Sunday, January 10, 2016

Once a Mushroom Hunter, Always a Mushroom Hunter

One beautiful shaggy mane

It had been over a year since the last time I went out hunting for wild mushrooms. I often think about those delicious morels.  I was walking around Lake Merritt today with the pooches, and suddenly I saw a fresh full size shaggy mane sticking out of the grass. Coprinus comatus, commonly known as shaggy mane or ink cap, is one of the wild mushrooms that I am very familiar with. It is very distinctive with the scales on its cap. This mushroom is unusual because it will turn black and dissolve itself in a matter of hours after being picked or depositing spores.  Another sure way to identify the mushroom is to cut it in half as the photo below. The cross section of shaggy mane has a unique kite line. It's hard to see from the photo below, but I have a better photo I took years ago in my wild mushroom photo album.

The biggest one started to turn black

I walked through the grass over to the shaggy mane and found 3 more smaller ones next to the big one. I took a photo before plucking all of them off the ground. I didn't have anything to put them in, and suddenly I remembered that I had doggy bags in my pocket. Perfect!

After taking them home, I sautéed them in some olive oil with some baby spinach then sprinkled some gorgonzola cheese on top. It was delicious!  We are supposed to have more rain. I can't wait to find more presents like this while out walking!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Rodeo Beach, Sausalito, California


After days of raining, we had a sunny day today on Christmas. I took advantage of the nice weather and drove to Marin Headlands in Sausalito with the pooches. I ended up at Rodeo Beach. It was beautiful out there. I don't think I had ever been out there before. It was also Cracus' first day trip. He was so excited and couldn't stop pulling and sniffing everything.


There were many dogs around. Some had leashes on and some were leash free. Since it was Cracus first time there, I kept both of them on the leash. It had been a while since I took Kelsey on a day trip, too. She was very excited as soon as we got off the freeway. She got up in backseat and started barking at the bicyclists passing by the car.


Kelsey is probably about twelve years old now, which is quite old for a dog her size. She has been getting slower and slower. However, she always wants to come along. I was worried she would not be able to make it up the hill. As soon as we got to the top, she laid down and took a break to enjoy the view. Both Cracus and Kelsey seemed to really enjoyed the hike along the coast. I had a good workout as well.  Both dogs were so tired after they got home. They went to sleep early tonight.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Lékué Egg Cooker


Last week one of my new colleagues gave me a set of Lékué egg cookers as a holiday gift.  They are just the cutest things. If you have been following my blog, you know that I love mushrooms and anything mushroom shaped. I have only been at my new job since end of August this year, so I was just amazed how she picked this gift for me.

Today I finally got the time to try it out. I brushed inside of the cooker with olive oil and lined it with some baby spinach. I put a couple grilled shishito peppers in there just because I grilled a bunch last night. Now about these shishito peppers, according to Wikipedia, about one of ten peppers is spicy. Last night I had them for the first time, and the first one I ate set my face on fire. I was very surprised and wasn't sure if I could eat another one.  Fortunately, the next 2 peppers weren't as spicy, but I would say one out of five is spicy for the batch of peppers I got. They are very good though, so I couldn't stop eating them. I think my tolerance for hot peppers just went up a notch last night.


I sprinkled a little salt and pepper and put the lid back on. It was cooked in microwave for about 50 seconds, then I heard it popped. I guess the egg popped.  Luckily it didn't make an explosive mess in there because it had a lid.  The egg was fully cooked after 50 seconds.  Next time I will try 40 seconds for a softer egg. This is a great way to cook an egg with other vegetables or meats. I am going to pick up some gorgonzola cheese and mushrooms later for more experiments.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Basket Artist

Baskets made by Michelle

Shortly after we moved to our new location, I found out that my next door neighbor is a basket artist. I was very intrigued by it. When I hear basket making, I tend to think of South American or Southeast Asian women in small villages making baskets by hand for generations to make money as a living. I know my next door neighbor doesn't just make baskets to pay her bills. This is one of the most expensive places to live in the world! 

Baskets made by Michelle

A few nights ago, as we were taking out our garbage, Michelle, my next door neighbor invited me to her pottery and basket party on Sunday. Finally!  I would have a chance to check out her baskets! I was very much looking forward to it.   

Today I went over to my neighbor's house in the afternoon, and I was amazed by all the beautiful baskets.   Some of them were made by her, and some of them were made by village women in  Guatemala. Michelle works with Mayan Hands, a fair trade organization, to help Mayan women support themselves by selling baskets and other handmade items directly to the consumers. Michelle, being a master basket weaver, actually has traveled to Guatemala to teach the women basket weaving techniques. Wow! I guess someone has to teach Maya women how to make baskets. Nobody is born with that knowledge. 

Baskets made by Mayan women in Guatemala

I got Michelle's permission to take photographs so that I can show them to others who love handmade baskets. I want to help Mayan women, too!

Baskets made by Mayan women in Guatemala

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My Air Plant

Tillandsia a.k.a air plant
Almost a year ago, one of the children in school handed me a little plant as he came to school in the morning. I thought it was cute and put it in a little cup of water thinking that it would grow some roots. Someone in the office told me it was an air plant that simply grows in air. What? I immediately started Googling it. I became fascinated by it. It was growing a little baby plant within the plant.  I eventually broke it apart when it got bigger so I could give it to someone else. Unfortunately I was told the baby air plant didn't survive.


It is now growing another baby plant as you can see a little bit in the photo below. I can't wait for it to get bigger.  I would like to have multiple clusters of them. I would like to create some terrarium gardens and hang a few around the house.

October 5, 2015