A Nature Collection: preserving finds

1/28/17



A Nature Collection series has started around here and while this isn't a wildly original idea by any means, I've been so happy with it all. It's given us a tangible way to view and enjoy our nature finds. The largest one is titled, 'Our First Summer And Fall at the A-Frame, 2016.' I've been pressing and drying my finds or the ones the girls have been drawn to since we moved in last summer and have been writing little notes to the girls on the back of every single one, like small journal entries or words I hope for them to remember. Focusing on encapsulating what that hike was like or what they said to me, their Dad, or each other during it, like a collection of stories with visual aids. So far I have teared up writing each of the notes to them. (Claaaasic Mom) I want to keep collecting and framing and I dream of filling as much space on the walls as each season passes to bottle up moments spent together outdoors, connecting. I imagine, "Summer 2022, Lue turns ten. Finds robins eggs. Baby robins have flown the nest." Or something like that... Some of the frames are old, some of the frames are new, but each one is titled something different according to that day or experience. 













From the Backyard Woods

1/26/17

I swear the deer have tails like dogs on this island. I've never seen tail fur expanded and so far sprawled, like an open paper fan. Three of them ran through our front yard woods this morning and we sat in awe of them before our family hike. Deer might be the most gorgeous animals in the world to me. Their fur so rich and dense in texture. It feels simultaneously soft and strong. I want to be that. 
Here are a few backyard finds from the week. We had a few rainy days which made for the perfect environment for winter fungi. Turkey tail, Chaga, Velvet Foot (Enoki), Oyster, and many others thrive through winter. These beauties grew on a dead log on our backyard and were tucked beneath a giant covering of logs like a shelter. Oysters are fan shaped, usually 2-10 inches across (5-25 cm). Often grow in a shelf-like formation with overlapping clusters. Smooth, with no warts or scales. Usually white to light brown with firm, white flesh. The gills are white, and are attached to and running down the cap and stem (decurrent). They may not have a stem. If they do it will often be stubby and off-center if the mushroom is growing on the side of a log. If it's growing on the top you will see a more well developed stem. No ring around the stem, and no sack around the base. They smell a little sweet like licorice. I had no idea that moss is preserved under the snow, through winter. Such an incredible gift to see. 

 
 

As always, never consume a mushroom you can't 100% identify. Want to know what to forage in the winter in your area? Go to https://fallingfruit.org/ A massive, collaborative map of the urban harvest uniting the efforts of foragers, freegans, and foresters around the world. Absolutely incredible! 


Homemade Wild Yeast

1/25/17

 

I made twenty loaves of bread last week like a completely *normal* human being and wanted to share with you about my yeast process. Wild Yeast is what we called it at the bakery and the name has stuck. It was incredible to really challenge myself in this way. Some of the days, the girls played with Max, but others ones they continuously explored in flour and now I know how to get through any sort of focus needed activity out in the world. I'll bring a pound of flour and two individual sized baking sheets. Perfect. 

I made loaves with the mixer, loaves completely mixed by hand, elderberry loaves, reishi mushroom, charcoaled bread, morel-chamomile, rosemary, raw honey, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salted cardomom and a basic baguette to name a few. The only way I have ever known to make bread was with homemade yeast and please don't judge me, but I never even knew dry active yeast existed until about a year or two ago. I learned most everything I know from when I worked early mornings in a bakery for quite sometime, while I grew Lue in my belly and it was one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs I've had. (And I've had a lot of jobs) The whole cafe's baked goods, breads for sandwiches, and savory and sweet delights fell on my shoulders each morning, so I couldn't screw anything up. 

 Homeade Wild Yeast is what was used to make bread before 1876, before active dry yeast came out. It's also what inspires me with a foragers lens, because anyone could make an insanely amazing bread from very little and the yeast that grows is better than any dry active bread yeast I have ever used. 

The ratio for recipes is generally a 2:1 ratio in terms of Wild Yeast to Dry Active Yeast, but depends on the consistency of the bread yeast. You'll get to know yours very soon with use. 

