Lobster mushrooms

Strange looking mushroom but very tasty.
Strange looking mushroom but very tasty.

While wandering around the woods for chanterelles we came across several Lobster mushrooms.  Why is it called a lobster mushroom you ask?  It is because it is the color of a cooked lobster with the faint taste of seafood when you eat it.  A lobster mushroom is not truly a mushroom, but is a parasitic ascomycete that grows on mushrooms, turning them a reddish-orange color that resembles the outer shell of a cooked lobster. It colonizes members of the genera Lactarius (Milk-caps) and Russula, such as Russula brevipes and Lactarius piperatus in North America. At maturity,it completely covers its host mushroom, rendering it unidentifiable. Lobster mushrooms are widely eaten and enjoyed; they are commercially marketed and are commonly found in some large grocery stores ( I have never seen them sold anywhere around here though). They have a seafood-like flavor and a firm, dense texture. According to some, they may taste somewhat spicy if the host mushroom is an acrid Lactarius.  Even though the outer part is red the interior is a dense hard white color.  unfortunately the ones that I found were too old to eat and had already started to have bugs eat them.  But it is nice to find them so I can go back to the same location and look for them again.

Lobster mushrooms have a velvety texture when sautéed, not unlike cooked lobster, and their succulent meat hints pleasantly at seafood. Processing one can be a chore: Lobster mushrooms collect more than their share of dirt on a cap riddled with nooks and crannies. Don’t be afraid to scrub them hard, and then dice them up and saute with a little butter, cream and cognac to make a colorful duxelles.

Lobster mushroom just breaking the surface of the forest floor
Lobster mushroom just breaking the surface of the forest floor

Ham and Grits Quiche with wild mushrooms

One of todays many projects is making something for the family potluck later this afternoon.  Since my wife is making a dessert I have to make something not so sweet to balance it out.  (yes it is one of my odd quirks).  So today I am making one of my favorite dishes to take.  It combines two of my favorite foods together, ham and grits.  This is a very simple recipe and you can make it for any meal, and not just breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hot cooked grits
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces ham cut into cubes
  • 1 9″ frozen deep dish pie crust
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup wild mushrooms (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Combine the cooked grits and butter,  stir the mix until the butter is fully melted and the grits are smooth and creamy.  Add in the ham cubes and mix up.  Then pour the mix into the bottom of the pie shell and set aside. In a bowl beat together the eggs, whipping cream, pepper, and cheese.  You can add mushrooms to the egg mix if you are including them. The nice thing about this is that the eggs are organic brown eggs from my father and the cheese is one of the ones i made.  Now pour the egg mix over the grits and back until a knife inserted comes out clean.  Usually 30-40 minutes. Let cool for five minutes and serve.

ham, grits, and butter in the pie crust.
ham, grits, and butter in the pie crust.
Final product.  Lots of egg, cheese, and grits goodness
Final product. Lots of egg, cheese, and grits goodness

Crock pot garlic chicken

Slow cookers make some of the best dinners.  This recipe is a modified version of my Stuffed Chicken recipe.  With the sickness season upon us in force a dinner with extra garlic is a great way to reinforce your immune system.  For those of you that don’t know this already, garlic oil has high anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.  The oil from garlic is expelled from the body through your lungs mainly.  So if you have any illness that is in your respiratory system eating large amounts of garlic will help clear it up and help prevent it from happening again.  Garlic pills are a good way to get the benefits also without having constant garlic breath, And as a side benefit it wards off those pesky vampires.  Just not the lame sparkly ones (vampires shouldn’t sparkle or be able to go out in the sun!!!).

ingredients:

  • 8 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped up
  • 2 cups mushrooms of choice (so glad I canned up some chanterelles)
  • 1 whole chicken or 2-3 lbs of assorted chicken pieces

Add the chicken to the pot then add the rest of the ingredients around it.  cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-5 hours.  Eat and enjoy with some rice or noodles.  After you remove the chicken from the pot take all the garlic from the bottom and mash into a paste and spread onto bread or into some mashed potatoes.  Never let the garlic go to waste!!!  If you can’t tell garlic is one of my favorite foods.  I grow around 40 heads of garlic a year.

photo

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Oyster

Oyster mushrooms are familiar to most people who like to try the different mushrooms available from the supermarket.  This is one of the easiest mushrooms to culture and is available in packages for a person to grow at home if you want to try a hand at mushroom farming. In Oregon this mushroom can easily be found growing out in the wilds.  My only problem is most of the time when I find a big patch of them is that they are growing on a dead tree.  Starting at about 10 feet up and growing up the tree.  I am not enough of a monkey to climb up and get them.  Luckily they are also found closer to the ground on tree’s that have fallen over. The picture is from Wikipedia since I could find any worth taking pictures of this year

The oyster mushroom is one of the few known carnivorous mushrooms. Its mycelia can kill and digest nematodes, which is believed to be a way in which the mushroom obtains nitrogen. The standard oyster mushroom can grow in many places, but some other related species, such as the branched oyster mushroom, grow only on trees. While this mushroom is often seen growing on dying hardwood trees, it only appears to be acting like a parasite. As the tree dies of other causes, P. ostreatus grows on the rapidly increasing mass of dead and dying wood. They actually benefit the forest by decomposing the dead wood, returning vital elements and minerals to the ecosystem in a form usable to other plants and organisms.

Oyster Mushrooms are great in almost every type of cooking.  I love cutting them into small pieces and putting them on a fresh homemade pizza.  Stir fry is another popular use for them.  Soups, stews, and fried, the uses are endless.  Experiment to your heart content with this mushroom.

King Bolete (Boletus edulis)

King Bolete

King Boletes are one of the great mushrooms of the fungi world.  They are great in soup, stews, stir-fry, and many others.  You can use them fresh or dried.   If you dry them the flavor gets even earthier then if you eat them fresh. Some people describe the taste as nutty but I prefer to call them earthy.  I can go on and on about how good these are to eat. These are one of the largest mushrooms that you will find. Even a small one is a meal all of its own.  A large one will be close to the size of a football.

Description:

The Boletus Edulis or King Bolete is a very large mushroom that is very easy to identify. The Season from September through to a hard frost typically. I have seen them all the way through spring. Once you see one you will never forget them. The cap is convex or bun shaped, reddish brown to yellow brown. The under cap pore is very sponge like, white when young, then yellowish brown to green as it matures.  Lookalikes include some Leccinum species which can be ruled out by black scales on the stem, along with staining blackish grey, reddish or other colors when they are cut in half after several minutes. Leccinum species are usually found in Aspen or birch groves. The King Bolete Mushroom will stay white when cut in half.King Bolete1

Habitat:

The fungus grows in deciduous and coniferous forests and tree plantations, forming symbiotic ectomycorrhizal associations with living trees by enveloping the tree’s underground roots with sheaths of fungal tissue. The fungus produces spore-bearing fruit bodies above ground in summer and autumn. The fruit body has a large brown cap which on occasion can reach 14 inches in diameter and 6+ pounds in weight. Like other Boletes, it has tubes extending downward from the underside of the cap, rather than gills; spores escape at maturity through the tube openings, or pores. The pore surface of the B. edulis fruit body is whitish when young, but ages to a greenish-yellow. The stout stipe, or stem, is white or yellowish in color, up to 10 in tall and 4 inches thick, and partially covered with a raised network pattern, or reticulations. King Boletes can grow singly or in small clusters of two or three mushrooms. The mushroom’s habitat consists of areas dominated by pine, spruce, hemlock, and fir trees, although other hosts include chestnut, chinquapin, beech, and oak. In California, porcini have been collected in a variety of forests, such as coastal forests, dry interior oak forests and savannas and interior high-elevation mixed forests, to an altitude of 3,500 m (11,500 ft). I have seen them growing all the way up the lava flows along the top of the cascades and into central Oregon by Crane Prairie and Wickiup Reservoirs.  It is odd seeing them over in the dry areas over there.

The one thing that you have to watch for when picking King Boletes is that they can sometimes get infested with maggots from the fungus gnat.   Mostly you will only find them buggy early in the season.  As it gets colder it is rare to see them infested.