Starting a New Project

 

FANTASTIC FUNGI: INTRODUCTION

Fantastic Fungi is an amazing Netflix documentary featuring Paul Stamets. In fact, it is the best documentary I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched it many times, already. As a result, it has become the start of my new project, mushrooms.
fantastic fungi
A picture of Paul Stamets holding an example of a fantastic fungus.
Paul Stamets is a former logger turned mycologist. He is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable people there is when it comes to fantastic fungi.

As much as I wanted to create a single facebook page about mushrooms, my new project, I decided to add this topic to several of my existing facebook pages, instead. That is because fantastic fungi do not fit into just one category. They fit into several. In fact, they dovetail with every single one of my past professional categories, continued passions and hobbies.

For example, there are many kinds of fantastic fungi that are used in cooking. Actually, their use here can have delicious consequences. Therefore fascinating fungi will be included in ‘Alison’s Exotic Healthy Food Kitchen‘.

In addition, there are mushrooms that have medicinal purposes. Thus, this topic will be included in ‘Natural Healing Resources by Alison‘.

Without fantastic fungi, the planet could not survive and neither could we. Of course, fantastic fungi will be included in ‘Survival Comes First‘.

Much to my delight, I realized I had an Indoor Gardening Facebook page that I could convert from Microgreens to Mushrooms, Mushroom Mama formerly Seed Mama. It will feature a variety of mushroom data.
fantastic fungi
The banner from the Facebook Mushroom Growers Group.
Even though I do not have a specific Facebook page where a crucial component of mushrooms fit, the worlds of science and consciousness, information will be included in some of the above mentioned Facebook pages.

WHERE TO BEGIN: RESEARCH

READ
In the past when I have begun a new project, much of my material has been inspired. From that initial spark, I will then research and study it in depth. But this project is unique. Because fantastic fungi can be poisonous, I have to start with research and guidance rather than experimentation at home.

Although I am not much of a reader, the purchase of a book or two might be a good idea. I have found two on Amazon that interest me.
fantastic-fungi
Two books available on Amazon about mushrooms.

WATCH

VIDEO AND STREAMING TV


The introduction to Fascinating Fungi, the video.

This is the video that lured me into the world of fantastic fungi. I don’t know where my journey will lead me or how long this project will last. But in this case, it requires a specific path due the the potential danger of engagement and consumption.

 

ONLINE CONNECTIONS
So far I have not found any groups or mentors for in person training. Therefore I have joined several facebook groups to help guide me.
1. Mushroom Growing For Beginners & Experts
2. Mushroom Identification
3. Medicinal Mushrooms

 

fantastic-fungi
A picture of a turkey tail mushroom from the Facebook group, Medicinal Mushrooms.

 

NETWORK IN PERSON
This step involves contacting people I know and talking about mushrooms with everyone I meet.
fantastic fungi
The header from the Facebook group, ‘Grow Mushrooms at Home’.

 

BUY A MUSHROOM GROWING KIT
Purchasing a kit is the safest And simplest way to begin growing mushrooms at home. Here are several to choose from. Just follow the directions to be on your way to growing mushrooms at home.
Fungi Ally
Northspore
Midwest Grow Kits

A video from Fungi Ally about growing mushrooms at home from a mushroom growing kit.

 

THE END OF THE BEGINNING
Here are a few things you will need to start you on your way to growing mushrooms at home:
1. a growing kit with the growing medium with the spores injected into it for the mushroom you desire
2. a large plastic tote to house the kit in
3. a mister/water sprayer
4. videos to follow along
5. reading material to learn more

 

Additional Blog Posts About This Topic
Continuing My New Project
My Past Professions, Present Passions and Possible Future Explorations Mirror the World of Mushrooms
Growing Mushrooms at Home
Reading Material About Mushrooms
Mushroom Growing Kits
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THE RIDGEWOOD EUROPEAN PORK STORE

ridgewood-european-pork-store
Butcher ‘rock star’ Jonel Picioane proudly poses in his Ridgewood European Pork Store for The Bushwick Daily. The is located in Ridgewood Queens since the 1930’s. This write up is for The Bushwick Daily.

