pinenut

foraging

One of my first adventures in Salt Lake City was attending a foraging class. How fun, right? There's so much around to forage: mushrooms, berries, fruits, nuts. I'm looking forward to spring, we were shown where there are Ume trees. How wonderful it would be to make umeboshi plums. 

This oyster mushroom was foraged by my cousin. She got half of it, then when back for more. Overall, the multi-trip forage yielded about 5lbs of oyster mushroom delight. Much smaller oyster mushrooms sell for $5.99/lb at a local market. 

Beautiful Oyster Mushroom.

Beautiful Oyster Mushroom.

We experimented cooking it with different oils and butters to find out what the best flavor is. (olive oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, salted butter, and vegan butter) Butter was by far the best flavor, but they were all fun and delicious. I would be okay with vegan butter. The oils may have been helped with more salt. 

On a field trip to a local park, I picked a bunch of inky cap mushrooms. You really need a large basketful to have enough to share generously.

Inky Caps.

Inky Caps.

Inky Caps.

Inky Caps.

The caps get gooey, so we only ate the stems. I wish I had sauteed them right away instead of waiting until the next morning, but it was a fantastic first forage. 

Elderberries are delicious. I want to make muffins and syrup with them. They're like little candies, so delicious and tart. These I did not harvest, but I did the painstaking job of removing them from their persnickety stems. Totally worth it. 

Elderberries.

Elderberries.

I had the most fun foraging pine nuts. We spent an hour pulling the nuts out of pine cones from the trees. Unfortunately, I didn't weigh our harvest. Not all of them have an edible nut inside, but finding out is part of the fun.

Foraged Pine Nuts.

Foraged Pine Nuts.

Does it count as foraging if you pick from the garden? Maybe not, but it's still fun. These plums came from a tree in the backyard where I am staying. 

Plums.

Plums.

#PartyFood

I realized the other day, when I couldn't bring myself to work on a couple of canvases, that much of my creative energy is spent in the kitchen these days. 

Here are three variations with most of the same ingredients. 

This is one of my favorites. The result of a happy accident. 

Mango Pesto Cucumber Bites

Mango Pesto Cucumber Bites

I thought the mango pesto hadn't turned out so great. As it was, it just needed to chill. Don't we all. Such a simple, nearly impossible to destroy, delightful bite. Ingredients: Cucumber, mango pesto, tomato, chopped basil, topped with crushed red pepper. Vegan, gluten-free, whole crowd pleaser. 

Pesto Crostini

Pesto Crostini

There must be a better name for this one, in the meantime it's a perfect snack, no matter its name. More gluten-free bread, pea mint pesto, red lettuce, tomato, sprouts, crushed red pepper, sesame seeds, pine nuts. Yum. Perfect summer party snack food. 

Pesto Bites with Picked Onion and Mint

Pesto Bites with Picked Onion and Mint

And then this gem. This time, gluten-free bread, some kind of pesto, tomato, crushed red pepper, sesame seeds, pine nuts, sprouts, chopped mint and pickled onion. 

All three of these could have been an avocado smash. That is a forthcoming blog post. Stay tuned. I love summertime eating and parties! Vegan and Gluten-free sometimes seem like dirty words, but they are in fact the opposite. Everything about these three variations is light, clean and appropriately filling.