The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘wild edibles’

Fungal Friday 5

Yesterday morning, on our way home from a very interesting walk (we made a new friend!), we were quite surprised to stumble across a Nuclear Power Facility for Ants!

I figure that if Ants have the technology to build huge (relatively speaking) cities underground, then they somehow need to produce energy to fuel them, right?

I figure that if Ants have the technology to build huge (relatively speaking) underground cities, then they somehow need to produce energy to fuel them, right?

I was a bit nervous about giving the structures a sniff, but Elizabeth explained that there was nothing radioactive about them. These are a type of mushroom commonly called ‘Puffballs’. Some two-leggers actually eat them!

According to our research, puffballs are only edible when they are in the immature stage, like this one.

According to our research, puffballs are only edible when they are in the immature stage, like this one.

We aren’t going to try them out this year. Elizabeth wants to learn more about them first.

When this particular species matures (we haven’t identified it properly yet because Elizabeth is too busy getting the garden in to do all the look-ups. SIGH… Dependable help is so hard to find!), it turns to a brownish-grey colour and develops a little hole in the top.

The spores are all inside the mature puffball. The hole allows the spores to escape and scatter whenever pressure is applied to the puffball surface. Poof! Like magic! BOL

The spores – what mushrooms have instead of seeds – are all inside the mature puffball. The hole allows the spores to escape and scatter whenever pressure is applied to the puffball surface. Poof! Like magic! BOL

Elizabeth told me that when she and her brother were two-legger puppies, they would stomp on mature puffballs to release a cloud of spores. She says you have to do it just right, otherwise you just squish the globe. The sport of puffball stomping. Who knew? I would try it myself, but I’m afraid I’ll just end up having a sneezing fit. My nose is a lot closer to the ground than theirs were even back then!

We are finding other weird and wonderful members of the fungi tribe on our woodland walks, too. They seem to like the cool, moist weather we’ve been having. We took some photos for you…

The first ones we found on our Sunday walk were quite strange. I didn’t even see them until Elizabeth noticed a bunch that I had knocked over while I trotted through a patch of Sphagnum Moss. The yellow colour caught her eye.

We think this is Clavulinopsis laeticolor. These are really small - the largest just two or three cm in height.

We think this is Clavulinopsis laeticolor. These are really small – the largest just two or three cm in height.

They were so odd looking that she took a few more photos:

Clavulinopsis laeticolor

Clavulinopsis laeticolor 2

Feeling that we needed to be a bit more scientific with our photos, I thought I’d leave a strand of my wool in the foreground for perspective.

Then we found some little white ones nearby. The things you begin to see when you start observing the forest floor!

Don't they look like a family heading out for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon? These were even smaller than the yellow ones!

Don’t they look like a family heading out for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon? These were even smaller than the yellow ones!

This slightly larger type looks thirsty to me. I think we’ve seen some larger mushrooms similar to this on other excursions.

I wish Elizabeth knew her mushrooms better. She says one day she'll start making a study of them...

I wish Elizabeth knew her mushrooms better. She says one day she’ll start making a study of them… For now, she just enjoys looking.

We will leave you with this pretty group:

These much larger mushrooms reminded Elizabeth of whirling dervishes. What on earth is a whirling dervish?  ~:o/=

These much larger mushrooms reminded Elizabeth of whirling dervishes. What on earth is a whirling dervish? ~:o/=

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Wildflower Wednesday 13

Last week, if you remember, we found a new type of clover. It was hard to see the details in the more artsy photo Elizabeth took, so I asked her if she would take one to help you identify the Rabbit-foot Clover if you were ever to run across it yourself. These are better:

Rabiit-foot Clover - Trifolium arvense. This is growing low to the ground and has narrower leaves than most of the other clovers we've found in our area.

Rabiit-foot Clover – Trifolium arvense. This is growing low to the ground and has narrower leaves than most of the other clovers we’ve found in our area.

The flowers are really different, too. They even feel like fur... very soft and fluffy, not unlike Yours Truly!

The flowers are really different, too. They even feel like fur… very soft and fluffy, not unlike Yours Truly!