INTRODUCTION

The Ridgewood European Pork Store transcends modern-day food. It is, in fact, an endangered species. It is located in what was originally an eastern European neighborhood. Amazingly, the store was born in the 1930s with very few changes in ownership and products.

ridgewpood-european-pork-store
The Ridgewood European Pork Store looking similar to the way it did when it first opened in the 1930s. Photo from Yelp.

ARTISAN FOOD

Technically homemade meat products like it had in 1930s US and Europe fill much of the store today. Artisan is the new name that has been given to this type of food. This term represents foods made in small batches, made often for freshness, and traditionally-prepared to taste as it originally did. Artisan is a new word for old-time goodness. Here is a definition for artisan food from Wikipedia
 

FOOD THAT TAKES US BACK IN TIME

There is an entire movement of Artisan Food. We crave food the way it used to taste, free of preservative for long shelf lives. We want it homemade with a focus on quality, not quantity, wrapped in butcher paper, not vacuum sealed plastic-wrapped. There was time when speed of preparation rather than taste was the priority. But things have changed. We want slow food. We want to go back in time.
 
 

FOOD TODAY WITH A TASTE FOR YESTERDAY

ridgewood-european-pork-store
Owner Jonel , the rockstar butcher, at work at his butcher shop. Photo from The Bushwick Daily.

CONCLUSIOIN

I haven’t had a chance to visit the European Pork Store yet. But it is on my list of things I want very much to do. Even though I am not much of a world traveler, I love to travel the world and its history within my own world.

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THE POOR MIDDLE CLASS NUTRITION CRISIS

 

Why This Post Is Called A Nutrition Crisis Rather Than A Food Crisis
The Poor Middle Class Nutrition crisis is due to the lack of healthy, nutritious, especially locally grown food. It is not as much about the availability of food itself. There are plenty of sources for cheap, empty calorie items. But access to affordable, healthy, local food is a the root of the Poor Middle Class Nutrition Crisis. The major food challenges for the Poor Middle Class are:
• having access to healthy food
• affording to eat healthy food
• eating enough nutritionally rich food
• staying healthy by being able to eat healthfully

Nutrition Crisis
Food Tank Suggests Community Gardens To Solve Health Issues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenges & Solutions to the Poor Middle Class Nutrition Crisis
The following tools for accessing food have both pros and cons. The one thing they have in common is the added expense of time. Some involve monetary cost. Others are financially free. There is always a trade-off. This can also require a significant adjustment in lifestyle if one is used to supermarket shopping for quick and easy access. Here are some suggested alternatives that are mainstream or government sponsored:

• Buy In Bulk

• Use Store & Brand Coupons

• Barter & Exchange Products

• Get WIC & Farmers Market Coupons

• Go To Food Pantries

• Collect Food Stamps

 

Here are Alternative Lifestyle Means of Obtaining Food

• Grow Your Own from seeds and food scraps-Here is a post about starting a community garden.

nutrition crisis
10 Steps To Starting a Community Garden from the American Community Garden Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Go Dumpster Diving-This food was retrieved from dumpster diving

nutrition crisis
My Facebook Page, Resources for The Middle Class Poor

• Foraging for Food is making use of nature’s bounty, free for the taking, with gratitude. Be sure you are a pro or are foraging with a pro. You want to pick healthy not deadly items.

