Category Archives for Mushrooms

Royal chef sets record straight on what Queen Elizabeth feeds and drinks

( CNN) At 91, Queen Elizabeth II of England is the longest-serving monarch in British history, having celebrated 65 years on the throne this year. A glance at her calendar is like entering a Jane Austen novel — with a multitasking heroine. Her listing of duties includes attending dinners and jubilees, appointing officials to obscure high offices, and receiving and entertaining guests including assorted ambassadors, archbishops, pastors, generals, chiefs of state and various excellencies.

The Queen’s hectic schedule demands equal quantities of polite dialogue and extravagant dining. So how does she bide healthy and fit?

“The queen’s not really bothered about food. All she cares about are ponies and dogs, ” said her former cook Darren McGrady, who worked for Elizabeth and their own families from 1982 through 1993.

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Ayahuasca: The Shamanic Brew That Produces Out-Of-Body Experiences

Ayahuasca, known by various names by different indigenous groups in South America, is a generic word usually associated with preparations of the mildly psychoactive vine Banisteriopsis caapi . Ayahuasca literally translates from the Quechua language of the North Andes as soul vine or vine of the dead and “ve always been” consumed by indigenous communities such as the Aruk, Choc, Jvaro, Pano, and Tukano across the upper reaches of the Amazon River system in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Ayahuasca is most commonly consumed by indigenous communities in liquid form as part of shamanic rites designed to communicate with celestial supernatural forces-out or the spirits of the forest. The psychotropic effects of the drink are caused by three beta-carboline alkaloids: harmine, harmoline and tetrahydroharmine. Owing to their ability to intensify and prolong this psychotropic consequence, other natural substances such as tree barks and coca or tobacco leaves can also be combined with the vine.

People outside of indigenous groups may come across ayahuasca through a variety of more or less formal context such as new religion motions, enlightenment retreats, neo-shamanic workshops, self-discovery weekends and eco-lodges specialising in spiritual tourism. As with the recent death of Unais Gomes, who was killed while taking part in a shamanic ceremony in the Iquitos region of Peru, most of the fatalities linked with consuming ayahuasca are available in the unregulated and often ad hoc rituals of these latter scenarios.

A shaman performs a ritual therapy after drinking a beverage containing ayahuasca in Lima, Peru. Enrique Castro-Mendivil/ Reuters

Use of ayahuasca began to spread beyond traditional indigenous groups in the latter part of the 19 th century due to inter-marriage and contact with non-indigenous people working in the region.

The most common kind in which ayahuasca passed from indigenous to non-indigenous use was the combination of the vine Banisteriopsis caapi with the leaves of the shrub Psychotria viridis . The foliage of the P. viridis shrub contains the psychoactive agent N, N-Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, which intensifies and prolongs the psychotropic effects of ayahuasca intake. The chemical structure of DMT resembles that of psilocybin, the compound found in psychedelic mushrooms.

A Santo Daime ceremony. Lou Gold, CC BY-NC

Beyond the indigenous communities of the Upper Amazon Basin, ayahuasca is most popularly devoured in two kinds of ritual practices. The first is within the Brazilian ayahuasca religions of Barquinha, Santo Daime and A Unio do Vegetal. These religions have many of the formal attributes associated with mainstream traditional religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism for example the inclusion of prayers, songs and ritual disciplines.

Ayahuasca is also devoured within a variety of more or less formal contexts such as new religion motions, enlightenment retreats, neo-shamanic workshops, self-discovery weekends and eco-lodges specialising in spiritual tourism. As with the recent death of Unais Gomes in the Iquitos region of Peru, most of the fatalities linked with ayahuasca consumption are available in the unregulated and frequently ad hoc rites of these latter contexts.

The Consequences of the Brew

In its most common form, ayahuasca is a strong reeking brown liquid with a bitter savor. In addition to the age, quality, and type of plants use, the psychoactive effectivenes of ayahuasca differs relative to the environmental conditions in which they are grown, the ratio of their combining and the amount of processing they undergo. The size of dose and frequency of intake varies from one ritual context to another. Depending upon individual physiology, ayahuasca begins to make itself felt 20 or 30 minutes after first being ingested, with subsequent dosages increasing its psychotropic effects.

Aya cooking. Xichael, CC BY-SA

Most renowned for the visual imagery it renders, ayahuasca may also generate auditory and olfactory sensations. The earliest effects of the liquid tend to be a warming of the stomach followed by a spreading impression of physical relaxation and mental pacify. There is, though , no loss of vigor or alertness.

