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.

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!

Farm Market Friday: Red Haven Peaches

Red Haven Peaches

Peaches, photo by alyssa g

I’ve shared the story of the Redhaven peach before on Michigan in Pictures. Strangely enough, it featured a photo by a photographer named Alissa!

Peaches are rolling in at farm markets all across Michigan.  A favorite article that Michigan History Magazine shared on Absolute Michigan tells the story of A Peach of a Man:

Many people have contributed to Michigan’s fruit industry, but Stanley Johnston stands above the rest. Johnston not only developed a new peach that is the most widely grown peach in the world today. He also made Michigan the nation’s leading producer of blueberries.

Johnston was the superintendent of Michigan State University’s (MSU) experiment station in South Haven from 1920 to 1969. There, he developed a better peach. Johnston took peaches that had good features, like ones that ripened at different times or did not turn brown when canned or frozen. He took pollen from the male plant and joined it to the flower of the female plant. When the fruit grew, he collected seeds and started a new tree. When the tree produced fruit five years later, he could see if he made a better peach.

During his career, Johnston grew and studied more than 20,000 peach trees. Eight different types, called “havens” (for South Haven), were planted by farmers. Havens ripened earlier, so the peach-growing season was longer, which meant more peaches could be grown and sold. One of these peaches, named Redhaven for its nice red color, is the most popular peach in the world today.

Read on at Absolute Michigan and definitely get down to your local farmer’s market for some peachy goodness!

View Alyssa’s photo background bigalicious and see more in her Blake Farms slideshow.

 

 

Game on for Michigan’s Strawberry Season

First Michigan Berries of the year. Early Glow variety. Yum!

First Michigan Berries of the year…, photo by Trish P.

Westview Orchards in Washington Township north of Detroit let me know yesterday that they’ll have strawberries to pick this weekend. Real Time Farms agrees strawberries are starting to roll into southern Michigan farm markets from farmers including Prochaska Farms of Tecumseh, who had some at the Saline Farmers Market last Saturday. If picking your own is more your speed, U-Pick Michigan has up-to-date reports.

I should add that we got some organic ones yesterday at the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market in Traverse City​. I believe they came from Ware Farm​ of Bear Lake – you can see them right here!

The Michigan Ag Council’s page on strawberries says that:

Michigan’s strawberry season starts in early June and can extend into mid July. Look for Michigan strawberries in-store or find them where they’re largely produced, in Berrien, Leelanau and Van Buren counties.

Michigan Strawberry facts:

  • Michigan grows strawberries for both fresh and processed uses
  • 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 were 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

In kind of a neat little coincidence, my friend Trish snapped this photo five years ago on June 12, 2010! She’s got a great blog entry on making strawberry preserves, something that’s definitely a Michigan tradition.

View her photo of Early Glow strawberries from the Bardenhagen Berry Farm on the Leelanau Peninsula bigger and see more in her delicious Michigan harvest slideshow.

Ramps, Wild Leeks, Spring Onion, Allium tricoccum

Wild Leeks

Wild Leeks, photo by CherryCapitalFoods

Here’s some of a Wild Food Wednesday on Wild Leeks I wrote for eatdrinkTC.com. You often find these oniony treasures when you’re morel hunting. Leeks are in the woodse now, and more than one little bird has told me of morels popping around the state as well! 

Whether you know them as ramps, wild leeks, spring onions or by their scientific name of Allium tricoccum, ramps are a wild onion with a delicious & pungent garlicky flavor. Wild leeks are found from as far south as Alabama all the way up into Canada. To the south, they are more commonly known as ramps while in the north, wild leek is more common. Wikipedia’s page on Allium tricoccum says that “ramps” comes from the English word ramson, a common name of the European bear leek (Allium ursinum) that is related to our American species.

Regarding harvesting, Ramp-age at the Earthy Delights blog says:

Good ramps or wild leeks should have two or three whole bright green leaves with the small white bulb attached by a purplish stem. The leaves are generally about 6 inches long, although ramps tend to be harvested at a somewhat earlier stage than are wild leeks. Depending on where you get them, ramps or wild leeks may be still muddy from the field or all cleaned and trimmed. The key is that they be fresh. Yellowing or withering in the leaves is a sign that they have gone too long.

A papery wrapper leaf (and some dirt) may surround the bulb and should be pulled off as you would with scallions. Trim away any roots along with their little button attachment. The entire plant is now ready for eating.

Once ramps / wild leeks have been cleaned, store them in the refrigerator tightly wrapped to keep them from drying out (and to protect the rest of the contents of the fridge from the heady aroma). They should keep for a week or more, but use them as soon as possible after harvest.

Some wild leek facts & lore:

  • Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were especially revered for their beneficial effect upon the throat. The Greek philosopher Aristotle credited the clear voice of the partridge to a diet of leeks, while the Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger. (World’s Healthiest Foods)
  • The name of Chicago originates from “Checagou” (Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah)means “wild onions” in the Potawatomi language. The area was so named because of the smell of rotting marshland and wild leeks that covered it. (Earthy Delights)
  • Wild leeks are high in Vitamins C and A, and are full of healthful minerals. And they have the same cholesterol-reducing capacity found in garlic and other members of this family. (Earthy Delights)
  • The entire plant is edible and leaves, especially when young, are delicious when sauteed. (my kitchen)

View this photo background bigtacular and see more in Cherry Capital Foods’ Spring Hollow Farms slideshow.

I’m especially happy to feature today’s photo because we buy incredible lettuce, greens and duck & quail eggs from Richard & Diana of Spring Hollow Farms of Buckley. If you see them at the Traverse City Farmer’s Market, be sure to buy a bag or two of their spring mix!

More Michigan food and more spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Michigan’s 2014 Morel Season has arrived!

The White Morels are just starting. Taken in the City Limits of Boyne City, Michigan, along with some others I might add.

The White Morels are just starting. Taken in the City Limits of Boyne City, Michigan, along with some others I might add., photo by Rick Wolanin

I’ve started to get reports of morels trickling in from here in Traverse City and other locations in the state. While we’re a ways from full-on morel madness, it’s a good time to start getting excited about the return of this once-a-year woodland delicacy.

Over 7 years, Michigan in Pictures has accumulated a lot of morel features – here are some favorites along with a couple from other sites:

Rick lives in Boyne City, one of Michigan’s morel epicenters. View his photo bigger and check out more of his great morel photos!

Cooking with Chef Myles

Chef Myles Anton of Trattoria Stella

Chef Myles Anton at The Box, photo by Lisa Flaska Erickson

In addition to Michigan in Pictures and building websites & marketing campaigns, my partner Laura & I produce an online publication called eatdrinkTC that profiles Traverse City’s dynamic culinary scene. We feature a lot of the chefs and culinary artisans who make it all happen and engage people in helping to promote all the good things going on.

One way we do that is with our monthly #eatdrinkTC Photo Contest that offers a prize every month for the top photo. This month’s  prize is two 3-course dinners at the popular The Cooks’ House, so if your photographic arsenal has some pics from Traverse City or the surrounding area that fit the bill, consider entering.

The photo shows Myles Anton, chef at Trattoria Stella. Myles and Chef Brian Polcyn of Forest Grill in Birmingham were announced as semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Great Lakes this week. It’s one of the top honors in chefdom – hats off to both for representing the Mitten!

Lisa was lucky enough to attend a cooking class with chef Myles at The Box last month. It was titled simply “The Pig” and Myles showed the class how to break down half a pig and how to cut, prepare and EAT the many cuts! (we have a full cooking class calendar if you’re interested)