Tag Archives: Foraging

Errands, guests, then goofing off

I managed to read most of a book I've been wanting to finish. We had company again this weekend, so all my efforts were in tiny chunks.

Today mostly involved some errands I needed to run. Then my father-in-law decided to drop in for a few hours. He always shows up unannounced, and is on his way back to Reno. He never stays more than a couple of hours. We visited with him, and I spent the remaining time building a page for Story Empire. Some of us are really good at this kind of thing, but I have to experiment my way through. We'll probably launch those pages in early October. They involve a scavenger hunt, and there are prizes. Watch this space and I'll keep you updated.

My oldest son is here between job sites. He never knows when he's going to get called out again, but he's been in Wyoming most of the Summer. Tomorrow morning, he and I are going grouse hunting.

Most of you may not understand this, but it isn't about the grouse. They make wonderful table fare, but getting a brace for supper is pretty low on the list. It's all about time together, and getting some fresh air before Winter closes the forest for the year. We'll get to talk and hang out and that's the important part. If I bring home a bag of blackberries or raspberries I'll be just as happy. My favorite wild apple tree is up there too, so maybe I'll eat an apple. (After checking the area for bears.)

Tomorrow afternoon we're getting more company. My sister-in-law is staying for a week.

Writing? What's that? This weekend is a total bust for writing progress. My usual method of operation is to set an alarm for early morning and hit it hard tomorrow. This time, I'm playing hooky and hanging out with my son. I actually need this more than I need words on paper.

The next two weeks are going to be strange. I'll have company here, then I have to go to Coeur d'Alene for a week with my work. Somehow, I'll have to share two guest spots I'm making, a Lisa Burton Radio spot here, and the first Macabre Macaroni story in October. Thank God for the scheduler in WordPress.


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In my element

We went back to Newport for the day. The old dock area is pretty fun, with an active fishing industry, pubs, and cute shops. Old What’s Her Face* bought a tee shirt that says “Goonies never say die.” She and our daughter hit the shops.

I’ve written many posts about how I love fishing, foraging, and even hunting. Being at the ocean is a rare opportunity for me, and I took full advantage of it. I’ll probably skip clamming, because it takes a day or two to purge them of sand. We don’t have enough days left for that.

I scored an old fish head, and headed for the public dock. I only own one crab ring, but am allowed to fish with three. I’d show you a photo of the crab ring, but WiFi is being pretty wonky here.

We are allowed to catch either sex of red rock crab, and only male Dungeness over 5 3/4 inches across the carapace. The red rocks remind me of stone crab. They have huge claws, and even have black tips on them. The resemblance ends there, because they are brilliant red. I caught a few with no claws, and suspect someone snapped them off before returning them to the sea. (Illegal, but the claws will grow back.)

I hauled in several nets with multiple small and/or female Dungeness. The tide turned, and all the other fishermen left. I stuck it out, because the girls were shopping anyway. I wound up with the Mac Daddy of all Dungeness crabs, then I brought in his brother.

I am allowed 24 red rock crabs, and 12 legal Dungeness. Even Old What’s Her Face can’t eat that much crab. I brought home eight of the little guys, and my two giant Dungeness crabs.

Dinner is on me!

Add one ear of corn each, skipped the potatoes. There isn’t much left. (Okay, there isn’t any left.) my daughter doesn’t eat anything much more exciting than Mac & Cheese, or a hamburger. My wife and I put this all away.

I stopped back by the brewery from night one and bought my friend a jar of mustard he requested. It’s right beside the road on the way home. My daughter liked their blackberry cider, and we bought her a growler of that.

Cracking open an Alaskan Pumpkin Ale and getting ready to actually watch Goonies. Have a nice evening everyone.

* Not actually the name on our marriage license.


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I've posted about my foraging trips many times before. There is a surprising amount of food along our highways and byways. Today was all about gathering something up.

We made a drive last night, three large reservoirs provide a lot of scenic shoreline. It was bright and hot. The air conditioner was well appreciated in my truck. Before we left, I grabbed this photo.

