The 2020 Michigan Morel Season is Underway!

Yellow Morel (Morchella esculenta) by J Sommer

Yellow Morel (Morchella esculenta) by J Sommer

The online mushroom groups I’m in are already filling up with photos of happy people & their hauls of a popular Michigan springtime delicacy – morel mushrooms! The Michigan Department of Natural Resources  offers a Morel Mushroom Hunting page that features information about morels & morel identification, hunting tips, recipes, and also a map of the large burn sites in forested areas are ideal for morel mushroom hunting, especially in burned areas where jack, white or red pine once grew. Grassy and other non forest areas are not as likely to produce morels:

May is morel month in Michigan, but the actual fruiting period is from late April until mid-June, depending on where you are and what species you are hunting. Contrary to common belief, morels are not confined to the northern part of the state – some of the best picking is in southern Michigan.

MOREL HUNTING TIPS

  • Make your first several mushroom hunts, whether for morels or other edible mushroom species, with someone who knows mushrooms.
  • Buy or download a mushroom guide. A good guidebook is “The Mushroom Hunter’s Field Guide” by Alexander H. Smith, recognized as America’s foremost authority on mushroom identification, and Nancy Smith Weber. There also is a very good mushroom identification booklet available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.
  • Be prepared to cover a lot of ground and to experience disappointments when searching for morels. Some spots yield mushrooms year after year, while others skip several seasons between crops.
  • Don’t expect to find morels easily if you are new to the pastime. Because they blend into their background of last fall’s leaves and dead grass, they are hard to see even if you are looking right at them. Your “eye” for morels will sharpen with practice, and you will need to retrain it every spring.
  • Most important of all – know what you are eating! You will need to know the difference between a “true” morel and the “false morels,” such as beefsteak mushrooms, which are poisonous. (See morel identification information.)
  • For more information on morel mushroom hunting in Michigan, visit Pure Michigan or Midwest American Mycological Information.

J Sommer took this photo back in May of 2017 near Saginaw. See this photo and more in their Fungi gallery on Flickr.

There is a bunch more information about morels at the morel tag on Michigan in Pictures.

Morel Time: 2018 Edition

Twin Morels worth a zoom, photo by Mark Smith

Mark took this photo back in May of 2015, but I’m hearing from friends in Leelanau that morels are starting to pop. We’ve had some great rain over the last few days all around Michigan and the temps are about right for morel magic!

View Mark’s photo background bigilicious and see more in Mark’s slideshow.

There’s more morels action in the Michigan in Pictures Morel tag and some great tips in this Morel Madness feature on my Leelanau.com website.

More spring wallpaper for your computer too!

#strawbpocalypse2017: Strawberry Season in Michigan

#strawbpocalypse2017, photo by Emily Bingham

Michigan strawberries are starting to roll into farm markets, stores, roadside stands, and people’s gardens. Here’s a few Michigan strawberry facts from the Michigan Department of Agriculture:

  • In 2009, Michigan produced 43,000 tons of fresh strawberries and 3,000 tons of processed strawberries, generating $6.6 million
  • Most of the fresh Michigan strawberries are picked by consumers at “u-pick” operations around the state
  • Strawberries contain 80 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C
  • They are an excellent source of potassium, which can help control blood pressure and fight strokes
  • They are an excellent source of fiber, which help reduce total cholesterol levels

You can check out this feature on Michigan strawberries at Absolute Michigan for links to U-Pick farms and more.

Emily didn’t have to go far to pick these – she grew them and says they are SO EASY! View the photo bigger and follow her on Instagram at e_bing.

More Michigan strawberries on Michigan in Pictures.

 

Learn a traditional skill at the Crosshatch Skill Swap

The not so elusive Sourdough loaves, photo by Dan Bruell

Hey folks, let me tell you about a cool thing that I’m involved with, the second annual Crosshatch Skill Swap at Earthwork Farm on Saturday, June 3rd. It’s a full day of hands-on workshops, followed by a dinner and live music. It takes place at Earthwork Farm near Lake City and offers 16 workshops in four areas:

  • The Green World – wayfinding & orienteering, seed saving, beekeeping, and an herb walk
  • Real Home Ec – farmer cheese, Kombucha, making mead, and bread baking
  • Tinkering – bike repair, tailoring, spoon carving, and a topic to be named later
  • Art – songwriting, singing harmony, using natural dies, and screenprinting

After the dinner, there are FOUR musical treats. The first is a waltz hour featuring amazing string players with knowledgeable waltzers to help you learn a bonus skill – waltzing followed by a concert in the barn host Seth Bernard, Gifts or Creatures, and Heavy Color. Camping is included if you so desire, and there’s a video below with my friend Brad outlining the day. Click for tickets and more information!

View the photo background big and see more in Dan’s Foods slideshow.

Blue Skies & Blossoms in Michigan

Blue Skies, Blossoms & Bokeh, photo by Andrew McFarlane

Cherry blossoms, along with apple & other fruit tree blooms are out across Michigan. If you’re near a fruit growing region, take a drive and see what’s to be seen!

I definitely miss my Olympus dSLR. View the photo background bigilicious and see more in my Cherry Blossoms slideshow.

PS: Here’s a little Facebook Live video I did this week with Nikki Rothwell, head of MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station about cherries, blossoms, and the work of the Station. I can’t seem to size the video here so you might want to click to view it on the Leelanau.com Facebook.

Today’s the Day for the Michigan Apple Crunch!

grand-traverse-bay-apples

apples, photo by Diane Greene Lent

A Healthier Michigan is a pretty cool blog with some state-specific tips for better health. Their post on the annual  Michigan’s Apple Crunch Day (Thursday, October 13)  says that every October, schools, organizations, and businesses bite into Michigan apples on the same day, setting records for apples eaten.

