Isn’t today’s date a fun one to write? I guess every month will have the novelty of this triplicate. So I don’t have any deep thoughts to share but I haven’t been just sitting around practicing my Tik Tok dances either. Here is a snippet about what I’ve done the last couple of weeks.
Morels! It is morel season in the Idaho mountains and I am thrilled. Mushrooms are the most awesome food. They have a delicious earthy flavor and the texture when cooked has just the right amount of chewiness. They have this thing in them called chitin, as I mentioned in the post on chanterelle mushrooms last fall, and that stuff can hold its own against heat. You cannot over cook a mushroom. You can burn them if you let them dry out but they cannot get cooked into a sloppy pile of mush. Which makes me think they are perhaps misnamed. This tough chiten makes cooking with mushrooms a dream because if you, like me, tend sometimes toward the “discovery style” of cooking, you do not have to worry about order of operations in the kitchen. If you are the cooks-only-with-recipe type then you probably have no idea what I am talking about. Let me enlighten you or skip the next paragraph.
Discovery style is when you do not have an end goal in mind. It might be more common in the artsy or creative types or maybe the spiritual types. You just enjoy the process. Discovery style writers have only a vague idea of a story and just write versus outline writers who have bullet points of plot and just fill in words to get from one bullet to the next. Discovery style cooks have a vague idea of what they want to cook, for instance your sweetie has nicely griped about all the huckleberries and figs you have squirreled away in the freezer. Out in the garden you see your rhubarb is getting kind of big so you grab a few stalks.
Once inside you look at the rhubarb and, remembering the fussing of your true love, you go dig in the freezer for last summer’s fruit. You toss the sliced rhubarb, some huckleberries, some figs, a large handful of brown sugar and a pat of butter that has been sitting on the counter into a pan and cook it until it is a yummy sauce that is then poured on everything in sight. It is definitely how my grandma used to cook. Maddening when you are trying to learn how to cook a special dish because it is all about how things feel rather than being quantified. This is discovery style living.
Back to the morels, we had missed the picking opportunity last year and were scraping the bottom of the dried morel barrel this last winter. This spring we are making up for it by actively harvesting and preserving the few that don’t get gobbled up.
My favorite way to have morels is to saute in butter, the morels will exude a delicious juice and voila, you have a mushroom in gravy. You can fancy it up a bit by adding a bit of herbs like a pinch of rosemary or sage, some chives or green onion tips, and some garlic scapes if you have them.
Here I have decided to make some gnocchi for the mushroom sauce since apparently just spooning the sauce into your mouth while you stand at the stove is bad manners and may be considered greedy. Gnocchi is not very difficult to make as pasta things go and it is the easiest to make gluten-free. To one pound of cooked potatoes, I used russet and microwaved them (boiling can make them too wet), add about ¼ cup of garbanzo flour and 1/3 cup of sweet rice flour. If you are comfortable in the discovery method and do not have these flours, use whatever you have. Well, maybe not almond flour because that would be a pretty strong flavor… although maybe that would make a delicious dessert gnocchi with the rhubarb sauce. See that’s how the discovery method works. Back to the gnocchi. Mash the potatoes with the flour, a pinch of salt, and an egg. You could skip the egg, especially if you are using wheat flour, a flour mix with xanthan gum, or just don’t feel like using egg and are willing to take on the repercussions of going rogue with a recipe. Mix everything well BY HAND, do not use a machine as it will make your gnocchi glue-like instead of a soft pillow-dough. Roll a handful of dough into a log about the size of a carrot, slice into 1 inch pieces and shape as desired. You can freeze them now or continue with cooking.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a hard boil, drop the gnocchi in and when they float to the top, scoop them out. If you want to get extra decadent you can then pan fry the gnocchi after the boil to get a crisp exterior. If you notice your gnocchi dissolving in the water then STOP and just pan fry them. It’s actually my favorite way to have them now because you get a delicious crispy skin so you are basically having a gourmet version of french fries. Serve with your favorite sauce.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I have been dealing with a spinal disc issue that is really getting in the way of doing what I want to do. I got this inversion table and love it. I am also doing physical therapy but I think the disc issue is beyond that. I am going in for an MRI soon and in the meantime the doc gave me a pack of steroids. Wow! Between the table and the drugs I was feeling AWESOME for a while! I have continued my exercises and inversion. I get my fix of NPR news and/or social media while hanging upside down so the time goes by really fast.