Weaker doses of ayahuasca produce a mild detachment from ones body and surrounds which lets a mental objectification and critical examination of the smallest of details, feelings and thoughts. Stronger different forms of the liquid promote the visual dread of irregular shapes, recurring and colourful geometric patterns, distorted and fleeting images, and out-of-body experiences or dream-like visions populated by the familiar and the fanciful.

Sounds may also be heard as aberrations of external stimulus or self-contained auditory experiences. Likewise, smell and savour may be affected to a more or less pleasant degree. Given its emetic qualities, ayahuasca consumption often induces vomiting and may also result in the involuntary evacuation of the bowels. While these effects may be moderated by practice and dietary regulations, their purgative nature is positively construed as an external physical manifestation of inner spiritual cleansing.

DMT is a proscribed substance in various parts of the world; for example it is categorised as a Class A drug in the UK and a Schedule I drug under UN conventions. Ayahuasca is often subject to many of the same regulations and sanctions as drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Nevertheless, the powerful forces of globalisation are spreading ayahuasca intake beyond its traditional geographical heartlands and this, in turn, is resulting in the legalisation or decriminalisation of ritual employ( but not production) in a growing number of countries( incuding Holland, Italy, Spain, and the United States ).

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive substance to be used with care and, like other psychotropics, should not be consumed by individuals with certain physical or psychological conditions.

Andrew Dawson, Professor of Modern Religion, Lancaster University

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Do Animals Use Drugs In The Wild?

The desire to experience altered states of consciousness is something that has united virtually every human culture and civilization since the dawn of man. Yet we arent the only species to seek out mind-bending substances, and several animals have shown a similar propensity for drugs, whether for medicinal purposes or simply for the thrill of it.

In fact, legend has it that the story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and his flying herd-mates originates in Siberia, where the highly hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom grows in abundance. Containing the hallucinogenic compound muscimol, the red and white speckled toadstool can be toxic to humans, but is safely metabolized by reindeer.

The animals have often been seen acting high after ingesting the shrooms, giving birth to the notion of Santas flying reindeer. Some Siberian shamans are even said to drink the urine of these intoxicated creatures, as it provides a less toxic source of psilocybin.

The idea of Santa’s flying reindeer may be rooted in the animals’ tendency to get high on magic mushrooms.Shebeko/Shutterstock

Many animals also have a taste for alcohol, with boozy bees being a prime example. When the sugar in nectar is fermented by natural yeasts, it becomes intoxicating to the insects that collect it, causing bees to fall into a drunken stupor.

However, returning to the hive drunk is a major faux pas, and the workers guarding the entrance to the comb will often refuse entry to anyone trying to enter while under the influence.

Another animal that feeds on fermented nectar is the pen-tailed shrew. However, unlike bees, the shrew is able to metabolize this alcohol into ethyl glucuronide, which is then incorporated into its fur.

Vervet monkeys, meanwhile, developed a taste for booze after being transported to the Caribbean from Africa several centuries ago. The early arrivals regularly got completely trolleyed on fermented sugar cane, and recent studies found that most monkeys now prefer alcoholic solutions to sugary water when given the choice.

Aside from rum, Latin Americas other famous export is cocaine, which is produced by the Andean coca plant as a type of pesticide. Most insects die if they ingest it, although a caterpillar called Eloria noyesi is immune to the effects of cocaine, thanks to the fact that its dopamine transporters are resistant to the drugs effects.

The bug has therefore developed a taste for the coca leaf, and the Colombian government has in the past toyed with the idea of unleashing the caterpillar on illegal coca plantations.

And while cocaine may be one of the most addictive drugs of abuse known to man, the coca leaf also has some medicinal value. Chewing it helps to relieve altitude sickness, which is extremely useful in the high Andes. According to some legends, the leafs benefits were first discovered by ancient llama herders, after noticing that the animals became more mobile when chewing on the plant.

The coca leaf can help to alleviate altitude sickness.Yakov Oskanov/Shutterstock

Opioids are another highly addictive class of drugs, and are responsible for a huge number of overdose deaths every year. In Australia, wallabies have been known to act strangely after eating poppies the plant from which heroin is produced. A government official recently highlighted the issue in a parliamentary debate, explaining that the marsupials tend to get as high as a kite and wander around creating crop circles.

Therefore, while philosophers and anthropologists have tended to take the lead in the quest to understand the roots of mankinds ubiquitous fascination with altered states of consciousness, evolutionary biologists may actually be better equipped to solve this riddle. Given the number of different species that use drugs, its highly possible that the impulse to get out of our minds could be a product of our evolutionary heritage.

