I’m addicted…..to mushroom hunting

18 05 2009

The past few weeks have been just awesome for morel mushroom hunting.  I have taken my boys out several times to keep us busy while Dad is away at his bi-annual Boundary Waters canoe trip.  I actually just cooked up a batch a little while ago as a welcome home surprise, but now Jason just called and told me he won’t be home until after midnight – bummer.  We all missed him and was looking forward to seeing him before we go to bed.  I gotta give props to all the single parents out there – it’s hard raising kids alone and I’m sure  glad we’re going back to being a complete family tomorrow.  I don’t know how my mom did it alone with 4 of us – but somehow we all survived.

I found a new hot spot with my sister and I’m not even going to tell J about this one – I”m keeping it all to myself.  Here’s a pic of our loot:

mmmm......tasty

mmmm......tasty

Ha, ha, ha....we don't need no stinkin men....we can scavage for food all on our own!

Ha, ha, ha....we don't need no stinkin men....we can scavage for food all on our own!

Today we headed back out to Grandpa’s and found the largest mushrooms of the season.  They were the golden kind and some were up to 6 inches long.  In addition to dying/decaying elm trees, we’ve had some luck around dead cottonwood trees as well.  Look for soil that is sandy, not rocky, and in an area that gets at least a little sun  (not full sun – but partial).  I’ve found most of mine on hillsides in open dirt areas, but they do grow right in the grass on flat ground as well.

Cheers to finding the big ones!

Cheers to finding the big ones!

There are many ways to clean/cook/store morels, but here’s how we do it.  Slice them in half and soak them in salt water for about 15 min to kill any critters/bacteria.  Dip them in melted butter, roll in flour and pan fry.  Mine didn’t turn out the best tonight cuz I think I used too much flour.  I also just sauteed them in butter (skipped the flour) and they turned out much better.  Jason has made them with panko chips and those were my favorite.  If you’re not going to eat your shrooms within a few days you can dry them out and store for months, if not years, in a container.  We slice them in half, lay out on a window screen for a few days to dry and then put in canning jars.  Once you want to eat them, just soak them in warm water to rehydrate and they should pop back to their original size.  I have also heard that people string mushrooms through thread and hang them up to dry and people have freezed them as well (stays good for several months but not as long as if you dry them).

Well time to go to bed, so I can check my backyard in the morning for my fungal friend……like I said, I’m addicted.





First mushroom hunt of the year

6 05 2009

Looking for a fun, free, outdoor activity to try with the family?  Every spring we look forward to morel mushroom hunting.  In Minnesota they start to pop out when temps climb into the 6o’s during the day and it doesn’t get colder than in the 40’s at night (end of April – beginning of May).  It’s also a good idea to start hunting after a good rainfall.  Yesterday we went to a local county park and found our first morels of the year – a whopping 5 tiny gray ones.

Kallen and Noah showing off their loot

Kallen and Noah showing off their loot

Here are some things to know that will help you with your hunting:

1. Wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt along with a good pair of hiking shoes/boots.  I made the mistake yesterday going out hunting in shorts and Keen sandals.  Not a good idea – my legs are completely scratched up.  Bring some bug spray too.

2.  Look in stream and river beds, wooded areas, thick underbrush and especially around dead elm trees.

3.  Find a good long stick to help move dead leaves and brush aside.

4.  Take a woven mesh bag (such as an orange or potato bag) with you to put the mushrooms in.  This is important because morels spread through spores, which shake loose as they are jostled about.  Allowing the spores to fall to the ground will help ensure morel hunting for our children and grandchildren.

5.  When picking the mushrooms make sure not to pull the entire mushroom out of the ground.  Pinch off above the ground so as not to disturb the underground plant.  That way they should pop up again next year.