• Farm your own chickens for eggs, cows for milk and goats for milk

• Make Your Own Essentials and Seasonal Treats with fermentation, canning and other wholesome preserving techniques.Here is a great alternative. It is the Afro Jam story. I just love their graphics.

nutrition crisis
A Detroit Urban Farm Preserves Black History In Jam Form by Martina Guzman

• Kill Your Own Food-This is a controversial but reasonable alternative. It is probably the cleanest source of animal protein, fish and fowl. It certainly is much harder to obtain than at the supermarket. But you know exactly where it comes from. It also brings us much closer to nature in relationship with the animal that has died for us to survive.

nutrition crisis
Why We Should All Be Ethical Carnivores Now by Louise Gray from Slow Food USA

The Issue of Hunger
In addition to the existence of a nutrition crisis, there are people who go hungry in this country. Each of these crises is unique. Here is a short list about hunger and health:
• hunger is the result of a lack of food
• health is the result of a lack of healthy food
• accessibility and availability are issues
• poverty and homelessness can be a contributing factor
• food waste is a very serious contributor to food insecurity

nutritional crisis
Food Insecurity and Food Waste Are Opposite Sides of the Same Coin from The John Oliver Show

 

 

 

 

Sources & Resources
10 Steps to Starting A Community GardenUPDATE: Man Who Broke Into Restaurant, Ate Food, Urinated in Garbage Can Won’t Face Charges

Trump: 43 million Americans on food stamps By Nadia Pflaum from www.politifact.com

Why we should all be ethical carnivours now

The Slow Food Movement

Slow Food Manifesto

Joy Bilee Farmg

The Homestead Hippie

Homesteading on Facebook

Cambridge Sustainable Food

Grow Your Own Food from Food Scraps

A Detroit Urban Farm Preserves Black History In Jam

Food Waste In America According to the John Oliver Show

Millenials Fuel UK Food Waste Mountain

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Cholos Try Vegan Food

‘Cholos Try Vegan Food’ is a video that proves an important point. If something tastes good, advertising for it does not have to be in good taste. It can still be great, creative promotional material. This piece is actually part of a new advertising campaign targeting the Latino market.

For those who do not know what a ‘cholo’ is, this is the Urban Dictionary meaning, “A cholo is term implying a Hispanic male that typically dresses in chinos (khahki pants), a wifebeater sleeveless teeshirt or a flannel shirt with only the top buttoned, a hairnet, or with a bandana around the forehead, usually halfway down over the eyes. Cholos often have black ink tattoos, commonly involving Catholic imagery, or calligraphy messages or family names.”

For those who do not know what vegan food is, let me explain briefly.

Cholos Eat Vegan Food
Cholos Eat Vegan Food

Alison D. Gilbert shared We are mitú 's 'Cholos Try Vegan Food' a video of them trying two of my favorite foods and…

Posted by Ali's Kombucha Kitchen on Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A review of the video on Klaq.com

The video on facebook

Vimeo version of Kale Chips & Kombucha.

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The Very Versatile Vegetable Pear

A Facebook Mystery Q&A

This blog post, The Very Versatile Vegetable Pear, started as a facebook mystery Q&A. A photograph was held up on her facebook page by a friend, Dawn Leahy, who asked, ‘Could somebody please tell me what this fruit is’?

The Very Versatile Vegetable Pear
The Very Versatile Vegetable Pear
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The Facebook Conversation

Well that started a facebook conversation about what this green produce item was. Guesses and suggestions came in from all around the globe. Recipes also flooded in. The irony was that they were for both fruit and vegetable dishes. Talk about it being versatile. I thought it might be a papaya. It did have a resemblance.

The Golden, Passionate Papaya
The Golden, Passionate Papaya

The outsides could be deceptive as they do have a resemblance. But once cut open, there is no mistaking one from the other. In addition, the versatility of the vegetable pear surpases the papaya and many other types of produce. The vegetable pear is known as chayote in Latin America, sayote in the Philippines, choko in Australia and chu chu, elsewhere. It is in the gourd family along with melons and squash. It can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, fried with butter and garlic as well as disguised as apples for apple desserts. These are just a few comments and recipes suggested by facebook and other friends, Myraflor Quinton Sario Atkinson, Marcus Sean Atkinson, Dominique Neuhofer, Nedvon Tree, Allado Janice Lara Nunes and Aaron Aveiro.

