The Giant Puffball Mushroom

Nature is FASCINATING. Especially for someone like me who loves food. Although I’ve never been daring enough to collect and consume wild mushrooms – mostly b/c I have no idea what I’m doing and would likely wind up dead or whacked out of my mind – I still enjoy discovering the abundance of fungi out there. Just look at this one I found in Vermont, which looks quite egg-y to me:

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Or this one, also from VT, which resembles a giant puffy pancake.

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My husband recently introduced me to this online program – a mushroom catalog, detailing which are edible and which lethal. I particularly like the little emoticon faces – from happy to ill, and worse.

I visit a local nature refuge several times a week.  This fall has brought forth several remarkable mushrooms, each the size of a soccer ball.  I was FLOORED the first time I saw one. WOW! Look at the SIZE OF THAT THING!  Of course my husband and I – being the way we are – immediately grabbed one and began kicking it back and forth to each other.  After a few kicks…BAM! it exploded, and we were left with large white chunks.  We realized the whole mushroom had been solid, rather than hollow.  It struck me as so remarkable that I decided to take a few photographs and do a little research.

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When I got home, I googled “GIANT PUFFBALL” and Whaddaya know?! CHA-CHING! The Giant Puffball Mushroom, or Calvatia gigantea

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Giant puffballs resemble the white button mushrooms you find in every supermarket, but are smooth solid white globes, lacking gills of any sort. The ones we’ve found have been no more than 12 inches in diameter, but puffballs can be as small as golf balls or as large as medicine balls – some weighing up to 40 POUNDS. The young, all-white mushrooms are edible and said to be quite tasty, w/ a flavor akin to tofu or melted cheese. For more detailed information on consuming giant puffballs, see the following RecipeTips entry.

As the Giant Puffballs age, they eventually split and turn yellow, and then brown, as they begin to spore.  I found a specimen at Tinicum which had opened and begun the process.

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Once they reach this stage, giants puffballs are INEDIBLE. (Not that anyone in their right mind would be interested in gobbling that mess up.. But still. I offer the warning.)

For more information on Giant Puffballs, check out the following websites:

Tom Volk’s entry w/ FUNNY PHOTOS is definitely worth a click.
Wikipedia entry on Calvatia gigantea
Wildman Steve Brill’s entry on the Giant Puffball
David Fischer’s American Mushrooms entry on BEST EDIBLE WILD MUSHROOMS: Giant Puffball

Finding the perfect jeans.

SO.  There I was, minding my own business, walking home w/ my family.  We’re strolling down Baltimore Ave, as we are wont to do, when I spy a box on the edge of the sidewalk.  FREE STUFF.  As I never miss a bargain let alone a freebie, I mosey over and take a peek.  The box was small w/ just a few t-shirts sticking out the side, but right there on top was a pair of jeans.  Hmm.  They looked good.  New even.  Ignoring my husband who told me I was going to get fleas – or WORSE – I snatched them right up.  While John stood watching and yelling at Maddie to PUT DOWN THAT T-SHIRT, I unfurled the jeans.  WOW.  Abercrombie & Fitch low rise flares. Sweeeeet.  And not only were they new, but they were NEW! AND also just happened to be my size.  My EXACT Size.  SHA-ZAM!!!  At 5-10 I have a tough time finding pants long enough when I’m actually shopping and paying real money for them – but to find a perfect pair of $80 jeans just sitting there for the taking….??!   I TOLD YOU I WAS LUCKY.

As soon as we got home I shot to the bathroom to try them on.  I couldn’t BELIEVE IT.  Even after I zippered them up and took a gander in the mirror.  I marveled at my good fortune.  Finding the perfect jeans.  Literally.  What are the chances??  And yet, If I’d followed my husband’s warning about CONTRACTING A COMMUNICABLE DISEASE these plums would’ve passed me by.  If I gave a crap what other people thought of me as I trash picked, I would have missed a GRAND OPPORTUNITY.  Not to wax too philosophical on the point, BUT

Life is what you make it.  DON’T LOSE OUT.

Your own PERSONAL CUPID

Sometimes I think fate is out to make me its mistress. Take this thrift shop find: a whole store’s worth of vintage 80s Valentine cards. I just couldn’t resist. Maybe I could have if they’d been the traditional schmaltz, but most of these cards are suggestive. Who doesn’t like a nice racy card? Pretty hot stuff for 1985. Like this one:


Winky eye + smoke coming out of head = Most magically delicious valentine ever

Could there be anything cooler than whipping out a 1980s Recycled Paper Products, Inc. valentine, seemingly out of thin air? These things don’t just grow on trees (I am speaking figuratively here, b/c yes I DO KNOW THEY USED TO as they are composed of 100% recycled paper* obviously way ahead of their time). But you know what I’m saying. Especially if you lived through the 80s. Of course they were stupid and Hideous then, but it’s 2008, Now they’re RETRO.

Remember that TV show A CURRENT AFFAIR? No, I was not suggesting you’d ever watched it either. But I have a card based on it. Other winners include Boynton and the comic strip Cathy. The rest just suggest SEX.

But the greatness of this find doesn’t stop there. You see, my life is all about LOVE. I love LOVE. I enjoy joy. Valentine’s Day was MADE for people like me!! So now I have this surplus of vintage Valentine’s. AND a compulsive inner drive to make others happy. I’m thinking of starting up my own (one-season) seasonal business and I’m going to call it “Your own PERSONAL CUPID”. After all, just last week I posted a whole whopping list of creative, thoughtful, and CHEAP ideas for Valentine’s Day. because that’s just the kind of loving creative thoughtful and cheap person I am. But this idea goes well beyond all that. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to have a completely anonymous stranger act as your cupid? I can write and speak English (and a little French – oh la la! the language of looove). I can come up with interesting, totally spontaneous greeting card messages like “BABY, oh BABY. I am thinking of you right now. Meet me at the train depot at 6 PM tonight. I’ll be the blonde with the suitcase.” Or, “I WANT YOU. AND I KNOW YOU WANT ME. Guess who?”

GREAT stuff , huh?

What could be more titillating than sending a Secret Admirer valentine to someone you have the hots for?? IT IS GREAT.

Think about it:

  1. I send your love a card FOR YOU.
  2. They get it in the mail. Surprise!
  3. He/she looks at the postmark, thinking who the hell lives in Philadelphia? SURPRISE!
  4. He/she opens the envelope to find a HOT!HOT! message, signed with YOUR NAME (WHEN DID THEY GO TO PHILLY??) or NONE AT ALL.
  5. He/she cannot believe it – and WHAT A COOL CARD TO BOOT.
  6. BEST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER!!

Hey, check out my x-rated animal cracker!

Soooo.. last night we’re watching Indiana Jones with the girls. John and I are drinking wine and we’re all enjoying our favorite snack of Berkley and Jensen animal crackers. We’re sitting there, sipping and munching, transfixed by Indy’s thrilling adventure, when I reach my hand into the bowl and – Huh. My cracker feels…weird. Bigger than usual. I pull my eyes away from the movie and look down to find:

Awooga!

Like two dogs at the park, the donkey and (I think) Buffalo are fused together into one great cracker of love.

Mommy, why are you laughing?? [I show them.] My husband loses it. Asks to see the cracker. We leave it on the table and threaten our children not to eat it. After the movie I position it on top of my dresser, tchotchke style. This morning I take its picture.

This cracker leaves me wondering. Was it a mix-up? a manufacturing glitch? Faulty equipment? Are those factory workers at the BJ’s (no-pun-intended) cracker plant just having too much fun? Should I let my kids eat animal crackers unsupervised or are they now considered adults-only snack food? And.. if I ate my special cracker, would it taste different? Questions. Questions…

I guess my biggest question is whether we should try selling it on eBay. I don’t really want to give up my copulating cracker. But who am I to keep it from the world? People bid on all sorts of crazy crap every day – remember that virgin mary grilled cheese? And although that was religious iconography (perhaps slightly loftier than my baked pornography), at least my cookie won’t rot.. And you just know someone’s gonna want to pay good money for animal crackers doing it! It would make a really unique Christmas gift.

Now I can’t stop thinking of titles for the post:

When animals attack!
Animal crackers gone wild
What they’re up to when they’re inside that box
How animal crackers make more animal crackers
Cookies gettin their swerve on
Innocence lost