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20 best autumn recipes: part 1

From baked squash to a classic blackberry and apple pie, Observer Food Monthlys selection of the pick of the season Part 2 of this series launches tomorrow

Richard Olneys pears in red wine (poires au vin rouge)

Serves 4
eating pears 4 or 5, slightly under ripe
orange 1
sugar 150g
good red wine 1 bottle

Cut the pears in two, lengthwise, core and peel them and arrange the halves in the bottom of an earthenware or enamelled ironware terrine if they are to be cooked in the oven, Pyrex or porcelain will do as well. Wash the orange to remove any hint of insecticide or preservative, and shave a long spiral from the peel, keeping clear of the white, pithy material. Add it to the pears, sprinkle very lightly with cinnamon, add the sugar and the wine, bring to a boil, and leave, covered, to simmer for about 2 hours (with certain hard varieties of cooking pears, one may allow as much as 6 to 8 hours cooking time), or until they are coated in a thin syrup. Serve them chilled, accompanied by tuiles or other simple cookies.
From The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney (Collins, 14.99). Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for 12.29

Jane Grigsons blackberry and apple pie

Blackberry and apple pie: When you gather windfall apples to make this pie, quantity and variety of fruit do not much come into it. Photograph: Martin Poole for the Observer

When you pick blackberries in the autumn, and gather windfall apples to make this pie, quantity and variety of fruit do not much come into it. You make the best of what you have. This is the way it should be. This is how regional dishes once developed. People used what their garden and neighbourhood could provide. Sometimes a suggestion from a visitor or the arrival of a new ingredient with the development of trade and manufacture might give a new aspect to an old dish, with luck a new refinement, most likely at least, in recent times a short cut or substitute ingredient that did not improve it. I cannot help feeling that before the great bramley conquest it was introduced in 1876 blackberry and apple pie made with the windfalls of pippin or reinette varieties tasted much better. Nowadays, I use tart windfall Blenheim orange apples, and then after Christmas Belle de Boskoop. This is a real treat as we do not grow it in Wiltshire, and depend on the kindness of January visitors from France for an occasional supply.

With apples of this quality, you do not need so many blackberries (cookery books often give equal weights of each). If you are making the pie soon after picking blackberries, rather than from a store in the freezer, weigh them and add up to double their weight in apples.

Assuming you start with 1kg apples and kg of blackberries, put half the blackberries into a large saucepan. Peel, core and slice the apples, sprinkling them with lemon or orange juice to prevent them darkening: put the peel and cores into the blackberry pan and cover with water. Cook slowly at first, then faster as the juices run, so that you end up with about 150ml of strained liquid. Dissolve 200-250g sugar in the liquid, the quantity according to the tartness of the fruit.

Pack the sliced apples and remaining blackberries in layers in a deep pie dish. Mound up the fruit in a curve above the rim of the dish. Pour the sweetened, cool juice over the whole thing. Cover in the usual way with shortcrust pastry. Brush over the top with egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Put into the oven at 200C/gas mark 6 for 45-60 minutes depending on the depth of the dish. Turn the heat down slightly once the pastry is set firm and lightly coloured. Protect it with butter papers from becoming too brown. Test the apples with a thin pointed knife through the central hole in the pastry: when it goes through them easily, they are done. Serve with custard sauce or cream, preferably cream, clotted cream above all.
From Jane Grigsons Fruit Book by Jane Grigson (Penguin, 12.99).
Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for 12.99

Anna Del Contes trofie with walnut sauce (trofie in salsa di noci)

Trofie with walnut sauce: a Ligurian speciality. Photograph: Martin Poole for the Observer

This sauce from Liguria is traditionally used with pansoti or corzetti, local pasta shapes made with a simple dough of flour and water. Pansoti are the Ligurian ravioli, filled with wild herbs, beet leaves, borage and ricotta.

Corzetti come in two shapes: in one, the rolled-out dough is cut in the shape of a figure of eight; in the other, a far rarer shape, the dough is cut in the shape of large coins and each coin is stamped with a special wooden tool carved with a pattern. In the old days, aristocratic families had their own stamp with the coat of arms on it. Corzetti are rarely found on the market, but another Ligurian pasta shape, trofie, can be used; these are more widely available from supermarkets.

As for the walnuts, they should be fresh-looking with no dark spots and in large pieces, showing no sign of powder. Of all nuts, walnuts are the ones that most quickly turn rancid and they become unpleasantly acid when old.

