Monthly Archives: June 2014



Forage for Food Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,892 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,416 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Forage for Food Expert Level Merit Badge, I begged, cajoled, pleaded, beseeched, and otherwise nagged my good friend at the Department of Fish and Game to accompany me on my first annual Wild ‘Shroom Hunt. Dear, sweet Helen is pretty much my bestie. Okay, okay, we only met that one time last summer when I bought my fishing license, but I know we hit it off. I could feel the connection. I’m fairly certain she felt the same way, because she was way friendly and told me to have a nice day. So, yeah. Besties.

Anyway, Helen was leery at first—amazingly, she’s not much of a mushroom eater—s face it, girls, I cannot be trusted in the wild alone. I mean, there are lots of dramatic ways I want to go out when I meet my maker, so to speak, but poisoning myself with a mushroom omelet is not high on my list. Know what I mean, string bean?

So Helen finally agreed to spend the afternoon with me, as long as I brought along some of my famous homemade granola snacks and some organic lemonade. So off we went, we two intrepid foragers, into the forests of the Pacific Northwest. I accidently left the granola in the car, so to keep Helen’s plummeting spirits up, I made sure to sing lots of camp songs as we hiked. Two hours and a few mushrooms later, Helen told me that not only was my singing attracting Sasquatches, but it was also scaring away all the fungi. Who knew? So, hard as it was, I concentrated less on my crooning and more on the ground in front of me. At the end of our hike, we had some delicious finds:

  • Apricot Jelly Mushrooms (How cute is that name? So in love right now.)

Photo by H. Krisp via Wikimedia Commons

  • Bear’s Head Mushroom (Less cute name, but gorgeous ‘shroom.)

Photo by Martin Hlauka (Pescan) via Wikimedia Commons

  • Blue Chanterelles (I kinda thought they were purple pansies at first, I admit.)

Photo by Noah Siegel via Wikimedia Commons

  • Chicken of the Woods (No chickens were harmed in the making of this mushroom—haha!)

Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont via Wikimedia Commons

  • Western Giant Puffball (Was this one named by a toddler?)

Photo by Jerry Friedman via Wikimedia Commons

  • Scaly Hedgehog (Really does look a bit like a hedgehog!)

Photo by H. Krisp via Wikimedia Commons

  • Slimy Spike Cap (Seriously slimy. In the interest of full disclosure, I may or may not actually eat this one.)

Photo by Bernd Haynold via Wikimedia Commons

  • Fairy Ring or Scotch Bonnet (So adorable! Like parasols for fairies.)

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

  • Ink Caps (Helen says these cause an allergic reaction when consumed with alcohol, so I won’t be doing any wine pairing with these! So glad I have my bestie.)

Photo by James Lindsey via Wikimedia Commons

  • Oyster Mushroom (Only when found on trees. If you think you see some on a dead log, stay away! It’s the poisonous Angel Wing Mushroom masquerading as an Oyster Mushroom. Imposter!)

Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont via Wikimedia Commons

  • Horn of Plenty (A pretty lilac and grey colored ‘shroom.)

Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont via Wikimedia Commons

I also think I found some Sasquatch tracks. But that’s a risk you have to take when foraging, I guess. ‘Shrooms and ‘Squatches. Sounds like a tasty restaurant.

photo of the day


Project F.A.R.M. WELCOME!

Big WELCOME to another Project F.A.R.M. (First-class American Rural Made) business, Heather’s Handmade Soap of Lookingglass, Oregon.

Heather Coffel (Sister #5853) says:

“Heather’s Handmade Soap started from a desire to help my daughter’s dry skin problems. Once I started selling my soaps, I discovered that this is actually a big problem with children’s more sensitive skin and in many older adults as well. Most store-bought soaps remove the natural glycerin, which provides moisture, but also allows the bar to “melt” faster. In some cases, detergents are again added to harden the bars. The removal of natural glycerin and addition of unnatural detergents severely dries out the skin.

For me, making soap is a wonderful artistic medium. Each batch of soap is unique not only in fragrance, but also colors and ingredients. I also make a fragrance-free soap. All of my soaps have the same base ingredients: Water or Goat’s Milk; Lye (Sodium Hydroxide); Fats; Colors; and Fragrances or Essential Oils. Fats range from Olive, Palm, Coconut, and Canola Oils to Shea, Mango, and Cocoa Butters to Palm Kernel Flakes.”

To find out more, visit Heather on Facebook.









Running Goats

You’ve probably heard of running with the bulls …


Photo by Raymond Forget via Wikimedia Commons

“You’ve got to be kidding?!” is all I have to say about that.

But, I wonder if you’re familiar with goat running?


Well, the folks at Sunflower Farms in Cumberland Center, Maine, may be responsible for a new craze in extreme farm sports …


Photo by Wilfredor via Wikimedia Commons

Well known for their antics


Photo by Grand Parc via Wikimedia Commons

and orneriness,


Photo by GdML via Wikimedia Commons

it’s no secret that goats are prone to kidding around,

but the 44 Nigerian Dwarf babies born this spring at Sunflower Farms are stirring up an unprecedented ruckus on exuberant evening runs with their two-legged farm friends, as you can see in this video that’s had 2.5 million views!

Looks pretty dangerous.

Runners risk tripping and being trampled by tiny hooves due to uncontrollable laughter.

So, how about it?

Would you be brave enough to run with the goats?




Just when you thought …

Farmers Bob, Lee, and Bobby Jones (clockwise, below) might fit your image of a Midwest farmer, but there’s nothing typical about their Huron, Ohio, farm, just a few miles outside Cleveland.


Thirty years ago, Bob Sr. and his two sons grew soybeans and corn, like many of their Midwest neighbors. They also had a market garden, selling their produce from a farm stand at their home and at Cleveland-area farmers’ markets. But in 1983, a severe hailstorm resulted in a crop failure that forced them to rethink their futures. Enter a chef interested in buying squash blossoms for his restaurant, and a new definition of their family farm was born. They decided to tailor their crops to the budding artisanal farm-to-table restaurant movement. A world of micro greens, micro herbs, heirloom vegetables, specialty lettuces, and edible flowers blossomed—grown without chemicals, using sustainable farming practices—at The Chef’s Garden (

“While farming at The Chef’s Garden has evolved ‘back in time,’ using methods employed by our great-grandfathers, innovation and new product development help us remain the leading grower of artisanal produce in the nation,” says patriarch Bob.

They now offer 600 varieties of specialty and heirloom vegetables, herbs, micro greens, and edible flowers to thousands of chefs around the world. “We can’t compete on the commodity market,” says farm spokesman Lee, who sports his signature red bow tie, “But we offer eight stages of bok choy, from micro greens to flowers to petite and baby varieties. Every stage of a plant’s life offers something unique to the plate.”


The farm also now proudly includes a culinary retreat, research, and team-building facility, The Culinary Vegetable Institute, and Veggie U, a nationwide not-for-profit children’s program.

But you don’t have to be a chef to get these unique specialty veggies. They also offer CSA selections through their FarmerJonesFarm website, shipped direct to your door three days a week (a 6-month subscription gets you 8-10 lbs of their unique vegetables for just $27/month). You don’t even have to have a subscription—you can order just one box at a time, or even specialty “add-ons” like golden pea tendrils and popcorn shoots.


The next time you see a “typical” farmer, don’t judge that book by its cover—the contents might surprise you.




Today’s Recipe: Dandelion & Rose Petal Freezer Jelly


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