We didn’t get flower photos of this tree for you this year, but the cherries are ripe now. Unfortunately, our trees are too tall and spindly for Elizabeth to gather the fruit. The birds will enjoy fattening up on them, though.

Chokecherry - Prunus virginiana fruit. This makes wonderful jam, jelly or wine but you never want to chew on a handful straight from the tree. They are called Chokecherries for a very good reason! They dry your mouth and throat out almost instantaneously.

Chokecherry – Prunus virginiana. This fruit makes wonderful jam, jelly or wine but you never want to chew on a handful straight from the tree. They are called Chokecherries for a very good reason: they dry your mouth and throat out almost instantaneously!

But back to flowers…

We found some lovely ones, and some interesting ones for you this week. Oh, yes, and one of those blasted composite flowers that look like dandelions but aren’t dandelions at all.

A lot of two-leggers around here call these Bluebells, but they aren't. They're Harebells. Bluebells are something entirely different! (Doing this series with Elizabeth is turning me into quite a wildflower snob, isn't it!)

A lot of two-leggers around here call these Bluebells, but they aren’t. They’re Harebells – Campanula rotundifolia. Bluebells are something entirely different! (Doing this series with Elizabeth is turning me into quite a wildflower snob, isn’t it!)

As you can see from the flowers, we went out early this morning for our wildflower safari. I wanted to run through the cool, wet plants, but Elizabeth had me on the silly red leash thing and kept telling me to wait while she took pictures. She was having trouble seeing to take the pictures because the lenses of her seeing enhancers kept fogging up. This meant she had to keep taking photos in case the focus wasn’t what it should be. BORING.

We found this yellow one down the road from the Harebells. It belongs to the Goldenrod family. We both like these flowers because they indicate that autumn is coming soon. Autumn is Elizabeth’s favourite season. It’s my second favourite. My favourite season is, of course, winter!

Gray Goldenrod - Solidago nemoralis. There are almost as many types of Goldenrod growing around here as yellow composite Dandelion imitators. This one is not called Gray because two-leggers have difficulty distinguishing between grey and yellow, but because it's leaves are a greyish-green colour. You can tell it from the others by this but even better by looking at the flowers. Although there are many little branches of them, they are really short and all come the flowers seem to be on the same side of the stem.

Gray Goldenrod – Solidago nemoralis. There are almost as many types of Goldenrod growing around here as yellow composite Dandelion imitators. This one is not called Gray because two-leggers have difficulty distinguishing between grey and yellow, but because it’s leaves are a greyish-green colour. You can tell it from the others by this but even better by looking at the flowers. Although there are many little branches of them, they are really short and all the flowers seem to be on the same side of the stem.

We headed off road shortly after taking that shot. At last I could feel the dew on my paw pads. Aaaaaah! That’s living!

~:o}=

On our way, we saw a number of other signs that autumn is coming soon. If you don’t want to let go of summer, then you’d better close your eyes for this part.

The lack of rain over the past couple of weeks has stressed the Paper Birches into thinking it's time to change colour.

The lack of rain over the past couple of weeks has stressed many Paper Birches – Betula papyrifera into thinking it’s time to change colour.

We found this Wild Sarsaparilla - Aralia nudicaulis putting on quite a show. I liked lying in the moss while Elizabeth photographed in this spot.

We found this Wild Sarsaparilla – Aralia nudicaulis putting on quite a show. I liked lying in the moss while Elizabeth photographed in this spot.

And here is some precocious Labrador Tea - Rhododendron groenlandicum.

And here is some precocious Labrador Tea – Rhododendron groenlandicum.

Okay. You summer two-leggers can open your eyes now.

Off we headed, into the sunrise (which was well under way by this point). Elizabeth was still having difficulty seeing for some reason, and she walked into several of these nasty things on our way to the next flower subject:

Is it possible to see an echo?

Is it possible to see an echo?

Now I’ve seen this next one many times, but I didn’t realise it was actually a flower!

These plants were as tall as Elizabeth, but she says that under ideal conditions, they can grow to be over 2 m tall!

