Archive for August, 2008

Intensely Delicious Roast Tomatoes, for now and for winter.

Autumn Beauty Sunflower

people waiting for something besides food, please be patient. I’ll be with you in a minute, but right now

It’s Tomato Time!

although only because we have two gardens. The plants in Maine are pathetic – it was just too cold, too dry for too long when they were young. But the tomatoes in New York. Omigosh.

tying tomato plants to supports

Bill ( 5’ 9 or so)  in the tomato patch. Note the naked bases, disease-prevention at work.

heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella, with lettuce leaf basil

heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella, with lettuce leaf basil

The summer classic, with Pruden’s Purple (red), Malakhitovaya Shkatulla   (green), and Hillbilly Potato Leaf (yellow with red streaks)

They’re all different sizes, as usual, but a larger number than usual are larger than usual

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Collecting Wild Mushrooms Part 2 , Chanterelles

As the recipes – more to come! –  suggest, my job is to have a great time collecting, followed by having a great time cooking and preserving. HIS job is to know where and how to look, so here’s another guest post from mushroom expert Bill Bakaitis.

Finding  Chanterelles

by Bill Bakaitis

Mention ‘summer mushrooms’ around here and someone is sure to say “Oh yes, Chanterelles! They are the only mushroom I collect.”

And for good reason. They are delicious, they resist insect damage, clean up easily, are distinctive and easy to identify, and are found in beautiful locations. Oh, did I mention that they are delicious?

Chantarelles, cantharellus cibarius, in collecting basket Read More…

Chanterelles, and Dianna's chanterelle vodka recipe

After 2 months of solid drought followed by 2 weeks of solid rain, we finally have actual August in the produce department: potatoes, beets and basil, tomatoes, summer squash and beans…Plus way more lettuce than we can eat which must be harvested before it bolts but where to put it is a problem because the refrigerator is full of mushrooms.

I try to be disciplined and process everything we’ve picked before going out for more, but I don’t do any better with that than with taking out a plant for every new plant I acquire.

There are still some boletes left from last week, for instance, because I got sidetracked dealing with the chanterelles.

cantharellus cibarius on left, atop a pile of Cantharellus ignicolor

Bakaitis photo

The big one is the classic chanterelle of commerce, Cantharellus cibarius. The little guys (no common names)  are a mixture of C. ignicolor  – the all-yellow ones –  and fragrant, tasty C. tubaeformis, which is unusually abundant this year.  *

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Blue and White in the garden

Aren’t always two flowers, especially in August in Maine, when the sky is cooperating and azure to the max.

white single hollyhock ( Alcea ficifolia)

This plant is a solo pearl, the only absolutely-no-pink-in-it pure white we’ve ever drawn in the self sown hollyhock lottery. Our winnings are usually dark purple, pink, peach, apricot and primrose, a genetic salad all descended from one packet of yellow fig leaf hollyhocks (Alcea ficifolia) I planted years ago in the (vain) hope they wouldn’t get rust.

Today’s other beautiful white on blue may be more of a special taste Read More…

The Great Porcini Taste-off

Actually, I just said that to get your attention. What we really had was a Bolete taste-off, comparing a few of the Northeast’s many edible boletes ( all from recent hauls) to the gold standard, Boletus edulis, aka porcino, cep, steinpilz and King bolete.

We know edulis is good. We crow with delight whenever we find them. But we have eaten others that came close, and now that the rains are bringing us so many others… well, how could I resist?

Leccinum chromapes ( yellow foot mushroom) in the woods

Bill took this photo of one of the contenders, Tylopilus chromapes, the day we did the test.

It wasn’t a completely fair fight, because the mushrooms weren’t all at the same stage of development. Read More…

Ripe Mara Des Bois and Juliet

Juliet tomato and Mara des Bois strawberry

Department of fruit being red so animals will eat it and spread the seeds and Leslie will notice it and take a picture.

This arrangement is not a put up job, honor bright.  I came in with only a few strawberries – more on the elusive Mara des Bois shortly – so I just threw them in the basket on the kitchen table on top of the Juliet plum tomatoes, our favorites for drying.

More on that, too, before long, but right now I have to go make supper: chantarelle and lobster-mushroom chowder with la ratte potatoes and what’s left of the grilled sea bass we had last night.

Ornamental Alliums, seeing stars in bloom

The first seriously beautiful  allium that I remember seeing wasn’t an “ornamental” at all. It was a plain old leek that wintered over, didn’t get harvested and burst forth in early summer with a fist sized globe of little white stars, on a naked 3 foot stem. Quite a step up, in more ways than one, from the purple powderpuff flowers of chives. I was immediately hooked.

First and still a favorite: the Star of Persia, Allium christophii, a 2 to 3 footer topped with a loose ball of silvery purple from 4 to 6 inches across

allium christophii, aka the Star of Persia

the Star is in the lower right  Read More…