KW Homestead

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Tag: mushrooms (page 1 of 2)

Dehydrating Mushrooms and Apples

We just dehydrated our first batch of mushrooms and apples.

The shiitake mushroom logs won’t fruit in the colder weather, so now is the time to save them for winter soups and stir frys.

The apples were beginning to spoil rather quickly, so we thought that dehydrating them for fruit-leather-like snacks would be fun.


Some of the apple are going bad…

The apples and the mushrooms were sliced about 1/4 inch thick or smaller and laid out on the dehydrator trays. The apples were soaked in a Vitamin C water solution to lock in the nutrients that are often lost during dehydrating and to keep them from turning brown too quickly. They were dehydrated for about 14 hours at 135 degrees.


Soaking apple slices.

The combined smell of the dehydrating apples and mushrooms was a bit funky, but the finished product looks great. I can’t wait to try the mushrooms this winter!


Ready to go in the dehydrator!


A Shiittake Update!

After a very cold winter and some log negligence on my part, I was worried that the many shiitake mushrooms logs that we inoculated last March would not fruit this year. But I was wrong!

Last week I soaked them again to be sure to kick start them into spring, and stacked them, log cabin style, so that I could keep watering them periodically with the hose. This week, the logs have started to fruit!

None of the mushrooms are quite ripe for the picking yet, but I will be checking them everyday and I imagine that in a few days we will have our first shiitake mushroom meal! Stay tuned for more!


Our “log cabin” stacking technique.












Farm Food Friday: Sausage Breakfast Casserole

This recipe is one of Jason’s favorites, and he insists on calling it “eggs” even though eggs are the least of its important ingredients. Oh, boys. :)

It is a variation on my Aunt Jill’s recipe. Here it is (a double batch, of course):

In a pot, cook 2 cups of dried grits (follow the directions on the bag to see how much water you need). Be sure to add salt to the water!

In a large pan, cook 1 or 2 pounds (it’s really up to you, meat-eaters) of Neese’s sausage. Once the sausage is nearly cooked, add a large onion (diced) to the pan. Also add 2 diced peppers.

Then add a lot of sliced mushrooms to the pan. Be sure to add salt, pepper, basil, and oregano (or whatever your favorite spices are).

When all this is done and the grits are also cooked, mix these ingredients and the grits together in a large mixing bowl.

Add 12 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup of butter, and 2/3 cups of milk to the warm mix. Stir all of this in thoroughly so that everything melts and blends together.

This is when I also add more of my spices: extra salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and some cayenne peppers for spice! Add more than you think of all of your spices (except maybe the cayenne)!

Beat 6 eggs well, and once the large, hot mixture cools down a bit, stir in the eggs. Be sure that the mix is not so hot that it cooks the eggs!

Butter your casserole dish(es) and pour in the mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for at least 45 minutes but for less than 1 hour. Enjoy!

P.S. This recipe is so hearty that we usually eat it for dinner. But it’s also so easy to warm up for any quick meal, like breakfast. Just never freeze it! We tried that once and the texture was horrible!!!


A Mushroom Log Update

Since inoculating our shiitake mushroom logs and watering them and watching them for the first few months, we’ve been pretty much ignoring those things, waiting for them to fruit.

A few months ago, we saw one mushroom rearing its head, but it never got very big and no more appeared after that. We knew that it was possible that the logs would not fruit in the fall, instead waiting for the spring thaw to begin coming out, but it was still disappointing nonetheless.

I just checked on them today while I was getting firewood, and still they look the same. Now, in the 20 degree weather, is certainly not a time they would choose to come out, but I was still curious to look!


Mushrooms logs, looking the same as ever.

A few months ago we noticed that a few of the logs were growing a lichen on their bark, which could mean that the shiitake spores couldn’t/didn’t act fast enough inside the log to take it over before the lichen gained control. These logs might not fruit for us, and we didn’t want them the spread the lichen to any of the other logs, so we moved them a little but away from the bunch.We’ll see what they do!


Taken over by lichens!

