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

It’s Over!

Office View HoustonThe rain has stopped and this morning Houstonians woke to a clear sky for the first time in several days.  Some, however, also woke to the reality of loss.  I can’t imagine how that  feels.   What I do know is that people in this fourth largest US city will come together.  Neighbors will help neighbors and strangers will open their hearts and offer helping hands to those in need because  Houston’s heart is as big as all of Texas.

Among many, some of the city’s professional athletes have come forward with their money and energy to begin the business of restoration.  Houston Texan JJ Watt first gave his own dollars and then proceeded to raise more than $6 million.  He hasn’t quit as he is aware that much more will be needed to return Houston and its displaced residents to pre flood condition.

These last days have been hard for the hubby and me as we sit some 2,000 miles away worrying about family and friends.  Not all were unscathed, but we and our family are blessed to have experienced no damage.  I am deeply grateful to all of you who have reached out inquiring about our situation and expressing your concern for Houston.  

It will take a while, but all will be well in time.  I hope the same is true for the other areas where Harvey has caused such havoc.

New Look Belfast

Belfast

This is Belfast, not in Ireland but on the midcoast of Maine, so named at the request of an Irish settler around 1770.  With names like Yarmouth, Moscow, Camden, Naples I think many towns in Maine are named for places of early settlers origins.

Not  too long ago Belfast was best known for its chicken packing plant.  That is closed now, and new restaurants, galleries, and shops line the main street making it a very fun place for an outing.

One of the most popular eateries, not only in Belfast but on Maine’s coast, is Chase’s Daily where tasty vegetarian dishes are prepared from produce grown at the family farm.  During the summer months, one can expect a lengthy wait for a table.

Chase's DailyWait time can pass pretty quickly if you venture to the rear of the restaurant where there is a stunning array of vegetables and flowers available for purchase.

 Chase’s is also a venue for local artists to display their work.   How many places do you go and see art and vegetables being complementary?

As good as all the healthy food is, my very favorite thing is this cookie oozing with chocolate and dried cherries.  I’ve been known to have one when I’m waiting in line for a table.

New this year in Belfast is an unbelievable farmers market.   I’d been told it was wonderful, but I wasn’t prepared for just how great it is.

Most Maine farmers markets are outdoors.  Not this one!  It’s in a huge enclosed building, and plans are for it to operate year round.  Hopefully, the full time population of the midcoast will support it as it is a great asset to the area.

In addition to produce and locally made cheeses and meats, there are all kinds of prepared edibles surprisingly representing a number of cultures.  It’s going to take more than one visit to try them all!

It was great to see a variety of handmade items  displayed and getting considerable interest.  It got me to thinking about whether or not some of my handwoven pieces might find a market there. Scarves and shawls just might fit right in.

cupcakesMost of the vendors did a great job displaying their wares.  I tried to pass by the egg carton full of mini cupcakes, but it was impossible to resist!  Not only were the cupcakes cute, they were very tasty.

That’s a quick look at some of what is in Belfast.  Next stop is Coastal Mountain Land Trust’s recently developed rail-trail which follows the route of the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad, a passenger and freight line which operated from 1871 to 2007 between Belfast and Burnham Junction.  A hike is just the thing to walk off the extra calories ingested at the farmers market.  Let’s get going!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

On the Water

Over the years, the hubby and I have boated in many different places.  While the experience is always pleasant, when it comes to great boating, there is for us no place like the midcoast of Maine.  Why?  Let me count the ways!

Maine islandsThe Islands.  There are some 3500 islands off Maine’s coast.  If all were connected to the mainland, it is said that the coast of Maine would stretch from its northernmost tip to Key West.

islandsMost are uninhabited, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be explored.  

Warren IslandOn some is evidence of lives once lived on the island.

heart rocksShorelines may yield unexpected treasures such as heart rocks or sea glass or sometimes raspberries and blueberries ripe for picking.

Maine islandFor sure every island is different.  All have rocks, some large and smooth,

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some craggy and difficult if not impossible to scale.

BrimstoneStill others have layers of small stones warm and smooth to the touch.

Perry Creek, fogInlets and harbors.  Nothing beats finding a secluded inlet or a protected harbor where you can anchor for a quiet afternoon or, perhaps, spend the night.

Perry CreekThere’s nothing like being on the boat under the night sky and seeing the moon lift from the horizon and climb higher and higher to cast its reflection on the water.

Yarmouth/lighthouseLighthouses.  I’m crazy for lighthouses, and there are many along the Maine coast.  

Most are no longer operative, but that doesn’t mean they don’t continue to stand proud.  

Matinicus RockSome are isolated, and I find myself wondering about the lighthouse keepers who once manned them.  Surely there are stories that could be told.

Fun places to eat.  The coast is dotted with dockside places to eat, and it’s so much fun to stumble upon a new one or return to a favorite.

fried clamsMost menus focus on seafood fresh from the water, and I always have a hard time refusing fried clams though recently I had a lobster grilled cheese that may be my new favorite.

Hey, enough writing.  It’s time to take advantage of a beautiful day and do a little boating!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind