Category Archives: food

Growing Mushrooms Inside Your House

Some Pacific Northwest people have gone outside to get mushrooms during this recent bumper crop of fungi, but not us.

Did you know you could grow mushrooms inside from a kit from Cascadia Mushrooms?

I had no idea until after taking a farm tour, my dad brought this plain, brown block to us to try it out. And no thanks to me it worked!
growing mushrooms insideKits are 100% Certified Organic blocks of enriched, sterilized hardwood sawdust fully colonized by mycelium, a hardy strain of Shiitake. Just have your husband spray water on it twice a day and BAM! here they come!shitake mushroomsEarly on, we had a super-achiever.big shitake mushroomThe Hubs We harvested the bounty today and will resoak the block for another round of ‘shrooms. It’s reusable for many more times.harvested mushroomsAnd if you’re really lucky, someone will use these delicious, fresh mushrooms to make you breakfast!eggs and mushroomsMmmmmmmmm.

Top 5 Tips for Blackberry Picking

blackberry pickingWe’ve had a sunny summer on Bainbridge Island (sunsunsunsun! we shall now call it “sunner!” instead of “summer”) and the blackberries are already bursting all over the place.

That means all over the island people are picking berries and whining and getting pricked by those spiky tendrils.

I grew up in Dallas but I’ve lived here over a decade time, where do you go? and have whined a LOT learned a few things in regard to this delicious and evil (a winning combination!) fruit.

1. Use protection. Never fails, every year, I forget to wear enough protective gear at first. I cannot overemphasize this probably, I could! Blackberry bushes are Satan. They don’t just prick you *ouch!* but they deposit some lingering, fizzy evilness, just like stinging nettles do. To get nettles like Langdon Cook taught us, I wear gloves and use scissors, but you cannot do the delicate act of berry picking this way. The most I can do is layer up, long sleeves, long pants (extra thick, sturdy old jeans are great, not the stretchy, thin stuff of fashion departments!), closed-neck shirt, maybe even a hat, or at least pull back long hair. I have not found gloves that protect me and still allow me to pick gently. So I just send my hands in there carefully, like a game of Operation.

2. Deploy child labor. Not only will this lower your odds of being injured (although living with a suffering child is a whole other kind of pain…), but the picking will go faster and you’ll get more berries unless your child labor has become like mine–a lazy whiner quitter girl. Tell them “it’s fun!” and that’ll buy you a few seasons.

3. Bigger is not necessarily better. I know you want to haul out your biggest buckets for this project, but with fragile berries, don’t do it! Unless your planned use for them is a berry compote, you’ll want a wide, flat container so you’re not making a berry high-rise and smushing all the goodness. Don’t smush the goodness, people!

4. Look down. We’ve discussed clothing, but I personally have marched off dressed appropriately except for my feet. Guess what, the bastard branches twisted around my feet and up under my pant leg! Do you want sizzling stinging sensations on your toes? your ankles? I think not. Wear solid shoes and socks.

5. Timing is everything.
Don’t get all excited and head out right after a rainy night. It sounds silly with these sunny days, but wait ’til fall is almost here and you see little black fruits still dangling! Take a breath. The berries hold that moisture and more times than not, get mushy. Let them dry a bit before picking. Also, make sure those little “pockets” as the Kid calls them, are large enough. That’s where the juicy, sweet goodness is. I, too, hate patient, but you’ll be glad later. Who needs an unplanned pucker-fest of unripe berries in their mouth?

So far, we’ve eaten some berries, frozen some and I believe have many, many more to harvest. Here’s to pain-free berry picking!

Do you have any tricks for picking? Favorite berry recipes?


Happy Fourth of July!

fireworks cupcakesWe hope you have a swe-eeet day!

Blogger’s note: these cupcakes were made from scratch and decorated by the Kid, all by herself! Yum!

Steel Cut Oats: Start Your Day Cranky

Have you noticed what a pain steel cut oats are? steel cut oats

I know, I know, it’s a whole food, it’s good for you.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: steel cut oats are just a bunch of high maintenance whiny babies needing constant hand-holding. There. Said it.

Sure, the name sounds all tough, Steel Cut, and they look tough (if one got in my running shoe, I’d limp home), but clearly, someone is overcompensating there.

If you get the regular kind (I even got the Irish version; they sound fun, right?), versus the “quick,” you’re supposed to boil them for nine days an hour. Oh, and stir frequently, too. Stir me, don’t walk away, stir me, come baaaack. Waaaahhhhh.

My nine year old is more independent, even with all her braid my hair and feed me dinner and buy me new socks.

Why would I deal with the morning equivalent of risotto? Yours truly has lost count of the number of burned steel cut oats incidences around here.

Then, there’s the slime factor when it undoubtedly boils over when you slip away to let the dog out and in and out. Slime on the stove, slime in the microwave (yes, *gasp* she tried the “quick steel cut oats” in there). Yuck. Leave that slime too long and congratulations, you’ve created a new, impervious shellack.

I’ve even made it in advance, carefully, in the evening when I was practically sober more attentive and focused, but in the morning I had a steel cut oat brick to enjoy. Yuck again.

I’m currently eating the “quick” kind which surprise! boiled over with the lid on (okay, it was another pan, not a lid, because I’d have to bend over and open a cabinet to hunt for the proper lid). And yet even with half the water sizzling on the burner, the oats managed to end up as “oat soup” possibly eye-balling the water measurement at the start is discouraged.

But it’s good for me, right just like every other soul-crushing, heart-shattering moment in life?

I just don’t think I’m strong enough for breakfast anymore. Where’s a Pop Tart when you need one?

Do you have a trick for cooking steel cut oats?

Making Homemade Bird Suet

Remember how I whined about everything not having birds come to the suet feeder? And then they did, like immediately after I blogged my complaints.
suet feeder
I’m back to whine some more “Oh, we’re so surprised,” said no one.

After those piggy birds ate up the last round of suet, the tightwad in me I decided to try making it myself.

I melted about a pound of Crisco.
homemade suet
Tossed in about a cup of really old leftover high quality polenta (rather than corn meal cuz it’s what we had and I am not making a special trip to the store yet just for birds!).homemade suetI melted it all together and added about a cup of peanut butter (hey, measurements are rough-this is not a souffle, people!) to the pan and then a handful of sunflower seeds.
homemade suetThen I spread the whole thing out over waxed paper in a 9×13 pan and put it in the fridge.
homemade suetOnce it set up, I cut it into squareish shapes and wrapped those somewhat crumbly messes in waxed paper to keep in the fridge while I whined enough to get the Hubs back on the ladder to put the suet up the next week.

And do they like it? Well…. *whistling*
bird suet feederNothing.

Again, the bird brains are not eating.

I do and do and do for them and this is the thanks I get. Geesh.

Have you ever made suet at home? Did the birds like it?