These Narrow-leaved Cattail plants – Typha angustifolia – were as tall as Elizabeth, but she says that under ideal conditions, they can grow to be over 2 m tall!

I think they should be called the Narwhal Flower. Elizabeth says that there is usually a gap above the brown part of the flower, then a ragged looking dead-grass coloured flower part begins. You can see this on some of the flowers in the general photo if you look closely, but this one has lost the upper fluff part for some reason.

I think they should be called the Narwhal Flower.

There is usually a gap above the brown part of the flower, then a ragged looking dead-grass coloured flower part begins. You can see this on some of the flowers in the general photo if you look closely, but the close-up one has lost the upper fluff part for some reason.

It is a good time for these to be blooming here from a photographer’s perspective. The water in this marsh has all dried up! Elizabeth was able to walk in without getting her shoes soaked. I kind of missed the splash part of our safari, though.

On slightly higher ground, we found these Christmassy plants:

I don't know if Bears actually eat Bearberries - Arctostaphylos uva-ursi.... I think, judging from what they leave behind, that they prefer Blueberries, which are much tastier.

I don’t know if Bears actually eat Bearberries – Arctostaphylos uva-ursi…. I think, judging from what they leave behind, that they prefer Blueberries, which are much tastier.

Some plants look lovely in the early morning light. We found this lonely, faded Common Mullein – Verbascum Thapsus watching the sunrise, too.

Isn't it lovely? It's almost as tall as the Cattails.

Isn’t it lovely? It’s almost as tall as the Cattails.

From here we turned onto a deer path that led into the deep woods. We didn’t expect to see much there today; we were just taking a short-cut to the road, where it is easier for Elizabeth to walk me on the silly leash. To our surprise, we found something Elizabeth recognised, but hadn’t found on the ‘Estate’ before. Now, if you thought those Cattails made strange flowers, wait ’til you see this one!

The flowers of the Spurred Gentian - Halenia deflexa are very small and easy to miss. But aren't they just the coolest little flowers you ever sniffed out?

The flowers of the Spurred Gentian – Halenia deflexa are very small and easy to miss. But aren’t they just the coolest little flowers you ever sniffed out?

Next to it, we found one of those Dandelion wannabes, but Elizabeth needs to think about it a bit before we show you a photo. Maybe next week, she says.

We showed you a Jewelweed flower last week. This morning, however, we found one that was more intensely coloured. And there was no wind here, so I think Elizabeth was able to get a better photo for you to look at.

Jewelweed - Impatiens capensis

Jewelweed – Impatiens capensis

By this time, we were late for breakfast. It’s hard to hurry when you have a camera in your hands, Elizabeth says. I wouldn’t know. But we got home just in time to find Kay pulling out of the driveway in the Growly Beast. “Well,” she said, “no one was here for breakfast so, I thought I’d go get some groceries!”

Elizabeth has been busy atoning all morning in the kitchen which has, apparently, been renamed: THE DOGHOUSE!

 

Jeudi dans le jardin 4

The harvest has begun, at least of some garden (and wild) edibles. Elizabeth is hard at work bringing in produce, blanching or drying it or cooking with it and putting the results of her efforts into the freezer or on the pantry shelves for winter use. Some of the results are colourful, so we thought this week would be a good opportunity to show you. The gardens need some time to change before we go in and take more pictures.

We've cut the Bee Balm blossoms twice now. Here they are dunked in water (to eliminate insect life), spun dry and placed on the rack for the dehydrator.

We’ve cut the Bee Balm blossoms twice now. Here they are dunked in water (to eliminate insect life), spun dry and placed on the rack for the dehydrator.

After a few days in the dehydrator, we bottle the whole flowers and store them in a dark pantry. They make a good tea, especially when blended with the leaves of the same plant, which we will harvest a bit later.

After a few days in the dehydrator, we bottle the whole flowers and store them in a dark pantry. They make a good tea, especially when blended with the leaves of the same plant, which we will harvest a bit later.

