Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wild Food Day: No Food Found, but Farmed!

Today while Rhiannon was at preschool, Taliesin and Mama headed up into the woods just west of the preschool to find mushrooms. It was a perfect day: the sun came up and illuminated the forest, and the leaves dried out and afforded dry seating areas for our frequent book-reading intervals and groping around on the ground in search of mushrooms. We were both inspired and energetic, and the experience was simply lovely. I was certain I would be able identify chanterelles, oysters, and morels, as well as a couple others I've heard of but never eaten, before. But alas, none of those were to be found. We found hundreds of oyster mushrooms in September, but since I don't like them we didn't harvest them (is that contrary to our mission?).

Still, there were mushrooms aplenty! And many we identified, stopping frequently to nestle in with our little book and camera and get into great detail, discovering together. But we found no edible mushrooms we could identify with enough certainty to eat! The closest we came was the little Clavulina cristata (white coral fungus), which our book does mention is edible, but often infected by a dangerous parasite, and therefore not recommended. Too bad! We found one minuscule puffball, which we thought we identified as very edible, so Mama tried a very nearly undetectable sliver. There were no ill effects, but we thought we wouldn't risk eating any more of it.

Among the mushrooms were these beauties (photo). From top left, clockwise, as well as we could identify them: Hygrocybe minutula, Inocybe griseolinacina, something small, purplish and unknown that we never did manage to identify, and Clavulina cristata.

And so we walked down the mountain again, rustled and tumbled through swordferns, and brought a couple of mushrooms back to illustrate in journals and to show to Rhiannon. It was especially wonderful to see Tali's keen interest in looking up the species' of mushrooms. He spent quite a long time kneeling in the damp soil and leaves beside me, looking closely at found fungi, leafing through the book to find matching pictures, and then examining carefully to see if the mushrooms we found shared the characteristics described in the book. What a wonder to be able to share these beautiful moments with my son!

Mushroom ID resources and thanks:
  • Mushrooms of Western Canada, by Helene M.E. Schalkwijk-Barendsen.
  • An Illustrated Guide to Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America, by Geoffrey Kibbey.
  • Everhard van Lidth de Jeude.
  • Hans Roemer.
  • Adolf and Oluna Ceska.

Farmed Food
Since our mushroom excursion turned up nothing edible, it was a good thing we planned to pick the apples, today, too. This second Belle de Boskoop tree still needed to be picked, and we enjoyed the sunshine and the fresh air, in doing it. The children had, as they have nearly every day for the past few weeks, fresh apples for snack. Tomorrow morning on the ferry we'll eat our (also usual) quick breakfast: apple muesli! Delicious!
The oh-so-complicated recipe: Yogurt, grated apples, and multigrain flake cereal; eaten very fresh. We use Mesa Sunrise cereal, because it's gluten-free and still reasonably nutritious.

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