As we get closer to spring, and when we get some warmer days here, I plan to hose them down a good bit to make sure the spores inside don’t totally dry out. Since we’re new at this, I’m afraid that the spores that are growing inside the logs might have already dried out too much, killing them. This could just be my worry talking, but we’ll find out in a few months, I suppose! Hopefully once the spring thaw begins, we’ll have more shiitake than we know what to do with! Eating the wild Lion’s Mane mushrooms got us so excited, and we can’t wait for some more mushrooms!



Managing Woodlands, Woodlots, and Forests for Fun and Profit

The millions of acres of American Woodlands have, for the last 2 centuries, been mined not managed. They have been stripped, clearcut, set on fire, and replanted with short rotation mono-crops to the point that many of our mature woodlands and forests bear little resemblance to healthy and natural woodland communities.This has been done in the name of short term profits, and while the logging companies and sawmills made-out great, more often than not landowners received a stumpage price way too low, and were left with a degraded and less valuable piece of forest in the aftermath.

clear cut timber permacultre

clear-cutting forests is rarely the best form of timber management

It doesn’t have to be this way though. Forests can be sustainably managed and designed to produce income for generations. With proper thinning, forest planning, tree selection, and management techniques, forest owners can ensure that their woodlot is not just a commodity to be firesold to save the farm, but a profitable ecosystem that increases in value over time, and can be passed on to future generations.

To do this e will have to go into these abused forests and asses the damage that countless “highgrading” cuts (a logging practice where all trees above a certain diameter are harvested, leaving the worst adapted and least valuable species standing) have left only stunted, poorly composed timber stands. Sometimes we may need to replant, or perform shelterewood and seed tree cuts to ensure proper forest regeneration, but often some thinning of poor quality trees, which can release trees of higher quality to achieve their full potential, combined with timber best practices like crop tree management, silvopasture, and coppice regeneration can bring degraded and abused forests back into sustainable productivity and profitability.


These thinnings wont always be of high enough value for commercial loggers, but this material does not need to be wasted. In fact,it can be extremely profitable. These crooked, small diameter and low value logs can be used for mushroom production on logs, firewood,craft wood, or even be sawed to length on portable bandsaw mills. Other uses can include fence posts,biochar prodcution, hugelkulture, and round timber construction.


small diameter oak logs inoculated with shiitake mushrooms!

This is where the small woodlot managers have an advantage. It’s one thing to find uses for 2-10 acres of low value wood, but quite another when you are dealing with 1000’s of acres. Smaller forest owners, particularly those who live on the wooded acreage that they are managing, also have the advantage of constant contact and correction. They walk their property every week, sometimes every day and can notice things like diseased, dying and dead trees, and can quickly implement a strategy to deal with them. They can also easily diversify into many avenues of production. It’s very feasible for someone to combine a small shiitake mushroom operation on logs , a coppice grove for crafts, cut a few cords of firewood for home heating, put in a small food forest with edible tree and cane fruits, go hunting a few times a year for turkey, squirrel and deer, all while increasing the value of their timber, property and life.

timber management cruise nc

forest owners and managers should observe and interact with their woods in order to come up with goals, and management strategies

This is the key to timber management, the interaction between owner and forest. There cannot be a prescription for management until an owner knows what he/she want’s to achieve with their woodlot. After that, a timber inventory, and then a timber management plan can be created and implemented. From there, it transitions to the long and enjoyable phase of observations and interactions, all tailored to the goals laid out in the beginning. This can lead to many years of productivity, profitability, and sustainability, all from a woodlot that was worth only a fraction of it’s value, but with proper timber management, can be passed down for generations as it wealth accumulates.

cleaning a lion’s mane mushroom

and yet another post about the amazing lion’s mane mushroom!

check out this video to learn more about how to prepare your mushroom for dinner!


