide range of hardwoods.  It is found throughout the world, from the Amazon to the southern regions of the US and across most of Asia.  It is mostly found in warm subtropical regions and less in temperate climates.

Fragrance:  Musty, mealy, fungoid.  (I am guessing that means it smells like a mushroom.)

Natural Method of Cultivation:  Being a saprophytic, I know from PSMS class that it is one of the kinds of mushrooms that can be cultivated.  Indeed,  Stamets states that it grows well on logs, stumps, and buried blocks of sawdust spawn.  (The book is a great resource of you are thinking about cultivating mushrooms.)

Season and Temperature Range for Mushroom Formation:  Summer to early fall.  Temperature 60-95 degrees F.

Medicinal Properties:  Stamets cites studies showing that reishi is a direct antimicrobial, but is not anti-tumor as many other mushrooms have shown to be.  He points out that it is helpful for cancer patients by stimulating the production of macrophages, activating the host's production of natural killers cells, T cells and tumor necrosis factors. Many of the over 100 distinct polysaccharides and triterpenoids identified in the reishi mushroom demonstrate immunomodulatory properties.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Me and Nadia Comaneci

Posted by Amy Baranski
Doodle by Amy Baranski.

Ever since I was 12 I've dreamt of becoming an Olympic athlete. During my last 30 day Bikram yoga challenge, amid the growing chaos of my unchored home and the mounting haystack of emails, voice mails, and text messages, I became Nadia Comaneci.

The precise moment I stepped into the heated and muggy studio everything in my real life melted away. The saga of my perfect ten played out during the 90 minute class. At times you could hear a pin drop in the gymnasium. The crowed held its breath as I took the floor.

I vaulted, tumbled, balanced the beam, and whipped my body around the uneven bars. But, mostly I practiced, tucked away in a small warm gym somewhere in the Romanian countryside. Everyone else in the studio was training too. The difference was that I was Nadia Comaneci, and everything I did was for the Olympics.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Need fun? Make a Kabob!

Posted by Amy Baranski

Fun to assemble, fun to cook, and fun to eat, kabobs are fun. Next time, add a burst of cherry tomato on these little sticks.

Brussels Sprouts and Crimini Mushroom Kabobs
From Cooking With Mushrooms by Mimi Broduer

Brussels sprouts, oregeno, criminis, black pepper, kosher salt, lemon juice, olive oil.
It's that simple!

More Mushrooms Musings

posted by Melissa

This past Thursday night's PSMS mushroom ID class focused on what the teacher called "Tonight's Tough Topic: Toxic Toadstools."  That title may clue you into the atmosphere of the class, yes, there was quite a bit of humor involved.  And while I was not in the mood for laughter when I got to class, it only took a few quips to bring a smile to my face.  I think my favorite one of the night was this quote about what happens if you eat a poisonous mushroom.
"The bad news is, you need a new liver.  The good new is, you jump the line."
I know, it doesn't seem as funny to me right now either, but with his delivery and the class response, it really worked in that mushroom people crowd.

Amanita muscaria (I did not find this one.)
The teacher was Daniel Winkler.  He has a business, Mushroaming, taking tour groups to Tibet, looking for mushrooms.  I can't wait for Good Luck with That to be able to take trips to Tibet during mushroom month!  Maybe someday.

*off daydreaming*
*ok, I'm back*

He started off our class, like any mushroom class should, with a beautiful picture of the Amanita muscaria.  Everyone is familiar with the look of this red and white, Alice in Wonderland, looking mushroom.

Maybe it's because of its flashy colors, maybe it's the book deal it got with Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgeson) in 1865, but something sure is alluring about this mushroom.  Upon further research into the subject, I found a picture here from the original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, illustration by John Tenniel.  As you can see, this mushroom is not the fancy red capped with white spots like we often associate with the story.  Any readers have an idea what magical mushroom Tenniel was intending to illustrate for Alice to nibble?

Back to the pertinent poison posting.

The Amanita muscaria, or fly agaric as it is sometimes known, is considered poisonous and psychedelic due to the ibotinic acid and muscinol content.  Our teacher said that you could parboil (is that the same as boiling?) it twice for ten minutes, each time dumping out the water, and then eat it safely.  I can't say I will try that, or bring it to my next potluck.

