Finding The Untamed Mushroom

Kings

In May Ingebretsen’s hosted talks about urban foraging; now we are getting more dark and damp – specifically we are talking about mushrooms and mushroom foraging.

People who are experts on mushrooms and who study them are sometimes referred to as Mycologists. Mycology is

“the branch of biology concerned with the study of fungi, including their genetic and biochemical properties, their taxonomy and their use to humans as a source for tinder, medicine, food, and entheogens, as well as their dangers, such as toxicity or infection.”

Sometimes they are referred to as “the mushroom people.”

On July 19, 2018 we are hosting a free event at Norway House where you can meet some mushroom people – specifically two of the writers and the photographer for the newly released book, Untamed Mushrooms: From Field To Table, a primer on stalking wild mushrooms in the woods and fields of Minnesota. The event runs from 6 to 8:30 (program & tasting begins at 6:30 pm)

Their talk will cover the 13 most easily identified edible mushrooms you can strategically discover, with essential tips for what to look for to significantly up your chances of enjoying a wild harvest.

In addition, there will be a display of some of the amazing photographs that are in the book as well as an interpretive walk through the gallery exhibit will highlight the process of documentary and recipe photography.

A book signing will follow the talk as well as small tastes of big mushroom flavors. You can find out more information about this event here(More information is also provided at the end of this blog.)

These “mushroom people” were recently featured on KARE 11:

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Untamed Mushrooms team (Untamed Mushrooms: From Field to Table, 2018 from the Minnesota Historical Society Press)

Of course we love mushrooms on our plates – in all sorts of different stages from raw on salads to cooked and part of soups, hot dishes and other yummy dishes. The book contains over one hundred unique kitchen-tested recipes. Here is one for Pickled Hens of the Woods.

I admit, I had no idea there was so much information out there about mushrooms or so many different mushrooms. So just how many mushrooms are there? Well according to Mushroom The Journal:

There are about 10,000 described species known from North America, but everyone agrees that there are undiscovered species. Depending on who you believe, the known species are a third to a fifth of what’s really out there. … if you went up to a state with good forests, like Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Michigan, that number probably goes to 5000.

Foraging socks for the well-dressed forager.

There are also a lot of people, and I mean A LOT of people, who love mushrooms. They love to photograph them, forage for them, pick them, , study them, collect them, cook them, and write about them. In Minnesota there is a Minnesota Mycological Society. They have group forays, monthly meetings, and even offer the only Mushroom Certification Class that, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, you must complete in order to be able to sell mushrooms to food establishments. This October they are heading to Oregon for the annual North American Mycological Association foray.

Red Amanita muscaria mushrooms

You can learn a lot about mushrooms at the event and by reading the book Untamed Mushrooms but here is a bit of mushroom trivia:

  • Amanita muscaria — commonly known as fly agaric, or fly amanita is also known as deadly death cap because if eaten it will kill. According to Mushroom Appreciation:

Amatoxins are some of the most lethal poisons found in nature. These toxins work by slowly shutting down the liver and kidneys. Often the victim will appear sick at first, and then seem to get better. Unfortunately the amatoxins are still at work, and death may occur anywhere from a few days to a week after ingestion.

They are pretty and make for great hats and artwork but don’t eat them – even with lefse
  • Many mushrooms grow towards light, following the sun just like plants but scientists do not know how mushrooms use sunlight; only that they do.
  • The spores of mushrooms are made of chitin, the hardest naturally-made substance on Earth. There are scientists that think mushroom spores are capable of space travel and some even believe that some fungi found on Earth originally came from outer space!
  • Some mushroom spores can sit dormant for decades or even a century, and still grow!
  • Originally published in 1910. Written and illustrated by Elsa Beskow

    Mushrooms are useful not only as food and medicine; some are also being used in bioremediation, to absorb and digest dangerous substances like oil, pesticides and industrial waste, in places where they threaten the environment.

Mother Nature Network recently wrote an article on how mushrooms can save the world. It includes a TED talk by Paul Stamets on six ways mushrooms can save the world:

For information about mushrooms in Sweden https://www.swedishfreak.com/nature/mushrooms/

For information about mushrooms in Norway http://www.norwaypost.no/index.php/culture/gastronomic/27334-the-woods-are-full-of-mushrooms-27334

For information about mushrooms in Iceland http://icelandreview.com/stuff/multimedia/2009/08/27/mushroom-and-berry-picking-iceland

For information about mushrooms in Finland https://finland.fi/life-society/treasures-of-the-boreal-forests/

Finding information about mushrooms in Denmark seemed to dwell on psychedelic mushrooms and mushrooms that killed tourists. But here is a bid of information on mushrooms being used in Denmark to fight cancer: https://news.ku.dk/all_news/2011/2010.12/danish-mushroom-inspires-cancer-researchers/

Golden Chanterelles

Event Information:

Presenters will be photographer, Dennis Becker, (www.dennisbeckerphotography.com) Cook, Food Stylist/Writer, Lisa Golden Schroeder, (www.foodesigns.com), and Michael Karns, Wild Food/Foraging entrepenuer (www.foundfoods.com).

FREE at Norway House

Thursday, July 19

6 to 8:30 (program & tasting begins at 6:30 pm)

About the book:  Step into nature, whether in a park, forest, prairie, or lakeland, and you are surrounded by edible wild foods–if you know where to look. Old traditions of foraging have seen a passionate resurgence of interest among midwestern chefs and home cooks intrigued by the vitality of foods growing just footsteps–or a healthy hike–from their doors. But many hesitate over collecting wild mushrooms: How do you know which ones are okay to eat? And once you do, how should you prepare them? Untamed Mushrooms opens up the field, explaining how to seek, find, and cook wild mushrooms. Gorgeous full-color photographs and expert guidance unspool the vagaries of locating mushrooms in the wild and safely harvesting them for your table. Featuring thirteen delicious mushrooms celebrated in over one hundred unique kitchen-tested recipes, this book is a guide to truly spectacular seasonal eating. Once you’ve arrived home with your woodland bounty, try Grilled Lake Trout with a Mess of Morels, Roasted Corn Soup with Mushroom Duxelles, Prairie Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Chioggia Beets, Pork Tenderloin with Black Trumpet Sorghum and Ground Cherry Salsa, Game Hens with Creamy Maitake Pasta, or Porcini-Dusted Chicken with Wild Mushroom Farrotto. Accept this official invitation to begin your own mushroom stalking adventures that will lead to some seriously delicious eating.

The Horn Truth (And Nothing But The Truth)

Yes, we know.
Vikings, the original Vikings not the football team, never wore horns on their helmets.Yet, we have Viking helmets in our store. Lots of them.
(If you don’t believe me check it out.)And we have fun with pictures using a horned helmet.We even have a horned Viking overseeing our meat counter.And every once in a while a customer will comment on Facebook “Vikings didn’t
wear horns.” We know and appreciate it might be frustrating.
But we have embraced the myth, the same way we have embraced electricity,
indoor plumbing, and the unique flavor of lutefisk.And we will continue to depict Vikings with horns because we like to.
It’s a fun myth to play with and we like to have fun.
If you’d like to know more about how the Viking horn came to be you can watch this video or read a paper by Roberta Franks, Professor of English and Linguistics at Yale University that can be found at the end of this post.

Frank-Invention-of-Horned-Helmet

P.S. – We also know Skol should really be Skål but, again, we’re just having fun.

 

 

 

 

 

Independence Days

This Wednesday we celebrate our Independence Day. Nearly every country has a day that they celebrate their country’s formation or independence or freedom. Here is a short reminder of the Scandinavian independence days:

Denmark

In Denmark, Constitution Day (Danish: Grundlovsdag) is observed on June 5th. This day honors the Danish Constitution. Both the first constitution establishing Denmark as a constitutional monarchy was signed on June 5th of 1849 and the current constitution of 1953 were signed on this date of their respective years.

Denmark’s Constitutional Assembly

The day is widely celebrated throughout Denmark with church congregations, associations and political organizations meeting for what is essentially “secular services.” These services include the raising of the Flag, a short presentation by a local politician or celebrity, and collective singing. Celebrations usually end with coffee and the eating of traditional buns and we can get behind any celebration that ends with eating.

By the way, June 5th is also Father’s Day in Denmark.

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Spice Up Your Life

When people say they want to add some spice to their life it is usually because their life is a little bland and needs something added to rev it up. This often leads to bad choices of hair coloring/hair pieces, sports cars or motorcycles, and other “spicy” things.

In the culinary world it is much the same. Spices make food and beverages taste better and/or different.

Now there is a saying that for Scandinavians ketchup is a spice but that’s not always true – sometimes it’s true, but not always.

Ingebretsen’s carries some great culinary spices that you won’t find at the supermarket. If you haven’t explored them on our website or in the store here are a few of our customers favorites:

Danish Viking Sea Salt – Our Bestseller

“Danish Viking Smoked Sea Salt from Salt Traders, is smoked in Denmark with juniper, cherry, elm, beech and oak, using techniques that the Vikings had first implemented. This luxurious, aromatic, flavorful sea salt has a smoky, rich, mildly sweet taste. It has intense flavor and a little goes a long way. An excellent finishing salt, it is great with seafood, pork, poultry and vegetables. This is truly one of the world’s best salts.”

The Danish Viking Sea Salt is a finishing salt so it is usually added after cooking. The creators this sea salt have a few suggestions for use:

  • Season steaks and chops after cooking.
  • Great on fish, especially salmon.
  • Season bean or lentil soup.
  • Toss with steamed vegetables and unsalted butter.
  • Use in creamed corn or corn chowder.
  • Sprinkle on savory tarts and quiches.
  • Season any of your favorite egg preparations.
  • Sprinkle on baked or mashed potatoes.
  • Use a few grains in a Bloody Mary for a smoky twist on this classic cocktail.
  • Add a few grains to a bowl of ice cream with chocolate or caramel sauce.

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Midsommar In The Land of the Midnight Sun

Carolina Romare/Imagebank.sweden.se

Talking seals. Singing like frogs. Rolling naked in the morning dew.

Welcome to Midsommar or Midsummer, in Scandinavia.

This is the when celebrations accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. Once observed on St. John’s day, June 24, it is now observed on the Friday and Saturday between June 19 and June 25.

It is during this time that the nations of Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Greenland, and Russia ring true to their name “The Land of Midnight Sun.” A quarter of Finland’s territory lies north of the Arctic Circle, and at the country’s northernmost point the sun does not set at all for 60 days during summer. In Svalbard, Norway, the northernmost inhabited region of Europe, there is no sunset from approximately April 19 to August 23.

It’s no secret that Northerners know how (& why) to celebrate the long, sweet days of summer! The precious, warmer days mean spending time with friends and family as often as possible. Making special memories with each gathering and sharing the spirit of joy and gratitude. Touches of Nordic design on the table, and of course, sharing a meal made from delicious Midsummer recipes are tradition.

Here are a few wonderful new items straight from Scandinavia that will help you make your next midsummer gathering a memorable one…

Our favorite cookbook this summer is SkandiKitchen Summer by Brontë Aurell, Danish cook, author, and restaurateur. And happily she has included her fabulous Midsummer Strawberry Cake recipe!

And treat yourself and your guests to a beautiful and welcoming table. For a few suggestions to help… CLICK HERE.

Start with a great Midsummer Menu (many ingredients are available at our Nordic Marketplace):

  • Matjes sill  (herring)
  • Boiled new potatoes with fresh dill
  • Cold cucumber salad
  • Leksands Crispbread
  • Swedish “Midsommar” Cake

Here are some ideas to create a Midsummer atmosphere of your own:

  • Have your meal outside
  • Decorate your table with wildflowers, wooden maypoles and Nordic flags
  • Make flower rings and wear them in your hair
  • Create a maypole with branches and wildflowers
  • Learn a ring dance and dance around your maypole
  • Fill the air with Scandinavian music!
  • Treat yourself and your guests to a beautiful and welcoming table. For a few suggestions to help… click here

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World Cup Soccer — Scandinavian Style

FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup starts next week in Russia. We call it soccer but the rest of the world calls in football. You can find all kinds of facts and stats about the World Cup here.

When FIFA was founded in 1904, there were seven member countries: France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Sweden and Denmark will be in the World Cup this year and are joined by Iceland. Norway and Finland will have to join the United States in the status of watchers rather than participants. Here is a quick look at each team:

Team Iceland

Iceland is the big story, and the cover of TIME magazine this week, because they are the smallest country to ever qualify for the World Cup. Approximately the size of Kentucky and having a population slightly larger than St. Paul, Minnesota, Iceland is the underdog everyone is watching. A bar in Denver has had itself named the official bar for Icelander soccer fans in Colorado.

Iceland is in Group D along with Argentina, Croatia, and Nigeria. Their Viking chant is the same as Minnesota’s Viking chant but this is how it looks with 10,000 fans gather outdoors to cheer for their team:

Read more about team Iceland here. Continue reading

Celebrate World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day, a good day to think about ways we can help the environment as individuals. This year the theme is #beatplasticpollution

A recent international news item is the death of a whale where over 80 plastic bags were found in his stomach. He thought it was food and all the bags made him too sick to eat so he finally died. Unfortunately this isn’t really “news.” In 2017 a beached whale in Norway was found with 30 plastic bags in his stomach.

I know when I see what is going on it seems overwhelming, and I wonder how one person can make any difference, but there are things an individual and family can commit to that will make a difference. One way is to follow the example of Denmark. According to a report by the National Geographic, “In Denmark, people use an average of four single-use plastic bags a year, compared to one a day in the U.S..” One a day vs. four a year. That is a big change.

“In 1993 Denmark was the first country to introduce a tax on plastic bags. Today, a bag costs roughly 50 cents, part of which goes in taxes, but the supermarket also makes a small profit. The higher cost of bags has cut the sale of multiple-use bags by more than 40 percent over the past 25 years. On average, a Dane now uses 70 multiple-use carrier bags and just four single-use bags a year, or less than 1.5 plastic bags a week in all.”

If you are ready to make a commitment to use fewer plastic bags we can help you do it in style. Ingebretsen’s carries a large assortment of totes in both cloth and environment friendly reusable polyethylene – perfect for produce and trips to the farmer’s market.

We are particularly fond of the Hinza bags:

The large version of the Hinza bag is a Swedish classic, designed at the beginning of the 1950s by the Swedish plastic and chemical company Perstorp AB. The bag was named Shopping Bag 329 and it is the model for today’s Hinza bag by designer Curt Christofferson, employed at the company.

The striped plastic bag quickly became popular in Swedish homes as it was useful for a multitude of purposes, not least for carrying home groceries. In the mid-1960s, grocery stores began offering customers disposable plastic bags, which resulted in production of the Shopping Bag being shut down.

Karin Bachstätter is a great granddaughter of the founder of Perstorp AB and these practical plastic bags have always been a presence her life. With the development of a new environmental awareness, Karin and her husband re-started production in 2007 together with her parents. The smaller version of the bag was launched in 2015.

All Hinza bags are manufactured in Hillerstorp in the province of Småland, and the factory has environmental as well as quality management certification.

The Fifties concept and design still hold, with the plastic bag’s stylish shape and enormous usability meaning that it’s never outdated.

 

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Viking Weddings Of Yore

Photo credit: Paul Edmonson

Scandinavian wedding traditions can add a lot of beauty and fun to a wedding plus can be a nice way to honor the past of the couple. We have written a number of posts about these traditions and links are provided at the end of this blog. Today we are looking at wedding culture and traditions of the Vikings. (You can see great pictures like this one at Paul Edmonson’s post “I Photographed A Real Life Norwegian Viking Wedding.”)

A Viking Wedding Cake from Pinterest

No not these Vikings …

But the Vikings of the days of yore (I’ve always wanted to say that in a proper sentence). Like Hagar and Helga from the Sunday Funnies (or not).

Marriage offered stability, serving as a way to control sexual activity and reproduction in the community. A culture with a negative historical reputation for its treatment of women actually worked quite hard to ensure relative gender equality and fair treatment of and respect for women and female sexuality. This list explores many Viking marriage rituals, ranging from weird to romantic.

For Vikings, marriage wasn’t just a union of the couple, but of families. Because of this, the wedding was a long process. Unions had long-lasting legal implications in Norse culture, affecting everything from familiar property holdings to inheritance. Therefore, numerous negotiations were carried out before the terms of a marriage were formally agreed upon.

At the start of marriage negotiations, the groom’s family, along with legal delegates got together to determine the bride’s dowry, the groom’s financial assets, set the date of the wedding, and negotiate the wedding gift from the groom’s parents. The groom’s family, counsel, and any important local figures to whom they had connections brought proposals to the bride’s family, promising to support and assist them, while agreeing upon mutually beneficial terms for the marriage.

The Process of Getting Married Was Laborious Continue reading

Kubb: A Game For Everyone

Memorial Day Weekend is often called the start of summer. (Although I believe with the recent heat wave our summer was already started. Did you see spring? I think we missed spring!)

I know in Minnesota and the surrounding states residents try to spend as much time as possible outdoors because in the cold dark winters (sorry to mention it) we spend so much time indoors. If you are looking for a new outdoor activity that is easy to do and is inclusive of everyone from young to old and fit to well not-so-fit we suggest Kubb.

Kubb (rhymes with lube) is a lawn game where the objective is to knock over wooden blocks (kubbs) by throwing wooden batons (kastpinnar) at them. Kubb is often described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. You can watch the “pros” play the 2017 U.S. National Kubb Championship Finals:

The claimed Viking origin of the game has led some players and Kubb fans to nickname the game “Viking chess.”

An illustrator’s impression of the island of Gotland. (From TD & World)

With the game dating back to the Viking Age it’s been claimed that it has survived since then on Gotland, Sweden’s largest island.

The earliest mention of a kubb-like game comes from the second edition of the Swedish Encyclopedia “Nordisk familjebok” (the Nordic family book) in 1911. In this book it is called “Kägelkrig” (Skittles war) and is described as a variation of Skittles (the game not the candy) and played with a ball.

The game in its modern conception became popular in the late 1980s when commercial Kubb sets were first manufactured.

Play takes place on a small rectangular playing field, known as a “pitch.” “Kubbs” are placed at both ends of the pitch, and the “king,” a larger wooden block, is placed in the middle of the pitch. Some rules vary from country to country and from region to region, but the ultimate objective of the game is to knock over the “kubbs” on the opposing side of the pitch, and then to knock over the “king,” before the opponent does. Games can last from five minutes to well over an hour. The game can be played on a variety of surfaces such as grass, sand, concrete, snow, or even ice.

Kubb is now an international game and an annual World Championship has been held since 1995 on Gotland. Kubb tournaments now occur throughout Europe and the United States of America.

On December 13, 2011, Eau Claire, Wisconsin declared itself to be the Kubb Capital of North America. An annual U.S. National Kubb Championship has been held there since 2007. You can find out more about the championship and Kubb United here.

During Open Streets in July, Ingebretsen’s often features Kubb with the thanks of the Minnesota Kubb Club. You can connect with them on Facebook or their website.

Ready to get your Kubb on? Get your Kubb set at Ingebretsen’s. It is made in Minnesota and includes the rules.