Friday, May 11, 2012

Of Mushrooms and Asparagus

Janet had written about chanterelle mushrooms, which I had not encountered yet.  Here is a picture of them. I am hoping that she will write more about them and where she finds them, send a photograph, etc. so that I can see what they really look like "in the wild". I do not know if I have seen these anywhere before, but probably have.
And then there's the Puffball. I should really learn the correct name. I just know we loved stomping on them once they dry up, to see the "smoke" come out! I have heard that when you get them fresh and young they are perfectly wonderful sliced and fried in olive oil with garlic. I truly plan on trying this next time I see one.
I am no expert on mushrooms, nor am I on any wild foods. Before I experiment with wild things I do so by talking to people who have tried them, reading articles or looking on the internet to learn as much as I can concerning them. At the same time, I really don't want these God-given treasures to go by,  having never at least tried them!

Hope you'll experiment too. Has anyone been picking wild asparagus yet? I know of only three or four stalks here on Darling Hill and I haven't walked up to see if they're ready. These I always eat raw, as they're too tempting to carry ALL the way down to the house...just to cook a few stalks!

We are expecting company today. My friend, Dottie, just might be up to going out on a walk with me & Mom to look for morels in a little patch I know about here on the Hill (that patch is a secret, sorry, I can't divulge!).  Have a wonderful day and thanks so much for stopping by. Don't forget to leave a comment and give us some of your experiences on what you're picking and eating these Spring days!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Meek and Lowly Bluets

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3

As we walked home from Mom's yesterday, I started spying the clusters of bluets that are forming on the lawn of my brother's cabin. They are not very tall yet and the groupings are quite small, but there they are, poking their little blue and white faces to the sky! These are not a showy flower, nor do many people think to cut them for use in vases, but I have always loved their daintiness and cut them to put in my tiny vessels to have near the bathroom sink or at the post office window. They brighten their little corner. These little flowers just seemed to fit perfectly with the passage I was reading from this morning. Any of us who know the Lord Jesus Christ personally know that this is speaking to the believer and the way that we are to walk through life toward those who are not Christians and also within the church. The whole chapter is full of God's wonderful teaching on unity and the purpose of and proper use of the gifts that He has given to each of us.

This "meek" little flower fits in quite nicely to illustrate the walk described above. The beautiful clusters are made us of hundreds of individual flowers, all standing and blooming together. Their vocation is to bloom and grow where they are planted. This lowly little fellows are always at risk of being trod upon but are amazingly resilient and seem to stand right back up and forbear the storms that are rained down upon them. Through it all they show forth the glory of the Creator in their sunny, blushing faces.

We pass by hundreds of objects a day that show forth our God's splendor. I grew up with a mother who was always noticing these things. She still does. Often she will say, "If we had a magnifying glass and looked at that dandelion (or any flower) we would be amazed at the beautiful details that makes it!" I remember the first time she showed me the "spit bug" (that's what I call it). She took hold of the spittle that had formed on the stem of goatsbeard or queen Anne's lace, spread it out between her fingers, and there was the little green spittle bug. He forms the foaming liquid to protect himself - to be honest I don't know why else, perhaps to lay eggs, I'm not really sure. I know one thing, wherever there is spittle there will be a green bug inside! There's an object lesson there, somewhere.

There is a verse in I Timothy 6:17 that reads, "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate..."

For some reason the world just seems to get busier every day. Each of us only has so much time. If you're like me, I often think that I don't have time to slow down (though, if I would just slow down once in a while it may seem that I actually have more time). I'm thankful for the days that we can just take it slow and deliberately notice the glorious "lowly" things around us that the Lord has put there for us to enjoy. We are indeed RICH!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More on Violets

Violet Syrup! It's pretty and delicious!
Initially it took on this slight blue hue as it steeped, but lost much of its color by the time the 24 hours was over. I was disappointed, but when I went to strain it and add the juice of 1/2 lemon, the chemical reaction brought on this beautiful pink! I added the sugar and stirred & simmered for 10 minutes (once sugar is dissolved you only have to stir occasionally) and it became a true syrup. The taste is mild and nice. Violets (Heartsease) have analgesic and antiseptic properties. It is also an expectorant, so this can be used as a cough syrup.
Others I have read say that they have used it to dip pancakes in and to pour over shaved ice. It was a fun experiment. The recipe (found in Aunt Jan's Wild Corner, to left) made approximately 10 ounces. I plan on making more and keeping it (as long as the violets last) to use in place of that nasty "tussin" Syd uses for his sinuses. I'll keep people posted as to how it's working.

I also read that a cloth soaked in the "tea" of violets and placed on the back of the neck relieves headaches. I have not tried this yet.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Darling Hill!

