Wild Mushroom Luck Strikes Again

oyster mushrooms magnolia

Ron spotted these oyster mushrooms for me when he was out walking Mikkey. They were a little past their prime, so I trimmed off everything that wasn’t fresh.

This was what I had left after trimming.

This was what I had left after trimming.

Since there wasn't enough to do much with, I added store bought criminis, onion and peppers, sautéed them together, and served them over a fajita bowl. YUMMM!

Since there wasn’t enough to do much with, I added store bought mushrooms, onion and peppers, sautéed them together, and served them over a fajita bowl.
YUMMM!

Florida Again

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock's caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen's horn they make when the children got too close.

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock’s caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen’s horn they make when the children got too close.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up.....

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up…..

I had not intended to blog about Florida again because we are, as usual, spending the winter here.  The biggest treat is having time with family.

Unfortunately, I had to do a factory reset on my phone and haven’t downloaded all the photos yet.  I’m waiting for our next data cycle.  So there will be no photos to share of the lovely 80 degree Christmas celebrated in shorts at Gail’s screened porch.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy's bed.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy’s bed.

So I’ll just share my available photos taken at random, and let the captions tell the story…. which is, it’s CHILLY down here now!

BTW, our water pump went out and our toilet needs replacing.  I have them ordered and Gail and I will do the mods when we get back to her house in a week or so.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Next was O'Leno Park--because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Next was O’Leno Park–because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature... an indoor heated swimming pool.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature… an indoor heated swimming pool.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south.  All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south. All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

So now it's winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

So now it’s winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

But winter in Central Florida doesn't really mean winter. :)

But winter in Central Florida doesn’t really mean winter. 🙂

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

Adventure in the Woods

Pink Ladyslippers

Pink Ladyslippers

I was outside when the sun was too high, so I hope you enjoy the subjects of the photos. The pictures themselves aren’t great.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

I suppose first I’ll tell you the adventure part, as the photos are pretty self-explanatory. I set out toward the back of our property, heading toward the area that is the best mushroom habitat around, by a little steep-banked creek. I never made it that far. There were many blowdowns, thick underbrush, hills and a steep ravine. I didn’t make it back that far, either!

Another double ladyslipper.  In this shot you can see a little of the flower's interior.

Another double ladyslipper. In this shot you can see a little of the flower’s interior.

I did make it a few hundred steeply sloped feet. I found several varieties of LBM’s (little brown mushrooms) that the experts have difficulty identifying. I also found a couple of medium tan-colored mushrooms that I intended to try to identify when I got back to the house. And several tiny orange mushrooms that looked a little chanterellish, but it’s way too early for them. They went in my bag to identify, too.

(But — pink ladyslippers are blooming! They were my consolation prize.)

Anyway, I got very tired and out of breath, so decided I’d better head (uphill) home. I climbed one little ridge, and that was it. I sat down on a thick cushion of forest duff and hyperventilated for a while.

Yu can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage.  (Pardon the dirty fingernails... it happens when I grub around outside!  :)

You can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage. (Pardon the dirty fingernails… it happens when I grub around outside! 🙂

I was going to stay there until I recuperated, but then I heard some of the dogs that run free around here sounding like they were fighting. That REALLY scared me, so I bushwacked over blowdowns, greenbrier, blackberry bushes, sapling trees… until I couldn’t go any farther.

This time I found a nice log to sit on. I beat on it with my hiking pole and prodded around to make sure there were no nasty critters under it, sat down, and the log cracked and sent me tumbling.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

So I phoned Ron and told him where I was and asked him to bring me my inhaler. After using that, I felt better. And after resting a while, we made it home.

Exhausted, I threw the mushrooms I had planned to identify in the trash, too tired to mess with them, and crashed for a long nap.

So, apparently the COPD is getting worse… which means stick to easy trails and always carry my inhaler.

Before I headed into the woods I saw a couple of bull thistles with flower stalks and unopened flowers. At this stage the prickly flower stalks are downy and can be easily held with bare fingers.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

I had them in my mushroom basket, so did put them into the refrigerator before I crashed.

When I got up, it was an easy job to scrape the down off the flower stalks and pop them in the pan with my chicken stew. At this young stage they have a very mild celery flavor, and they didn’t add anything to the dish I was cooking except fun.

When the stalks get older, they get prickly and hollow. I hold them with a pair of needle-nose pliers and peel off the prickles with a pocket knife. They have an intense celery flavor and are much better for cooking.  They get tough at that stage though, so need to be sliced thinly then.

So today was a good news-bad news day.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Oh, I almost forgot! I saw the plastic surgeon this morning who will be tightening up my droopy eyelids which is supposed to improve my vision significantly. I hope it does. But I’m secretly thrilled that my eyes will look better, too!

