Tag Archives: Mushroom adventure tour

Farewell to Sparky!

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Farewell to Sparky!

 

 Tips by Sparky

Tips by Sparky

It is my sad duty to report that Sparky, my partner and mushroom hunting companion has passed away. It has taken me several months to be able to write about this. He was a joyful, happy companion. Sparky had a wonderful personality. He was engaging to everyone he met. He loved to play and always had a smile on his face. He attracted people. The stick was his way of communicating. He would drop it at your feet and begin talking to you with his eyes. You learned quickly what he wanted. Throw that stick.

As a puppy, he entertained himself by the hours chasing birds, treeing raccoon’s and running the fence line with the neighboring horses. Many times I saw the horses come up the the fence and initiate the chase with Sparky. He always obliged. It was with great joy he lived his life. He was renowned for his gentleness with everyone, particularly children.

As my mushroom partner, Sparky was an asset. He always kept track of me and anyone who was in our group while in the woods. He made people at ease going into the forest. His presence gave confidence and led to success.

Sparky died as he lived right to the very end. He began to have difficulty with breathing this summer once the weather became very hot weather. It did not like the 100 degree temperatures and became increasingly uncomfortable. Despite my best efforts at making Sparky comfortable, he succumb to a hidden heart problem. His last day was, however, a good one for both of us. It was Sunday, July 12, 2015. By early afternoon, he had drank some broth and water. I asked him did he want to go for a car ride. He immediately jumped up and smiled, You Betcha! I led him out to my truck and opened the door. I wasn’t sure he would be able to get in but he jumped right up into his seat. We drove out to my friend, Peggy’s, 30 acre farm  that Sparky had spent many days. We got out and walked around the gardens and fields. Sparky did his dog thing, smelling and greeting the other dogs there. After a couple of couple of hours we went into the house. Sparky laid down and Peggy and I chatted. After about 1/2 an hour or so, I said “Where is Sparky?”. I could see him but I wanted to let him know I was thinking about him. He looked up and spotted me. He slowly got up and walked into the adjoining room. He found one of his favorite “squeaky” toys. We followed him in the room. He was squeaking the toy and then gave it to Peggy who squeaked a couple of times and gave it back to Sparky.

What happened next, happened very quickly. Sparky had the toy in his mouth. Suddenly, he dropped and just keeled over toward his left side. As he did, his legs stretched out and he let out a low howl followed by a short yip. By this time both Peggy and I were holding him and talking to him. It was thus that Sparky died at home surrounded by those who loved him. It was over in 10-15 seconds. I would like to think the final yip was him saying goodbye. May I be so fortunate!

Today, Sparky can be seen as a shadow still playing with the birds, squirrels, other dogs and raccoon’s on Peggy’s farm. He has a beautiful view of Goat Mt and sleeps beneath the maple, chestnut and oak trees. May he rest in peace.

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Media features

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Tours with Steve have been featured in two recent media outlets:

June 2013 edition of Northwest Boomer & Senior News by Maggie White and photography by L. E. Baskow

June 21, 2013 Editions of KATU 2 Reel People, the mushroom hunter. http://www.katu.com/news/local/Reel-People-You-should-be-excited-to-see-mushrooms-212622581.html

Take a moment to view this interesting video about mushroom hunting in the Mount Hood National Forest. Thanks to Michael Warner!

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Sparky’s Tip of the Week #6 – Forest & Mushroom Ethics

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Sparky’s Tip of the Week #6 – Forest & Mushroom Ethics

- Tips by Sparky

Sparky has decided to write his own outdoor column called “Sparky’s Tip of the Week”. He hopes you enjoy some of his insights.

Caution: Some of the pictures in the following tip may upset you. Sparky gets freaked out, too!

Forest Ethics & Etiquette

  • If you bring it into the woods, bring it home. Please do not dump your garbage in the forest.

Trash

  • This including gun cartridge shells. Someone has to pick it up. Besides being unsightly, it is potential dangerous to other people and animals.

Garbage dumped in forest

  • If Mother Nature calls, bury it! including toilet paper so it decomposes and not stepped in or run into water supply.
  • Treat the forest with respect; it is our legacy to future generations.

Dumped tires

  • Treat other people you meet with respect. The forests have many uses including logging, hunting and many forms of recreation.

 

Mushroom Picking Ethics & Etiquette

  • Pick only what you can use.
  • Do not pick an area clean always leave some mushrooms behind.
  • If you meet someone else picking mushrooms in the forest, say hello but do not start picking mushrooms in their patch, it might be dangerous.
  • It is better to cut the stems than to pull up entire mushroom. There may be a new mushrooms forming below.
  • Picking mushroom will not kill them but may help spread its spore. Mushrooms are like fruit on a tree. Drop a spore and grow a new mushroom next year.
  • Mushrooms are the sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Ramaria (Coral Mushroom) fruiting in forest

  • Mushrooms are a valuable, renewable resource to be enjoyed and appreciated.

 

Photographing mushrooms

Sparky says: join Steve at www.tourswithsteve.com for a mushroom tour and learn about forest & mushroom ethics.

Click here for a free emailed brochure.

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3 Things To Do With Your Morels

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After you have gone into the woods, worked and sweated all day locating your treasured morel mushrooms, what are you going to do with them? Here are three suggestions of what to do with your morels:

1.  You are probably not going to like morels, so I will volunteer to take these unwanted orphans off your hands. In my heart of hearts, I want to help you through this distressing time. Donations are willingly and gratefully accepted.

2. So, you did not fall for that one. Try drying them so you can rehydrate them next autumn when morel season is a dream and you want to relive your adventure tour with Steve on Mt. Hood. Use a dehydrator to dry your morels and store them in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.  Then simply take a handful of dried mushroom, put into a bowl of lukewarm water until re-hydrated and then cook.  On a serious note: Morels need to be thoroughly cooked before eating. Never eat wild mushrooms raw.

Morels on trays ready for dehydrator

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. My favorite way to use morels is in an omelet or scrambled eggs. As noted above, cook morel first before adding to dishes.

Egg & cheese omelet with morel mushrooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to learn about wild morel mushrooms, call Steve at TourWithSteve.com and join one of our foraging tours into the wilds of Mt Hood.

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Using Dogs to find Morels

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This highly controversial and seldom discussed subject is not often seen in print. Using dogs or any other animals to find fungi is frequently touted as a green, sustainable, environmentally acceptable way of hunting.

Sparky not really interested looking for Morels

Now my dog, Sparky is a border collie. Border collies are among the smartest breed of dogs. However, even with an IQ of about a 3-4 year old human, he is still looking for truffles. There must be something about the scent of morels Sparky does not find attractive. Frankly, I have almost given up hope he will find even one morel unless he sits on one. Perhaps, if I let him sleep with the morels, he will start dreaming of them as I do. And I do often dream of hunting morel mushrooms on Mt. Hood.

Sparky trying hard to please his master

Sparky trying hard to please his master

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In conclusion, using a dog is an excellent way to sustainably forage for morels (because you will never find them that way). If you want to collect morel mushrooms ethically and sustainably, call Steve at tourwithsteve.com and join one of our foraging tours into the wilds of Mt Hood.

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Mushroom Report as of April 24, 2012

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This was to be a weekly report but it has become more periodic. The truth is until recently, fungi activity has been low BUT that has changed with the onset of warmer weather. Mushrooms are beginning to fruit. The most notable are morel mushrooms and oyster mushrooms.

Yellow Morel Mushroom

Do you want to learn more, contact Steve at tourwithsteve.com and join one of his foraging tours into the wilds of Mt Hood.

 

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Weekly Mushroom Report as of February 16, 2012

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Weekly Mushroom Report as of February 16, 2012

This is a new, regular feature to this blog. It will be a periodic update of mushrooms available for harvest. Reporting will only cover areas in and around the Mt Hood National Forest and adjacent private lands unless otherwise noted.

No, we will not be giving directions to specific areas.

This report is based upon my own finding and in conversation with other foragers in the trade. It is not meant to be an exhaustive lists but rather to give you an idea what is available. We hope you enjoy this new feature and we welcome your comments and additions.
The bad news for this report is it appears that the Oregon Winter white truffles have completed their seasonal fruiting. What is found is in advanced stage of decay. The good news is while hunting Oregon Spring White Truffles, they are beginning to fruit in abundance in the foothills of the Cascades. What I have seen so far is not quite ripe but in another week or so should be prime. We are hoping for a long season as long as the rains continue.

Black truffles, sad to report, are having a terrible year. It is with great effort that any truffles are being harvested. It appears to be part of the natural cycle of on and off years. The dry weather in late autumn and early winter did not help either.

Two species of edible mushrooms are still being reported thought quality and quantity appears to be diminishing.

Here is a list of mushrooms and truffles. Species are listed with common name first and then botanical name:

1. Oregon Black Truffle –Leucangium carthusianum

Oregon Black Truffle

2. Oregon White Spring Truffle –Tuber gibbosum

Oregon White Truffle

3. Yellow foot—Cantharellus tubaeformis

4. Hedgehog Mushrooms –Hydnum repandum

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Weekly Mushroom Report as of Jan 30, 2012

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Weekly Mushroom Report as of Jan 30, 2012

This is a new feature to the blog. It will be a periodic update of mushrooms available to harvest. Reporting will only cover areas in and around the Mt Hood National Forest and adjacent private lands unless otherwise noted.

No, we will not be giving directions to specific areas.

This report is based upon my own finding and in conversation with other foragers in the trade. It is not meant to be an exhaustive lists but rather to give you an idea what is available. We hope you enjoy this new feature and we welcome your comments and additions.
Here is a list of mushrooms and truffles. Species are listed with common name first and then botanical name:
1. Oregon Brown Truffle –Leucangium brunneum
2. Oregon Black Truffle –Leucangium carthusianum
3. Oregon White Truffle –Tuber oregonense
4. Yellow foot—Cantharellus tubaeformis
5. Hedgehog Mushrooms –Hydnum repandum

Tours with Steve

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Albertina’s Restaurant Chefs’ Dinner featuring Oregon Truffles

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On Thursday January 12, 2012, Albertina’s Restaurant in Portland hosted a Chefs’ Dinner featuring Oregon Truffles. Yours truly provided the Oregon Black Truffle (Leucangium carthusianum) for this event.

It was an outstanding five course dinner paired with some amazing wines from Lejon Wine Cellars.

This was a leisurely event interspace with delicious food, paired wines to each dish and great conversations. The food course were as follows:
Chilled Lobster Salad—with endive truffle marmalade with Lujon Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Gris ‘09

with endive truffle marmalade

 

Ham Three Ways—Tuna prosciutto, Iberian ham and smoked duck ham with Lujon Cellars Columbia Valley Red Blend ‘09

Tuna prosciutto, Iberian ham and smoked duck ham

Pear Vanilla Granita—to clean the palette (yummy)

Truffle Crusted Halibut—with red and golden beets and purple carrots paired with Lujon Cellars Spofford Station Vineyard Syrah ‘08

with red and golden beets and purple carrots paired

Elk Osso Bucco—with mushroom duxelle ravioli, shaved truffle cheese and fresh shaved black truffle paired with Lujon Cellars Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon ‘08

with mushroom duxelle ravioli, shaved truffle cheese and fresh shaved black truffle

Salt and Straw Truffle Ice Cream—salted caramel powder and sesame crisp for dessert. (sorry no picture, it looked and smelled so good I neglected to take a picture)

Chefs included:
Alex Diomis—executive chef at Albertina’s Restaurant www.AlbertinaKerr.org
Brian Landry—executive chef at Bamboo Sushi, Portland
Kit Zhu—Prairie Creek Farm and executive chef
Kim and Tyler Malek—Salt and Straw ice cream show featuring cold creations
Wines provided by John Derthick of Lujon Wine Cellars, visit www.lujonwinecellars.com
At the conclusion of dinner, Steve gave a short talk about truffle hunting, ethical and sustainable collecting practice and answered questions.

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Hunting mushrooms in the Mt Hood National Forest is always an adventure. I am often asked how do you know where to find mushrooms?
How do I find mushrooms? Do I look for a particular soil type? Do I look for certain trees? Is it about ground covers? Do I follow animal trails? Is the calendar the key? Do I consult with a psychic or have clairvoyant abilities? Is a sunny day better than a rainy day?
Well, I am going to let you in on my secret. Do not tell anyone. It is none of the above. It’s my dog.

Sparky awaiting his job orders

Now Sparky, my dog, is no ordinary dog. He is a border collie. If you know anything about the breed, he is a working dog.

Sparky at full speed!

In fact, he will outwork any working dog around. Sparky is a black and white blur running around in the woods.

Sparky Hunting

Yep! He is my secret weapon in find those elusive fungi. He can cover more ground in five minutes than a herd of pickers in a week. He learned very quickly the technique of how to pick mushrooms. Sadly, he does leave some jagged edges on the mushroom stems from his teeth but I can usually fix those deficiencies in nothing flat.

Sparky retrieving


I know what you are thinking. How much will it cost you to buy my dog? Don’t even think about it. I’ve been offered over ten thousand dollars for him already. Read my lips: Sparky is not for sale even at ten times that price. Or!
If you want to see Sparky in action, then join us for a mushroom adventure tour .

Sparky, "The Wonder Dog!"

Seeing is believing!!

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