Friday, December 17, 2010


The rains have finally come, and so my new fascination du jour is mushrooms. I have been spending my time off school tromping around in the mud and leaves and leafless poison oak in search of chanterelles, boletes, and anything that might be tasty and safe.

I've found a lot of unidentifiable(to me) "lbm's", or "little brown mushrooms". They are everywhere you look, and so many are really similar that it's best that a noob such as myself beware of them. I'm sticking to the ones I can easily identify and that don't have any really toxic look-alikes. Chanterelles are high on the list because not only are they prolific here in the bay, but the one false-chanterelle has an easily found distinction. The boletes are easy as well.

One of the more common poisoning culprits here is the Amanita Phalloides. I haven't yet stumbled across one of those, but I did come across his beautiful cousin Amanita Amerimuscaria (the Alice in Wonderland mushroom, american variety). The pics below are from my foray with GardenerBob on 12/17. He's helping me develop my eye for fungi.
Soon after this heavy rain we're getting this weekend I will be back out looking for more, and will be posting them throughout the season.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sundried tomato ciabatta.

With the seasons' end there was also an abundance of cherry tomatoes. Since they are a pain to skin for sauces and soups, I dehydrated a bunch and put them in some good olive oil to keep for awhile.
Well I got the itch to do something with them last week, so I made a simple ciabatta bread, and folded some of my tomatoes into one batch, and then did a second batch with the tomatoes AND some roasted garlic. Yum!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tangerine and lemon curds!

Not too long ago I took a really cool canning workshop (by Jess Watson of OaklandLocal), just to shine up my skills before I started canning again. It was really helpful in giving me the confidence that I needed to start experimenting on my own, as it's been a long time since I last canned. My first project at home was curds - I made lemon curd, and an awesome tangerine curd! So sweet but sooo good. Neither of them lasted long around here at all!

Since then I have all sorts of projects with canning, and hope to keep learning more. I'd like to find a way to integrate it with a foraging project, too.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

End of the season tomato soup.

It was just a couple weeks ago that we had the last tomatoes of the summer gardening season. To finish them up I made some Tuscan tomato and Bread soup!

I just blanched the tomatoes and peeled them, added them to some veggie stock with some garlic, salt and pepper. After about 20 mins I added some fresh herbs and a cut up half-baguette that had been sitting around for a day to thicken it up, then serve!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

late night dinner

I went to the local grocery store late Friday night, desperate for a spark of culinary mojo, which usually only takes place for me in the type of markets where it is simply expected that you will find fresh, organic, and local produce. I live in an area with such an abundance of local farmers markets, CSA's, and produce markets that my only real excuse for shopping in mega-chain-stores is that I simply didn't plan ahead. None of the more preferable option have late night hours, at least not out in Martinez.

All this being said, ended up with a nice little collection of lovely dinner components. We stlarted with a little bread and a surprisingly creamy goats' milk brie. Next came some simple baked sea bass, steamed asparagus, and a cold kale salad that I had prepared ealier.

I didn't cook or blanch the kale, but I did douse the kale with apple cider vinegar and work it in a bit to tenderize the kale. It got a quick rinse and I squeezed it dry, then added the roast butternut, pomegranate seeds, red onion strips, and some chopped almonds that I sautéed in butter with brown sugar and chipotle powder.

This salad was definitely one for the books, all seasonal organics for a fall salad to remember!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

sugar pines

So I have this garden-mate, Bob, who is an absolute wealth of knowledge regarding the local resources, foraging, and gardening for edibles. We have plans to go shrooming when the rains come. On our most recent garden meeting/workday, Bob brought in a box of recently foraged pine cones from a local spot. They were quite lovely and sticky, and full of pine nuts ready to be harvested.

He showed me how to sharpen a stick to the right point, and use it to pry the pine nuts out. They pop out if you get up under them with the point, much like a bird's beak.

I got about 3-4 cups total from this pile of cones, and left them in the shell, in a bag in the cupboard. They're pretty big when shelled, and have such a wonderfully fresh and light pine flavor.

Monday, October 11, 2010

chocolate dipped bacon

We went to Burning Man Decompression street faire in the city yesterday and had this awesome morsel of chocolatey bacon! One of this year's BM camps brought 100 pounds of yummy thick bacon and a fountain of dark chocolate to dip it in! Words cannot describe the party in my mouth;)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pattern Recognition

Wine Professor says that tasting wine is first pattern recognition, then feature extraction. Same with smelling. "nosing".

I'm making roast chickens tonight. Probably the smell that was smelled the most in my childhood.

I'm also making sweet potato fries (baked), and fresh steamed veg. Not childhood smells,just yummy ones.

Friday, April 23, 2010

nutrition I-search

One of my upcoming assignments is an I-Search paper with a ten minute oral presentation on "junk food marketing to children".

I have three weeks to get it done, but I have two other big assignments coming up soon as well as finals. I'm pretty confident I can do it all fairly well and on schedule but it will mean really knuckling down for the next couple of weeks.