Little orange mushrooms

Little orange mushrooms

For Budding Mycophiles

Weather only a mushroom lover could love

Weather only a mushroom lover could love

(Click the photos to see a larger image of the Myco Pro app that you can read.)

The very best mushroom ID app

The very best mushroom ID app

The weather hasn’t permitted foraging in the woods, and our handyman hasn’t shown up yet. So I’ve been entertaining myself immersed in my favorite mushroom app. So far I’ve been able to get up to 256 points on the quiz before losing the 3 lives the app allows. It seems rather unfair because sometimes when you correctly identify a lethal mushroom, you get

From the Myco Pro library

From the Myco Pro library

a point for correct identification, but sometimes lose a life anyway! However, it is a reminder that if you aren’t very careful foraging mushrooms you could die — just like that! On the positive side, the quiz repeats mushrooms you have correctly identified as well as the ones you misidentified. The repetition really helps fix the mushroom in your mind.

You can also save photos and GPS locations where you’ve found mushrooms so you can find them again.

Each mushroom description has photos that you can click on to see beautiful, zoomable high resolution images.

Each mushroom description has photos that you can click on to see beautiful, zoomable high resolution images.

Can you tell I am crazy about the Myco Pro app? I have downloaded or bought every mushroom app available on Amazon and Google’s play store — and I have uninstalled all but 3. But Myco Pro is far and away the very best! If you want to use the app to full advantage, you really need to know the main characteristics of the most common genera. For that there is no better book to introduce beginners (and intermediates) to the

One of (usually 3) photos for each mushroom.

One of (usually 3) photos for each mushroom.

safest and tastiest mushrooms than David Fischer and Alan Bessette’s book, Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America. Get the book — not the e-book. The e-book is riddled with typos and has tiny, low resolution images. The hard copy is truly superb. It’s

Another view of the same mushroom

Another view of the same mushroom

impossible to poison yourself if you follow the excellent key points for identification that precedes each mushroom description.  Most importantly, it shows you how to take a spore print, which is a critical first step in identifying mushrooms.

A third photo of the same mushroom.

A third photo of the same mushroom.

Totally off-topic, I am doing this post on my phone because the touchpad on my new netbook died. 😦

Anyway, after all this rain, I’m heading to the woods hoping to find lots of mushrooms to photograph  — and hopefully some that are good to eat!

Obligatory disclaimer: I get no financial or any other kind of consideration for these endorsements, although, admittedly, I sound like a commercial!  😀

It even lets you know what taste and texture to expect when you cook the mushroom.

It even lets you know what taste and texture to expect when you cook the mushroom.

Leisurely Progress

Vegan hopping john

Vegan hopping john and brown rice

The first order of business when we got back home was to catch up on medical appointments. My doctor informed me that my cholesterol was sky high. Since my body has zero tolerance for statins or livilo, that means my only options are diet, supplements and exercise.

So, I am planning three vegan days per week, and cutting back on meat and cheese the other 4 days.

Fortunately, Ron loves my vegan meals as long as I promise him a steak and a pork chop once a week. So tonight we had hopping john and brown rice. Ron went back for seconds, which assured me he wasn’t feeling deprived with the meatless meal. 🙂

I also found a highly recommended handyman who charges very reasonable prices to do the projects on the house that I can’t do. Needless to say, he is backed up, but should be here next week to put in the new back door and give me an estimate on the utility closet. So we are slowly on our way to getting the place ready to put on the market.

Ron is having cataract surgery Wednesday. The following Thursday I go in for a preop consultation about eyelid surgery. My drooping eyelids interfere with my vision enough that Medicare will pay to have that fixed. Then Ron will go in for the other cataract surgery, then this fall it will be my turn.

At least we should have all that done in time to head to Florida again next winter.

Between repair jobs this summer, we plan to schedule week-long getaways whenever we can work them in.

lbmWe have had tons of rain, so I know the mushrooms are going crazy out in the woods. I haven’t made time to check them out, so maybe I can squeeze a mushroom hunting expedition in tomorrow.

I did find a LBM (little brown mushroom) in one of the campgrounds we were in. I’m not sure which one. I didn’t try to identify it because it’s a tedious process for me and I didn’t have the inclination to spend that much time on it. At first I thought it was a deadly gallerina, but the gills are wrong for that. Anyway, it is definitely not one I was tempted to eat!

We have found the solution for Sunny’s incontinence problems.  It’s a belly band with a sanitary napkin inside.  It’s not very glamorous, but it works.  I thought he would hate wearing one, but he is so used to me putting sweaters and jackets on him that this is just another thing that Mom makes him wear.  🙂

A Few Mushrooms Today

Shaggy stalked bolete (Austroboletus betula).  Cap color can be yellow or orange.  This distinctive stalk makes it easy to identify.

Shaggy stalked bolete (Austroboletus betula). Cap color can be yellow or orange, sometimes bright, sometimes with brown tones. This distinctive stalk makes it easy to identify.

At last!  We found mushrooms today.  Unfortunately, all of them except the shaggy stalk bolete and the orange amanitas were in various stages of decomposition.

Much of the shaggy stalked bolete's long stalk was buried in leaf litter.

Much of the shaggy stalked bolete’s long stalk was buried in leaf litter.

The shaggy stalk bolete is edible, but not great.  We left it to spread its spores and hopefully produce more.

The smooth orange mushrooms (with the white sac-like volvas) MIGHT be American Caesar mushrooms (aka Amanita jacksonii) which are said to be edible and delicious.  However, I’m not willing to bet my life against a horribly painful, long drawn out death to risk eating anything in the amanita family, especially when I am not absolutely certain of my ID.  According to the literature, A jacksonii is supposed to have yellow gills.  These look too white to me.

Orange amanita.  I pulled the leaf litter away to expose the enlarged bulb (ova) at the base.

Orange amanita. I pulled the leaf litter away to expose the enlarged bulb (ova) at the base.

We also saw a group of 2 does and 4 twin fawns. And we found a wild persimmon tree whose unripe ruit has a long way to go before becoming sweet and delicious. The campground is rapidly filling up for the weekend.  But today was relaxed and pleasant.  We met some lovely people, and Sheba made friends young and old.  🙂

This is big brother to the small amanita pictured above. You can see where the partial veil is separating to form a ring around the stalk.

This is big brother to the small amanita pictured above. You can see where the partial veil is separating to form a ring around the stalk.

Here are 5 deer.  I couldn't get the 6th one in the photo.

Here are 5 deer. I couldn’t get the 6th one in the photo.

Wild persimmons

Wild persimmons

Pink, fuzzy baby leaves

Pink, fuzzy baby leaves

A Visit with Kim!

Kim and Sunny

Kim and Sunny

I had been feeling uncharacteristically bored and a little depressed before Kim came by today.

agaricus

An agaricus. Not sure what kind. 🙂

She arrived in a cute little yellow Volkswagen convertible with the top down!  I am kicking myself for not getting a photo of it!  And she brought a gift bag with doggie treats for Sunny and Sheba.

Sunny really surprised me.  He usually barks ferociously at anyone who tries to pet him.  But he loved the attention Kim gave him.

The agaricus' gills

The agaricus’ gills

It was too hot to do much, so we moved our chairs into the deep shade and talked.  Kim has such a gentle, elegant manner.  It’s a delight to be with her.  And, in answer to my questions, she caught me up on her plans for her upcoming very ambitious trip.

Later we took a short walk to the dock and boat launch where Sheba got a chance to get in the water.

Kim’s visit energized me and banished my blaughs. I’m so glad she came!

The lake shore is littered with bivalve shells

The lake shore is littered with bivalve shells

Blackberries are blooming

Blackberries are blooming

Not sure what these are.  Maybe a variety of blue eyed grass?

Not sure what these are. Maybe a variety of blue eyed grass?

Tasty bullbrier shoot -- I ate this tender little guy!

Tasty bullbrier shoot — I ate this tender little guy!

Horribly invasive, but sweet-smelling Chinese privet.

Horribly invasive, but sweet-smelling Chinese privet.

Another sweet smelling invasive -- Japanese honeysuckle.

Another sweet smelling invasive — Japanese honeysuckle.

Sauteing wild onion bulblets

Sauteing wild onion bulblets

Verbena rigida, I think.

Verbena rigida, I think.

 

 

Wild onion bulblets

Wild onion bulblets

Making Plans Again

Our last trip to Coleman Lake was when we had the Aliner.

Our last trip to Coleman Lake was when we had the Aliner.


We gotta get out of this place

if it’s the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Cause girl, there’s a better life for me and you.

The cold wave is supposed to hit tomorrow.  So we’ll be hibernating for a few days.

Since we need to stay close to home for doctors appointments, we figure as soon as it warms up we’ll head across the Alabama line to the small Coleman Lake campground in Talladega National Forest for a few days just to get OUT!

The Talladega National Forest is where I found the motherlode of chanterelles the summer we were there.

The Talladega National Forest is where I found the motherlode of chanterelles the summer we were there.

There’s not a lot to do there, but walking through the woods, lighting campfires and just being away from home will be enough to tide us over until we can go someplace more exciting.

Later, we are tentatively planning to go to Buccaneer State Park on the Gulf in Mississippi.  Unlike Florida State Parks, dogs are allowed on the beach there, so it will be fun for our furkids, too.

In closing, I’ll post a few pictures from the Buccaneer State Park website.  They are what’s keeping me going right now.  I am desperate for a beach fix!  🙂

A tent at Buccaneer State Park

A tent at Buccaneer State Park

This might be a little too much direct sun, so we'll probably choose a wooded campsite.

