Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ocean Fishing, Rabbit Stew, and an Early Morning Squirrel Hunt

"You cook good rabbit pilgrim!"- Jeramiah Johnson

My dad and I headed out early in the morning in the inflatable boat on the sea in search of some of the last of the season's rockfish. The boat was dusted with frost when we hooked it up to the trailer hitch and the spray of the sea was bitter cold as we sped across open water to a secret reef.
We had planned to fish a few days before, but the waves were far to big and numerous for a safe day on the water. Finally we found a break in the swell and were able to head out into the open ocean once again.
We had a nice lingcod slip away a moment before we could net him, but other than that we had great success! The sky was overcast until mid day, but eventually the sun peaked through and warmed our backs.
By the early afternoon we had two vermillion, one sculpin, one black, one black-and-yellow, and one brown rockfish. Not a bad haul at all!

My brother and I got out with our buddy Robert and his sons for a pretty fun day hunting last week as well. Justin got a couple of birds (which I forgot to get pictures of), and we found this awesome moss covered deer skull. I should have snapped a picture of Robert's boys with it. They are awesome!

I had a chance to stop by one of our old hang out spots and rough out a few sets of osage orange chopsticks and a spatula from wood my buddy Alex and I had cut a few months back. I later finished them and gave them as Christmas gifts.

My dad was also doing a bit of wood working and upcycled some old wine barrels into Adirondack chairs for us for Christmas!

I had been thinking recently that we should get out and take a walk in the woods again soon to add a few more oyster mushrooms to the menu. Luckily Abalone found a few while we were squirrel hunting this morning.

I swear I have the cutest hunting buddy in the world!

She tracked down and dispatched a big male grey squirrel all by herself!

We would be eating squirrel soup tonight (hillbilly I know, but sustainable and delicious) if it weren't for the big pot of oyster mushroom and rabbit stew in the refrigerator (thanks Justin!). Abalone did get the squirrel organ meat fried up for lunch though.

Well, I can't stand being behind a computer screen any longer...I'm going foraging!

Hope to see you out there.

Keep the old ways alive!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Wild Nettle and Fungi Pakoras with Indian Apple Chutney

"Hey, looks like we're not the only ones who like a walk in the rain!"- Isabella and Emma

On a whim, Alex and I headed out in search of some local wood to cut and carve. We only managed a small round of maple, but we got some nice oyster mushrooms and met some good friends along the way!

I finally got the chance to cook up a dish I have been waiting for all week...Indian Pakoras!
This is a gluten-free recipe as the batter they are fried in relies on garbanzo flour.
Though these fried appetizers usually rely on the fruits of a good garden (spinach, potato, etc.) I decided to go for a forager's spin. I used Cauliflower mushroom, Bear's head mushroom, and stinging nettle greens. 

My buddies and I found a nice sized and very healthy cauliflower mushroom the other day which we divided and I subsequently cooked and froze.

The Bear's head and nettle (pictured below amongst the awesome harvest we got the other day) were cleaned, cut and thrown in the mix as well. Of course, the nettle greens were first blanched to wilt their potent sting.


I picked some of the last crisp winter apples from our orchard and sautéed down a chutney with garam masala, shallots, apple cider vinegar, apple juice, cloves, brown sugar, etc. and had an incredible Indian-style chutney within a half hour!

While the pakoras cooked I steamed some of the mussels Alex and I had gathered at the coast the other night. It was a nice appetizer to the main appetizer I was cooking.

The pakoras and chutney were incredibly tasty!
Hope to see you out there hunting, fishing, and foraging this winter!
Keep the old ways alive!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wild Duck and Wild Green's Salad

This image shows minor's lettuce, chickweed, wild mustard greens growing together
There's no time like the winter to get out for some wild greens  on California's north coast! When you know where to look, you can find abundant tender green edibles in most meadows.
I stopped by a newly discovered patch the other day and gathered up enough greens for a nice salad in a matter of minutes. Chickweed, minor's lettuce, thistle greens, mustard greens and more were found in no shortage here!

Delicious wild greens, just remember to trim the spines away from the thistle leaf!

I even gathered up some perfectly ripe rose hips and snagged one of the last crisp winter apples from my family's orchard.
The next day, my brother Justin, our buddy Eric, and I headed into a rainstorm in the woods and spent the afternoon gathering a sampler of seasonal fungi.
We got matsutake's, a bear's head, king boletes, oyster mushrooms, candy caps, and I also gathered up some stinging nettle for an upcoming appetizer.

My good buddy Alex and I headed out the following day by kayak in search of waterfowl.
We got a nice sized bufflehead right off the bat.

Then it was off to a nice cove protected from the prevailing winds to cook up a feast...wild duck and wild green's salad!

We prepared the greens, croutons, and apple after the duck breast was cooked and the shaggy mane mushrooms we picked earlier sautéed in butter with shallots. 

It was one heck of a picnic and a much appreciated and equally delicious meal!
We finished the day with two more birds in hand and big smiles all around!

Well, the wood stove is warming away the cold wind and water from another winter day and I am really enjoying this cup of hot chocolate!

Keep the old ways alive!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fungi and Bivalves: Seasonal Favorites

We got just enough rain recently to warrant a walk in the woods in search of the first of this season's fungi.
My dad and I headed out to a favorite coastal forest with my dog Abalone leading the way.
There was not much popping up out of the conifer and oak duff that makes up the woodland floor, but a few familiar fungi beckoned that we proceed.

At first we bumped into the most well known and feared mushroom on the planet ,the Amanita muscaria aka the fly agaric. These are quite toxic, but I simply cannot help taking a picture pretty much every time I see one...especially when they are this massive!
Next we found a patch of healthy oyster mushrooms. They just so happened to be 15 feet over our heads in the boughs of an old oak. So what could I do but go for a climb?

As we searched the forest here and there my dad found his first porcini ever!

A few hours later he found another!

Then, Abalone and I came across one as well! This was also my first ever!

A few more oyster logs were encountered, and we made off like bandits with a nice early season haul!

The next day we hiked down to a favorite rocky beach in search of the first California mussels of the season. There has been an unusually long quarantine this year on Dungeness crab as a prolonged plankton bloom has resulted in dangerous levels of naturally occurring domoic acid (which can make them toxic to consume). Usually mussels will also be affected by such a plankton bloom, and in Humboldt and Del Norte counties they currently are! But along our stretch of coast, the mussels got the "all clear" from the CDHP Biotoxin Information Line (1-800-553-4133) which conducts regular tests for the biotoxins which can lead to paralytic and amnesic shellfish poisoning...and which YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CHECK before even thinking about harvesting shellfish. So we were clear for the first harvest of the season!

So we gathered up a few pounds of delicious mussels.

That night my mom made a nice seafood soup using lingcod my dad had caught and the mussels we had just was pretty darn tasty!

It was one heck of a good time and as the mushrooms dried in the dehydrator we started hatching plans for our next foray.

A few days later I made an awesome pot of oyster mushroom and mussel chowder!

It was incredible!

Hope to see you out there this winter!

Keep the old ways alive!