Mushie season in the tropics

Agaricus sp.Well I’m so surprised by the variety of fungi popping up here in the tropics! I thought the majority of fungi were temperate but no some species I have found in a temperate zones are popping up here in the tropics so I think fungi may be more dependent on rain not temperatures, very interesting.
I have found what I think is a field mushroom (Agaricus sp.) of some sort it is smaller than the ones in Trouwunna/Tasmania but taste the same I also found a small amount of tinny puff balls of the Lycoperdon genus along the road and then blow be down if yaba Mick & his mate didn’t turn up back home with two large puff balls from up around Cooktown area, he figured I would be able to say if edible or not they all think it is quite funny my obsession and excitement over mayi/wild foods and they just looked at each other and laughed when I said YES you can eat them and got all exited about it……..
Brain puff ball (Calvatia craniformis)The puff balls they found are what I believe to be the brain puff ball (Calvatia craniformis) it is the biggest puff ball I have seen so far in Australia and yaba mick said there were heaps of them so I will know for next season now.
I fried up the mushies I had found then added parsley and a white sauce, I sliced the two yaba mick bought home and fried them up in olive oil with just a bit of salt and pepper they were nice they went crispy brown on the outside but were still a gooey soft white on the inside like what I remember fried Camembert cheese to be like but not as runny just marshmallowy…..
Puff balls aren’t my favorite mushies but they aren’t bad so I will definitely harvest them next year and please excuse the pictures we all didn’t get home until later in the arvo and it was very stormy and dark, we were going to eat the mushies that night so I had to try to take pictures inside the house, not the best. 🙂

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Smells Of Roses

Here is another none native Syzygium species that I found yesterday I caught a glimpse of the fruit whilst driving to town I turned around and went back and I seen these large whitish fruit hanging in the tree and heaps of seeds on the ground, I had been in bed for a week or so and these had fruited ripened and were nearly finished within that week because they were not there last week, I drive past these trees every time I go to town and I wouldn’t have missed them so you have to be quick for these ones.

Rose apple Syzygium jambos

The fruit has a strong floral smell and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what they smelt like but it was familiar and after finding out what one of the common names is for them it all clicked, they smell of roses hence the common name rose apple, the botanical name is Syzygium jambos.
When you shake the fruit the large seeds inside rattle which is unusual for a Syzygium most I have come across the seeds are firmly held within the flesh not absolutely loose like these, the flesh is crisp and sweet by far this one is my favorite it is sublime, I’m so lucky I came across these.
I kept several to eat fresh in the next couple of day but I had to cook the rest up so yes another jam, I added tamarind (Tamarindus indica) to this one and it is gorgeous.

Fruit with Bells on it

Well it is 3am in the bloody morning and I’m up n about already the nearly full moon, crying kujir/curlews and singing jarruka/orange footed scrub hen tricked my body clock and maybe I wont sleep at all tonight…….. but that’s ok I must listen to my inner clock and if it says GET UP I do unless very unwell.
So while I’m up to early to do much else I shall blog 🙂
Bell fruit Syzygium samarangenseI was visiting Aunty the other day to drop off some goodies I had cooked up and noticed these funny shaped red fruits everywhere in her garden I asked her about them and she said they were called bell fruit she also told me the island name for them and darn my memory if I don’t write everything down I forget it unless I hear it a few times and it feels rude to be wiping out the old note pad every time they tell me something so I just got to go with the flow everything come with time hay.
She could see I was very interested in them and said help ya self to them the ones that have fallen in the pot plants are good, so I picked a small basket full up said my good byes and headed home.
I looked the fruit up on the net and decided it must be Syzygium samarangense, there are quite a few different ones of that shape, it isn’t native to Australia.
Syzygium species would be the most useful genus of plant I have knowledge of so far in my wild food journey, some introduced some native to Australia there are so many of them and in my experience so far I have managed to find at least one in every climate zone I have been in and I find their fruits make up a lot of my wild food diet fresh or cooked and I’m adding to the list continually especially up here in the tropics at the moment.
So at home I sorted the badly bruised ones from the good washed and cut them up to make a jam for her and some of the other Aunties, it is the first time I have seen these up close and personal I remember seeing something similar but larger in Indonesia or Malaysia and I think it was called a lady apple not sure so I had no idea of how it would turn out, I love the unknown it keeps everything interesting.
They cooked up fine and made a lovely bright red jam but unfortunately I don’t love their flavor so we will see if Aunty likes it or not, I had to give it ago and there are so many wild and native fruits up here this one is no loss to me I can afford to be fussy but if the Aunties like it I will cook it up for them. 🙂

A Web of Sunrise Enchantment

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I don’t know about you but my favorite time of day is between 4.30am and 5.30am that magic time as the land awakens when the dark silence is suddenly broken with a burst of bird calls, that moment just before the sun begins to poke his head above the horizon casting rays of reflected color that dance and linger upon any clouds hanging in the sky, a different combination every morning then the bright disc pierces your view and sometimes if you are lucky the clouds obscure the intense light so you can look at his face even if for the briefest of moment and this was on of those moments.

DSC_0044_01I don’t normally share landscape picture but today I decide to take some shots I don’t have the right lenses that’s why I don’t bother but I thought I should share at least one of these blessed moments, please excuse the quality of the shots.

This is the view I get every morning from my van, this place is so beautiful and what you cant see is I am surrounded on nearly all sides by the very edge of the Daintree rainforest which lays just beyond the cow & cane paddocks.
The vibrancy of color here is insanely intense, I just spent a week in bed with a migraine locked up in my van on and off and one morning on waking I peered out the crack of the open door next to my bed and it was like a big green slap in the face, the greens surrounding me seemed electric and I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me as they can become very light sensitive from the migraines but no as my migraine has faded the colors have not.
I have never seen a place so green it is over whelming at times and I feel like a character in a gaudy cartoon book where the colors aren’t quite right but I figured it was the scattered showers we have had here this week, everything has grown and intensifies in color.

With the arrival of these refreshing showers the grass has decide to up the ante and is growing so rampantly now I recon if you sat still long enough you could actually watch it grow and there are little colorful patches of weedy flower heads popping up looking picturess like some old masters water color painting and the insects are busying themselves collecting the sweet nectar the the flowers put forth but there is a knowing on the edge of mine and their consciousness that it wont remain this way for long as the farmer is on a mission all in the name of aesthetics to tame this chaotic wilderness which we call lawn.
An ever so slightly tummy tickling fear grows inside as I ponder what will happen to all my insect and arachnid now well known and loved neighbors but my concern lies mostly with the spiders as the insects can fly away on their delicate wings from the inevitable dangers of the farmer and his trusty steed of a lawn mower to find sweet delights elsewhere but the the spiders they live their precarious lives right in the depths of the grass forest but as the dawn light creeps in I find my fear unfounded as they seem to survive as they appear like clock work every morning even after the farmer has accomplished his vicious goal, there they are sitting in their toiled over glistening webs their steely strong silk thread weaving the now shortened blades of grass together like little baskets no not baskets but traps which they sit patiently in waiting for their pray to make the fatal mistake and end up as breakfast.

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I will be sad to leave this place that has become my home but the sadness is fleeting and fades like a distant school yard memory because I know I will always come back to this enchanted of all places and I’m sure my spider friends will still be here as they always have been.

Road Kill Meals

Ok this subject wont be to everyone’s liking but I’m very proud of the fact that I can provide minya (meat) for myself and others from animals that have had the misfortune to be hit by our vehicles on our ever increasing road networks. I find it very satisfying to use the useless death of these animals to sustain my life and the bonus is I don’t need to actually kill as much by doing so.
So the first little critter that I came across was a kulngu (bandicoot) He was fresh and didn’t seem to badly smashed up considering his small size so I picked him up and took him home where I skun and butchered him, I was a bit concerned the smell would go through the minya because I have had experience raising orphaned bandicoot at home in Tasmania a different species but they have a very strong smell and being a male I thought it would be worse but after butchering and washing it didn’t seem to bad so into the freezer he went.

