Mushroom Foraging

Yellow Chanterelle

I have embraced hunting! Mushroom hunting, that is. My goal this fall has been to learn more about foraging and feel more confident identifying mushrooms in the woods. I can already i.d. trees, so I’m halfway there. It helps that I geek out on taxonomy and love mushrooms. Why haven’t I made this a priority earlier? I’ve dabbled here and there, it helps my brother knows a lot and morels grow on my in-law’s property. But I’ve never felt confident of my own identifying because I’ve always had someone there to confirm the edibility of the mushroom, I never felt the need to figure it out on my own.

Lobster Mushroom

Luckily, I have a friend here who’s dad is a mycologist so we’ve been out a few times looking for mushrooms. It’s a lot of fun, wandering in the woods, scanning the forest floor. Maybe it will make my eyes better and I won’t need glasses anymore. She’s really confident in chanterelles, which happen to be my favorite mushroom. Now I am confident in chanterelles and through some thorough research, I am now confident in lobster mushrooms and cauliflower mushrooms. 3 new ones this season is a lot! I bought an i.d. book with great photos specific to the NW. It’s called All that the Rain Promises and more. The same author has a very large and thick bible of mushrooms as well. I’ll need it one day, but I’m not that advanced yet. Maybe when I move on to boletes I’ll get it.

Cauliflower Mushroom

But for now, we’re eating mushrooms almost every day, soups, stir-frys, quiches. It’s a lot of fun to find them and eat them. It’s so satisfying eating something YOU harvested. And I love it. Add mycology to my list of interests. I can’t wait to learn more. There’s a club in Portland I might join when things calm down and I have more free time to join clubs. I’ve detailed my cooking adventures with the mushrooms on my food blog if you are interested.

Exit summer

I really enjoy summer out here in the Pacific NW.  Even if there was crazy weather this year including a hailstorm, record-breaking 100 degree days and various cold spells.  We had a pretty busy summer what with moving to a new city, finding jobs, apartment, bike commuting and exploring Portland.  We didn’t get to rock climb yet but it’s still warm out so there may be time (if I remember how to climb-it’s been a year!).

Summer bounty

I had a few u-pick adventures this summer that were really fun over on Sauvie Island.  It’s an island about 30 minutes outside of the city and it’s all agricultural.  The berry crop was fantastic and I got together with a group of friends and we jammed, canned, baked and cooked up a storm.  Now I’m looking forward to apple and pumpkin season.  Mmm, pie!

Matt conquers the falls

We did get a good hike in recently at Silver Falls State Park.  It’s a “must-do” according to all the books and even though it’s crowded at the trailhead, it’s worth it.  8.5 mile loop, 10 waterfalls.  Most of them were swimmable, but I only jumped in one because the water was quite icy.  The park was only about an hour and a half from Portland and we camped with friends at the park campground, which was a nice break after a day of hiking.  Once we were about a mile into the trail, the crowds petered out and we enjoyed the maintained trails and great views.  I miss the woods, I plan to get out and explore more this fall.

Vegan Potluck

Chocolate Mousse Marshmallow Pie

Whoever has a low opinion of vegan desserts is crazy. I think the majority of vegans have a serious sweet tooth and developing awesome desserts is part of the initiation. Luckily for me and my blood sugar, there was plenty of savory food to eat as well. Matt and I went to a PPK vegan potluck last week and stuffed ourselves to the point of passing out (Matt). While Matt was napping, I learned a new game called Jungle Speed. It’s sort of like a group Spit with more focus and you match shapes and colors. It involves reaching for this wooden totem that inevitably results in scratching someone or hitting them. It was fun.

Ready to eat

I wasn’t sure what to expect, having never been to a vegan potluck in a park before. We went to Laurelhurst Park, which reminds me of the treed duck pond part of Central Park. There were picnic tables and we set up an immense spread. The photo was taken by a friend, as I forgot my camera that day. Imagine the spread times 3, the picnic table was full by the time everyone arrived. There were about 20 people there and the food ranged from blackberry bbq gluten ribs to variations on potato salads, pasta salads and tempeh empanadas with a spicy sauce. I made a wheatberry salad with apples and mint and it came out good. I’ve been trying to use different grains lately, as I’ve just been eating a lot of bread (well, it’s free…and delicious). What else? A pasta bake with almond cheeze and sauce, tempeh kale concoction, plum torte, apple torte, the marshmallow madness pie, peach bbq tempeh, chocolate strawberry cookies, a tofu olive spread and I’m sure a bunch of other dishes I can’t remember but my belly enjoyed. I sucessfully tried a little bit of everything, which equalled 3 platefuls. Everyone was friendly and nice (oh, Portland) and we enjoyed the day. Someone even drove down from Seattle for the potluck and brought Mighty-O donuts (yum), proving just how good the food and company was. I can’t wait for the next one!

Berry Season


I love early summer in the Pacific Northwest. The abundance of food is always a challenge for me in preserving, freezing and eating eating eating eating. Since this is not my food blog, you can look there for recipes. I just wanted to share a picture of the 7 pounds of luscious strawberries at the end of their season.

We picked at Koch Family Farms in Tualatin and the berries were about $1.15/pound for pick your own. The raspberries were just coming in, so they weren’t as amazing as the strawberries but still delicious. So far I have made a strawberry sauce for waffles, fruit roll-ups, strawberry lemonade and frozen most of it for the upcoming rhubarb pie.

Post-Fast, Yoga & Meditation

Matt and I finished a 3 day liquids fast and are now enjoying the pleasures of cooking and eating once again. I always feel better after a cleanse and don’t feel like I’m carrying around any extra crap in my body. At least for today! I documented our fast on my food blog if you are interested.  I also wrote a little how-to day by day what we eat, what we do, if you want the details the entry is here.

One of my goals during the fast was to do yoga every day. I do yoga, but very rarely. Usually only when we are at a yoga center. For some reason, I can’t get into it on my own without a live leader and other people around. If I do it alone I just feel like I’m stretching and end up cheating or getting distracted. I’ve never tried the videos before. We’ve been checking out different yoga DVDs to see who we like and if any of them are worth repeating. So far the most intense one (and longest) is Power Yoga by Rodney Yee. Both of us break a sweat during the session and when I’m finished I feel relaxed, stronger and more flexible. It seems to be the most productive video we’ve done so far. The easy, slow ones are nice but I am very easily distracted and if I can go into a pose that’s a little harder, my mind stays there. So I’ve been doing yoga and enjoying it and it helps me go into meditation much easier.  Matt got a book called the Heart of Yoga, explaining a lot of theory behind it.  Perhaps knowing it will help me appreciate it better, and maybe do it more?  We’ll see.

Meditation is something I always intend to do and put it off.  It’s frustrating, I get distracted, bored and my mind races incessantly.  I know it’s good for you and all that but I’ve always avoided it as much as possible.  While in Peru at the yoga center I read some books on meditation and the like.  The one that impressed me the most was The Power of Now.  It’s a great book and has really good exercises for quieting the mind and making meditation easier.  And I think the author is Oprah’s new best friend. By the way, has anyone heard that Oprah is eating vegan, gluten free and sans booze for 21 days?  She’s doing a physical/spiritual cleanse and I think it’s really cool someone as influential as her is publicly talking about veganism.  The world listens to Oprah, not the little people.  So if she is looking into where her food came from and what it does to her body, perhaps more will not only follow but be educated.