Monday, July 31, 2017

Walking Vs Running: Finding the Nature We Miss Everyday.

Time for Cheryl to Slow down...
 With Cheryl officially useless,   we are now forced to engage in slightly less strenuous activity.  Namely:  we walk the trails instead of running/biking them.
And Forage for Black Berries.

This is a fun activity for me, because I get to play "The Nature Guy" as I monologue about all the things I know in the woods.   And I get to make things up if I don't know....    Cheryl nods her head in agreement either way, so that makes me feel important.

Deathcap Toadstools...Good for throwing at friends.
Amanita phalloides  Note Gills and skirt on stem.
Today was fun!    We talked about our problems,  ( Cheryl's inability to run)  and all the things that we sometimes notice, but never stop to take a closer look.   Today,  it was a cluster of large Mushrooms we had passed by yesterday.

We found these guys right next to the trail.
I only know of a handful of edible mushrooms.   Namely:  Morels, puffballs, and Shaggy Caps.  I also know a few poisonous ones.  The Deathcap Mushroom!   (Which is what we discovered here.)  There are lots of common names,  but they are all part of Amanita phalloides Family.
Young Deathcap.  Pretty Yellow! 
Note:  Gills hidden under skirt.  
  They all look fairly similar, with skirts around the stem,  gills under the cap, and stem emerging from a bulbous root.  We used to call them "toad stools" and play with them as kids.   ( Usually throwing them like frisbees.)  And never eating them.  (The Obvious ones are red,  but the ones we found were yellow and white/brown.)

Boletus edulis   Note the spongy underside.

             Looks like a bun top.             
Right next to them, though,  were these:  Boletus edulis.  Apparently,  these guys are a delicacy! They look like a round bun (common name: The Penny Bun Mushroom) and have a  sponge-like porous underside from the cap.

 AND  get this,  they often camp right next to our favorite poison mushroom Amanita!   Now most people might find that a little scary, but I find it comforting.
Better angle of underside pores.
 Because that makes the Boletus edulis that much easier to Identify.

Note: No skirt on Stem.
These are a delicacy, next to the poison ones.
  While reading the Wiki, I find that this mushroom is a serious find in the world of Gourmet...  We should have brought some home to test/taste.   Then again, I do not usually bring home mushrooms I am unfamiliar with.  And even the ones I know...sometimes I simply do not eat them. (...and I like morels!)

Pleurotus ostreatus The Oyster Mushroom 
You can see the old vs new ones. 
And last,   Pleurotus ostreatus.   Also known as the Oyster Mushroom.  This tree was completely covered with them!   I can see how they got their name.    The large section I'm holding was only one of the many sections on the tree.

Young ones growing on Trees
 This one was soft and spongy...which is the best to harvest I guess.   And yes,  They also are edible!  ( I did not know this until I looked it up!)   Once again,  we did not bring any home, because....all mushrooms are poisonous!
Wonder why they are called Oyster mushrooms?
Right?   Well,  out of three obvious species...  Two were delicacies and one was a deadly toxin.

Shaggy cap. 
  If you want to take a chance with your life eating mushrooms,   I guess the odds are slightly in your favor.  (66% to NOT die!)  As for me,  I'll probably stick with Morals and Button mushrooms from the store.  ( Call me Chicken...)  Until I brave a dish served up by someone who knows the best and truest way to ID the Species.

However,  this small educational  experience has tapped into my curiosity.   I have tried (based purely on what I researched)  Shaggy Cap mushrooms.   I didn't die...but they did not taste so"super awesome"  that I would ever want to cook up a batch again. (not bad,  just kinda bland.) Still,  it is comforting to know that there are foods out there that you can forage for in a survival situation.  ( Knowledge is power!  Yeah!)
Elderberries.   Can you eat these?
Hickory Nuts.  Can you eat these?

Raccoon.  Can you eat these?
In the mean time,  I'll stick with Berries and nuts.   It is funny just how much I actually DO know about the great outdoors.

I guess that is one of the advantages I had by being raised by a family of hilly-billy rednecks.   At least Mom never forced us to eat Raccoon.  (Seriously!  I'm sure we would have if our cousins had ever offered it to us.)  And in case you did not know,  Elderberries are "toxic" in a "tummy ache" kind of way.   But people still insist on making wines and jams with them.  I'll have to post the other things we have been up to in a later post.   This one is getting a little long.   But, Hooray for Edible Mushrooms that do not kill you or cause hallucinations.

Just slightly poisonous.

They glow in the dark! 
UPDATE!  Upon further study,  Looks like the oyster mushrooms I discovered back in the fall were Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms.  ( I think...)   Good thing I did not eat any... I guess they will give you a violently upset tummy.   Which only makes me more cautious AND curious.   I want to get out and find the REAL oyster mushrooms.   Quick note:   Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms glow in the dark!  How cool is that!

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