Several of you asked for a shot of the hammered copper hatband my brother made me. After I monkeyed with it, there is some shiny, some aged, and just a tiny bit of green patina. I wanted more green, but the clear coating turned most of it dark.

We spotted a surprising amount of both wild and feral fruit. I keep bags in my truck at all times for just such an event. We pulled over and filled a tiny mesh bag with beautiful blackberries right before the monsoon started. In fact right now, I'm sitting under the awning in the middle of another thunderstorm. I have my prickly pear lemonade beside me. If the awning retracts, I'm making a run for it.

We stashed our blackberries and finished our drive in the rain, making notes of what we spotted and where. We saw deer everywhere. This young mule deer buck stopped long enough for a quick photo. It's one of my crappy iPhone snaps, but you can see his small velvet covered antlers.

We spotted wild elderberries, choke cherries, plums, hawthorns, and the blackberries. I call the other stuff feral, because it isn't native, but there are quite a few loaded apple trees, and for the first time ever apricots. These likely originated from someone's discarded pit or apple core. It's too early for apples, choke cherries, and elderberries. It ought to be too early for wild plums, but it isn't. It ought to be too late for any apricots, but there are some decent ones left.

I learned my lesson long ago about taking home baskets full of this stuff. A jar of jelly is nice, as is the occasional bottle of syrup. Beyond that, I enjoy a few and leave the rest.

I'm intimately familiar with the tiny golden plums. Today I found a red variety I've never seen before. We're on the Oregon border, so it's a bit outside my usual orbit. The red ones looked like cherries, but cherries usually come on a monstrous tree. I thought they might be someone's feral pie cherrie. Nope, plums.

These things are like tiny balls of sugar, with a pit inside. I have to remind myself that the genus is prunus, and they effect me the same was as prunes. Still, a few make me happy. I grabbed a snack sized portion of everything that was ripe.

We stopped at a marina and bought a pint of vanilla ice cream. Those blackberries are headed there. The rest are snacks. Wild fruit isn't green grocer beautiful, and if you want perfect you should stick to your favorite market. It tastes wonderful, and if you're cooking with it, you probably won't care.

I could have filled my truck bed with this stuff, but why? A few snacks are enough for me. If I want a few more, they are waiting on the tree.

I wonder how hard it is to make an Asian plum sauce while camping. Could be the makings of a fun meal sometime.



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Great day in the woods!

We started our day at 9:00 AM. Mushrooms don't sneak away and hide at sunup. We took a lot of people, and it's nice to get a slightly later start. It's a long drive to my normal spots, and with family, you stop more often. It's all good, I'm more into the experience than the score these days. I've had many a fish-less day along the Snake River, and never regretted one of them.

My first spot is kind of hit and miss. For the last few years it's been miss, and this was no exception. It's right alongside a turnout on the highway. Competition usually beats me to these.

It was lunchtime, but nobody wanted to stop for lunch. We went to my second spot. It was loaded with fresh morels and we gathered a good haul. My guess about the early weather patterns was right. We decided to brave Landmark Summit. This is just under 7000ft in elevation. Most years it doesn't open until the Fourth of July. It was dry as a bone today. One year, my brother and I went up there in late May and found eight feet of snow. Not this year.

My wife and I have a new spot out in the middle of nowhere on the other side of the summit. This year it turned out to be the mother lode. We all spent part of our time pointing at morels just so the grandkids could pick them. This usually means more dirt for Grandpa to clean off, but it was worth it. My grandson started his day complaining that there was no WIFI. By the end of the day, he was a regular pioneer.

Grandpa caught a tiny little frog, and everyone insisted I show the kids. I made them swear they wouldn't hurt it. They decided to fight over it, and parental interference prevented frogacide. Tiny froggy hopped away with a good story to tell.

