Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Programs, Walks, Classes Schedule

Here is an updated list of our upcoming programs in Connecticut and southern Rhode Island. Most will include a PowerPoint with original photographs, educational handouts, and Nature Center locations include outdoor interactive walks. We will have copies of our newly released book, Adventures in Edible Plant Foraging: Finding, Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Native and Invasive Wild Plants, available for purchase. 
We still have many Saturdays in July and August available for programs for YOUR organization, nature center, land trust, or library in Connecticut, Rhode Island, or southern Massachusetts. Contact us directly at
June 25, 1:00 pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Summer, Bushy Hill Nature Center, Deep River, CT, registration required- space limited.
June 26, 2:30 pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Summer, Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, Mystic, CT, registration required.
June 29, 6:30 pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Summer, Clark Memorial Library, Bethany, CT.

July 9, 11:00 am, Edible Plants and Fungi of Summer, Cross Mills Public Library, Charlestown, RI (401) 364-6211
July 18, 6:00 pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Summer, Mary Cheney Library, Manchester, CT.
July 27, 6:00 pm, Booth and Dimock Public Library, Coventry, CT. 

August 13, 10 am, Mushroom ID for Beginners, Flanders Nature Center, Woodbury, CT

August 27, 10 am, Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn, James L. Goodwin Conservation Center, Hampton, CT
September 3, 1:00 pm- 4:00 pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn, 
Bushy Hill Nature Center, Deep River, CT, registration required- space limited.
September 10, 1:00 pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn, Pratt Nature Center, New Milford, CT, contact Pratt Nature Center to Register.

September 25, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm, 15th Annual Fungus Fair, Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, Mystic, CT

October 29, 10 am, Walktober: Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn Walk @ Goodwin Forest, Hampton, CT

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Chicken Mushroom Recipes Roundup

Baked Chicken Wontons

Chicken mushrooms (Laetiporus sulphureus and Laetiporus cincinnatus) are among our favorite wild fungi to eat for a few reasons. They can often be found in large quantities, their texture and taste is fantastic, and they can be found in three seasons: spring, summer, and autumn. We only collect chickens from hardwoods to avoid potential stomach upset with chickens from conifers. We prefer our chickens at a stage that they are not just formless blobs or fingers, but smaller shelves that are still very and tender and wet when cut. Old chickens are the worst disappointment, like tasteless sawdust. I know some folks are desperate to eat wild mushrooms and will collect fungi way past their prime to try to eat, but if you spend enough time in the woods hunting, you will eventually find better specimens.

Breaded and Fried Onion Rings and Chicken Mushroom Nuggets

Over the years, we have cooked many chicken mushrooms in many ways; in traditional substitute-for-actual-chicken recipes to creating some of our own originals. The texture of a well-cooked chicken mushroom does mimic actual chicken, and a flavorful broth can be made from the chicken mushrooms as well. Do try some chicken Parmesan, breaded and fried chicken nuggets, chicken picatta, and buffalo-style chicken tenders, as the substitution of mushroom-for-meat is very successful. Then think about trying something beyond the easily recognized favorites.

BBQ Pulled Chicken Mushroom Sandwiches

The "white" chicken, Laetiporus cincinnatus

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bamboo Recipe - Bamboo Rice Cakes

This dish was inspired by Chinese lo bak go, 蘿蔔糕. It is a dish traditionally eaten at Chinese New Year, and in English, it is a dimsum turnip cake usually made with daikon radish and rice flour.

Instead of radish, we added sauteed king oyster mushrooms from the local Asian market (Pleurotus eryngii), chopped ramps leaves (Allium tricoccum), and chopped, boiled bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) to the rice flour base. The "cake" is steamed in a glass casserole dish until firm, then cubed and fried to make crispy outer edges. This didn't last a day in our house, we all adore Asian flavors.

The bamboo shoots that we collect in our area are the invasive yellow groove bamboo, not recommended for planting in your own yard, as there are now laws in place in Connecticut that make you responsible for the cost of removing the bamboo from your neighbor's yard once it invades (and it will, this is considered a "running" bamboo rather than the clumping kind). We collect shoots from one of the several established and growing patches in the area, cutting the shoots when they are about 1-2 feet tall, and still fully enclosed in the outer, variegated sheath. We split them in half, peel off the outer sheath, and boil the tender shoots in water that has some white rice added, then drain away the rice and use the bamboo in recipes or vacuum pack and freeze the cooked shoots. The season to collect the bamboo shoots is short, about  two weeks, before they get too tall and tough, and the leaf stalks emerge with the slender leaves.

We have also used different mushrooms in these cakes, including some wild winecaps (Stropharia rugosoannulata) and some baby wild hemlock reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) that we collect before any color appears. Both versions were quite delicious, and I suppose any mushroom can be used, once fully cooked. Again, we are weighing the dry ingredients here rather than using volumes.

Bamboo Cakes                makes about 6 servings as an appetizer

US measurements:

3.5 oz. chopped mushrooms
oil for cooking the mushrooms
1.4 oz. chopped ramps leaves (or chopped scallions)
7 oz. cooked, well chopped bamboo shoots
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated dry garlic
 1 1/2 c. rice flour
1 c. water

International measurements:
100 g chopped mushrooms
oil for cooking the mushrooms
40 g chopped ramps leaves (or chopped scallions)
200 g cooked, well chopped bamboo shoots
1 g chopped fresh thyme
8 g salt
4 g granulated dry garlic
165 g rice flour
200 ml water

1. Saute the chopped mushrooms over medium low heat in a bit of oil, cooking about 5 minutes until lightly browned.
2. Add the chopped ramps and chopped bamboo, and cook for another 3 minutes while stirring often. Remove from the heat and season with the salt, chopped thyme, and granulated garlic.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine the rice flour and water. Add the cooked mushroom and bamboo mixture and stir, it will be soupy.
4. Prepare a large steamer pot. Pour the mixture into a 6 c./1.5 L glass dish and steam it covered for about 25 minutes. Let the cake cool to room temperature and then chill to firm up.
5. Release the firm rice cake from the glass dish, and cut into large cubes, then re-fry in hot oil or grill lightly to crisp up the outside. Serve with soy sauce or dumpling sauce for dipping.