To Amuse and Delight

Monday, November 16, 2015

Eating Acorns

The day I found those Giant Puffballs we were actually out collecting acorns. My husband was interested in learning how to make them palatable since we have so many in this area. He is into trees the way I am into healing plants. 
The White Oak is the one to collect, they are naturally less bitter.

First we froze them, that made the skins come off easier. The skin is the layer just under the shell. My husband shelled them.

Next began the process of  making acorn flour. There are different ways to do that. First the bitter tannins must be removed. Some people boil the acorns multiple times until the water runs clear. We went with a non cooked method of leaching out those tannins. 
First we ground them up in the wet Vitamix. More water was added to them in a jar and this sat for 24 hours. Each 24 hours fresh water replaced the old until the water was clear.

Once the tannins were cleared out, we dehydrated the wet acorn meal. I have an Excaliber 4 tray. It came out really nice, nutty and tasty. (I snacked on some.) The grain was quite rough still, so we ground it to flour consistency in the dry Vitamix. It is came out very smooth, with a feel and look of cocoa powder.

My first test was on some cookies. Some GF friends were dropping by for tea. I grabbed everything that I had that was GF and went to work experimenting. 
I kept it simple, much like a shortbread: butter, sugar, vanilla, with cashew meal, acorn and oat flours. They were so good! Even the smallest of humans wanted more, which is really how I judge a "healthy" cookie.

Next was a recipe from the book Acorn Pancakes, Dandelion Salad, and 38 Other Wild Recipes. A simple classic, pancakes with butter and maple syrup. The acorn is so mild and nutty. It doesn't have that extra bitter taste that many of the darker grains have.

Yesterday's yummy breakfast. I had some leftover pancake batter. I waffled it and topped it with butter and smoked salmon. Again, it came out really good. 
Acorn flour is a winner!I love the idea of eating wild foods that man has not tampered with. Everything that fed that tree is now feeding me and my family. It is nutritionally excellent and it is extremely tasty and versatile. Oh, and the acorns were free!

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Our Halloween...
There was with a ghoulish girl,

a guinea pig with bat wings,

and a black pie. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Unexpected Gourds

A few weeks ago this plant popped up outside my front door. It grew very fast and started flowering profusely. Bees were always buzzing around it. They would burrow deep down into the blossoms. We could even pet them and they were so drunk on pollen the didn't even budge. I decided to let it keep growing, for the bees sake. 

And keep growing it did! Like a magic beanstalk, it grew up the house and into the rain gutter.

My home is always decorated with all kinds of nature bits: gourds, nests, pumpkins, shells, acorns, pine cones, insects, feathers, skulls, and more.
When a pumpkin or gourd gets a bit soft I display it outside, that way I can enjoy the beauty a little longer. Apparently, one of last years gourds planted itself at my front door.

Now we have all these lovely little gourds. We cut them off at different stages so we can enjoy the different shapes. They will end up back outside and hopefully the cycle will continue.

So inspired by the adorable gourds, my daughters decided to capture a couple in watercolor...

The Younger

The Older

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Foraging the Giant Puffball

It's a good time for foraging here in NY. We have been getting lots of goodies. Just last week we scored a haul of Chicken of the Woods and Puffball mushrooms as well as white oak acorns and plantain (not the banana!). I needed to get more plantain before the frost to make my healing salves. My husband was after those acorns, he is going to make acorn flour out of them. If I don't eat them all first as a snack!

This is a lovely white Puffball Mushroom. I set those two brown ones in the background to show you what not to eat. A Puffball is good when it's all white, feels firm and a bit spongy. When they are brown they are past eating and have moved on to their spore making phase. They are quite large and easy to spot. I grabbed two this size, but left a larger one for the next human or animal forager.

You can see how easy the dirty outside peels right off. You should not eat this mushroom raw. In fact it's best to not eat any raw mushrooms.

I treated the first Puff like tofu, sauteed and seasoned with cajun spices. That's my default way of cooking and it's always tasty. But since I had so much of this mushroom I decided to experiment.

 This idea came to me while I was slicing it up. The slices really held their shape, which made me think of eggplant. Puffball parmigiana was born! 

Here you can see what the inside looks like, the texture was very good this way. There is no poison lookalike for this mushroom, so feel free to forage up some yourselves.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall Food

Fall has hit New York. I have a fire in the fireplace, an ever brewing teapot, knitting projects in full swing, and a mind filled with the tastes, colors and smells of autumn. I recently discovered this one and have already made them four times. Sweet potato ravioli in browned butter with basil. They are so good and very addictive.  I make them when I am having company, so I don't eat too many.

I found them in Simply Ming One-Pot Meals. What makes them so easy is that you use pre-made wonton wrappers. I baked up a bunch of sweet potatoes and mashed them up in the Vitamix. I actually do a batch of sweet potato puree each week because I love my sweet potato smoothie every afternoon. When folks get that mid day coffee craving, I get a sweet potato smoothie craving.
I got that over at Sweet Potato Soul.

Super easy, I flavor the mash only with ground ginger and black pepper. You must use a little egg was to "glue" these guys together. 

When they are all assembled you brown them in salted butter, throw in lots of chopped fresh basil and there it is. Easy to make and way too easy to eat. A great appetizer or meal.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Time to Root

The bustle of “back to school” is in the air. Even for homeschoolers, there are new books to get, classes or tutors to obtain. With the excitement of new possibilities, new things to learn, new experiences, I will keep my focus on what true education is, a preparation for life. 

“In our mountain ravine, just above our swimming pool, a small tree grows on a rock in mid-stream. When the river is in flood and a roaring torrent pours over the little tree, whipping off its every leaf, it stands unmoved. Its roots grip the rock. We wanted the children to be like that. “Give them time to root,” we used to say to our advisors. “We are training them for storms and floods.”
-from Amy Charmichael’s Gold Cord

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Morning Mushroom Walk

 We are experiencing a NY heat wave, so we haven't been in the woods lately.  The heat makes us droopy and the most annoying loving bugs are out.  My family is missing the nature walks that are such a integral part of our life. This morning we set out extra early to avoid the heat and the bugs.

I didn't think that we would see so many mushrooms, the burning sun dries them up quickly. 

We were happily surprised that there were so many.

We stopped to eat our breakfast and the girls fed the fish.

Enjoying my morning tea on a nice shady rock, looking forward to autumn.