Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hazel Jane!

October 29th, 2009 is the day to welcome little Hazel Jane Ingebretsen to the world!

She came quickly early on a rainy Seattle morning.

Congratulations Andra, Robby, George, and Oliver!
Andra, you are amazing!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sister Fest 2009

I've just returned from Sister Fest 2009, aka Apple Fest 2009.

I spent 6 days visiting my two sisters Briana and Candice in Salt Lake City.
It was great to see Salt Lake again, I really like that city, and I loved seeing their cute new house they are renting together.

The main goal of our weekend was to collect free apples, juice them, dry them, sauce, them, and eat them. I think we did well.

We harvested about 19 bags of apples of different varieties (gala/braeburn type, red delicious, golden delicious...) and we also harvested about 4 bags of walnuts while we were at it.

Salt Lake City and Provo, UT are goldmines of urban harvest. I loved that part of living there, and it makes visits very I was with my sisters!

Salt Lake City and Provo, UT are also goldmines of church history, obviously. It's funny to think I lived there for 5 years and never cared much about all the historical buildings, church history museums, family history libraries, and temples. During this trip to Salt Lake City, it worked out to go to the Salt Lake City Temple with my old friend Sara. We both had never been to that temple before.

A little history...
Construction was started in 1853 by the small group of distressed saints that had recently migrated from the East Coast by wagon and hand cart. They had nearly nothing, and the building was slow and difficult. Construction was finished in 1893. It's still the largest of the 130+ LDS temples around the world, and has almost all of the original decorations (hand carved wood railings and baseboards, stained glass, paintings, doorknobs, etc). Its a very historic building; we had a lot of fun exploring around.

Beside spending time with my sisters, it was wonderful to see old friends! You have no idea how much I miss living near good friends, being able to walk to friends' houses, have them over for dinner, babysitting with them...

We planned a Fall pot luck and invited those good friends I have been missing.

On the last snowed!

And then we picked rose hips for rose hip syrup.

It was fun packing to see my sisters. I brought all my cutest things:


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I found my first Matsutake today!
I was soaking wet from rain, but I found one!

Tricholoma magnivelare, matsutake, are stocky/squat, white mushrooms with a little brown or grey fibrils on their cap. They have white spores, a cottony veil, and their stipe/stem comes to a pointed at the bottom. Additionally, they have a very unique smell. They smell spicy like radishes, or as David Aurora famously said many years ago: "Red hots and dirty socks."
The best way to eat matsutake is to float paper thin slices on top of piping hot broth soup....

So, I did.

Monday, October 12, 2009

witch shoes!

I got some witch shoes!
I'm gathering pieces for my Halloween costume.
I'm going for "traditional witch."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

mushroom trip two

I found dozens of little chanterelles(the funnel chanterelle, Craterellus tubaeformis) and Angel Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens).
The chanterelles are good for eating, but the angel wings are not...though they are beautiful.

Oh, and we also found this odd thing!

Monday, October 5, 2009


One of my favorite Fall/Holiday treats is roasted chestnuts.

I have only known about them for two or three years-which is funny considering the Christmas song.
**I'll have you know...there is a fungus behind the cultural loss of "chestnuts roasting on an open fire." About a hundred years ago, a beautiful tree called the American Chestnut was common on the East Coast both in forests and suburban areas. The trees bountifully produced free, tasty treats for wildlife and people alike. So long as you could extract the fat nuts from their needle-sharp, spiked hulls. Chestnuts were so common-and free-they became a winter food source for many homeless. Hence, the lyric "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" in reference to signs of winter and Christmas.
It became popular to buy imported chestnuts from Asia, and when the Chinese Chestnut arrived, so did a fungus. Cryphonectria parasitica, the fungus associated with the Chinese Chestnut-but not harmful to it-began to infect the vulnerable American Chestnut, and with drastic effects :(
It killed mature American Chestnut trees and prevented seedling growth.

A month ago I discovered a European Chestnut, or Sweet Chestnut, (Castanea sativa) tree right outside Johnson Hall (the building where I work at UW). I hadn't noticed it last year because I didn't use that entrance/exit.
Everyday, on my way to and from work (and for breaks!) I hunt for chestnuts that have fallen from the tree. Their thick, green hulls are so spiky-sharp, but I now have a system of opening them with my feet/shoes. Sometimes the nuts fall right out of their hulls on the tree and are loose in the leaves below.
I get about 20 chestnuts every day.
I am working hard to beat the squirrels to them! They are out there night and day, but I have an advantage over them: shoes and opposable thumbs! ha!

Here is some info on the differences between the edible chestnut (Castanea sativa) and the inedible horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum):

the nut:
Though the two both have circular scars on the bottom, the edible chestnut has a "tuft" from the stigma and styles of the flower, the inedible horse chestnut is smooth on top.

the green hull:
the green hull of the edible chestnut is densely covered with needle-sharp points, the inedible horse chestnut is loosely covered with sloping points.

the leaves:
The leaves of the two trees are very different, though they look superficially similar. They both have dentate (toothed) margins (edges), but the way the leaf attaches to the stem is very different. The inedible horse chestnut (above photo) has a palmate leaf of 5-7 leaflets. The edible chestnut (below) has single leaves attached alternately to the stem.

the flowers:
The flowers of the edible chestnut are in pendulous groups called catkins (above photo) containing tiny, inconspicuous male flowers and small clusters close to the stem of female flowers that will grow into the chestnuts. The inedible horse chestnut has groups of erect, white, sweet smelling showy flowers.

Aside from that, the edible chestnut is less common while the horse chestnut is a common suburban tree.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

next frontier

The next frontier: Mushrooms dyes!
Or, extracting colors from mushrooms/fungi to dye natural fibers.

I borrowed a friend's dye book, and have been pouring over the lists and photos of good dying species. It's fun to learn what species to look out for. It's great, too, because some cool mushrooms you can't eat, you can dye with, such as
Cortinarius violaceus

or Suillus ochraceoroseus

or Hydnellum peckii

However, some delicious edibles are also great dye producers like Polyozellus multiplex, the black chanterelle.

Now I have to decide: should I eat it, or dye with it?
What do you think?!

I think I have found my next big hobby...

More posts soon!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

hand insurance

I need to insure my hands...I need hand insurance.
Everything I do relies on my hands and my "fine motor skills."
From writing, typing, scraping mildews, micropipetting, and working with small samples at work to sewing, knitting, drawing, gardening, cooking, canning, and blogging for fun.
Both my livelihood and my creative outlet rely on my hands.

I have a feeling I will be one of those old ladies with very knobby, well-used hands.

Hands, I would be lost without you!