The Chayote or Vegetable Pear
The Chayote or Vegetable Pear

History and Nutritional Value of The Vegetable Pear

Thanks to Aaron Aveiro, owner of Aladay Organic Farm, a fact sheet from Google and other resources, I learned about the amazing nutritional value of The Very Versatile Vegetable Pear as well as other fascinating facts.”I found out, too, that these Mexican fruits, which the Aztecs called chayotli, are now widely grown in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. They are known as christophine or mirliton to Caribbeans, chocho to Madeirans, pipinella to Italians, and pipinola to Hawaiians. (The plant’s scientific name is Sechium edule, but most North Americans call them “vegetable pears.”)1

Nutritional Fact Sheet from Google.
Nutritional Fact Sheet from Google.

In Conclusion

I would like to end this blog post with what is the most exciting discovery about The Versatile Vegetable Pear. Due to its intrinsically bland flavor, it is the idea substitute for higher carb fruits, like apples and can be ideal for mock apple pie and apple crisp. The vegetable pear will absorb the apple juice and make the most delicious dessert. So used as a vegetable or a fruit, this once mystery item is a fantastic, nutritional discovery.

Mock Apple Pie
Mock Apple Pie

Mock Apple Pie
Mock Apple Pie

Resource Material and Recipes

1. Growing Chayote

Chayote squash side dish

Fried chayote squash

Braised chicken and chayote

Chayote (mirliton) nutrition facts

How To Make A Mock Apple Pie

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Traditional Fermented Ginger Ale: Ginger Bug

Traditional fermented ginger ale is the only drink I make that is in a similar category to Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade. These two drinks are kind of cousins because they can both use the same fermenting agent, whey. But for ginger ale, a ‘ginger bug’ is the primary fermenting agent. Using whey in making ginger ale does make it ferment faster. But I prefer not to add it and let the ginger ale ‘slow brew’. In addition, for people who are sensitive to dairy or are vegan, whey needs to be avoided since it comes from dairy.

So we won’t be discussing whey today. Our focus will be on making a ‘ginger bug’. My first effort failed. So don’t get discouraged. I have used various recipes as my template for guidance. It is amazing how recipes can vary. That is because fermenting is as much an art as it is a science. There is no exclusive way to make this. The only one that matters is the one that works. And based on all kinds of environmental and other input, the same recipe may not work consistently.

Let’s start with the ginger itself. I only use fresh ginger. If it is organic, I just rinse it. If it is not organic, I peel it. Either way, the ginger should be nice and plump, not wrinkled or moldy. Ginger is available in ASian food stores, in health food markets and often in supermarkets.

There are two recipes that I used at the start. The first is from Wellnessmama.com calling for a small amount of ginger, sugar and water added daily.

The second is from Nourished Traditions and is fairly similar to the wellnessmama.com recipe.

I am not sure if I found a recipe for this or if I started doing it on my own. I am admittedly overwhelmed sometimes with caring for all my fermented beverages and food. Daily attention to my ‘ginger bug’ become difficult. So I started weekly feeding of my continuous culture, you never use it up but always save some to start the next one.
It worked. And what works even better is using muscovado sugar. It is very dark because it has a substantial amount of molasses left in it. It tastes almost taste more like ginger beer than ginger ale. My original bug is made with a lighter sugar called demerara with less molasses so it is not as potent.

ginger bug
Ginger bugs fermenting comfortably

The next step in making traditional fermented ginger ale is preparing a ginger wort’. The recipe for that will appear in the next blog post, Traditional Fermented Ginger Ale: ‘Ginger Wort’. Following steps will appear on additional blog posts throughout the coming week.

This blog post details information discussed by Alison D. Gilbert, Healthy Living Consultant, on A.M. News on Renegade 101.3 FM. If you wish to share it, please give credit where credit is due. Photography is by the author unless otherwise indicated by scanning your mouse over the image. Thank you.