This might be a little too much direct sun, so we’ll probably choose a wooded campsite.

Another photo from the Buccaneer State Park website

Another photo from the Buccaneer State Park website

A Morphing Mushroom & Feedback!

This mushroom looked blue-green in situ

This mushroom looked blue-green in situ

I found the strangest mushrooms this morning.  They looked blue-green in situ from one angle — green from another.  From another angle, they looked lavendar.  After I brought them inside, they looked gray with a hint of purple with splotches of ugly green.

I described them to my sister on the phone and she burst out laughing — and accused me of sampling funny mushrooms causing me to see all those different colors.  😀

I’ve gone nuts trying to identify them.  I think they might be Cortinarius caerulescens.  They have a rusty brown spore print.  Poisonous.  I’m waiting for a positive ID on my mushroom board.

Or maybe it’s a Stropharia.  Stropharius?

Another one

Another one

I also found a few other tiny mushrooms I am not even going to try to identify right now, but will post photos because they are cute.  Well… to someone who thinks mushrooms are cool, anyway.  🙂

I just heard from the RV repair guy.  He will be out tomorrow to install the new furnace motor!

And I’m planning to wash the Casita tomorrow.  It’s growing algae on its belly band.

I got the nicest email from a reader a few minutes ago.  After she saw my Hopping John

Here it looks lavendar

Here it looks lavendar.

photo (previous post) and saw the ingredients listed on one of the comments, she made a mad dash to the grocery store after work and bought the ingredients and made a batch.  She loved it!  She said they ate it Friday and Saturday for dinner, and she had the rest of it for lunch today.

I can’t tell you how that delighted me — because it’s a recipe I just made up.  I like canned Hopping John, but it’s too watery.  So I just guessed at the ingredients I would need to duplicate the flavor, added sausage to make it a main dish… and we loved it.  So the fact that someone else liked my version really tickled me!

Inside the house (taking spore prints) - they are now ugly green and gray.

Inside the house (taking spore prints) – they are now ugly green and gray.

Tiny scaly mushroom

Tiny scaly mushroom

Another shot

Another shot

A couple more tiny mystery mushrooms

A couple more tiny mystery mushrooms

I think these little guys are Common Laccaria.  If so, the caps are edible, but not very good.

I think these little guys are Common Laccaria. If so, the caps are edible, but not very good.

From the bottom

From the bottom

Autumn Mushrooms, Oddities & Flowers

pink

I’m recovering… enough to enjoy wandering around the yard and the surrounding woods a bit.

fall bloomersI apologize to all whose comments on my last post I didn’t answer.  Instead of trying to play catchup, just know that I appreciate you and will do better from now on.  🙂

We are debating on whether to get the Casita’s furnace fixed this month, or to try to find some inexpensive camping before really cool weather sets in.  With the federal campgrounds closed, I found several Georgia county campgrounds with water and electric that charge under $20 per night.  The state parks are simply too expensive for us as we like to stay for several days at a time.fall bloomers2

Some of the county parks look nice, although it’s hard to find reviews on them.  Others just don’t look that appealing.   And sitting outside on chilly nights breathing campfire smoke might not be the best thing for me right now.

Maybe I’ll just get the furnace fixed and we’ll head to Florida later — IF the national forest campgrounds open up.

Interesting mushroom. Note the reticulated stalk

[This is where I edited out a biting comment on the government shutdown political shenanigans.]  😀

Our yard has mushrooms everywhere!  Some edible, some sickeners.  But after our drought last year, I am happy to see them all.  The variety is astounding.  I am only posting a small sample of the photos I took.

I was unable to get a spore print on this mushroom because it has a white parasitic fungus on the pore surface.  It doesn't seem to bother the little guy who is eating it.

I was unable to get a spore print on this mushroom because it has a white parasitic fungus on the pore surface. It doesn’t seem to bother the little guy who is eating it.

Edible penny-bun type bolete

Edible penny-bun type bolete

And another!

And another!

I removed the pore layer because it was a little past its prime.  The pores were actually olive green but they show up brown in this photo.

I removed the pore layer because it was a little past its prime. The pores were actually olive green but they show up brown in this photo.

I’m not sure what this is. At first I thought it might be wild quinine, but neither the flowers nor leaves are a match. On edit: it might be eupatorium serotinum aka boneset or late thoroughwort.

lichen

lichen

Edible suilli

Edible suilli

Poisonous pokeweed berries

Poisonous pokeweed berries

Such a pretty face

Such a pretty face

Another suillus

Another suillus

Soggy ground

Soggy ground

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Red russulas (sickeners) growing by Casita tire.  More are growing under the Casita.

Red russulas (sickeners) growing by Casita tire. More are growing under the Casita.