Elizabeth harvests other flowers, too:

She hopes this year to get enough Calendula to make some ointment with it. It is very healing, especially for insect bites, rashes and skin conditions like eczema. Calendula is also nice fresh in salads. Looks pretty on the plate, too (the leaves when young are also great in a salad).

She hopes this year to get enough Calendula to make some ointment with it. It is very healing, especially for insect bites, rashes and skin conditions like eczema. Calendula is also nice fresh in salads. Looks pretty on the plate, too (the leaves when young are also great in a salad).

She's all finished with the clover now, which she also uses in tea. It adds a little sweetness to the mix.

She’s all finished with the clover now, which she also uses in tea. It adds a little sweetness to the mix.

Some of the herbs she hasn’t got time to use fresh, or has too much to use up, she dries.

Here's some of that French Tarragon she likes so much, all dry and ready to go on the pantry shelf.

Here’s some of that French Tarragon she likes so much, all dry and ready to go on the pantry shelf.

Last week a lady gave Kay a whole grocery bag full of Dill, so Elizabeth was busy all evening preparing it to dry or freeze to use when she starts pickling Cucumbers. If she ever gets any Cucumbers. Kay and I showed her a female flower that appeared yesterday afternoon, so maybe…

The beets are coming in now, too. these are some freshly washed beet leaves, which the two-leggers are preparing to blanch and freeze.

The Beets are coming in now, too. these are some freshly washed Beet leaves, which the two-leggers are preparing to blanch and freeze.

Elizabeth's newest culinary invention, Beet Leaf Rolls. They are just waiting to be covered...

Elizabeth’s newest culinary invention, Beet Leaf Rolls. They are just waiting to be covered…

...in a Tandoori fruit and yoghurt sauce before she pops them into the oven for a couple of hours.

…in a Tandoori fruit and yoghurt sauce before she pops them into the oven for a couple of hours.

Before you start wondering where she gets these bizarre ideas…

An old high school friend suggested she try using some of the bigger beet leaves to make something like cabbage rolls, offering the caveat, “avoid TOMATO-based sauce, a lot of the recipes you will find will offer to make a tomato based sauce that you pour over when you bake. This works much better for cabbage. With these tender and tasty peppery leaves, a lighter sauce I think works better.”

Elizabeth spent her formative first years among Ukrainian neighbours in the North End of Kenora. She loves Ukrainian food (she loves any food, really…) like perogies or cabbage rolls. So, she thought about it for a while…

Her ancestors also spent a good deal of time in India, and she’s grown up on the recipes they brought home when they returned. Et voila, as my friend Easy would say. Even so, she was really nervous about how this one would turn out as it was entirely invented and she’d never made cabbage rolls before and …

They were a big hit!

Elizabeth used one of the Hungarian Hot Peppers (the ones without the folds) in her Tandoori Beet Leaf Rolls. She hasn't tried one of the sweet Red Hot Peppers yet. Neither have I. She won't let me try either!

Elizabeth used one of the Hungarian Hot Peppers (the ones without the folds) in her Tandoori Beet Leaf Rolls. She hasn’t tried one of the Sweet Red Hot Peppers yet. Neither have I. She won’t let me try either!

She used other ingredients from the garden, like a Hot Pepper, for example, and she even used something her sister-in-law and brother made from Crabapples growing in their garden in The Yukon: Apple Butter. Truly a dish of many colours and flavours! She’s really proud of herself. So, I had to let her go on about it. Sorry.

Hey, Scribe. Could we maybe move along now? Thanks.  ~:o/=

 

The first of the Purple Tomatillos are ripe, now too. Soon Elizabeth will make some Mango Chutney using them.

The first of the Purple Tomatillos are ripe, now too. Soon Elizabeth will make some Mango Chutney using them.

While Kay and Elizabeth work in the kitchen, I like to supervise. Not only do they frequently need a taskmaster to fire them into action when they start focusing too much on chopping and forgetting things like pots of boiling water, but I also must ensure that nothing that inadvertently flies from the chopping block to the floor is trod upon or otherwise wasted.

Oops! [BUSTED!]

Oops! [BUSTED!]

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