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Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm Back!

I thought I might post a few shots of my trip to Maine last week, but...I packed extra batteries and neglected to pack the camera! What an ejit!

It is too bad since, on the relatively clear days, the mountains were lovely and the wildflowers were beautiful. I saw wild turkeys gleaning an abandoned field. And, after the many thunderstorms, I saw fungi galore!

There were masses of mushrooms on the ground, growing on the sides of trees, everywhere! There were small white umbrellas that you expected to see fairies sitting under. Or, there were ones that looked as though they were oozing along the ground, spreading their dark brown irregular shape as some alien creature might do.

I would never recommend eating any of them, except, perhaps for the giant puffball (a.k.a Langermannia gigantea). Giant puffballs are okay to eat.

When the library was in the old building, back in the 1990's, our favorite patron, the late Joe Fedorchuk, brought in a giant puffball he had found near his home. It was huge--volleyball size! And, it had a strong fragrant earthy mushroom scent. I imagined it being cut into 1" slices and grilled. Joe wasn't that adventurous, despite the fact that I pulled a mushroom book off the shelf and showed him where it said puffballs were safe! If you've never seen one, there are photos and information here. Make sure you read up on how to tell if you've got a real puffball and not some poisonous mushroom impostor.

If you'd like to identify some of the fungi growing around Windham, borrow one of our guides such as A Field Guide to Mushrooms, North America by Kent McKnight [579.6 MCK], or spend time in our reference section looking through the 900+ pages of The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms [R 579.6 NAT].

Then, take yourself down to the supermarket and purchase some fresh mushrooms, which you know will be safe! Nicola Hill's The Mushroom Cookbook: More Than Sixty Easy, Imaginative Recipes [641.658 HIL] will start on the road to mushroom heaven!

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