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Walking with my dog in the woods is not just for exercise for my dog anymore; nor for my stretching benefit either. I have been photographing summer's delights at Conner's Bog in Anchorage, Alaska. Conner's Bog remains wild and it is a dedicated dog park at the same time. Unlike other well-intentioned structured dog parks my dog and I have visited, this remains our favorite. It has a lake. It has the trails. I know my dog is safe from trapping. And the best, I get to observe nature more intimately.
A wilderness in the city of Anchorage...that is what I love about Anchorage. The wild and urbane overlaps. For those not wanting to brave whacking the bushes of the backcountry, this park offers the semi-adventure of wildland Alaska. It is not paved, yet the terrain was not touched by a lawn mower. It remains undeveloped, therefore, indigenous plants remain.
Around late June, July and early August, I have learned to anticipate the puffballs. Being a greenhorn with mushrooms, puffballs have become my favorite because of the ease in identifying them. Puffballs shed their greenish coats to reveal their whiteness lustre, then develops a brownish tinge and wither to be borne again next season. When you harvest puffballs, you would feel that soft smooth texture. They feel like marshmallows and taste like marshmallows, too. The preferred places where I harvest these mushrooms around the dog park are the smaller trails that are not as popular to the fertilizing Fidos. I am more confident to gather them on mosses inside the less trodden trails in the woods.
More than ever, our daily trips have become less of a routine.
Preparing Puffballs For Cooking
As soon as you get home, remove the bottom root part.
Wash in cold water and drain excess liquid. Brush off the spores.
Cut in halves from the dome to the root to check any blemishes. The puffball should be perfectly smooth inside. Any puffball that you doubt that shows questionable disfiguration, should be thrown away.
Perfect edible puffballs should display a very white exterior as well as interior. Puffballs could be used for any type of cooking of your choice. They are bland but picks up any additional flavors you would add with your dish.
When you have any doubt, go to your local mycology society to have your puffballs verified.
Quick Puffball Recipe
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 each Shallots or onions, minced
Puffballs, 8 oz, washed, drained and sliced
1 cup Chicken Broth (optional)
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Basil or Parsley, chopped
Wash the mushrooms in cold water and drain. Remove any dirt or roots. Slice.
Put the oil in the skillet and throw in the shallots or onions to brown a bit.
Throw in the mushrooms. Stir with the oil and shallots or onions.
Add the optional chicken broth.
Add the minced garlic.
Add the basil or parsley.
Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from stove to cool.
Can be eaten as a side dish or used as stuffing. Add to salad or as hamburger topping or additional garnish to sandwiches. Add to rice pilaf or noodles or soups.
This basic recipe is versatile.
Mushrooms are TOXIC TO DOGS
Please make sure that you NEVER FEED ANY TYPES OF MUSHROOMS to your four-legged baby. A lot of human foods cannot be tolerated by dogs. Raw and cooked mushrooms are poison to dearest companions.