Lobster of the Woods: Cooking Lion’s Mane Mushroom

After researching our lion’s mane mushroom find, Emma and I felt safe enough to harvest the mushrooms and eat them. But what is the best way to cook and enjoy a lion’s mane? Well it seems that the internet agrees that frying them in butter until browned is the best way to experience their delicate texture, and lobster like flavor. Sounds good to us!

cooking lion's mane mushrooms

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms are both a delicacy and a medicinal powerhouse

After cutting the mushrooms off close to the bark of the standing dead tree, we trimmed off some of the dirtier pieces, and shook off any remaining debris. We then sliced the mushrooms and started heating up some butter on the stove.

sliced lion's mane

Sliced Lion’s Mane, ready to be fried in butter and garlic

To the melted butter we added a few cloves of chopped garlic to infuse a little more flavor into the dish. Once the butter was nice and hot, in went the sliced mushrooms.

lion's mane cooking

The hairs crisp up, while the mushroom absorbs the butter! Yum!

We gave them a good fry on each side, and because the mushrooms are so absorbent and soaked up so much of the butter, we needed to add more butter to the pan.

sauteed lion's mane mushrooms

Nice and browned, these lion’s mane mushrooms have a delicate seafoody flavor and amazing texture.

After about 3-5 minutes, it was time for the first taste test! Delicious! The lobster/scallop flavor was not as intense as I expected, but rather a subtle and interesting note. We figured out that the mushrooms had absorbed a little too much butter, and so we pressed some out of them with paper towels. This made a big difference and allowed us to experience more of the unique texture of the lion’s mane. It’s hard to explain, but the contrasts between the hairs, and the almost rubbery texture of the inside makes for an amazing culinary experience.

lion'smane mushroom how to cook

This batch was a little over. The hairs were very crisp, but the delicate flavor was overwhelmed.

We fried the mushrooms in batches, and our last batch was a little over done. Lesson learned, don’t overcook these mushrooms. The flavors and textures are subtle and delicate. Nothing more is needed than a quick saute, and a pinch of salt. Well, maybe a glass of wine too.




discovering lion’s mane mushrooms in our woods: a video

as jason mentioned in his post yesterday, we’ve discovered two lion’s mane mushrooms growing wild in our woods, on a dead oak tree, overlooking the large pond and the gully.

here is the video that we filmed shortly after discovering this amazing find!

can’t wait to eat them! yum!


A Great Woodland Surprise! The Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Today in the woods, while walking the dog, emma and I stumbled across something great. It was there, perched on the side of a dying tree in our woods, 2 lion’s mane mushrooms in all their glory. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus), was one the mushrooms we considered when we began our mushroom growing operation. Although we ended up deciding on growing shitake mushrooms on logs, the legendary buttery textured and lobster flavored lion’s mane was one we dearly wanted to try.

wild lion's mane mushroom

Lion’s mane mushroom growing on a standing dead tree in the wild

So, you can imagine or delight when emma saw these two white orbs growing out of the side of a tree. Our shitake logs are not yet fruiting and we’ve been itching to eat some mushrooms. We recognized the mushrooms as lion’s mane, but when it comes to mushrooms, you can never be too careful. We headed back t the house, and after consulting both the internet and a mushroom field guide. We learned that lion’s mane mushroom have no look-a-likes, and we were able to confirm these wonderful delicacy as safe and edible. This is very important if you ever consider foraging for mushrooms, the need to be 100 % certain before eating any wild mushroom.

lion's mane mushroom foraging

the lion’s mane mushroom is very distinctive and doesn’t have any look-a-likes


We will be headed back out tomorrow to harvest these mushrooms, and will most likely saute them in butter with garlic, the method that seems to bring out their rich flavor the best. Stay tuned for updates, and keep your eyes peeled when you are out and about for edible delicacies!


a day in the homestead life: her day

i just realized that i haven’t yet written a post detailing a typical day in our life from my perspective. so, i’ve decided to do just that! this is certainly a typical spring day, with longer daylight hours and better weather for planting and outdoor chores.

so, here is my typical day in our homestead life:

5:40 am

  • roll out of bed and put on my coveralls. i take the dogs out to pee and open the chicken house and feed the chickens their first of two daily meals. also, since we’ve gotten the geese, i’ve been letting them out of their nighttime enclosure and into their larger pen. they immediately head for the kiddie pool and start drinking and splashing about.
  • luckily, during this time of year the sun is already on the rise (still not sunrise, though) so all of my morning chores are easier and more fun to complete!
  • i load up the car, complete with the chicken bucket that i use to collect my students’ lunch leftovers for feeding to the chickens, my lunch, and my breakfast (which i eat during the 1 hour commute to work).

