Hen of the Woods (Maitake) “Bacon”

Hen of the woods mushroom "bacon"

Hen of the Woods "bacon"

I’ve been working dried maitake mushrooms into our menu lately for their awesome medicinal properties.

I reconstitute them for 20 minutes in warm water, then use the tough stalks to make broth, and the more tender tips in other recipes.

The broth is great for cooking brown rice in and for making gravy.  The mushroom itself can be a little chewy, so I cut it in thin strips before cooking.

hen of the woods mushroom broth

Maitake mushroom broth

The other day I wanted something different, so I cut the caps into small strips, then fried them until crisp, sprinkled them with salt, and drained them well on paper towels.  They were very savory — intensely flavored — and would work wherever you would normally use bacon crumbles — over scrambled eggs, in salads, and my favorite–sprinkled over mashed potatoes and maitake gravy!  They are superb, and addictive!

I did one batch in virgin olive oil with a little butter, and other batch in peanut oil with a little butter.  The peanut oil batch was definitely the best!

bolete

Here's the bolete in my earlier post in its mature stage. Inset is when it was younger.

Here’s an update on the bolete I wrote about in my last post.  I found a fully mature version near where the others grew.  The cap has changed to brown.  The only way you can tell it is the same mushroom is by the stalk and the yellow pores.

The interior of the mature mushroom — stalks and cap — were riddled with bugs, though.  I will spare you a photo of the gory details.

I normally stick to chanterelles and boletes, and avoid gilled mushrooms except for a handful of distinctive ones that I know are safe.  There are so many dangerous ones that it’s not worth taking the chance on misidentifying one.  But I thought I really ought to branch out and start trying to learn more about them.

So I photographed these mushrooms in several stages of growth.  They had white spore prints.  I believe they are in the Amanita family — a family that has many fatally poisonous members.

amanitas

Amanita family mushrooms

Our weather is predicted to be in the 90’s for the next two weeks, at least.  So I won’t be out doing  much mushroom hunting until it cools down a little.

P.S. David Fischer has identified these mushrooms for me as Amanita “close to A. rubescens,” as far as he could determine from my small photos.

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Green Onions & Blackberry Cobbler

last years green onions produce new shoots

Dying onions produce tender new plants

Since we’ve started planning camping trips most months of the year, my former passion, gardening, has been sadly neglected.  However, I do still grow several Earthbox containers of flowers and herbs.

Last year I planted green onions intending to let them overwinter and go to seed.  As expected, they did go to seed earlier this year and the plants began dying.   I neglected pulling up the old plants until today.  And I got a nice surprise.

ripe and unripe blackberries

Ready to pick ripe blackberries

Not only did the old plants provide me with seed.  But when I pulled them up, I discovered that each one had also produced a new onion sprout.  That was an unexpected bonanza.  So I replanted half of the bulbs and harvested a nice supply of green onions for the kitchen.

Not bad for dead onions!

Then I wandered over to check out the wild blackberry bushes that grow on the margins of our property.   They are still mostly unripe, but, again, I found enough ripe ones to make a cobbler.

I added orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, sugar and cornstarch to the blackberries, boiled them briefly, then used sweet vanilla drop biscuits for the crust.  It was superb!

blackberry cobbler

Yum!

I love the way the blackberry season is staggered.   I can enjoy their essence of summer flavor fresh from the bush for a while.

I won’t make blackberry jam or jelly this year because my sister gave me all the blackberry and huckleberry jam that I can use for a while.

Using the berries fresh is more fun anyway.  🙂

with ice cream

....with ice cream