Another mushroom in the same genus is also well known, but mostly only in the mushroom community.  Or at least that is my take, given the fact that I didn't know much about it before this class.  It is Amanita phalloides, also known as Deathcap.  Now there's a good band name that I have no idea why someone hasn't used yet.

Amanita phalloides, from Wikipedia
The scary thing about this mushroom (besides the fact that it will kill you) is that the symptoms can take up to 10 hours to show up.  The poisonous constituent are the amatoxins, which account for 50% of all mushroom poisoning, and 95% of all mushroom fatalities.

It can be mistaken for other mushrooms, but one way to be sure is to wait a day after picking it before eating.  While most mushrooms that it can be mistaken for have gills that turn colors (most likely brown), this mushroom always keeps white gills.  It will also always have at the very least remnant of its universal veil, the ring you see near the top of the stem in the picture to the right.

In Europe, some cases have been given injections of silymarin, from the plant milk thistle, with good results.  Although, as our teacher pointed out, there aren't many volunteers for a study of this kind to be peer-reviewed and published.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

Posted by Amy Baranski

In my dream life I spend the day just scouring the region collecting treasures like mushrooms or experiences such as meeting strangers doing tai chi on early weekend mornings. But reality hits, and I spend the day chained to my desk feeling my way through a waterfall of digital content. Although I find something extraordinarily 21st century about sloshing through data streams it ultimately feels rather dull.

In the past decade, I've encountered a whole set of people who by their lifestyle alone mock the 9 to 5 modality, eschewing a desk job or punch card to pursue their hobby art. And although many, if not all of them, embody a searingly desperate (and quite often loud) passion for something I find them too oft riddled with an enormous and stressful amount of existential crisis.

So which is better? And what does a life make?

Hipster Mushroom

Posted by Amy Baranski

Monday, April 18, 2011

Know Your Mushrooms

Posted by Amy Baranski

The documentary, Know Your Mushrooms, by Ron Mann would better be called Gary Lincoff and Larry Evans Excellent Adventures. The story follows them to the Telluride Mushroom Fest (and beyond), and largely focuses on the cultural perceptions of mushrooms, versus really getting to (cough) KNOW YOUR MUSHROOMS. I would have much preferred a more indepth account of Evans and Lincoff's myco-knowledge.

If you're a die-hard mycophile, or just kinda curious, you can check out the flick on Hulu. I give it two thumbs sideways.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

when you least suspect it

 posted by Melissa

I was out at Levi's soccer game today in Ballard.  Seattle was covered with blue skies and big billowy white clouds.  Although beautiful, the clouds made it feel a good 15 degrees colder than it was when they blew on past, and the sun warmed you right through the fleece.  I walked directionless through Ballard after the game, looking for a place to get change for a bus, and then hopefully a bus stop.  My two youngest kids in tow, both whining about their own personal drama of the hour.  Whining loudly, non-stop.

Then suddenly the whining stopped. (???)

The first one I found, in the rain garden.
A park was spotted.  Just a little corner park, aptly named Ballard Corners Park.  It was quite lovely, with a rain garden, a cement couch and chair like you were in an outdoor living room and a fun playground.  Although it was enticing, when the kids first asked, I reflexively said, "No!!"  I could see more complaining in the near future, two kids more tired, more hungry...and one mom, with much less patience.

But they pleaded.  Don't they always?  And they both appeared to be genuinely connecting (rare) on this effort, so I caved.
The found mushrooms, just barely out of the ground.

Crumbed Zuchini-Mushroom Ragout

Posted by Amy Baranski

I've been sampling my way through the Mushroom Cookbook by Mimi Brodeur (with Mushroom Fajitas and Roasted Butternut Squash & Shitake Cap Soup). Today I'll share another recipe. But first a note about the cookbook: It's to the the point, but I can't say much else. The author fails to portray a poignant sense of self in her writing, nor does she seem to centralize the role of the mushroom in each recipe. That said, the recipes, though ordinary, make a sufficient meal.

