It’s a Puffball!

For several days something that appeared to be a mushroom sprang up in the yard and got bigger and bigger and bigger until it was larger than my head.  Thinking to trash it before it took over, I pulled it off the ground and was blown away by how much it weighed.  When I started looking at it, trying to recall my limited mushroom knowledge, the first thing I noticed was it didn’t have any gills.  

Curious now, I took it inside and cut it in half to find that it was dense from top to bottom.  Now, really puzzled, I posted this photo on Facebook and asked for someone to identify it.  Immediately, several Maine folks informed me it was a puffball mushroom that was deliciously edible.

I wasted no time experimenting, first sautéing it in butter to get a feel for the taste.  It was quite mild with a very nice flavor.   Since then it has been used in scrambled eggs and spaghetti sauce and added to stir fried veggies, all of which worked beautifully.

So far so good with no ill effects which led me to think about a soup.  Now, that was a real winner.  The hubby went so far as to say it was the best mushroom soup he’d ever had and that’s something since he loves the one we learned on one of our Foodie Adventures with Michael Salmon.

Quite honestly, to make the soup I just started throwing ingredients…celery, a couple of small potatoes and baby carrots…in the pot and simmered them in chicken stock.  For seasoning, I used a garlic/herb mix, onion powder, dried fire roasted tomatoes, salt and pepper.  When the veggies were tender, I added about 5 cups of puffball, broken into small pieces, and let it cook for a few minutes longer.  While the cooking continued, I used an immersion blender to puree the mix.  At the last minute a cup or so of milk was added.  

Now, for the taste test….scrumptious!  It was just the right thickness with flavor that made taste buds sing.  I don’t know whether or not I’ll ever be lucky enough to have another puffball volunteer in the yard, but my fingers are crossed because I have ideas for a few more things to try.  If you’ve had experience with this unusual mushroom, do share.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Easy Decorating Tips

shades of fallBecause summer in Maine is a short season, I hold on to it as long as possible.  The time has come to let go, however, as the trees are turning and the leaves are already falling giving hint of the raking and cleanup that is to follow.

Maine houseSometimes I don’t change slipcovers from summer to fall because we are only in Maine until early November.  

Today I had some free time and a burst of energy and set about changing things around to celebrate the first day of fall.  Off came the light slips to be replaced by these with rich colors reflective of the newly arrived season.  And just because, I moved furniture around, too.

I’ve  sworn not to buy anything new so much of the changing look came from shopping the house.  As I looked around, I noticed turquoise accents here and there so that became the “new”.

Throw pillows from another room are added to the mix of fabrics on the sofa.   The turquoise doesn’t seem to mind being thrown in with the reds and golds.

In the cabinet where there are so many candles I forget what they are, I found ones to carry out the color scheme.

 It’s amazing what shows up when you start looking!

Moving things from one place to another gives the table top a new look and a spray of flowers from a recent visit to Trader Joe’s provides the finishing touch.

Now that wasn’t too hard and the changes give the room a totally new look, warm and textured as befits fall.  So, if you are thinking about what to do for fall, my suggestion is use what you have differently.  You might be surprised what happens.

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More Maine

Lest you think Maine is all about the coast and islands and boating, come with me a few miles inland. Very quickly it becomes rural making you think you are in a different place.

Town lines are far apart as are houses in the scarcely populated areas.

Along the road, cattle laze in the fields

and horses stare out to see what is interrupting the quiet.

Farm equipment suggests a way of making a living that is quite different than that on the coast.

With fall closing in, there is evidence of gathering for winter

and wagons are stacked high with hay that will keep livestock fed when grass is covered with snow.

Barns are as common as houses in the countryside.

Sometimes when I’m taking pictures, a curious neighbor comes out to chat which is a great way to learn about an area.  Folks like to tell what they know as happened with this barn.  It was built in the mid 1800’s by a gentleman who then owned thousands of acres that were farmed and provided timber.  Over the years, heirs lost interest in working the land and sold off the property bit by bit.The barn fell into disrepair until a few years ago someone who respected its architecture bought and restored it.  These days it’s used for nothing but storage, but the owner keeps it in pristine condition which is probably what caught my eye.

Another characteristic of these rural areas are general stores.  Keep in mind that Maine is made up of many small towns and grocery stores are few and far between.  

The general store provides basic necessities and serves as a gathering place for locals to meet and share what’s going on.  In some cases, it serves as the post office and an offsite bank.

It’s not surprising to find the general store is also the local eatery.

and I’m telling you there are some pretty good vittles there.

Yep, Maine has lots to offer if one takes the time to explore.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

 

 

 

Farmers Market Inspiration

I can’t think of a place where there is more color and texture than at a farmers market.

The produce, the flowers combine to make me want one of everything which means I always come home with more than I need.

This time the market buys provided inspiration for a table.  It was a little challenging getting the carrots through the neck of the bottle until I found just the right size.

IMG_9438With the centerpiece of flowers and vegetables in place, it was easy to choose the rest.  

I had planned on using the black plates with the harlequin bowls, but one plate was missing….how does that happen?  

The solution was to do half of the place settings in reverse which added a touch of the unexpected.

As I added glassware to the table, I remembered the little Mason jars which I use for the kid drinks at tini time.  Off went the chosen water glasses to be replaced by the jars. 

This table was such fun to create, and as I stood back and looked at it it dawned on me that inspiration can come from anywhere.  You just have to be open to the suggestions.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Tablescape Thursday

 

Blueberries Any Way

blueberriesThe season for those sweet little wild Maine blueberries has come and gone, but each year I pick/buy enough to last until the next season.  They freeze beautifully which ensures that we can have all our favorite things made with them.

Blueberry muffins are always on hand as they are oh so good with morning coffee.  

They are especially good topped with lavender blueberry jam which is also a great topping for ice cream or panna cotta.

Scones oozing with blueberries are a special treat for Sunday brunch.

When the kids come to visit, their favorite is blueberry pancakes with GrandP’s secret syrup, better known as maple syrup.

As yummy as other things are our hands down favorite is blueberry crisp.  Sometimes it’s all blueberries, but it’s equally good with peaches or with mixed berries.

I’ve been making this crisp since I was a teenager thanks to the recipe shared by our next door neighbor.  For that reason, I always call it Miss Myrtle’s pie.  Since she was generous enough to share her recipe, I will share it with you and hope it becomes one of your favorite desserts.

Blueberry Crisp

4 c. blueberries, peaches or mixed fruit

1/3 c. sugar

1 heaping T. flour, cornstarch or tapioca

1 t. lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together in a pie pan or baking dish.

For the topping, combine 1 c. flour, 1 c. sugar and 1/2 c. brown sugar.  With a fork, add a slightly beaten egg and mix until the dry ingredients are crumbly.

 Sprinkle on top of the fruit and generously dot with butter.  Bake at 350 until the topping is nicely browned.

There you have it.  At our house we like cinnamon so I often add a teaspoon to either the fruit or the berries.  Of course, the finishing touch is a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Hmm, I can taste it now, so I’m going to the kitchen and get started.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind