Monday, September 30, 2013

Slippery Jack

 We're still living.

 I don't say that after most meals. But today was different.

 A couple of days ago we saw this mushroom coming up near the white pines at the Farmersville-Jackson Twp. Park. I found them to be "Slippery Jack" mushrooms by thumbing through my Audubon guide. But I posed the question to other friends just to see if they agreed. Those in the know agreed.

Suillus luteus or Slippery Jack

 These mushrooms, sprouted eight days after a heavy rain, dotted the landscape to the west of the pond. I see them every year, mostly in the fall but pay them little attention. I doubted they were edible.
 They have a tanned leather cap of a beautiful yellow-brown and are sturdy, sizeable things

 On the west side of the fence that separates the walking track from a ball field, the mushrooms were coming up in copious clumps. If they were edible, there were enough for a feast.

 Mom thought about it for two days. Meanwhile I checked out the Internet to make sure we'd identified the mushrooms correctly. While I could not be 100% sure, I felt comfortable enough to say I'd taste them - but no more.

 Upside down on the kitchen counter, the huge caps (4-5") show a spongy underside, not the traditional "gills" of many mushrooms. They grow quickly and large.
 My Audubon calls their edibility "Good, with caution" and adds "Although this is a favorite edible, it may cause transient diarrhea if the slime is not removed."
 Just what I was hoping for.

Mom removed the stems and then ...

... began paring off the brown tops (the part that gives the mushroom its slimy feel when damp). It's almost like trying to trim a sponge. We also removed the layer which contained the spongy tubes on the bottom of the cap and tried to peel away anything brown. She was left with the white interior.

 She sauteed this, adding butter and garlic. She served the pieces on a dish of rice.
 I ate very little. I'm convinced that we've identified this mushroom correctly but I'm not taking any chances, not this first time. The taste? Rather bland and flavorless. I understand Slippery Jack's are best used in other dishes (such as soups) and do not really stand up well to the frying pan.

 Now, hours later, Mom (who by far ate the most) still feels well. I do, too.

Disclaimer:  Mushrooms can be extremely dangerous, certainly fatal, so proper identification is essential. 
I do not recommend anyone eat mushrooms that they are not intimately familiar with.

Added October 2, 2013:
 I walked by a new clump of Slippery Jack today and found one which has been pushed sideways by another sprouting right beside it (I made sure it had not simply been broken off by a child; it's attached firmly to the ground). By angling sideways, the tubes beneath the cap are quite visible and gives a better example of the texture than my earlier picture.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Amish Cinnamon Bread

 The traditional recipe take too long ... squish the bag, add ingredients, squish some more, take a batch of starter out, make the bread.

 There's an easier way. Click here for the recipe I used.

 This is a "quick bread" and more like cake than yeast bread. I consider this a breakfast or snack food. Consider it almost along the lines of coffee cake.

 When I do this again, I'll reserve far less sugar/cinnamon mixture for the top. It's a little bit of a mess and prevents easy use of a toaster. The bread can be sliced and placed in an oven beneath a broiler for a short time or the slices placed in a microwave on a paper plate to warm them up.
 Instead of all the topping, I'd place most of the sugar/cinnamon within the batter. Maybe even two layers? It'll be stuck inside the loaf that way and won't present any mess at all. Plus, the dark layer within the loaf is pretty to look at and tasty to eat.

 The finished loaves look like this ... nicely browned and beginning to burst apart at the seams. They can be frozen and used as needed.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Germantown Pretzel Festival - 2013

 Those beautiful pretzels - in every shape, size and topping - are back in Germantown this weekend for their annual Pretzel Festival.

 Held this year Saturday, September 28 (9 am to 9 pm) and Sunday, September 29 (noon to 6 pm), it's the 34th year for the event. Today (09/28) the weather couldn't be better ... clear blue skies and not quite 70° when I began my visit just after 10 am. I had to park several blocks away, on Warren Street. Construction work on Market Street (725) has made many of previous year's parking spaces unavailable.

Think my blood pressure can handle the sodium? I'm gonna try.

 Tomorrow's forecast doesn't look so nice, either. The event won't have a rain date.
 I paid $3 for this pretzel offered by a local church. I got two "thank you's" in the transaction, one from the cashier, one from the packager. This will be my evening snack.

