Friday, February 8, 2008

Updates: mushroom hunting, fiddle fest, sewing chic T-shirts, decluttering

Other recent activities:

Mushrooms mushrooms mushrooms! We went to the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair last month, as well as the beginner foray in Santa Cruz the following weekend. There was a good diversity of mushroom species at the foray.

More recently, we went on a trip organized by the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz and the Bay Area Mycological Society to the Albion Field Station near Mendocino. What fun! We met some nice people and learned a lot from the experts there. It was my first time to the Mendocino coast, and it is beautiful. The Albion Field Station had really nice digs at a bargain price. We paid $80 total for two nights in a newly-renovated, heated cabin with private bath, and also had access to a huge common room with board games, couches, and a piano, as well as a spacious, fully-stocked, industrial-sized kitchen. We had to chip in with a couple of camp chores, but that was minor. My appreciation was heightened by knowledge of what it costs to stay at any other place around the Mendocino coast! The heated cabin was really a luxury in view of the very wet weather. Would you want to camp in a tent when the weather warrants this kind of attire?!?!

The first day, Saturday, we went gourmet mushroom hunting with a large group led by an expert. It rained constantly the entire time we were out that day. We didn't find too much the first day, mainly because we were with a big group on a schedule, we stuck to the easily-accessible (and thus picked over) areas, and we were unfamiliar with the best spots to look.

However, in the evening, we enjoyed a massive, delicious, gourmet potluck that included a lot of freshly-foraged mushrooms. I got to try three kinds of soup, three kinds of dessert, two kinds of homemade apple wine, and countless other fabulous dishes. They had to roll me out the door at the end of the night. Oink oink!

Sunday, we went out by ourselves. This time we were able to take our time and explore further out - and we hit paydirt. We took home a basket and two buckets of mushrooms:

The kinds we collected were black trumpet mushrooms and hedgehog mushrooms. They look nothing like the deadly types. We were excited to find the black trumpets because they are difficult to spot (they look like holes in the ground, or black petunias), so it is like a challenging treasure hunt. But once you find your first batch, your eye gets trained to recognize them more easily. The black trumpets are prized because of their intense flavor, like mushrooms on steroids.

Here are the hedgehogs getting fried up for dinner. They were delicious! If you look closely, you'll see why they're called hedgehogs - the underside of the cap has spine-shaped structures, instead of gills.

We also found two golden chanterelles, a lucky find since it is late in the season for that species. There's another type of chanterelle called the yellowfoot that is in season and that other foragers found in abundance, but we didn't find any. Maybe next winter!

I was pondering whether we broke even on the trip, considering the retail value of the wild mushrooms, which can go for $20-30/pound. I don't think we quite did, but we made a dent! At any rate, we had a bunch of fun.

Another recent outing was the Cloverdale Fiddle Festival last month. This is more of Sugar Daddy's shtick, but I enjoyed the event too. They have bands and a contest (we carpooled up with a contestant). Sugar Daddy wasn't competing, but he did get to jam with some of the other musicians. We saw some mighty good musicians, including some adolescent fiddlers who were really on fire!

I've been working on some sewing projects, mending and modifying clothes. Some of my favorite recent projects were inspired by the book Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt. It's kind of a punk approach to repurposing your old T-shirts. As some of you know, I am the T-shirt Queen, but I don't really need all those shirts; also, there are some T-shirts that I want to wear because they have cool designs, but they don't fit well. So I went to work on altering the shirts, and here are my resulting creations:

I also cut out a bunch of T-shirt squares intending to make a T-shirt quilt, but then I realized that I don't actually need a quilt...I want to keep the squares because the T-shirts they came from have sentimental value, but I'll have to think of something to make with them that I would actually use.

Meanwhile, the decluttering quest continues, and I've been slowly purging stuff and unloading it via Freecycle and similar websites. How liberating it is, to feel the clutter load lighten, and to send the stuff off to people who want to give it a good home!


Anonymous said...

"..rather a new wearer of clothes..."
-- Henry David Thoreau...

Anonymous said...

How exciting! Wish I could find
and do the same thing here where I
live. But they don't come like yours. All we have are Petunias!