Walkin' With the Wild Woman

Come go for walk with the Wild Woman and see what you will find .....

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gifts from the Earth

My Christmas morning was not spent opening gifts wrapped in shiny paper and ribbons, but rather with my beloved and two close friends, headed out in the wee pre dawn darkness in order to have ringside seat when the sun rose and the birds flew. We were not disappointed. Mother nature wrapped the gifts in intricate frost patters, delicately glowing grasses and reeds. We were then blessed with the birds.. oh the birds.. the tornado of snows billowing up and setting down, in the bright early just risen sun. The sun climbed and warmed the morning fields, brining forth the deer, the pheasants, the running waterfall filled with tiny silvery sparkling fish tumbling to the pool and stream below.
These were my Christmas gifts.. and I am thankful.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Swans, Snows, and Solstice

While others in my life scurry about hanging red and green, arranging Santas and snowmen, elves and reindeer,  I am thinking of  blue and white, the magic of Solstice, when the promise of a new year filled with longer light filled days skitters  across my conciousnes. I will always associate Solstice with the brilliant cobalt blue of winter skies and water, the blindingly bright white of  snow geese and swans. Each year, the internal compasses and clocks that the birds have sends them winging over head along the Mississippi flyway.
I stand in the wee dark hours of December's full moon and listen. My heart beats in time with the wings over head -  it's time... it's time. My own internal clock and compass are tuned to the upcoming Solstice, the lengthening of days, the promise of sunlight and spring. As I shiver a little,  the caconphany of squeals, squawks, and whistles  filters in,  huge skiens of snow geese  high flying over head headed for open water and winter wheat fields. The low odd trumpets and thunderous wing beats of the swans- also heading for any patch of open water and green food they can find.

My heart is lifted with each wing beat. I know that I have survived another year. Four more seasons in the forests and the fields, in the woods, and on the water have passed. I have  learned more, experienced more, lived more. Life is good.

I listen closely, scanning the moonlit skies for which direction they are heading, second guessing where they will cup their wings, lower their feet and become creatures of the earth and water instead of the clouds and skies.

Daylight will be here soon.. I load up gear, dogs, and extra warm clothes and head out.. chasing the birds, following  natures blue and white themed map to the promises of Solstice. Where will they land this morning? Will I be there when they hit  the water? Will I be there when the ones already there have morning lift off? Will my spirit be carried up away by the thousands of wings?

I think so.

Happy holidays everyone - I'm going to chase birds.
Click to play this Smilebox greeting

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Soup, Soup, and More Soup....

It seems I have created a stir with my  now "infamous"  Cream of Wild Mushroom soup - In all honesty. no one batch is ever exactly the same as the other for me.... I throw it together, I wrangle the ingredients around to fit what I have on hand, or am in the mood for. But  since so many have been asking, and frankly I am growing weary of making a pot of this a day for my friends and family, here's the recipe for this non heart healthy, full of fat and  mushroomy goodness soup

This is a simple soup, does very well in a crock pot, and leftovers make a great topping to biscuits, cornbread, or over leftover bits and pieces of cooked wild game with some noodles.

Here's where I have to insert the disclaimer that  all measurements are approximate.. I'm a by hand cook and just scoop out by hand and eye ball what looks right... heck I don't even know where my measuring cups are!

Mama G's Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup


2 cups minimum of chopped wild mushrooms (any combination of what is currently flushing in your neighborhood or what you have preserved from an earlier season) - more than two cups is fine.. the more mushrooms the "meatier" the soup will be 

1 onion - diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 pound bacon
2 celery stalks
half a stick of butter
1/2 cup flour
two quarts half and half
white wine or juice from a jar pf pepperocini  for deglazing pan.
Seasonings and herbs to taste/preference

In a large heavy soup pot cook all bacon until crisp enough to break into bacon bits. Remove and set aside.
Place chopped onion, celery, and mushrooms in pot and saute in the bacon grease until soft/tender. Add butter if if there isn't quite enough bacon fat .

When mushrooms etc. are cooked through, add a splash or two of white wine (oh c'mon.. everybody has half a bottle or so in their fridge right?) or the juice from a jar of pepperocini to deglaze the pan and get all the little bits and pieces loose. Remove solids from pan.

If not enough fat is remaining in pan , add enough butter to have a good fat base to make a roux
use flour sprinkled in to and stirred constantly until a nice smooth blondish color  roux is formed.

When roux is complete, add half and half, slowly whisking it in to make a smooth  cream  soup base.
When base is complete,  add back in the cooked vegetables, mushrooms, and bacon crumbled into bits.

Bring to a boil  - stirring constantly - this stuff with stick and scorch if you aren't careful! Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or transfer to a crockpot on low.

This soup is just the base recipe. Switch around the herbs to match you individual taste and what you have on hand. For instance, use a commercial "steak seasoning mix ", and add in some left over venison roast. The variations are really truly endless.

Now at this juncture- I can already hear the roux making wailing and gnashing of teeth.. so there is an alternate quick "Hey lady - I ain't Martha Stewart or Top Chef" "  version.

Here's  the "It's hunting season and I do not have time for all this stirring and roux making " version.

1 stick butter
2 cups or more of chopped wild mushrooms
1 onion chopped
two celery stalks chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
seasonings of preference
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans cream of celery soup
2 packages REAL bacon bits
2 quarts half and half
white wine for deglazing

Saute mushrooms, onion, garlic, celery, and seasonings of choice in the butter melted in a heavy soup pan. When vegetables and mushrooms are soft and cooked through, add roughly a 1/4 cup white wine to deglaze the pan,  add remaining ingredients , stirring constantly while adding them. Bring to a boil. Transfer to a crock pot set to low.  Head out the door to hunt.

This  is a great hearty winter soup that is always welcome in the colder months. The variations of herbs and add ins are endless, and the leftovers (if there are any)  can be used up to make casseroles, stroganoff etc. any way you would use a can of cream of mushroom soup only better!

My recent kick has been adding in  more Italian style seasonings, increasing the garlic a smidgen, and throwing in a bag of frozen three cheese tortellini - serve that with some warmed ciabatta bread, and you have a meal in a bowl, hearty enough to satisfy and warm the heart of anyone returning from a day in the frosty fields and forests.