Herbed Crusted Pork Chops with
Crumbed Zucchini-Mushroom Ragout

Saturday, April 16, 2011

They must be over there

I think this is a Naematoloma disprsum.
Posted by Melissa

Seward Park is on a piece of land that sticks out into Lake Washington in the south part of Seattle.  It is filled with lush ferns and moss and douglas firs that stretch upwards as far as the eye can see.  But the truth is I hardly looked up.  When mushroom hunting your focus is on the ground. Eyes slowly wandering through leaves and fallen branches and then quickly darting here and there hoping, with fingers crossed, that you will stop on the right spot.

Like a roulette table, round and round the eyes are spinning, and I clench my heart muscles and wish that I'll land on the money spot and find a mushroom.  As Amy and I were cracking jokes, walking down the path, (and off path, don't tell on us please) I could feel the hopeful feeling swelling and releasing the tight wishing sensation from my chest outward.  It totally reminded me of  gambling.

I could hear the similar voices yammering in my head.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Did you have a "moss moment" today?

Seward Park "moss moment"
posted by Melissa

Chemistry and Alegbra have been consuming me...even more than what songs I will sing for karaoke month in December.  Sneak peek though, I am feeling kinda partial to Air Supply and "Stuck on You" by Lionel Richie. (admittedly, I thought it was sung by Kenny Rogers when I heard it in a bank today.  wow.)  I have another one, a real winner I am keeping in my back pocket...but you'll just have to wait.

The mushrooms are still pushing their way into my life, and I love learning more about them.  What I love most, is when I make it a priority to get out into nature to go hunting for mushrooms.  (Even if the dirty dishes are piling up in that cute little kitchen.)
Today we went to Seward Park, and it was truly magical.  I felt like I was five again, rubbing my hand against moss on a tree.  Moss the color of the wool carpet we had in my living room as a child in the 70's.  (I know, the color was darker in real life, mom.)  To say "I felt so alive," would be an understatement.

In an effort to involve my brain on these walks, and not just my exploding heart, we have been going to classes.  Yesterday evening was the second on a series of four classes that Amy and I are taking on "Beginning Mushroom ID."  It is hosted and taught by members of PSMS. (Puget Sound Mycological Society)  Our teacher was Danny Miller, and his knowledge of fungi coupled with a quick wit and one liner sense of humor, made for an enjoyable class.

We started at the basic classifications of life, learning that Fungi is one of the Kingdoms, just as are Plants and Animals.  The Fungi Kingdom shares qualities of each; needing to "eat" food (i.e. not able to make their own food such as plants do) like the Animal Kingdom does, but not being able to move around to gather that food, like the stationary Plant Kingdom.

Mushrooms are then categorized more and more.  Firstly, into two phylums: Ascomycota and  Basidiomycota.  The basidiomycetes are all the gilled mushrooms.  The ascomycetes are the more primitive of the mushrooms, and have not evolved from the pre-gill stages of spore storing.  From there they are further broken down into Order, Family, Genus and Species.  As mushroom foragers, we are interested in last two classifications when identifying specimens.

There is also a way to group mushrooms as far as their role in the ecosystem.

Volunteer Park Mushroom Walk

Here's a slideshow of what we found on our Volunteer Park mushroom forage on April 8, 2011.

Happy mushroom hunting!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Identified: Mushroom Poem #2

Another mushroom poem foraged and found.  


by Mary Oliver 
b. 1935
a sweet pair of mushrooms.  volunteer park 4.8.11

Rain, and then
the cool pursed
lips of the wind
draw them
out of the ground -
red and yellow skulls
pummeling upward
through leaves,
through grasses,
through sand; astonishing
in their suddenness,
their quietude,
their wetness, they appear
on fall mornings, some
balancing in the earth
on one hoof
packed with poison,
others billowing
chunkily, and delicious -
those who know
walk out to gather, choosing
the benign from flocks
of glitterers, sorcerers,
panther caps,
shark-white death angels
in their town veils
looking innocent as sugar
but full of paralysis:
to eat
is to stagger down
fast as mushrooms themselves
when they are done being perfect
and overnight
slide back under the shining
fields of rain.

I liked the line, "those who know."  As I hope to be able to consider myself one of those someday.

Monday, April 11, 2011

internet poetry foraging: found 1 mushroom

Posted by Melissa

Amy, holding her first mushroom specimen.
Amy and I were sharing dinner and wine together after our PSMS Mushroom ID class this past Thursday night, and as usual, we got to chatting.  Our conversations roamed through life and death, the fallible nature of humanity, and of course, mushrooms.  The night was edging on as the hours grew larger in number, and when I realized it was 11pm, I sadly had to call it a night and get to my studying for Algebra and Chemistry.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I should have left earlier." Amy obliged.