Kallen, my six year old, had become quite the little hunter and he is an excellent spotter.  He was the one who found our “hot spot” yesterday.  Don’t expect anyone to tell you where they go hunting.  People are very reluctant to give up their hot spots so they can enjoy the treasures for themselves.  The best places to hunt are on private property so you don’t have to share public hunting grounds with other mushroom seekers.  Now don’t go out and tresspass – get permission from the land owner.  We are lucky that my father-in-law lives about 5 minutes from us down in the river valley and has some great spots to hunt.

Why do I love mushrooms so much?  They are absolutely pure goodness.  I can’t wait to collect enough to enjoy this awfully tasty treat on a grilled steak.  Dipped in butter, rolled in flour and fried in a pan is the best way to make them, in my opinion.

Kallen spotted the first 2 treats of the year

Kallen spotted the first 2 treats of the year

The boys also had fun finding frogs out in the woods.  I am used to seeing toads, bullfrogs and leopard frogs around Minnesota, but I had never seen this little guy before.  He almost looks like something we would have seen in the Puerto Rican rainforest.

Our little green friend

Our little green friend

I just looked him up on the DNR website and I think he is a Gray treefrog.  Didn’t know we had tree frogs in Minnesota, and I wonder why he’s called gray and not green – hmmmm……

ADDENDUM:  Just got back from a great hunt tonight.  Found about 50 mushrooms including lots of big yellow ones that we didn’t think would be out this early.  One more thing….if you have long hair like me, don’t forget to put it in a pony so it doesn’t get caught on prickly ash.

mushroom-pic

To top off the day, I tried to play a little tennis with Noah since he has shown an interest in the sport.  They have summer tennis camps beginning at 3, but judging how the day went, I don’t think he’ll be joining one anytime soon (see last picture).

Hey mom - I'm ready to play!

Hey mom - I'm ready to play!

And this was Noah, 5 minutes after we started playing……

Wahhhhh.....I can't hit the ball!

Wahhhhh.....I can't hit the ball!





Living Green Expo

5 05 2009

Naturally Bamboo had a blast at this past weekend’s Living Green Expo, held at the Minnesota state fairgrounds in St. Paul.  I don’t have attendance numbers yet, but last year there were about 25,000 visitors and this year’s expo seemed just as busy to me.  It was great to talk to repeat customers from last year and hear such great feedback.  One woman said that she only came to the expo this year just to find Naturally Bamboo again and that her husband only bought clothes from us this past year.  Awesome!  Two repeat customers came back again to purchase arm loads of our bamboo socks.  We’ve sold thousands of pairs – people just can’t seem to get enough of them!

By far our Cascade dress was the most popular style of the event.  They are so comfortable and flattering – every lady deserves to have one in her closet.  Due to the popularity of the Cascade dress, Stillwater tank tops and the men’s Palisade polo, we will be taking orders again now until the end of May for delivery the end of June.   My main sewing ladies, Sam and Kim, will be back from Cambodia the last week of May and they will be so thrilled to have orders waiting for them.

My sister Jenny and my intern Jaime were excellent sales reps for the show.  They also took on double duty as models for the Green Fashion Show.  Once the fashion show was over we had a flock of people back at our booth looking for the designs they modeled.  Sadly for the customers, most of the featured designs were sold out before the fashion show even started.  Have no fear!  We are planning to have the styles in stores and on the website by the end of June.

Here’s some pics of us at the show.  I think we have officially outgrown a 10’x10′ space since at most times there were way too many people to squeeze in the booth.  I’m working on a new 10′ x 20′ booth design that will debut at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City this July.

My fabulous intern Jaime (in black bamboo tee) assisting a customer with pant sizing.

My fabulous intern Jaime (in black bamboo tee) assisting a customer with pant sizing.

Hi Jenny - it was so cold in the building she had to hide her bamboo dress behind her winter jacket.

Hi Jenny - it was so cold in the building she had to hide her bamboo dress behind her winter jacket.

Here's super Jaime again talking up all the great things about bamboo.

Here's super Jaime again talking up all the great things about bamboo.