We found quite a few snow morels today. One of them was the size and shape of a human brain. I left my phone in the car, because it tends to fall out with all that bending. I wish I had a photo for you, because it was cool. Snow morels are considered inedible at best, and poisonous at worst. They actually look nothing like an actual morel.

The weather was beautiful, sunny and not too hot yet. I think I felt two raindrops all day. My back and knees are going to make me suffer tomorrow. At one point, I got down on all fours and picked twelve plump morels without moving an inch. Still, it was a lot of bending down, squatting, and crawling over deadfall. At least oyster mushrooms have the courtesy to grow on tree trunks. Not these morels. The little buggers are right down in the dirt.

Far enough away that they stay anonymous

Our picnic wound up being an event. My son made some baked beans from scratch, and we threw in a skillet to warm them up. My wife made her grilled potato salad, and we grilled hotdogs and chorizos on site.

The little kids ran around like wild animals while we cooked, and while we cleaned up. Something tells me they'll sleep well tonight.

One of two huge bags of morels

The only downside was on the way home. I was following another vehicle, my son was following me, and my daughter and her friend brought up the rear. We drove past a county sheriff, and he pulled the girls over. He told them they were speeding, but we were all in a row driving the same speed. I have a theory his probable cause amounted to two girls driving while cute. He never ticketed them.

That and the wood tick I pulled off my shirt. I've already paid my dues to them. I spent a couple days in the hospital and drank a couple of bottle of IV fluids back in the 1980s. I think I've served my sentence with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. At least he wasn't burrowed in when I found him.

I started putting this post together at 10:00 PM. I allowed myself one hour for Game of Thrones. We put everything away, but still have a skillet to wash. I spent two hours cleaning mushrooms and putting them away. That doesn't count the batch my daughter–in-law took home. One bowl I set aside and didn't freeze. Grandpa is having an omelet tomorrow morning with a touch of Swiss cheese and fresh morels.

I hope all of you had a great day too.


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Running out of supplies

There is no joy in Mudville, or Boise for that matter. I’m fast running out of everything I stored from 2014.

About a week ago the last of my precious morels got used up on a hamburger. It was a good burger, but can’t happen again until about June.

Today the last of my peaches disappeared at lunchtime. I ate peaches until they ran out my ears, then I dehydrated a bunch for winter. I’ve been throwing them in a pinch at a time with my pumpkin seeds for lunch. I’m trying the seeds as a remedy for prostate issues (for those who stop in sporadically). Today, all my dried peaches are gone.

There are still a few medlars on the tree. This odd little relative of apples and pears needs to almost rot before you can eat it. The correct term is blet. I’ve tried a dozen methods to get them right, and leaving them on the tree seems to work best. When the stars line up, they are wonderful. The process is the exact same process that astringent persimmons have to go through before they are edible.

There is rain predicted. I wonder if there will be enough to bring out the oyster mushrooms along the Boise River.



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Was Grandma right?

I write science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories. In my mind, they’re related, but are a bit different.

I write my novels, this blog, the occasional micro fiction, and am probably going to attempt a few short stories.

The blog covers a pretty broad spectrum of topics. Cooking, foraging, writing, reading, plus the writing cabin stories under the Muse category.

When I read, I like online articles, comic books, your blogs, and more. Novels I read are pretty broad based. I read the kind of stories I write, but I love a good detective story, courtroom drama, historical fiction, horror, westerns, biographies, and more.

So am I becoming a jack of all trades, and master of none? I am more than the blogger and writer you see here, but I share. Thus the stories about sourdough, gathering morels, growing peaches, going out with my wife.

I don’t think that makes me so different, but what about my writing? Am I covering too many bases? I understand I don’t have to change a thing, but would I be more successful if I focused more? What if I focused on novels, and blogging about novels?

Just kidding! I’m going to keep doing what I enjoy. One thing I refuse to let go of is my personal enjoyment of this. Chances of getting rich here are slim at best. Chances of having a good time are excellent. I’m having a great time.

My grandmother used to say I bounced around like a fart in a skillet. Maybe she was right, but I’m enjoying myself.


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