At the recent Fungus Fair in Santa Cruz, celebrated author David Arora announced he is in the process of revising Mushrooms Dymystified, known to mycologists and other fungi enthusiasts as the definitive text for mushroom identification.
Presenting at the fair, Arora mentioned offhand his progress with the new edition. He said his aim was to make the edition the most accessible yet. Referencing the personal stories he shared of fellow foragers, he wants the language updated to reflect mushroom culture. Mushroom edibility would no longer use archaic terms like “choice” but his own colorful vernacular.
I used to hate beer. Most Americans experience beer and alcoholic beverages as a rite of passage into adulthood, but I refused to follow the crowd. Despite their fowl taste, most of us are introduced to beer through the cheapest, most processed versions available. I remember someone once explaining to me a kind of golden rule to appreciating (bad) beer, in an attempt to get me started: after ten cans the foul taste will go away! Even hardcore vegetarians and vegans can be found making exceptions for these beers, many of which contain animal products like bone, bladder, and dried blood. But I wanted nothing to do with them.
Then I moved to Portland, Oregon.
The wet city in the Pacific Northwest contains more brewpubs per-capita than anywhere else in the world, even Germany. I was surrounded by exotic Scotch Ales and fruity Lamics. It wasn’t long until I was trying beers left and right and attending such world-class beer events as the Oregon Brewers Festival and the Holiday Ale Festival. So then with so many great beers out there, why did it take me so long to find them?
Last year’s documentary film, Beer Wars, answers my question with a sobering story. Through an inside glimpse into the beer industry, the film illuminates how the giants of the market reinforce their dominance and squelch micro brewers using every tactic available. Distribution companies and grocery stores are manipulated to ensure that the smaller companies have little to no room in the trucks or on the shelves. We watch as the humble brewmaster of microbrewery Dogfish Head is served with litigation from Anheuser-Busch. Even though the suit is bogus, it is obvious that the corporation is aiming to simply bankrupt the little guys in legal fees. Why? Because they can. Continue reading
Its a bit late, but in preparation for the 1st issue of my new zine, DIY 2010, I’ve been compiling a list of notable events from 2009. Is there something important to DIY culture that you don’t see here? Let me know!
- New device uses laser beams to project your own lane from the back of your bicycle,
- Shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California, sparks months of protests and clashes with police,
- Canada is no longer a safe place for U.S. war resisters
- Faythe Levine releases her documentary “Handmade Nation” alongside her book “Craft’s New Wave”,
- FCC Free Radio begins broadcasting
- Make Magazine begins airing a new national TV series
- Bolivia approves of a new constitution that creates a ministry in support of indigenous autonomy
How many types of mushrooms can you name? Unfortunately, for most of us, our knowledge is limited to what the grocery store can offer – usually three or four commercial varieties. Yet, nature offers hundreds of species – many of them edible, and some of the best available in the Pacific Northwest.
So I went to a mushroom workshop outside Salem at the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center to get schooled. The forest center itself provided a perfect learning environment, as the center is remotely located among the Cascade Mountains – a perfect region for mushrooms. The mountains trap the weather systems moving in from the West and cause large amounts of rainfall. Rain and moisture are essential for mushrooms to grow. Once you bring in other factors – such as elevation, flora and fauna – what you find on a mushroom hunt can be quite varied. The center itself prides itself as being a steward of the land – it not only uses its educational program to foster sustainability but also offers a rare low-impact energy use system.
On our first hunt, we found Chantrelles, Winter Chantrelles, a Hedgehog Mushroom, Lacluster Lacaria, and Lobster Mushrooms - all edible!
On the hunt, it is good to have a knife, a brush, and a basket for placing the mushrooms into. The knife helps cut the dirty or undesirable part of the mushroom away, the brush helps further clean it before putting it into the basket. It is helpful to have them as clean as possible before they are placed together with other mushrooms they could possibly dirty.
Recently I was approached at a party by a stranger with a freezer bag filled with an odd substance. He said it was for making bread and he would like to give it to me. Normally I might be a little cautious about accepting plastic bags full of unfamiliar substances but he went on to explain that it was a starter culture to make a kind of sourdough bread.
Why was he giving this to me? The recipe is actually designed so that the ingredients must be multiplied and then the larger mixture divided up so it grows among friends exponentially. Pretty much the culinary equivalent of a chain letter. This recipe didn’t warn me about being struck by lightning if I failed to pass it on, however:
** Do not use any type of metal spoon or bowl for the mixture
** Do not refrigerate the mixture
** As air gets in the bag, let it out. It is normal for the batter to rise and ferment.
DAY 1 – Do nothing
DAY 2 – Mash the bag
DAY 3 – Mash the bag
DAY 4 – Mash the bag
DAY 5 – Mash the bag
DAY 6 – Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk – then mash the bag
DAY 7 – Mash the bag
DAY 8 – Mash the bag
DAY 9 – Mash the bag
DAY 10 – Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 1/2 cups milk and stir with a non-metal spoon.
Measure out 4 separate 1-cup portions of batter into gallon bags. Keep a starter for yourself and give the others to friends with a copy of the recipe. If you keep a bag for yourself, you will be making bread every 10 days. This bread is very good and makes a great gift. Only the Amish know how to create the starter. If you should give all of them away, you will have to wait until someone gives you one back. If a starter is not passed on to a friend on the 1st day, be certain to tell them which day the bag is on when you give it to them. Continue reading