Serves 4
walnuts 100g, shelled
one-day-old crustless bread 30g
whole milk 3-4 tbsp
garlic 1 clove
extra virgin olive oil 100ml
double cream 2 tbsp
parmesan cheese 50g, grated, plus extra to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
trofie 350g

Soak the walnuts in boiling water for about 15 minutes and then drain and remove as much of the skin as you can. Preheat the oven to 120C/gas mark .

Break the bread into small pieces, put it in a bowl and pour over the milk. Leave it for a few minutes and then squeeze out the milk and put the bread in a food processor together with the walnuts and the garlic. Blitz while adding the oil through the funnel. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and mix in the cream and the parmesan. Taste and season with salt and a little pepper. Place the bowl in the oven.

Cook the trofie in boiling salted water. Drain, reserving some of the water, and turn it into the bowl with the sauce. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce, mix well and serve at once with a bowl of grated parmesan.
From Anna Del Conte on Pasta by Anna Del Conte (Pavilion, 18.99).
Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for 16.40

Simon Hopkinsons cep tarts

Cep tarts: perfect for a light luncheon with a rocket salad and some thin slivers of parmesan. Photograph: Martin Poole for the Observer

Persillade basically means chopped garlic and parsley. It is a classic of Provenal cookery and is added to many sauted dishes at the last minute, together with a few breadcrumbs to soak up any excess olive oil or butter. When added to fried ceps, they become cpes la provenale and if you are not wishing to bother with the pastry, then this dish is wonderful just as it is.

If you are lucky enough, like me, to have been foraging for fresh ceps in Welsh forests, then these are the mushrooms to use for this dish. Obviously, these are not readily available in the shops! So, as an alternative, I would suggest either a combination of dried or tinned ceps (which are readily available in specialist food shops and some supermarkets) with large, black, flat mushrooms. Dried mushrooms are best because they have a much stronger flavour, and are easy to reconstitute.

This would be perfect for a light luncheon with a rocket salad and some thin slivers of parmesan.

Serves 4
fresh ceps 450g or dried ceps 110g
flat mushrooms 225g
butter 110g
salt and pepper
flat-leaf parsley 1 bunch, leaves only
garlic 4 cloves, peeled and chopped
dry breadcrumbs 50g
lemon grated rind of 1
egg 1, beaten
parmesan cheese 2 tbsp, freshly grated

For the pastry
strong plain flour 225g
salt a pinch
unsalted butter 225g, cold, cut into small pieces
lemon juice of
iced water 150ml

Begin by making the pastry, preferably the day before; certainly several hours in advance. Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl and add the butter. Loosely mix, but dont blend the two together in the normal way of pastry making. Mix the lemon juice with the iced water and pour into the butter/flour mixture. With a metal spoon, gently mix together until you have formed a cohesive mass. Turn on to a cool surface and shape into a thick rectangle. Flour the work surface and gently roll the pastry into a rectangle measuring about 18cm x 10cm. Fold one third of the rectangle over towards the centre and fold the remaining third over that. Lightly press together and rest the pastry in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Return the pastry to the same position on the work surface and turn it through 90 degrees. Roll it out to the same dimensions as before, and fold and rest again in the same way. Repeat this turning, rolling, folding and resting process three more times. (Phew! This is the moment when you wish youd bought ready-made pastry.) Place the pastry in a polythene bag and leave in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

If you are using dried ceps, cover with lukewarm water and leave to reconstitute for 20 minutes. Drain and gently squeeze dry with your hands. (Strain the soaking water and use it to make a soup or stock.)

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Roll out the pastry into four circles measuring about 15cm across and 3mm thick. Place on a floured tray and keep cool in the fridge.

Slice the mushrooms thinly. Heat the butter in a large frying pan until just turning golden. Throw in the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook briskly until crusty and golden brown, driving off any moisture that builds up. Add the parsley, garlic, breadcrumbs and lemon rind and mix thoroughly. Turn into a bowl and leave to cool. Remove the pastry circles from the fridge, brush the edges with beaten egg to a depth of 1 cm and spread the mushroom mixture over the four circles up to the edge of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and put on to greased baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry has risen around the edges and is thoroughly crisp underneath (check by lifting with a palette knife). Serve piping hot.
From Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson (Ebury, 16.99).
Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for 24.60

Jane Scotter and Harry Astleys baked squash with celery and herb cream

Baked squash with celery and herb cream: sweet dumpling a very pretty striped and dimpled squash is ideal for this. Photograph: Tessa Traeger

This recipe was devised on one of the rare occasions that we had a major power cut, with three young children needing to be fed and only the wood burner for warmth and cooking. We wrapped the squash in foil and tucked them into the edges of the wood burner, away from the flames. The children dipped cubes of bread into the cheesy, fondue-style filling. It became a popular supper dish in less chaotic times, too.

