Tag Archive | healthy eating

Black and Red, I love both those berries!

The different stages of ripeness.

The different stages of ripeness.

really love finding wild berries.  Black, Blue, Red, I like them all.  I’m going to focus on the Black and Red today though.  Raspberries come in season long before the Blackberries, which gives me a full 2 months or more to go berry picking!  Yeah!  I love berry picking.  Ok, well I do like berry picking but not as much as berry eating!  Berry picking can be a very “prickly” business.  I get pricked quite often, actually.  If your going to go picking berries, especially if they grow in the wild, it is a really good idea to wear long sleeves and heavy pants, such as jeans.  If you don’t you might end up with big scratches and bleeding spots.  Trust me, been there and done that repeatedly.  Not a good idea.  I tend to plan out my berry picking activities now instead of just going on a whim.  It’s painless that way!

Ripe Raspberries in all their heavenly glory.

Ripe Raspberries in all their heavenly glory.

First we shall talk about raspberries, being they ripen first up here in the Northern Woods.  My Mom absolutely loves them.  Way more than I do.  Therefore, when ever I go out to pick raspberries I pick them for her.  She typically makes me a jar of jam from them.

Raspberries are so fragile, so light, so fragrant.  Their taste just pops in your mouth.  At the height of ripeness they have the perfect balance between sweetness and acidity.   They are also full of good stuff!  In one cup of raspberries there are lots of greatness, such as they are downright loaded with Vitamin C.  32.2 Grams.  54% of your daily value.  Vitamin K, 9.6 mcg and 12% of your DV.  Manganese, 0.8 mcg, 41% of your DV.  They are a good source of dietary fiber.  They are super low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol.  They are 82% carbohydrate, 10% fat and 8% protein.  In other words, yummy!   Besides that they taste good and can easily added to many food items.  They can be baked into a muffin, eaten raw over some cereal, added to yogurt with granola, etc. etc.

When picking raspberries it is wisest to take several small containers instead of one large container.  The reason is that they crush easily.

Beautiful red raspberries hanging nicely for me to pluck.

Beautiful red raspberries hanging nicely for me to pluck.

Raspberries are absolutely wonderful when turned into a jam, preserves, or conserve.  I personally decided to go different this year and made a peach and raspberry preserve.  Preserves are more like a honey consistency and the fruit is a little bigger than a jam.  It spreads easily on toast.  It tastes great on toast with butter!

Raspberry Peach Preserves.

Raspberry Peach Preserves.

 

Now , I’d like to talk about Blackberries.  Many people confuse blackberries and DewBerries.  There is one major difference.  Dewberries typically grown along the ground on a vine and Blackberries grow upright on canes or stalks.   Look at the pictures below to see what I mean.

Dewberries grow along the ground on vines.

Dewberries grow along the ground on vines.

Blackberries grow upright

Blackberries grow upright

Blackberries are also bigger than dewberries.  There are also black raspberries.  They grow in the same exact way as blackberries.  There are a few differences though.  The black raspberries are shaped the same as red raspberries, round and with a hollow after you pick them.  They leave a white half circle of what I call pith on the vine.  The underside of their leaves is also almost white.  Blackberries on the other hand  leave no visible pith, are not hollow, and are more  light green under the leaves.  They are also more oblong shaped.

Blackberries are more oblong shaped

Blackberries are more oblong shaped

Blackberries are full of natural vitamins and minerals.  They are 50% of your Daily Value of Vitamin C in one cup!  They are also 41% of your manganese for the day.  They are also a good source of folate, vitamin K, and copper.  Just like raspberries they are low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol.  They are 79% carb, 10% fat, and 11% protein.  All in all a good healthy choice.  They are very versatile.  Being they are a tougher berry they hold up well while baking, freezing, and picking.  You can use one large vessel rather that several smaller for picking.  These berries don’t crush as easily.

Personally I adore blackberries and they are my favorite summertime fruit.  I like them for all sorts of yummy reason.  They are great for snacking, they are sweet and less acidic that raspberries, they make wonderful wine, etc.  I try and get gallons of these little delicious bites in my freezer every year.  I make jams, preserves, and crumbles with them.

Rows of blackberry and raspberry bushes growing wild along a trail.

Rows of blackberry and raspberry bushes growing wild along a trail.

 

Dewberries are not as sweet as blackberries in my opinion.  I find them rather tart and a little bitter.  It might just be the weather this year though.  It has been rainy and overcast much of the summer.  Temperatures have been hovering around the low to high 70’s all summer.  In order for berries to get sweet they need pure unadulterated sunshine for days and days. A good mix of rain and sun is best for the greatest tasting berries.  I’ve noticed all the berries are a little bitter this year because of it.  Bummer  😦

Dewberry vines are creeping across the ground

Dewberry vines are creeping across the ground

Dewberries are smaller.

Dewberries are smaller.

I don’t know as much about Dewberries as they are a discovery I made only last year and I am figuring out ways to use them.  They ripen about the same time as the blueberries here in Northern Michigan, typically July.  I tried mixing the blue and dewberries together into a pie and it was horrible!  It was bitter and sour!  I know many people who love Dewberries.  I’m hoping next year they are sweeter and I can fall in love with them too.