Homemade Wild Yeast 
2 cups filtered water 
2 cups flour 
Jar 
Cheesecloth 
String or Rubber band 


In a jar or container, combine both water and flour and mix gently. Cover with cheesecloth and string and store in a dark-ish cabinet for two days. There will be a bubbling that starts to form. Care for it every other day, adding the same ratios and following the same gentle mix so the flour is combined. The process obviously takes a little more intention and patience than ripping open a packet of yeast, but adds so much more to a loaf of homemade bread both in terms of taste and care. I love this process. For me, it has been like caring for something.. checking in on it and watching its development. The biggest reward is a warm loaf of homemade bread and it is a conpletely approachable recipe. Bread making is honestly therapeutic. Besides the flour mess! I am not even joking, right now I have such a big mess in the kitchen from tonight's two loaves, but it's just a part of the trade off to getting to cook and bake with the girls close by. I love that and wouldn't trade it for the world, mess and all. 

Each time you pull from it, or after you gauge how often you'd like to make homemade bread, you can add the ratio to stay on top of the supply. It lasts really well and such a beautiful process to see unfold. 

Things I've notated, my breads rise so much better when the yeast is at least three days processed. When I was cranking out many different loaves, I combined the ratios and would want to pull from it the next day to use but didn't give it nearly enough time to process even though there was ample yeast from precious processing. So my bread turned out in taste but not in rise/height. Just a thought! 

I'd love to hear if you have any questions, or recommendations on loaves you'd like to see me try. 

 

 

 

Wonder

1/25/17

Rachel Carson, "A Sense of Wonder"
"Play. Incorporating animistic and magical thinking is important because it fosters the healthy, creative and emotional growth of a child;
Forms the best foundation for later intellectual growth.
Provides a way in which children get to know the world and creates possibilities for different ways of responding to it.
Fosters empathy and wonder."

 
 

 

 

Charcoal Cinnamon Rolls; A Story about Dark Magic

1/25/17

I'm just kidding, I don't have a story about dark magic. But did the title intrigue you? You can say no... 


It was warm-ish this last week, but more snow came today and I've made five batches of these rolls for our family and others and I cannot even explain how delicious they are. I think protocol is to be more humble when you bake something, or like play it down, but these are one of the best things I've ever made and I feel really proud of them. Mushrooms, goat cheese, cinnamon, brown sugar, butter... all of this together in one little roll.... 

 

 

I have been completely enamored lately by cooking and baking with Activated Charcoal Powder for two reasons. 1. I personally have seen anyone in my little circle of viewings, work with charcoal before so it feels like un-charted, exceptionally exciting territory. 2. Because charcoal is so near and dear to me. It has incredible healing benefits and I've been taking it in capsule form for the last few years. Just the most incredible powdered magic. Dark magic, I guess one would say...... No, no, okay, only good magic. Activated Charcoal powder is incredibly detoxifying. It travels into your body, expands, absorbs toxins and bacteria and takes them away. It can be used to relieve bloating and gas or that one feeling you get after you had a little too much wine the night before, for hair and skin, to treat insect stings and mild infections and even to whiten teeth. For me, I have taken it at the very first sign of anything stomach related and completely swear by it. What I am drawn to in this recipe, is combining the sweet with the nourishing benefits of mushrooms, charcoal powder and goat cheese... it's a cinnamon roll that doesn't make you feel like shit, I mean garbage afterwards. It's a breakfast delight with sustenance. You have to try it.


 

How gorgeous and velvety is this stuff? I want curtains in this pigmented color. I am completely intrigued with it. 



You'll need a loaf of sweet dough to start. Homemade is so good and so simple. It freezes really well to be able to pull out at anytime the night before or even morning of, at the crack of dawn when those little lives wake up. 

Recipe for sweet dough: 

1/2 cup whole milk 
1/4 cup wild yeast 
1/4 cup pure cane sugar 
4 Tablespoons butter (room temperature) 
1 Large egg yolk 
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (can substitute acorn flour, coconut flour, almond flour.. ) 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon cloves (optional) 

Begin to combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Warm the milk just slightly and combine in bowl along with the butter, egg yolk, and wild yeast. Mix with hands or mixer until combined. Roll out in sprinkled flour on the counter, kneading the air bubbles out. Notice the dough. If it still seems too sticky, add in a handful of flour and knead until elastic. If it seems too dry, lay flat and scoop a Tablespoon more of wild yeast and work in with hands again, kneading and combining. Set aside to rise. Seal up in container or generally I used recycled plastic wrap. (For example, my old bags I used to buy bulk oatmeal.. etc) and store in fridge or freezer. 