6:15-7:15 am

  • this is my drive-to-work time, which usually consists of listening to the radio and munching on my breakfast, i would rather be recording podcasts or writing songs, but i still have to get organized for doing things like that.
  • luckily it is easy to enjoy the car ride to work because i slowly get my brain geared up for working with kids and i get to enjoy the lovely country views (which in spring are filled with lots of horses, donkeys, goats, chickens, and flowers!).

3:00 pm

  • i get off of work and begin the drive home, sometimes later than 3:00.

4:00 pm

  • once i get home i let both dogs out, and often have to clean up after bridey who has probably peed inside, pooped inside, or both. i unload the car and start on the everyday afternoon farm/outside chores.

these everyday chores are:

  • dump and refill the “goose pond,” which is their beloved kiddie pool, and their water. i also feed the geese their afternoon grain.
  • feed the chickens the leftover scraps from my students’ lunch and their afternoon grain, refill their water, and collect eggs. collecting eggs can either be simple or not, depending on the mood of rex, our standard rooster, and whether or not he feels territorial and pushy. the hens also sometimes lay eggs under the house (perhaps they’ve wised up and realized that i take their eggs that end up in the nest boxes) and so i have to fish/roll those out with a metal hook.
  • feed the dogs their afternoon/evening meal and feed the cat.
  • wash the eggs, dry them, and put them in the fridge for storage. lately i’ve been washing goose eggs too, which are so amazing!
bolt, hanging out with me during afternoon chore time!

bolt, hanging out with me during afternoon chore time!

5:00 pm

sometimes my daily afternoon chores are completed by 5:00, sometimes not. once they are complete, i move on to other farm chores which don’t necessarily need to happen every day. these other tasks are often a little more creative and less routine. some of these, which i happened to do yesterday and today, are:

  • water our new seedlings that are growing in trays
  • water the flowers i’ve planted in pots, and the new mums that jason brought home from work the other day!
  • stake cages around our newly planted fruit trees and bushes
  • water our fruit trees/bushes
  • tie white tagging tape around the tops of each cage so we can see where not to step (the cages are really hard to see since the metal is so thin and dark)
  • jason and i moved the goose pen yesterday–our plan is to move them to fresh pasture every 2 days
  • i also finally figured out how to plug the holes (where the spill drain used to be) at the top of my 2 cast iron/enamel tubs for soaking my mushroom logs. i used circular cuttings from an old mahogany door and layers of a thin, deflated, old tire. i placed the tire materials over the hole and hammered the wooden plugs into the hole. this pushed both rubber and wood partially into the hole, filling in all gaps and making a nearly-watertight barrier.
  • after determining that my plugs worked yesterday, today i went about soaking 1/4 of my logs, 7 in each tub (batch 1–the batch labeled with orange marking tape). they will soak overnight and i’ll lean them back up against the corn crib tomorrow!
two bathtubs filled with soaking mushroom logs!

two bathtubs filled with soaking mushroom logs!


today's batch for soaking was the "orange batch." labeled with flagging tape so i can keep straight the info about when logs  was soaked

today’s batch for soaking was the “orange batch,” labeled with flagging tape so i can keep straight the info about when logs were soaked.

my rigged plug--working well!

my rigged plug–working well!

in addition to these chores, jason spent yesterday digging his hand-dug pond out even more, planting more fruit bushes, watering plants and the seeded garden beds, and beginning to build our newest bed: a raised hugelkulture bed downhill from our others.

8:30 pm

  • sometime around dark we head inside, eat dinner, and try to rest a little.

bedtime and pre-bedtime (anywhere from 10:00 pm to 12:00 am)

  • one of us always writes a post in the evenings (monday–friday)
  • we take the dogs back out to pee
  • lock up the chicken house
  • close the geese into their smaller, fenced enclosure

and that is a general idea of what we do in this spring season to keep the homestead running and fruitful. some days we do more outdoor, farm-related chores, and other days we do less. it just depends, really, on our mood and the homestead necessities!


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