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Fermented Lemon Peel Syrup

Fermented lemon peel syrup is a serendipitous find. It is made from the leftover peel from juicing the lemons used to make homemade organic fermented lemonade.

Lemon peel syrup
Lemon peel syrup, a happy byproduct of homemade lemonade

When I make lemonade, there are a lot of lemon peels left over. Depending on the size of the lemons and the amount of lemonade I am making, I can use between 5 and 10 lemons. That’s a lot of peel. Since I am a strong believer in reduce-reuse-recycle, I like to find uses for things rather than throw them away.

Through sheer experimentation, I discovered that lemon peel can be made into both lemon peel syrup and lemon peel candy. Nothing more than the peel and a good quality light organic sugar are required. When placed in a covered container together and allowed to just sit, the sugar turns into a liquid.

Fresh made organic whey
Fresh made organic whey used for fermentation

I just got a gallon of whey. I was able to purchase it directly from the Sohha Savory Yogurt Company in Brooklyn, New York. Whey is what allows the lemonade to ferment creating tons of healthy probiotic bacteria. Since I like everything I eat to have beneficial qualities, I decided to add some whey to my sugar and lemon peel combo.

When the syrup forms and can be poured out of the container the lemon peels are in, I will have not only a lemon peel treat but a probiotic lemon syrup. I already am using a small quantity of sweetener for lemonade. The other possibilities of what I can use this special syrup for are yet to be discovered.

Homemade fermented organic lemonade
Homemade fermented organic lemonade made using whey

This post is dedicated to Julia Geha and George Geha who lovingly sent me a package of their home-grown organic lemons. Not only are they the largest and juiciest lemons but the also have great peels. Julia wanted to know what I did with the peels and the syrup that I make from them. I put some syrup in the next batch of lemonade. They live on forever! Julia and George own PeaceLoveBeanie. Please vote for them before March 17th to win a grant from FedEx. The company is socially oriented and does wonderful things. They are the official beanie for I Declare World Peace.

This blog post details information discussed by Alison D. Gilbert, Healthy Living Consultant, on A.M. News on Renegade 101.3 FM. If you wish to share it, please give credit where credit is due. Photography is by the author unless otherwise indicated by scanning your mouse over the image. Thank you.

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Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade

Homemade organic fermented lemonade is probably one of our most favorite drinks. It is filled with probiotics for healthy gut bacteria. It tastes tart and sweet at the same time. It is so thirst quenching but so delicious that you want to just keep drinking it. This recipe has few ingredients. It is not difficult to make. It just takes some muscle and patience.

organic lemons
Homegrown organic lemons, a gift from Julia Geha in Arizona

I like to do as much of the work by hand because it is good exercise for my arms. The hardest exercise is squeezing the lemons. There are a variety of squeezers you can buy. Some make it easier to get the juice out of the lemon. Others are more comfortable to use. It can depend on the size of the lemon.

Essential Tools
Essential Tools-Citrus Juice Squeezers

I have tailored the amount of the ingredients to the container size, one that holds 14 cups of liquid (slightly less than a gallon. Let’s go through the recipe starting with the ingredients:
11 cups of filtered water
2 cups of lemon juice (the organic lemons I used had so much juice I only needed 3 1/2 lemons. It usually requires many more lemons)
1 to 1 1/2 cups light organic sugar or demerara golden sugar
1 cup fresh whey* (not powdered)
About 3 TBSP fermented lemon peel syrup (to taste)

* I usually make my own whey from draining yogurt. But I wanted to have a large amount. The lovely people who own Sohha Savory Yogurt were able to spare a gallon of fresh, pure whey. The price was reasonable so I stocked up.

Continuing with the recipe, fill the glass container with the liquid ingredients. Start with the water and add the whey. Put that aside and squeeze the lemons until you have the desired amount of juice. Pulp can be left in the liquid but be sure to remove the pits. Put aside the lemon peel for making lemon syrup.

