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!

Make Mine a Michigan Thanksgiving: High Bush Cranberry Edition

Highbush Cranberries by Blondieyooper

Cranberries, photo by Blondieyooper

One thing that I love is Thanksgiving dinner, and another is Michigan grown food. Dianna at Promote Michigan brings those together with 15 things that make Thanksgiving Pure Michigan. From starters like Koeze nuts, McClure’s Pickles, Koegel Meats, and Leelanau Cheese to sides like Michigan potatoes & squash to Michigan-raised turkeys and (of course) pumpkin & apple pie and ice cream!

One Thanksgiving staple that Michigan is producing more of are cranberries, and you can get all kinds of information from the US Cranberry Marketing Committee. While it’s too late to get them this year, we have another cranberry that grows in Michigan you might not be aware of. Green Deane’s Eat the Weeds is a great blog, and his page on the High Bush Cranberry says (in part):

The High Bush Cranberry is actually a Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) and a cousin of the elderberry. Both are in the greater Honeysuckle Family and have a characteristic musky odor. That family by the way straddles the edibility line, with some members edible and others not, some tasty and some not. As one might suspect by the name, the High Bush Cranberry has tart fruit. Bradford Angier, a well-known Canada-based forager along side Euell Gibbons, wrote they require a “conditioned palate” to appreciate.

In North America the High Bush Cranberry is found in Canada and the northern half of the United States plus, oddly, New Mexico. It is not as that friendly to wildlife as one might suspect. The fruit persists into the winter because they are not on the top of birds’ preferred food. Birds like the berries after they soften and ferment. White-Tailed deer also browse on the twigs and leaves. For humans the berries are high in Vitamin C, about 30 milligrams per 100 grams.

Viburnum trilobum has several disputed botanical names and several mistaken common names including Pimbina, Mooseberry, Cranberry Tree, Cranberry Bush, American Cranberry, and Squashberry.

Read on for lots more including identification tips. There’s much more Michigan Thanksgiving to feast on at Michigan in Pictures too!

Blondieyooper says she picked over 8 pounds of these gorgeous highbush cranberries in the UP back in October of 2011. View her photo background bigilicious and see more in her Fall 2011 slideshow.

Common blue violet (Viola sororia)

Coincidentally enough, I just found out that Ken will be doing the next Glen Arbor Art Association Talk About Art this Thursday, April 10, 7:30 p.m. at the GAAA in Glen Arbor.

Spring Speak ... violet

Spring Speak … violet, photo by Ken Scott

Today’s post comes via eatdrinkTCMichigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the U.S. and that diversity doesn’t stop at the market! Our woods are alive with tasty and nutritious food if you know where to look. In our Wild Food Wednesdays we’ll tip you off to seasonal goodies and give you a recipe or two so you can enjoy the meal as much as the hike to find it!

In many years, we will have seen Viola sororia (Common blue violet) in the woods and often in our lawns by now. Violets can be found in a variety of soil conditions, from moist and even swampy deciduous forests to drier forests (though not usually near pines). The flowers and young leaves are delicious! The Culinary Violet page at the American Violet Society says (in part):

Both the flowers and leaves in fresh and dried forms have been standard fare in Europe and other areas in the world since before the 14th century. Fresh flowers are most often used for garnishing and crystallizing, The pungent perfume of some varieties of v.odorata adds inimitable sweetness to desserts, fruit salads and teas while the mild pea flavor of v.tricolor and most other viola combines equally well with sweet or savory foods, like grilled meats and steamed vegetables. The heart-shaped leaves of the v. odorata provide a free source of greens throughout a long growing season. They add texture to green salads when young and tender. Later in the season, slightly tougher, older leaves are cooked with other potted herbs and greens in soups, stews and stir-frys.

Violets aren’t just another pretty face. They are loaded with phytochemicals and medicinal constituents that have been used in the treatment of numerous health problems from the common cold to cancer. The late Euell Gibbons even referred to them as “nature’s vitamin pill (1).” A 1/2 cup serving of leaves can provide as much vitamin C as three oranges.

You can see some more photos and a county distribution at the Herbarium of the University of Michigan and get a lot more, including recipes, from eatdrinkTC!

Ken took this shot in March of 2012. See it on Flickr and see more in his Flowers slideshow!

More flowers and more food on Michigan in Pictures!