"Whatever.  I love hanging out and talking about all this stuff.  Anyway, I have been getting up super early and doing my work while everyone else is in bed.  So, no worries."  I volleyed back.

"You know," Amy shared, "Sylvia Plath use to get up early and write her poetry when she had kids."

"Yeah," I laughed, "but didn't she drown herself in a lake? Looks like it didn't work out too well."

"No, head in the oven. Virginia Woolf went in the lake, pockets full of stones." Amy corrected me.

I kept thinking of those words "head in the oven."  So blunt, so evocative.   I kept seeing my own head lying in my filthy oven, pink kitchen walls cheerily in the background.  In my vision, I must have been there for quite some time because I looked confused as to why nothing was happening.  Finally, I raised my head and shaking it while rolling my eyes with a huff.  The black chunks of burnt food fell from my dirty cheeks that were marked in lines from the oven rack.

Kneeling awkwardly, still over the oven door, it dawns on me...I have an electric oven.


As I sat down to write my post mushroom class blog post, I kept thinking of that ironic scene in my imagination and feeling strangely connected to Sylvia Plath.  I studied poetry in college, but I didn't remember any of her writing.  So, I got sidetracked searching for her works on line.
Serendipitously, I came across this poem.

Volunteer Park mushroom find on 4.8.11.

I'd love to dissect this poem, key it out so to speak, to use the terms of mushroom identifying.

Anyone have any thoughts as to what she is alluding to?

Anyone know of any other great mushroom poetry?

Do you think I should use this as one of my poems I memorize?

Leave me a comment below.  I would really love to hear what you think.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Mushroom ID 101: No One's Dead Yet

Posted by Amy Baranski

**UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect the true cost of the Beginner Mushroom ID class $40 (that's a steal). Also, the next beginner series will be held September 2011.**

Our people!
“We've never had a death in our club.”

The teacher then knocked on wood.

So began our introduction to the Beginner's Mushroom Identification class, reasonably priced at $45.00 $40.00. To enroll, you have to join the Puget Sound Mycological Society (PSMS), which is worth your time if you're serious about eating wild mushrooms.

The class runs 4 weeks: two hours every Thursday night at the Center for Urban Horticulture at the UW. Our first class served as a primer for learning about the parts of a mushroom, how to create a spore print, expert ID resources and proper specimen samples, and rules of edibility.

What's a Mushroom?

PSMS defines fungi as neither plants nor animals.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

PSMS: Morels are fruiting!

Posted by Amy Baranski

The chatter on the Puget Sound Mycological Society (PSMS) Yahoo Member Group has picked up since their first Spring field trip. Net: Morels are fruiting. Morels you can eat.
 Morchella elata (black morel)--identified by the finder and photographer: Isabelle Phan.
Interested in mushroom foraging? Join PSMS.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Urban Foraging in Seattle's Parks

Posted by Amy Baranski

*UPDATE:  Patrice Benson of the Puget Sound Mycological Society shared in the comments: "City and State parks have differing regulations for picking mushrooms and other plants and fruits. Check with the park before foraging.Since parks are used by many of the city's and State's residents, please be mindful that everyone may want to see the mushrooms. Field trips with PSMS are a great way to learn and discover and forage for Wild Mushrooms."*

Seattle contains a network of public parks and urban greenbelts that satisfy the curiosities of an urban woods person. The presence of these green swaths helps organize our public imagination of what the city's hills once were--deeply and intensely green--before we cut their wooded slopes, paved them with our streets, and planted our imported shrubs around our timbered homes.

Mahonia aquifolium - Oregon Grape.
State flower of Oregon and native species throughout the NW.
Can be foraged for preserves.
Inspired by yesterday's speed-mushroom foray at Interlaken Park I've decided that throughout the month I'll highlight some of Seattle's green spaces that offer ample opportunity for natural observation, and perhaps urban foraging.