Our favourite squashes to use for this recipe are uchiki kuri (also known as onion squash), buttercup and blue ballet. All have dense, strongly flavoured flesh that soaks up flavours and fat without becoming mushy and marrow-like. The skin of the squash retains its beautiful, vibrant colour and is thin enough not to need peeling. We think it is the best part.

You can also serve this dish as a starter, using individual smaller squashes. The photo shows sweet dumpling a very pretty striped and dimpled squash that is ideal for this.

Serves 2 hungry people
squash 1, about 1-2kg
creme fraiche about 300ml (you need enough to fill the squash by )
lemon juice of
celery leaves 3 sprigs, or 1 lovage leaf
rosemary, thyme or sage 2 sprigs
butter 1 knob
garlic 1 clove, finely chopped
nutmeg a little, grated, or cinnamon stick
good melting cheese, such as comte, gruyere or cheddar 150g, grated
sea salt and black pepper

To garnish (optional)
olive oil 3 tbsp
sage 4-5 leaves

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Cut the top off the squash to make a lid and set aside. Scoop out the seeds and a little of the flesh so that you are left with a clean squash bowl. To stop the squash toppling over, it is a good idea to make a base for it to sit on: take a roughly 30cm square piece of foil, squeeze it together and shape it into a bracelet. Put it in a roasting tin and place the squash on top.

Fill the squash three-quarters full with creme fraiche and then add the lemon juice, herb sprigs, butter, garlic and grated nutmeg or the cinnamon stick. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the lid back on the squash. Cover with foil and bake for at least an hour. The cooking time will vary, depending on the size of your squash. It is done when a sharp knife slides through the flesh with no resistance.

Remove the herb sprigs and sprinkle in the grated cheese. Place the squash back in the oven, without the foil, for about 10 minutes, until it has browned and the cheese is nice and gooey.

The fried sage garnish is optional, but it looks and tastes great. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and add the sage leaves, making sure they are completely dry if you have washed them. Fry for about 30 seconds, until crisp, then remove and place on kitchen paper to drain.Sprinkle the leaves on top of the squash filling.

The easiest way to serve this is to spoon out the creamy contents on to each persons plate and then cut chunks off the squash horizontally, working your way down. Serve with toasted sourdough bread.
From Fern Verrow by Jane Scotter & Harry Astley (Quadrille, 25).
Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for 17.50

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Start Living Green With This Zucchini Pasta and Shiitake Mushrooms Recipe – Westchester Magazine (blog)

Westchester Magazine (blog)

Start Living Green With This Zucchini Pasta and Shiitake Mushrooms Recipe
Westchester Magazine (blog)
Add garlic, red pepper flakes and shiitaki mushrooms and cook about 4 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Add zucchini noodles, cook stirring occasionally about 3 minutes until just tender but not soggy. Add the butternut squash, season with salt and

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20+ Innocent Greeting Cards From Kids That Are Actually Hilariously Inappropriate

Kids say the darndest things, as we all know by now. They are also prone to inadvertently drawing outrageously rude things, as we pointed out in a previous post. Turns that they give hilariously inappropriate greetings cards too!

From innocent, unfortunate spelling mistakes that turn something like word ‘whole’ into a startling insult, to brutally honest take-downs made with the sweetest of intentions, this list compiled by Bored Panda has it all.

Scroll down to check it out, and feel free to add your own funny kid’s cards in the comments!

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How to level up your morning with a cup of Mushroom Coffee – USA Today 10Best (blog)

USA Today 10Best (blog)

How to level up your morning with a cup of Mushroom Coffee
USA Today 10Best (blog)
Coffee is a surprisingly versatile vessel for all sorts of wild food trends. You can marinate cheese in it. It can be served blended with grass-fed butter and coconut oil. And while you're making adventurous coffee choices, please consider sprinkling

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Grow Your Own Edible Mushrooms – Greenwich Sentinel

Grow Your Own Edible Mushrooms
Greenwich Sentinel
Greenwich Community Gardens will present “Mushroom Log Cultivation Workshop” on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2:30 to 4 p.m., at Greenwich Land Trust, 370 Round Hill Rd. Learn about the ecological role of native fungi while building your own mushroom log that

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