So, in closing today I’d like to say GET OUT AND PICK!  It’s good for you!  You get exercise, hang out in nature, and reap the rewards of luscious berries!  Besides they are completely organic and GMO free when you find them growing wild.  I like that.  I like that VERY much.

 

 

Fungi, Fungi, and more Fungi!

An abundance of Chanterelle's

   An abundance of Chanterelle’s

The Chanterelles, Oysters, and Puffball Mushrooms are all coming out in droves with the cooler weather here in Northern Michigan.  Thank GOD!  We love mushrooms, they are so delicious.  I took my 5 year old  nephew out with me yesterday to show him the ropes of Chanterelle hunting.  We found more than Chanterelles which was great.  My nephew told me we had to make something for dinner which included the mushrooms.  The recipe I made is included in this post.

Chanterelles grow on the ground, either singly or in groups.  The ones we are finding are called  “cantharellus cibarius”.  They are yellow.  Anywhere from a light buttery yellow if they have been under leaves and haven’t gotten much light to a dark yellowy orange if they are getting older and drying out some. They have a flat to slightly depressed cap usually, though occasionally it can be more trumpet like.  Chanterelles have “false gills”.  What are false gills you ask?  False gills look like this: 

These are false gills

These are false gills

 They are false gills because they are more like folds in the mushroom.  You can not pull them off individually.  They tend to fork at the end of the mushroom.  It’s really important to know the difference between false gills and true gills.  There are very dangerous look alike mushrooms out there.  The Jack-o-Lantern mushroom is a look alike to the Chanterelle.

Think about a button mushroom you buy at the store.  Turn it over.  On the underside you will see that it has gills.  They are detached from each other.  You could pull each one off individually if you like.  They are plate or blade like.  These are true gills.

True gills.  Can be pulled off individually. Detached and hanging down singularly.

True gills. Can be pulled off individually. Detached and hanging down singularly.

Chanterelles also have a fruity smell.  You may not notice it individually but if you get several together it’s undeniably apricoty.  Chantharellus Cibiarius once broken will stain a darker orange to brown color.  They are usually  a few inches tall (between 1 and 5) and and inch to several inches across.  The spore print is pale yellow to creamy white.  Chanterelles can be preserved by sautéing them in some butter and garlic, cooling, and then putting in freezer bags and frozen.  If preserved other ways they tend to lose their flavor.

This is the biggest Chanterelle I have found.  It's as big as my hand!

This is the biggest Chanterelle I have found. It’s as big as my hand!

Chanterelle Hunting

Chanterelle Hunting

Smaller chanterelle.  This is more typical size

Smaller chanterelle. This is more typical size

 

We also found oyster mushrooms.  They tend to grow on deciduous trees and tree stumps.  They grow in clusters mainly but can be found individually.  The ones we find are typically a light tan to creamy whitish tan color.  They are slightly slimy when wet.  They look like a fan and have true gills.  The Oysters in the pictures below are not ones I picked yesterday but some my wonderful neighbors gave me a few days back.

Creamy tan to whitish color, true gills, fan shaped.

Creamy tan to whitish color, true gills, fan shaped.

True gills

True gills

They grow in abundance

They grow in abundance

Oyster Mushrooms come in many shapes, colors, and sizes.  There are a lot of different types of oysters out there and you need to know which are which.  If your unsure you can ask a mushroom expert for identification.  Never eat ANY mushroom that your unsure of.  You could get sick and at worst die.  Now we wouldn’t want that would we?  Oyster are a good addition to many main dishes.  They are also great dehydrated and then ground into a powder that can later be used for adding a mushroomy flavor to food.    

 Wild Mushroom Risotto

  • 1/2 stick of salted Butter
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 2-3 cups wild mushrooms, I used Chanterelle, Oyster, and Pear Puffball
  • 1 C Arborio Rice (Risotto)
  • 2 C beef broth
  • 2 C Sherry
  • 2 C water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Optional: Fresh Chives (3-4 TBSP) and  Fresh Oregano( 1-2 TBSP)
  1. Melt butter over medium high heat in a large skillet
  2. Add in Olive Oil 
  3. Add Onions to pan and allow to simmer until onions are translucent, 3 minutes or so
  4. Once Onions are translucent add wild mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms shrink in size and pan has lots of liquid.
  5. Add in Arborio rice.  Stirring continuously until all liquid is absorbed.
  6. Mix beef broth and Sherry together in a 4 cup measuring cup or bowl
  7. Add 1 C of beef/sherry liquid to pan.  Stir continuously until all liquid is absorbed.
  8. Continue adding beef/sherry mixture to skillet 1 Cup at a time and stir until all liquid is absorbed in between each addition
  9. Test Arborio Rice.  Taste a piece of rice and see if it is still hard in the middle, if so add water 1 Cup at a time in the same manner as above until rice is soft.
  10. Add in salt and pepper and Fresh Chives and Oregano, cook a few minutes more.  Rice should be a creamy consistency.
  11. ENJOY!
    Keep adding liquid until absorbed

    Keep adding liquid until absorbed

    Once finished Rice will look like this.

    Once finished Rice will look like this.

 

I hope you enjoyed the Mushroom Issue of my Blog.  David and I both really enjoy mushrooms and hope you do too!