It’s a partnership between the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Farm to School, Cherry Capital Foods and Cultivate Michigan as a reminder of the importance of agriculture and knowing where your food comes from. Last year 400,000 people in Michigan ate a Michigan-grown apple on Apple Crunch Day!

The Michigan Apple Committee notes that with 11.3 million apple trees covering 35,500 acres on 825 family-run farms, Michigan is the nation’s third largest producer of apples!

View Diane’s photo of apples overlooking Grand Traverse Bay background big and see more in her Best 2012 slideshow.

Here’s a video with photos from last year’s Apple Crunch by Cherry Capital Foods!

First Day of Fall Puffballs

first-day-of-fall-puffballs

Happy First Day of Autumn, photo by Julie

The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can’t but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching.
-Enya

Happy second day of fall everyone. I’m usually pretty good about marking that seasonal stuff, but in my defense, I DID eat some puffballs the day before yesterday and marked a few today.

In case you’re interested in exploring edible, wild mushrooms, the giant puffball is considered one of the “Foolproof Four” – widespread and easy to identify mushrooms. Mushroom Appreciation’s page on Giant Puffball mushrooms has lots of pictures, puffball facts, and identification tips and says (in part):

Giant puffballs are saprotrophs, meaning they feed on dead organic matter. They’re more likely found in meadows and grasslands than in the forest. They are always found growing on the ground rather than up in trees.

Giant puffballs are aptly named. They are usually quite large, reaching soccer ball size or bigger. They usually have a circumference (distance around) of 4 to 30 inches, although larger ones are not uncommon. There is no distinct cap and stem with these mushrooms; instead they exist as just large, white globes. They may not be perfectly round. Giant puffballs are white with firm white flesh inside. If they appear yellowish or brown is means that the mushroom is about to/has gone to spore, and is not edible anymore.

…Correct identification is crucial. If you think you’ve found a giant puffball the first thing to do is cut it open. It should have thick, hard, white flesh inside. Don’t eat anything with a brown, black, purple, or yellow interior. It may be an earthball (Scleroderma citrinum) or some other gastric distress inducing mushroom.

This white flesh should be solid with no gills. If you see any evidence of gills disregard immediately. Some species, including the deadly Amanita, have a “universal veil” of tissue that surrounds the mushroom when young. This can make it look like a puffball.

Inexperienced hunters should check with someone knowledgeable if they think they’ve found a giant puffball. An incorrect guess can kill if it turns out to be an Aminita! Please be careful.

Julie shared the Enya quote above, and she shares a ton of great photos in the Absolute Michigan pool. Check her photo out bigger and get yourself in the spirit of the season with her Fall slideshow!

If you do find a giant puffball, here’s a recipe from the Mycological Society of San Francisco’s excellent page on Puffballs from Hope Miller, coauthor of the book Mushrooms in Color.

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • About 1 pound puffballs, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter or more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons oil or more if needed

Mix the salt with the flour. Dip the mushroom slices in the flour, then in the egg, and last, in the cheese. Melt the butter and oil in a sauté pan or skillet and sauté the mushrooms slowly until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve at once.

OK. I can do that.

July Blueberries

july-blueberries-by-mark-obrien

July Blueberries, photo by Mark O’Brien

Mark took this back in July with Fuji Superia 400 color film. He says these blueberries have gone on to a better place … a blueberry pie to be precise.

View it background bigilicious and follow Mark on Twitter @nikonfm2n for lots more!!

Wienerlicious

Wienerlicious, Mackinaw City

Wienerlicious, Mackinaw City, June, 2016, photo by Norm Powell

Remember folks: I don’t take the photos, choose the titles … or name businesses Wienerlicious. That said, have a Wienerlicious Wednesday Friday!

View Norm’s photo bigger, click for more of his Pure Michigan photos, and view & purchase photos at normpowellphotography.com.

More Roadside awesomeness on Michigan in Pictures.

Top Dog: Detroit Michigan’s Coney Island Hot Dog

On Any Given Night Lafayette Coney Island

On Any Given Night, photo by Derek Farr

When mLive writer Emily Bingham realized that Michigan didn’t have an official state food, she set out to determine what their readers thought. The winner was the coney island hot dog which squeaked by my personal favorite, the pasty. Share what you think Michigan’s signature food is in the comments!

The Encyclopedia of Detroit entry for the Coney Dog says:

Many people think that the Coney dog, also called the Coney Island hot dog, got its start on Coney Island, NY where the hot dog was created. In actuality, this popular food got its start in Michigan, although the exact location is still disputed. Three locations in Michigan all claim to be the birthplace of Coney dogs: American Coney Island in Detroit, Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit and Todoroff’s Original Coney Island in Jackson.

In 1917, Gust Keros opened American Coney Island. A few years later Keros’s brother opened Lafayette Coney Island next door. Both of these Detroit Coney Islands are incredibly popular to this day, where there is an on-going argument over which establishment serves the best Coney dog. The dispute has been featured on several food television shows, including Food Wars and Man v. Food.

A Coney dog is a beef hotdog, topped with an all meat, beanless chili, diced white onions, and yellow mustard. A true Coney dog uses made-in-Michigan products.

Lots more about the coney dog on Absolute Michigan.

View Derek’s photo bigger where you can also read about the history of friendly competitors Lafayette Coney Island & American Coney Island. See more in his massive Signs & Billboards slideshow.

Michigan food on Michigan in Pictures!