Friday, April 25, 2014

Wild Foods and Thrift Stores--- Portland

Forest Park, Portland, Oregon
Weeds!! I ate them this weekend when I took a class on wild foods foraging from nationally known wild foods expert Dr. John Kallas. He lives in Portland but teaches his classes around the country---see here if you are interested. After completing the one class I took, I could see how a person could devote their entire life to the discipline and still never know it all, or even know most of it. People like Dr. Kallas are trying to preserve and enhance the body of knowledge that we currently have. He has put out the first of a series of books, "Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt to Plate" that you can either buy from his website or from Amazon here. Very user friendly!

Dr Kallas' book
Dr Kallas teaching about Lady Ferns
It was rainy and cold---I should have worn gloves, frankly, and though I enjoyed the class I was glad, after 3 hours, to be back on my way to a good hot beverage and the potential of Portland thrift stores.

St John's Bridge
After acquiring the hot drinks (not a difficult endeavor---there seems to be at least two coffee shops on every Portland block) we set off to visit one of my thrift favorites, The Village Merchants. I love this place!!! Located on Division St, they were forced out of their original digs when a luxury condo was built on the site they used to inhabit (lots of that going around---Division St. is rapidly gentrifying). Happily, they were able to find a suitably quirky, even bigger place several blocks down.

Look at this wacky, mod bar stool!! I think it was all of 20.00. That's the great thing about Village Merchants, they are very reasonably priced.

My friend bought this little vintage sombrero hat that now resides on her 50s swordfish TV lamp:

On our way to lunch we passed by this enigmatic storefront:

Looks to be a book/tea/esoteric object kind of establishment, but alas, it was not open when we passed by it.

My thrifting expedition was conducted in an entirely secondhand outfit, btw. Googly-eyed owl pin, jean jacket, lace-trimmed cowboy shirt and plaid pashmina scarf. All either purchased at Goodwill or Salvation Army. I ended up not buying a stitch of thrifted clothing in Portland---however,  I did buy this awesome mushroom windchime made of oxidized, welded spoons:

I got it at another of my Portland thrift favorites, House Vintage on Hawthorne. An unassuming storefront hides an astonishing labyrinth of dealer stalls. Higher prices than Village Merchants, but still well worth a look.

Somewhere along the line we came across this crazy, twisted tree in someone's yard:

The air was full of swirling pink cherry blossom petals as the day turned to wind and more rain. We ate lunch at a vegetarian Thai restaurant (where "medium" spicy means "tear the roof off of your mouth". I couldn't even conceptualize what "hot" must be) and I got ready to go home. See ya again soon, Portland!

linking up with Citizen Rosebud's Secondhand First

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Easter Jackalope Strikes Again!

 I knew it was time to get out the flocked jackalope and take some pictures---she's been antsy, just sitting up there on top of my fridge along with the flocked squirrel and the cat salt-n-pepper shakers. Actually, Ms Jackalope had quite an adventure the other day when Mr Scampers (my kitten) climbed up on a chair and snagged her from her perch. Thankfully she survived in one piece and is here to bring you a kitschy "Happy Easter" greeting :)

Hmmm, I think she looks a bit surprised here, like we came upon her nest at the edge of the woods (these are Northwest jackalopes, after all) and she isn't sure what to do. Will she charge and gore us with her little horns?

Nope, she lets us take the eggs for a photo session, on the condition we return them to the nest :)

Jackalope tales aside, I took some time today to color eggs, something I haven't done in a few years. I was rooting around in my spice cabinet and found an ancient food coloring kit. Some hot water, a dash of white vinegar and some drops of food coloring led to these variously-hued eggs. The ones in the moss basket were achieved with a left-over day old cup of coffee into which I put a few drops of red, then yellow, food coloring and a bit of vinegar. The bi-colored ones are rolled in baking micro-glitter:

This decoration came about because I started to try to do an ombre design on the eggs, then got lazy. Hey, I'll just put glitter on it! Always a good solution.

Easter is at once exciting and low-key for me. I celebrate it as the wonderous renewal of the green growing things that it is. And speaking of green growing spring things, I attended a wild foods workshop in Portland this weekend given by Dr John Kallas, pre-eminant foraging scholar and teacher. Because of him, I will be having a bacon and dandelion quiche tonight with a big-leaf maple blossom salad on the side. But more on that next time. In the meantime, we return the eggs to Ms Jackalopes' nest:

And hope for some jackalope hatchlings :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mushrooms, Moss and Skulls, Oh My!

I got an invitation to go hunting for morels last weekend, and ever the acceptor of invitations to go to the forest, I went along although I have never hunted morels before. The biggest finds of the day turned out to be the deer (or possibly elk, in the case of the larger one) skulls you see above. We came upon the almost entire skeletons of these animals, which were either cougar kills, or, in the opinion of one of the people I was with, possible victims of the terrible freeze we had during the winter.  Another person in our party found a bobcat skull a few miles away. We also found evidence of several grouse kills:

As for morels, well, we didn't find a single one, although we found plenty of what are called "false morels":

Slimy and brain-like they did not suggest edibility and apparently, they aren't---the literature I have read terms them as poisonous.

Walking along a trail a little later, we found these gorgeous fungi:

The offical mushroomer of our party felt that these are Amanita pantherina, related to those classic red fly agaric Amanitas that evoke the fairytale forest.

Not far away from those mushrooms was this amazing bunch of moss and lichen:

I felt lucky to be out and about on a fine and wild spring day!

(ye old disclaimer: I am not a mycologist. I present my pictures for our mutual enjoyment but not for identification purposes. If you are hunting mushrooms, bring an experienced person with you!)