Pulled a Don Quixote
The day that had the highest steroid amount in my blood I went after one of the wild rose bushes on a rare flat spot on the hill next to the house because of some chickens. See, I do not have any chickens but I really think I want some. Apparently chickens will need a nice home and some yard to peck around. There was a great spot on the hill but a squatter in the form of a wild rose bush had taken possession of that spot. It put up quite a fight and was armored with the fiercest array of spikes but with the help of my devoted Rocinante, the squatter was dispatched to the burn pile. Above is the new spot for my chickens… which I do not have at this time.
Sadly I have realized that chickens don’t really fit into a mobile lifestyle. Apparently our continental birds are unlike the chickens of Hawaii, you can’t just leave them alone for a few weeks or they will up and die on you. Once, or if, I actually settle down in one place for good, then I will absolutely get chickens. Unless maybe I can get some of those feral Hawaiian chickens and relocate them to Idaho. They seem to do pretty good on their own.
Revived my habit of making poor footwear choices
It has finally been hitting temperatures in the 60s at the mountain house and so, like any self-respecting Gulf Coast gal I pulled out the flip-flops. Down on the Gulf you can pretty much wear these shoes year round and it is perfectly respectable footwear. My problem is that I think I am just going to go check the mail, then I see (fill in the blank) and wander off in another direction. Next thing you know I am trying to scale the hill and clamber over downed trees just to grab a morel I happened to notice. What can I say, I have an aversion to lace-up shoes. Laces belong on corsets not feet.
Played Roman Emperor with daisies
I actually love the bright yellow heads poking up in the neon-green spring grass but I have learned that if you give a daisy an inch it will take the whole garden. So I did a bit of weeding in my tiered garden. Thumbs down to the daisy in the garden, thumbs up to the daisies in the lawn.
Tied up some flies
I do not fly fish. Let me get that straight. I haven’t tried it and so maybe one day I will but today is not that day. However, the don adores fly fishing and has all the accoutrements to make his own flies. I took a fancy to it this past week while he was gone fishing and actually tied a little water nymph fly. If you need something for scale, that is some thread that is about as thick as quilting thread that is being wrapped on the hook. It’s tiny.
Found a grave
Don’t you wish you knew the story behind this? I found this little grave off the trail on the city’s former watershed land that is now a multi-use area for people. ATVs, motorcycles, hikers, horse-riders all share the many trails that are next door to me. This little grave might have been a person’s dog. Did the dog just love coming here so when she died they buried her here? Or did she meet an untimely fate along the trail? I hope it was the former. Actually, I hope Molly was a dog. I would hate to think of anyone else being buried here.
Started creeping on geese
Monty has always wanted a duck. He found a goose egg and carried it in his mouth across the meadow to me without putting a scratch on it. Here is his sad little face when I made him put it back.
A couple of weeks later I saw the parents with their three little babies in the pond not 40 feet from the original nest. All three eggs made it and one of those babies is the one Monty had wanted to adopt.
One the same high-steroid day I brought my bow out for a little target practice. Yeah, baby! I still got it! I also pulled out my handguns which have not been fired in a couple of years. I am accurate enough with those but I actually prefer the bow. Fortunately there’s not much worry of needing to use the handguns around here so I can put the guns away and focus on the bow.
Cat in the Hat
Before the steroids I was pretty limited in what I could do. I got it into my head, with the help of a joke between my daughter and me, to make a hat for her cat. Have you ever googled crocheted cat hat? Holy moley, it is apparently A THING. Erika was kind enough to video call me when she got the hat and so I could see her cat actually begin forced to wear it. Ha! Just as a side note for all of you who might be concerned the cat was put into a position it didn’t want to be in by making it wear a hat, this is the cat that bitch-slapped me on my last Christmas in Houston. He had it comin’.
Well, that’s all for now folks. I am still holding to my 2500 words a week goal for my writing a novel thingy. I did discover a small issue with being a nouveau novelist. I no longer really like my protagonist. I was concerned about my antagonist being rather flat and two-dimensional so I decided to flesh him out, make him more real and likable so you could understand why he does what he does. Well now I have created a whole family for him and I really like them. And my protagonist is now the boring one. The really difficult part is that one of the bad guy’s family members, or maybe a couple I haven’t decided yet, but someone will die. Maybe I will go watch that movie, Stranger Than Fiction. Emma Thompson faced a similar dilemma.
Wish you were here!