Mom wanted her usual "two loaves of bread" from the Methodist ladies: I picked out one loaf of sourdough, another plain white, both expertly hand-made. They sell mostly "quick" breads, not to our liking (and too easy to make at home). Give us some yeast!

 Now enjoy the photo tour of this year's event:

The crab apples are in full bloom and the bees are feasting on the windfall.

It's nearly a full house. I don't think I've ever seen the Pretzel Festival busier at such an early hour.

Besides an area set aside for commercial food vendors, pretzel-sellers dot the sidewalks
of Veteran Memorial Park.

And here's one section of that commercial area.

Could the sky be bluer? September rains can be a problem but not today.

Most of the vendor spaces seem to be sold.

My personal favorites - the crew from Farmersville's Miss Molly's Bakery & Cafe.
I try to take their picture every year.

This is the first year that Mom didn't accompany me. At 87 she's having some trouble getting around. So while I picked up the bread and pretzel, she's baking stuffed peppers. Ah, the best of both worlds.

Friday, September 27, 2013

National Museum of the USAF

What a beautiful day for a mini-excursion, a trip to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton. I hadn't been there in years and neither had my good friend Eric Oda. So we met for lunch at Bullwinkle's Top Hat Bistro in Miamisburg. I had a wonderful artichoke heart sub, an out-of-this-world concoction I've never tasted before but hope to repeat soon. Then on to the Air Force Museum.
 Enjoy the photo tour ...

 The entrance - outside.

The entrance - inside.

Servicemen were getting a special tour of the museum.

The gift shop is the first/last stop as you make your rounds.

Part of the museum's holocaust display, the "Jude" yellow star symbolized Nazi persecution of the Jews.
It was hard to see. Click here for more information.

Eric Oda checks a photo he's taken with his cell phone.

Me in front of a Lear Jet.

A "Superfortress" airplane used for weather observations.

An almost "X-Ray" view of a plane with the metal skin removed.

Rocket engines - Titan, I believe (and Eric Oda)

Apollo 15 Commend Module (CM), Endeavour.

A close-up view of two of the thrusters, clearly well-used.

Another close-up view of the Apollo 15 CM. Are these also holes for thrusters
or some sort of exhaust or umbilical connections?

An extreme close-up of the "honeycomb" structure that makes up the exterior of the Apollo CM.
The "pressure vehicle" was made of "an aluminum honeycomb sandwich bonded between sheet
aluminum alloy" according to the University of Oregon.

Eric Oda (l) and I in front of the Apollo 15 Command Module, Endeavour. This capsule flew around the moon in 1971 and safely returned David Scott, Al Worden and Jim Irwin to Earth. To read more about Apollo 15, click here.

A space trophy.

An example of a Mercury (one man) capsule (1959-1963)
Click here for more information.

An example of a Gemini (two man) capsule. (1962-1966)
Click here for more information.

One tall building holds an assortment of rockets. It's dizzying to look up.

A "spy" satellite, I believe.

Another view of the rockets.

Manhigh I - Joe Kittinger made a parachute jump from 96.750' in 1957.

Excelsior - Kittinger jumped from 74,700' in 1959. A third jump in 1960
was from an altitude of 19.47 miles.

Stargazer - Kittinger and astronomer William White made observations from 82,200' for 18 hours in 1960.
For more information on Kittinger, click here

.This "Stealth" plane doesn't even photograph well. It's dark and non-reflective.

Eric Oda at the controls of a Space Shuttle simulator. He managed to land it, first try.

And me ... I wasn't quite so lucky!

One of the electronic displays in the Shuttle.

Another electronic display.

A full-size mock-up of a Space Shuttle is under construction at the museum,
It's supposed to be finished Fall 2013 (about now!).

Front-on view of the Shuttle Crew Trainer under construction.

A really hot paint job!

A wide view of more modern (and smaller) planes.

The "Strawberry Bitch" - click here for an interesting overview.

In one of the interior hallways at the museum is this mosaic of the Wright Brother's first flight
at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903. This is just a small section of the mural.
Now look what happens if I zoom in on an even small section:

What an interesting afternoon. We didn't begin to see half of it. And yet it's a lot of walking and a very large area to cover. It'll beckon us back some day.