Comprised of 51.7 acres of trees and brambly understory, Interlaken park is a city-slicker wood nymph's wonderland that bridges North Capitol Hill and the Montlake Cut.
In the 1890’s, Interlaken Boulevard was the principal bike and buggy path linking Capitol Hill with the boulevards on Lake Washington. The conversion around that time of the high bicycle wheel to the low bicycle wheel made bicycles much easier to ride and very popular. Assistant City Engineer George F. Cotterill, conscious of the hazards of biking on city streets lined with planks, toured the city to look for good bikeways. His bike trails formed the basis of the city’s boulevard system, and in 1903, the Olmsted Brothers approved Interlaken as a boulevard route. It soon became popular with walkers and auto drivers, who appreciated the views of mountains and lakes. In 1913, five acres of the Interlaken area were set aside as Boren Park to honor Louisa Boren Denny, the last surviving member of the party of pioneers that landed at Alki in 1851. - Seattle Parks and Recreation

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

afternoon mushroom walk

posted by Melissa

Amy called me this afternoon and offered a quick, spontaneous walk through a park to look for mushrooms.  So, I put off my homework, hopped into her Zipcar and headed down the street to Interlaken Park.  We found a few different types of fungi, and I am looking through the Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mushrooms to try my best guess at identifying them.  As I flip through the pages, I feel thankful that we are attending the mushroom identification class this month.

This one above appears to be Trametes versicolor from the latin for "varying in color."  Other names for it include Polyporus versicolor and Coriolus versicolor.  Its habitat is on dead or living trunks and wood, both coniferous and broadleaf.  It is inedible, but only so due to its texture.   And remember, this is my first attempt at identifying a mushroom...please correct me if I am wrong.

My best guess for this next one above is Peziza vesiculosa, from the Latin for "with vesicles" because of the crenulate edge and the outer surface.  (For those of you, that like me, do not know what crenulate means; the definition is: having an irregularly wavy or serrate outline.  I should have remembered that from Botany.)  It is fairly edible.  My book says its habitat is solitary on the ground where perhaps a large herbivores dropping had been.  But I found this right up next to a tree...makes my wonder if my guess is correct.

This one reminds me of the versicolor fungus from above, but it is much thicker and alone instead of layered.  And I think the green is moss, not a varying color of the fungus.  I just don't know what this one is.  The more I look, in the book and online, the more confused I get.  I am starting to wonder if it even is a mushroom.

Urtica dioica

We also saw lots of beautiful moss and patches of nettles (Urtica dioica.)  Nettles or stinging nettles can be foraged as well.  It can be used to make soup, or tea, or into a tincture.  It is often used to help with allergies, but also as a spring tonic offering lots of  nourishing vitamins and minerals.  People used to use the fresh plant to "urticate" themselves to alleviate arthritis pain, the stinging would counteract the pain offering a brief reprise from the aches.

It felt good to be "out in the woods" today, even if it was only a dense park within the city.  Everything is more magical, colors brighter, conversations easier.  There is less to compete with the flow of creativity and imagination that is constant in our minds, yet perhaps is often muffled by or overwhelmed by the activity of the city and suburbs.  Every time I step into the outdoors, even just far enough to where I can't see a house or a car, I wonder about the choice for convenience over the choice for space and tranquility.

Right now, I am happy where I am...but the questions arise nonetheless.


PS...we did see a man with a patchwork bag swung over his shoulder walking two dogs, and both Amy and I thought...for just a minute...that he was going to offer us some mushrooms of the hallucinogenic variety after Amy told him what we were doing hunting around off the beaten path.  Turns out, he didn't.  

Quick, Mushrooms to the Rescue

posted by Melissa

It all happened so quickly.  I went to a meeting to discuss the possibility of being able to go to school while still collecting my unemployment, and I left that meeting registered for classes.  That was less than two weeks ago, and yesterday I started school. 

My first class of the day is Intermediate Algebra, every day at 8am.  Homework every night, a quiz every Friday, and a graphing calculator...all included.  I have never even held a graphing calculator, did they have those the last time I took an algebra class in the early 90's?  Then I run home to take my kids, that were hopefully well behaved at home, to their school.  And  back to my school for Introductory Chemistry.  This class is also meets every day and has a lab once a week.  Home work also every day, quiz every Friday and worst of all, I have to find a small group to get together with every week for a worksheet project.  I also have a short, Healthy Families class that meets a few times this quarter.