I hate disclaimers, but remember, "try these recipes at your own risk". I read of a blogger who is facing charges for naming the diet plan that helped his diabetes. How ludicrous! It's the day and age we live in, sadly.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Forcing Blooms

The rains are coming gently down and it sounds so beautiful. We'd been through a dry spell in recent past and then had many days of rain in a row but have just enjoyed three consecutive sunny ones. Some of you know that I work in small post offices throughout the area. The post office is one of the places that one will hear the most complaints about the weather! Saturday the talk was, "well, we're supposed to have about three really nice days...then MORE RAIN!" To that I said, "good, we need rain about every three days; and isn't it nice that we got that steady several days of it last week?" It is true, isn't it? We really enjoyed these three days of sun and warmth. Now it is, evidently, time for more watering. I am sorry, for those of you who are reading this from parts of the West and places that are in drought. I do not know what it is like to suffer with those kind of conditions and I do try to remember to pray for rain out there.

The apple blossoms are forming. Some early trees are in full bloom. Now, between the bees pollinating and the Lord sending the rain, we hope to have another bumper crop of apples. The trees in this area were just laden last Fall! The other day I cut some of the small branches and crushed the ends, placing them in warm water to force their blooms. These dainty blossoms are just so beautiful inside the house, it's like bringing the outdoors in. Warm water tricks them into thinking that it is time to open, so they do! Of course, these will never bring forth the fruit, for which they were intended, without the work of God's hand in pollinating and maturing.

Aren't you glad that God does not force His believing children into premature bloom? He uses His Word, pastors and teachers, and the Holy Sprit to open our hearts and eyes to truth so that we can bloom, grow and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit.

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." II Cor. 3:18

I wanted to let you know that I started my violet syrup last night. When I went to drop off bread for our friend, Evelyn, I noticed LOTS of violet blossoms in one corner of her garden. I took a baggie and popped off about a cupful of heads, brought them home and got them steeping in a cup of water. I'll let you know how it comes out.
the "tea" gives off a beautiful blue hue
Thanks for stopping in. I hope that you enjoy your day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Please Eat the Violets

We had such a great weekend and Lord's Day. Syd and I got some things done around the house, took a walk and later picked fiddleheads to have for dinner. We'll have another mess of them tonight. At noon I dropped our friend, Evelyn, up at Mom's for them to have an afternoon visit, which they really did enjoy. I made us all a lunch then left them to "puzzle" and chat for a few hours. After these visits, I ask them what they talked about and they just say, "oh, everything". It is so nice to have two ladies who are almost the same age and both from the same hometown be able to get together and reminisce.

Yesterday after church we had a nice picnic beside the brook which runs behind the Parsonage. The children swung (or perhaps they "swang"), many of us played horseshoes or just sat around and talked and ate hot dogs and pizza. The brook babbled out beautiful background music (say that 10 times, fast!) and we were even treated to a nice concert by Cliff and Hannah, playing a couple of songs that they will do at their violin recital this weekend.

Violet - or "Heartsease"
It's a sunny, Spring day with temperatures possibly up toward 70, they say. As you can see, Aunt Janet had a suggestion in today's "Aunt Jan's Wild Corner", of making violet syrup. I did look up a recipe for the syrup, which I included in her corner today. Below are a few more simple ideas to try with violets.
Remember, try these suggestions at your own risk. I read MANY blogs and articles in preparation for this, both today and in the past, and there are almost no dangers of eating violets; a suggestion was made to start with a small amount of the flower heads on a salad (which I've done, mmm!), to be sure there is no allergic reaction. Do not use yellow violets (these grow in clusters and are in violet family, found mostly in the woods), but use the common white, purple or lavender ones which grow profusely at this time of year. Don't pick them from places that may have been treated with chemicals or lawn fertilizers either, of course. Do not eat African violets (house plants).

Violet Honey:  2 C violet flowers. Place in a blender with 1 C raw honey (for those of you whose children, less than one year old, you can use pasteurized) and the juice of one fresh lemon. Blend well. Store in a glass jar in freezer. Use as a spread on crackers or toast.

Violet Vinegar: Stuff as many violet flowers as possible into a pint jar. Cover with white wine vinegar; top with lid and allow to steep for one month in the refrigerator, shaking daily. Strain and refrigerate, for use in dressings or over cooked greens.

Violet Ice Cubes: Simply place a violet blossom in each segment of the ice cube tray and fill with water. It's such a beautiful addition to a cool glass of lemonade!

I hope you have an adventuresome day. Thanks for stopping in. Next time I hope to have some of these pretty ice cubes that we can drop into lemonade sweetened with violet-syrup!