(I won't judge you if you just buy sweet dough from the store... what's important are the following steps for the rolls... but the sweet dough does make it taste better, in my opinion!) 

 

Foraged Mushroom and Charcoal Cinnamon Rolls 

1-2 cups of chopped mushrooms (I know, just TRUST me...) 
3 Tablespoons of goat cheese (Cream cheese is also incredible) 
1 cup Raw Turbinado sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon 
1 stick of softened butter 
1 Tablespoon of Charcoal Powder 
1/4 teaspoon cloves (optional) 

 

 

Roll out dough in a square formation, leaving the edges to be thin but not breakable. Begin with the butter and the rule is you have to just use your hands here. Get in there and apply the butter to that sweet dough. Lay chopped mushrooms. Spread evenly over the whole square here. Plop dollops of goat cheese evenly! Sprinkle sugars and cinnamon and cloves. End with charcoal powder by evenly sprinkling over entire square. 

 

Begin to roll the edge that's closest to you, gently pulling towards you with each tug and continuing the roll all the way towards the opposite edge to make a nice long tube-like roll. Butter your cinnamon roll pan. So many options here.... I've made them in mini loaf pans, petite copper ware, full sheet sized pans and round cake pans. All good options. Take a knife and begin to make slices into the tube, about two or three inches long.. but again go with what type of pan you have.. play around... long and short cuts make for big and small rolls. For example: you've had two cinnamon and kinda want another, but feel awkward about it, you can grab a mini one and then all is right in the world. Layer in pan and sprinkle on top with additional charcoal powder.  Bake at 350 degrees for 27-30 minutes. Check in on them and wait until edges are browned to your liking. Since Activated Charcoal Powder is going to be entering the body to rid of toxins, don't forget to pair a big glass of water with this recipe. I've been trying to bring more water consumption into my diet and can feel a difference in a lot of ways. 

 

Extra bonus points if you forage you're own mushrooms. Tell me, would you try these? 

Your Forest

1/11/17

There is an entire forest
full of the most incredible flowers,
plants and trees inside you,
and you are ignoring all of it to nurture a single tree
that they planted inside your heart and abandoned.


The people who left you this way
don’t deserve to become your favourite stories to tell.
You are a massive forest full of beautiful and vibrant stories
and every single one of them deserves you more
than those that abandoned you. 

—Nikita Gill 



Magic Clove Cough Suckers

1/11/17


It's about that time of year in Minnesota when there seems to be a consistent little cough that sometimes lingers and lingers, like that darn squirrel on our bird feeder. Just ALWAYS there. (I still love you squirrel) Lue has had a little cough for the last few days and kept asking today for a honey sucker so we finally made them together. It was honestly SO simple and she has absolutely loved them. It's a nourishing and healthy way to heal the throat, give them an activity to focus on besides the cough, and a sweet and magical way to spark wonder in a child's world.

 

Magic Clove Cough Suckers (and cough drops!) 

1/2 cup Local Honey 
1/4 teaspoon Ginger 
1/4 teaspoon Cloves 

*Optional Tablespoon of Elderberry Syrup or Lemon balm

Heat ingredients on stove just like candy, simmering slowly and stirring like there's no tomorrow. Technically this should heat to 300 degrees if you own a candy thermometer, but I had Minoux on my hip and it was all made just before the dinner hour so I just went with it, and it worked! Trust your intuition here! We stirred for about fifteen to twenty minutes and I ended up adding in a dash of the elderberry syrup we made just before the winter which also has a pinch of melatonin in it as well which will help her get through the night and calm her cough. 

Lay out wax or parchment paper on a pan and line up your sticks. Or in my case, trimmed Q-tips. Go with whatcha got! Spoon a small amount on the tip like a sucker and don't get too Type A with these beauties, because honestly the more organic the shapes, the more magical and fun they become. Like clouds. The more different the shapes, the more our imagination gets a chance to work. 


I made some small circles on an additional pan in the shapes of mushrooms and a few standard cough drop sizes for Max and I to pull from occasionally. Let cool at room temperature and don't stick in the fridge or they won't work. Have patience for it to harden, then peel off, wrap in parchment paper, and store in a glass container or jar for future use! That's it! Happiness and health to you! 


New Years Day Brunch!