I am very excited.  I love school.  I love a traditional school, the comfort of the textbook matching the lecture.  The clear rules and grades.  I love science and math, the way everything is logical and makes sense, fitting into equations and graphs.   I didn't know I loved those things so many years ago in my undergrad.  I thought passion and love were things only the arts and literature could accommodate.

April seems to be starting off quickly as well.  Mushroom month is five days in, only 25 more days to go.  I better get going on the fungi finding!  Much like Amy, I have been incorporating mushrooms into my grocery market foraging.  My mother-in-law was  in town this past weekend and she shared that market foraging was the only kind of mushroom foraging she felt comfortable with me doing.  I assured her that Amy and I are going to be taking a legit class, backed with scientific research, to learn how to safely forage in the wild. 

My plan for the month is to:
1.)  Continue to cook with mushrooms, and master the art of photo sharing the cooking process like Amy.  I love seeing her cooking in every stage. 

2.)  Attend the classes I mentioned above through the PSMS, Puget Sound Mycological Society, every Thursday.

3.)  Impart some knowledge I have learned through my herbal medicine education on medicinal mushrooms throughout the month on the blog. 

Paul Stamets, the man in the video that Amy posted earlier this month, is a wealth of knowledge on medicinal mushrooms and mushrooms in general.  After reading his interview in The Sun magazine a few years back, I really got excited about mushrooms and what they can do for the body and for the future of humanity and the Earth.  I urge you to read this two page section of the interview, and perhaps find a copy of the magazine or Paul's book and read on some more.  In fact, if I can fit it into my homework/school/blog/family schedule, I am going to try to read his book as well.  Here is another article on Paul Stamets from the Seattle Times

Maybe by the month's end, we'll see if we all think mushrooms can save the world as well.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Found my first fungi!

By Amy Baranski

It's hanging out on my neighbor's lilac bush that shades out my veggie garden. I'll take a sample to the mushroom identification class on Thursday and let you know what it is.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Roast Butternut Squash & Shitake Cap Soup

Posted by Amy Baranski

I tried another recipe from Cooking with Mushrooms. It was interesting. I'd change a lot of things if I were to do this again. For one, I thought it would have been sweeter and I'd either amp up the squash factor or drizzle some honey on top right before serving.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mushroom Fajitas

 Posted by Amy Baranski

Far Out: Mushroom Foraging Month!

Posted by Amy Baranski

Welcome to April everyone! Last night in my dream I was talking to Jamie, getting his advice on removing and replacing the old-lady contact paper that covers our hallway walls and ceiling. As we were discussing the recent trendiness of wall paper we saw a giant mushroom growing out of the wall. Everyone was amazed. Then I decided to touch it. It became separated from the wall and slowly deflated. I hope this is not a foreshadowing of the month as I am so excited to explore the world of mushroom foraging.

We've begun our adventures into this mystical magical world by joining the Puget Sound Mycologial Society (PSMS). They use a Yahoo group, so I get a daily member's e-digest that covers topics such as whether this guy should or should not eat the Agaricus augustus that come up in his yard. He lives in near the Asarco Smelter in Tacoma, one of the Superfund Cleanup sites. The safe answer was probably not. Apparently the mushroom genus Agaricus (and apparently others) concentrate heavy metals. Latin I love you.

Next Thursday, Melissa and I will start a four week Beginner's Mushroom Identification Class sponsored by PSMS at the Center for Urban Horticulture (one of my favorite places on the Seattle planet). This should give us a good foundation for identifying mushrooms (including those toxic ones), along with basics on mushroom hunting and common mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). We're supposed to try and bring mushrooms to every class so we'd better be on the lookout this weekend.

The PSMS also organizes field trips for members, and there are a few happening this Spring. I'm excited to meet some new (and undoubtedly interesting) friends/people and to get out in the woods. Also on the menu this month will be a lot of funky. I meant fungi. That was weird. Anyway, I checked out  Mushroom Cookbook by Mimi Broudeur from the Seattle Public Library. Since I'm a Mimi to my favorite littlest person I had to check it out. Tonight I will try to make Chicken Mushroom Fajitas! Off to the store, but before I go I wanted to leave you with this far out TED talk by Paul Stamets. Get that mushroom cloud out of your head and behold the power of Mycelium: