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2015/03/17 / tocovava

Sweet Snow Mold, a fresh recipe from here

Everyone was excited at the farmers’ market on Saturday, weren’t they? The dread winter weather had broken. Was that sunshine? Are those short sleeves? No jacket? No hat? No gloves? Ok then–Where are your ramps? Your yard garlic? To say nothing of your morels? Two unseasonably warm days and all of sudden every one is a house fly awakening on a windowsill, battering about as if the calendar isn’t hung still on the cold steel nail of March.

What the weather proved, though, is that we are marching toward spring and before too long ramps, yard garlic and morels, yes, will be on the tables at the farmers’ market. Nothing against the scientific lettuces, greens and mushrooms we enjoyed all winter, but ancient earth-dirt,  immemorial sunshine from outer space, and upper-tropospheric rain cannot be matched by new science radiating from a website. Against evolution, moi? No, and besides, that weighty question is answered better elsewhere. But this much I know: You Can’t Fool Mother Nature.

2015-03-15 19.41.40Not only are people throwing off layers of covering, so is the aforementioned Mother Nature. She is! That heavy blanket of snow that has lain across her legs for months and months, well, she’s kicked it into dirty piles in super-store parking lots. Amateur anthropologists are finding interest in what has been buried under snow. Not just pop bottles and M&M wrappers, but also Moody’s Mail Max fliers, feces, torn Valentines, a Seattle Seahawks banner, plastic champagne flutes, streamers, paper and plastic party trumpets, wrapping paper and wrapping paper rolls, Barbie-doll boxes, prescription bottles, half-pints, smashed batteries, cranberry cans, flattened plastic pilgrim hats, (a lot of plastic, my boy), small bones hopefully from KFC or Bagger Daves, a sack of candy corn all in a blob, styrofoam meat trays, a tinfoil tube full with pennies, bags of rotten carrots, and McDonald’s coffee cups. And here now is this week’s WORD SPLURGE: McDonald’s! Helloooo!? Your coffee cups are stamped with the words Put Litter In Its Place. Isn’t litter’s place as LITTER?!?! The stuff discarded on the side of the road or blown against a chain link fence is litter. It is no longer a cup or a wrapper. By definition, it is litter. Litter is Litter. It signifies only itself. (And a careless person.) Come on McDonald’s!  You did the vegan burger or whatever way you tried to brand yourself as local and healthy. Why can’t you be more careful with the messaging on your cups? Although, truthfully, I think the wording was a corporate decision, giving them an out. They can say they tried, and people misinterpreted it. Who is going to quibble with the wording on a disposable coffee cup? Moi, among others, that’s who! Why not stamp the cups with “Dispose This Thoughtfully” or “Place Cup in Bin After Use”. Or even before use if you get my drift. Back when McDonald’s was giving their coffee away for free it was no bargain. Or so I’ve heard – I haven’t actually had the stuff, to be honest. Anyway enough about McDonald’s. Back to the snowmelt and how it leads to springtime delights on the table.

The dog found something expired to roll around in a few days ago and Black Betty came indoors smelling of death. We misread (mis-identified?) the scent, thought the old girl was at death’s door (which is a terrible way to view your own home). I put the gun-barrel to Black Betty’s neck. Gwin did a quick internet search while I was ruffling her ears looking for a good spot to make the blast (on Black Betty not Gwin). Gwin discovered that dogs like to roll around in things even pigs would avoid. In this case the soggy carcass of a former raccoon. Who knows where the animal spirit is now? By the way, the gun I held to Black Betty’s neck was a squirt gun filled with soapy water. We don’t own a gun, never will. There.

We called Jack our man-of-all-trades to attend to the mess in which Black Betty rolled. His car wasn’t working, again, so I picked him up. While standing next to Jack, who is brilliant at these things and he works for sooooo cheap too!, I noticed a web-like patch over a part of the lawn. (photo 1) That gray patch, folks, is Typhula (snow mold). And count yourself lucky if you find it.

This oft-overlooked fungus is one of nature’s great team players in the game of early spring foraging. Left in the lawn it is a absolute menace potent enough to sicken large parts of your yard, roots and more. And it tends to make grass look like gone-off mozzarella that was mass-produced in a laboratory somewhere. Yuck! Nevertheless it is a team player. Like the night watchman in cricket appearing after the slogging runs of snow and frost are plowed away, steadily holding, maybe advancing but mostly not advancing at all, then it leaves the field without much of a mark as winter turns to spring with fast-paced deliveries of ramps, yard garlic, and yes, even morels. This little treasure, our typhula enjoys but a brief heyday. For me, that day was today. In my younger days I was given a recipe by neighbor who grew up in these parts. She knew all the old secrets, but was stingy in passing them along for she was unpleasantly sour in many countable ways. This recipe however went in the sweet ledger. There is no doubt you will agree it is a winning recipe. She called it by its colloquial name

SWEET SNOW MOLD   Ingredients: Typhula, Penthouse, Blue Juniper berries | preparation time 7 hrs

First off you must extract the typhula. In doing so you are making your lawn and your stomach happy. I used a Tosuke blade to gently, carefully, sever the typhula from the grass. Be mindful to NOT DISTRESS the bond between the grass and the typhula. (You want to coax the grass from the earth, not tear the typhula from the grass.) Grass remnants on the typhula are tolerable for most constitutions. But it is best to shave all grass remnants, even at the expense of low-hanging typhula, if serving Sweet Snow Mold to the elderly, the very young, or the sickly. Gently, carefully, use the blade’s edge to transfer the rounds of typhula onto construction paper. One sheet serves one person, or thereabouts. Trace elements of sugar are found in construction paper, and being rough-hewn does not consume the precious issue of the typhula. A bonus is produced by the pleasing aspect of typhula on construction paper. 2015-03-15 20.21.06The eye nourishes the belly as does the mouth. Gently, carefully, transfer the typhula from the construction paper into a shallow sauce pan. I used a 10-inch pan from the new line of Viking. Set on low heat, about the hand-feel heat of Gwin’s Lululemons after yoga. Note: DO NOT WASH the typhula, the low heat should kill any and all toxins, and whatever toxins remain are Paleo-approved anyway. While that warms for five minutes work up a paste, just enough to cover the palm of your hand, from the essence of beet juice (semen). The luscious glucose in the essence of beet juice offsets the glandular earthiness of the typhula. Toss in the essence of beet juice. Remove from heat. Gently, carefully, ladle onto hard ceramic plate. As you know I don’t consider a dish finito until it has been garnished honorably. These wonderful Blue Juniper berries (photo 2) fall free-range in the yard, lucky us. For an hour (and at such a reasonable wage!) hard-working poor Jack was on all fours like a cat in a litter box scratching back and forth collecting these gems that had been embedded deep in the ground by snowmelt. Use stainless steel tweezers to crack the Blue Juniper berries, careful to open them one by one.

–Sweet Snow Mold pairs opportunistically with the warm smug of Hateful Broth.

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