1/11/17

This was our second year celebrating New Years Day together for brunch in our princess dresses at the sweetest old hotel where we used to live. It all started when I would play dress up with Lue and she would ask me to wear a dress too, so I threw on one of my prom dresses and acted out scenes with her. (Because THATS totally normal right?..) Some months it wouldn't zip up when I was pregnant with Minoux, but she didn't care. This was such a special year with Lue being almost five and me just grasping at her little sweet thoughts and wanting to hear all her words. I loved the way she tucked her napkin into her dress, the way her face was so tender and sweet waiting for her mint tea, and the tone in her voice when she ordered pancakes and one "sunshine" egg. (Sunny-Side Up!) We toured the halls of the old hotel, sat on ALL the fancy couches, stared at ALL the chandeliers and spent more time there than I would care to admit. It was the best. We can't wait for Minoux to be old enough too and we can sit as girls, or maybe Max would come too. But with the holidays consistently feeling crazy and busy every year, filled to the brim with to do's and to make's and to wrap's, I look so forward to this day so so much. I hope to carry this tradition for as long as the girls want to. (Visual: me as a wrinkly grandma and them all grown up and even more beautiful) ((insert tears)) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Alice in Wonderland Feast

1/11/17

"Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality." -Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland. 


Alice in Wonderland Feast: 

1 Onion
 10 Purple, Orange, Yellow Carrots
 A Mini Bouquet of Fresh Oregano 
4 Potatoes 
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil 
1/2 Stick of Butter 
1/2 Cup Dried Morels 

*Optional Chicken Breast 


Layer the thawed, salt and peppered chicken breast as the base of the feast. Chop the onion, carrots, potatoes, and layer on top of chicken. Sprinkle with Olive Oil and 1 cup water for moisture. Cut or pinch small fragments of butter to disperse over feast and sprinkle fresh oregano and dried morels on top. Bake covered fully at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until potatoes are easily forked, softened and ready to serve. 
Feast with a side of buttered rice or rainbow quinoa. Additional option to this is to chop the ingredients into smaller portions and cook as a stovetop stew with a chicken bone broth base. 




So, I consumed a much higher level of sugar over the holiday week and weekend as did the girls. I had like one million chocolate covered peanut butter balls. This week after was all about getting back to a nourishing normal. We try to eat well because I know it actually affects us all so much. Our mood, emotions, 'can't get off the couch syndrome', anxiety.. all of these can be affected by what we are actually fueling and feeding our bodies with. An interesting experiment is to track your child's emotional outbursts or frustrations, then go backwards... what did they eat, how much sugar was tucked in that fruit roll up, how much food coloring is currently in their system, how is their body reacting to these substances or the weight of digesting an entire carb loaded consumption. What if they are all in relation to each other. 



So if you're in a post holiday cooking rut.. if your drawn to it, try exploring with foraged mushrooms. They are an amazing ingredient to use through the winter months. They're bound to make any feast a little more magical. Tuck them in with onions, purple carrots, fresh oregano, dried chamomile flowers with a side of rice. It takes practice to change a child's cravings or habits. They might not like it the first time, but maybe the second or third. Nourishing and magical and so, so easy. Current offerings at most co-ops are dried chanterelles, crimini, lobster, morel, matsutake, maitake, oyster, portabella, porcini, and shiitake. Many mushrooms are incredible sources of selenium, an antioxidant mineral, literally as much as carrots, peppers, tomatoes and green beans. Truly magical. They provide protein, vitamin C and an incredible source of iron. They can benefit bone health by adding strength to the teeth, hair, nails and skeletal system. Plus, you can say you are having Alice in Wonderland stew for supper and maybe it will dash in a little intrigue and wonder to their small little worlds.


There is much potential for magical conversation to be paired with this meal, to choose a character from Alice in Wonderland and dream up scenes of woodland friends gathering for a feast. I know I will miss playing and acting with my girls someday, so for now I will be the weirdo Mom who does it whenever I can. To drip into their world with the smallest acts could mean so much to little ones. For us to weave into their world of imagination and play is beyond essential. It can shape their mind to be open to new experiences and communicate a connection and playfulness in an all too serious world. Nourishing and magical. I hope Alice would be proud. Also PS the new remake of Alice in Wonderland while beautiful, is so intense, is it not? So many stressful scenes. I prefer the classic film for SURE. 




Magic and wonder to you!  
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