Sunday, September 07, 2008

Chicken Mushrooms - Yum!

Since we've moved onto the homestead, Bernie and I have spent a little time roaming around in the woods looking for wild mushrooms. Specifically morels and chicken mushrooms. We didn't have much luck finding either - until yesterday. And we weren't even searching for them. I went out to the coop to let the chickens into the run and a bright orange blob from the trunk of a dead oak caught my eye. Chicken mushrooms! Take a look:


I took this close up so you could see them, but the truth is the chicken mushrooms are all over that dead tree. I bet I gathered about 10 pounds worth. Then I cleaned them up, cut off the tougher pieces, cooked up about a pound of them, and froze the rest. For those of you that are foragers, I'll include how I cooked the chicken mushrooms.

First I should note that I made this using what I had on hand and what we like. The mushrooms tend to take on the taste of whatever they are cooked in, so you can add or subtract to match your taste. I used herbs from my garden and am just guessing at the amount, but if you grow and use your own herbs, you'll know how much to use. The texture is similar to chicken:

1 pound chicken mushrooms - cleaned and cut into medallion size pieces
3 fresh tomatoes - diced
1 clove garlic - minced
1/2 medium onion - diced
6 - 8 fresh basil leaves
1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese - added at the end

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients except cheese , stir well and bring to a boil. Cut down the heat and let it simmer on low heat for about 30 - 45 minutes, or until the liquid reaches a thick consistency. Put the whole thing in a baking dish and cover with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10 minutes on 375 or until the cheese begins to bubble a little. Enjoy!

If you've never eaten chicken mushrooms and are interested in foraging for them, please be sure to do a little research on them. Although not many mushrooms resemble a chicken mushroom, it's always wise to be certain you know what you are looking for. If you have allergies to any type of mushrooms, you should definitely consider this before eating chicken mushrooms. It may be wise to try a very small amount the first time you eat them, just to be sure.

My father gave us an old wood stove and Bernie and I spent this morning cleaning it up with the angle grinder with a wire brush on it. Then we painted it black with some stove paint. It looks almost new! Our furnace is electric and it costs us a mint to keep this house heated in the winter. We have a fire place we use faithfully in the evenings, but we won't leave it burning when we go to bed or are not around to tend it, so we let the furnace kick in. After last winter and all the ridiculously high electric bills we paid, we've decided to heat exclusively with wood. We should have the wood stove installed shortly. It's on the list - and being as it's already September, it's moved up on the list considerably.

Last week we let the chickens free range for a couple of hours before bedtime each evening when the chicken hawks are less likely to come around. Monday through Thursday we sat outside with them. The did a pretty good job of getting into the coop by themselves when it started getting dark, so Friday and Saturday evening I let them in the yard by themselves. I opened all the windows so we could hear them, but that was silly because I ended up spending almost the entire time standing at the window so I could watch them and make sure they were OK. With the exception of a Black Spanish that insists on getting in trees to roost, everyone did very well. And I can assure you the bug population in our yard has decreased already. The chickens just love flying, pecking, scratching, and playing without the confines of the chicken run. I really love watching them. I wish I could let them free range all day, but it really is too dangerous around here for that. We have every chicken-loving-predator on the planet around here. I worry enough just letting them out for two hours in the evening.

My meal worm population is booming - which is a good thing because those chickens can put a serious hurtin' on meal worms.

Things are going well on the homestead. Bernie is busy taking care of things around here. I'm busy making sure Bernie knows what to take care of around here. The cats are busy watching the chickens out the window and sleeping in any chair I plan to sit in. And the chickens are busy not laying eggs and eating us out of house and home. Whew. Makes me tired just writing that.

Bee Free,

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