Mix the liquid ingredients with a wooden spoon and then add the sugar. Mix again. Add the lemon syrup to taste. Cover the jar and leave at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Then refrigerate and enjoy.

Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade
Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade

Here’s a recipe card to cut out and keep:

Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade
Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade

Recipe adapted from The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook. Photos by the author, Alison D. Gilbert

This blog post details information discussed by Alison D. Gilbert, Healthy Living Consultant, on A.M. News on Renegade 101.3 FM. If you wish to share it, please give credit where credit is due. Photography is by the author unless otherwise indicated by scanning your mouse over the image. Thank you.

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Fermenting Essentials: Ingredients and Utensils

INGREDIENTS

Since I have officially become a fermenter, my shopping list has changed to include what I call my ‘fermenting essentials’. That’s not to say that my list was ever a ‘white bread and 2% cow’s milk’, Standard American Diet list. But now my fermenting essentials are regulars on my shopping list. Anyone who is unfamiliar with fermented food and beverages might find my essential ingredients list unusual.

For both beginners and seasoned fermenters who want to get another perspective on what I consider fermenting essentials, here is my ‘fermenting’ list that always seems to have the following:
• organic ginger root
• lemons
• whole milk, organic yogurt
• some kind of organic sweetener if I have run low (either granulated, liquid or solid)

I use the ginger for making the most outrageously delicious homemade ginger ale. The process requires a ‘ginger bug’. A concoction made from grated ginger, sugar and water. It is supposed to be fed daily (I forget all the time). It ferments and is a ginger ale ‘essential’ starter. A ‘ginger wort’ is also necessary in the ginger ale making process. That requires more ginger. So I like to keep an ample supply on hand.

Fresh squeezed lemon juice is also indispensable for so many of the fermented recipes I make. Ginger ale requires it, lacto-fermented cranberry relish needs it and so does lacto-fermented lemonade.

The whole milk, organic yogurt is used to make whey for the lacto-fermented recipes. I usually keep a sizable amount of sugar varieties. But if I run low on one of them, it goes on the list too. So there you have it, my main fermenting essential ingredients.

‘But wait a minute’, you may be thinking.’I just read a lot of ingredients that might also require special utensils’. You are absolutely right. So my list of essential utensils follows.

UTENSILS

I would like to mention the utensils that have become indispensable, too:
• a metal ginger grater
• two kinds of lemon juice ‘squeezers’
• round metal strainers of various sizes
• cheesecloth or a gallon size paint strainer
• plastic measuring spoons (keep metal away from fermenting agents such as SCOBY and kefir crystals)
• an array of measuring cups (buy American like Pyrex or Anchor Hocking to make sure there is no lead in the glass)
• wooden spoons
• large rubber mixing spoons
• a liquid thermometer
• a water purefier
• a blender
• various sizes of pots and pans
• round glass containers like cookie jars with lids (buy American made to guarantee that there is no lead in the glass)
• round glass dispensers with spigots (same here)
• a sharp knife
• glass mixing bowls of various sizes
• plenty of glass storage jars of various sizes (I like ‘Fido’ jars. Fido is both a style and a brand name.)

I am not going to go into any detail about sweeteners now because that requires it own blog post. I use between 4 types of granulated sugar, two or three liquids and about three or four solids. I want to leave plenty of time and room to discuss them in a way that will be most helpful and thorough.

This list of utensils may seem overwhelming at first. Much of it you will probably already own. What you don’t have, fill in as you can. Fermenting is meant to be fun, relaxing and satisfying. So don’t get stressed out about what you don’t have. You can most likely improvise until you do. There are also many discount stores and online sources for these items. So you can enjoy this without breaking the bank. In fact, the benefits far outweigh the effort.

In future posts, I will discuss fermenting processes, recipes and other details of this wonderful ‘whey’ of life.

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