With all road kill if I have to opportunity I will freeze them to kill any worms ect and mostly cook them very well in some sort of alcohol.
The next animal I came across was a guineafowl I couldn’t believe my luck the morning before I was just saying to my yaba (brother) Mick- jezz I could go a bird and I was thinking about getting one from a bama (aboriginal) run farm I know where their animals run free, so see sometimes you get what you wish for n the funny thing is this happened again which I will explain later on.
So there I was driving along and there just to the side of the road near a driveway maybe the owner of the bird was a dead guineafowl, I couldn’t stop at first because as per usual there were cars up my bum everyone’s in a hurry it seems to get to the end of their lives anyway I kept going until I could turn I pulled up beside the bird opened the door and with out getting out of the car I gave it a poke to check for freshness and because there were more cars coming I made a split decision to toss it into the car and check it further down the road where it wasn’t so busy, ants went every which way they didn’t seem happy with me stealing their meal…. After checking the bird further I decided it was fine so home to pluck, butcher n freeze. I kept some of its feathers as they were so beautiful and I was sure that yaba micks gran Romeo will love them.

Guineafowl feathers
A week later there I was sitting at the breakie table talking about how much I would love some biki-biki (pig), and what happen next you wont believe if someone else told me this I wouldn’t believe them hay, there I was driving along the same section of road I found the guineafowl on and something caught my eye hanging in the tree…. yes in the tree I’m always when safe to looking up at the tree tops to see if there is any mayi (food) on them and I swear I seen a little suckling biki-biki hanging in the tree it took a few seconds for this bizarre reality to kick in so I kept driving thinking how the hell did a biki-biki get in a tree and was I loosing my mind, so I couldn’t help myself I turned around and drove back and yes there it was a small brown boy biki-biki hanging neatly on a piece of wire bleed and all in the tree, I couldn’t believe it now this was freaking me out a bit but I lifted him down and put him in the back of my wagon to go find advise on checking him for disease ect.
I got into town and asked a couple of friends and was confident I could check him and be pretty sure of being safe so again home I took the little biki-biki where I cut him open and checked all the organs and on seeing that they were clean I butchered him I only got a back leg and some back strap because he had been mangled pretty badly but I wasn’t complaining free biki-biki and the experience of checking and butchering my first wild pig.
When yaba mick got back home I asked him what he thought of the biki-biki in the tree incident and once he believed me and thought about it he said- he recon it was one of them boys from the station coz they bin bought up by them old ones to not waste nutin n if they hit it they would bleed it n hung him up in that tree there now for someone to eat him. Well that made sense to me and I was the lucky one to find him.
I don’t have picture of any of the meals sorry, when I’m on my own I don’t mind having cold meals from taking picture of them before I eat but when feeding someone else I just didn’t do it, later I thought I could have taken shots before dinner time and put back in the pot but I didn’t I have to really be in the mood to do that, maybe next time I will make more of an effort, but I do wish I had taken a picture of the biki-biki hanging in the tree, funny as, a biki-biki tree who’d have thought haha…… it cracked me up good and it also seemed to crack up my friends but I wasn’t sure if the biki-biki being in the tree was what was cracking them up or the fact that I took it was 🙂
With the kulngu and guineafowl I made slow cooked stews with port which worked out fantastic, I really liked the kulngu but yaba mick was not so sure, it is one of those minya that need really strong flavors to cover up it’s natural taste a bit, you know that taste that taste that tastes like it smells taste but I would defiantly eat it again.

Rhinoceros Beetle - Xylotrupes gideon
We both loved the guineafowl it was so good but I don’t recon I will come across many of them gems I think that was a fluke for sure, it must have been the farmers across the road and it was crossing the road when it got hit but if I ever had a farm again I would have some of them for sure, I wouldn’t want to pay for one in a shop I recon they would be expensive.
With the biki-biki I marinated this in port and spices for two days in the fridge then I cooked it on really high in the oven in the liquid for a hour or so and then I stewed it for a couple hour in the pot with veggies and the last two jars of my apricot and chilly sauce from Tassie it was amazing and yaba really liked this one but before we ate the biki-biki we had a very special entree, I unexpectedly ended up with a kiju (mud crab) yes that’s right a muddy! I haven’t had mud crab for about 18 years, it used to be my favorite sea food and I was so exited, I cooked it up in salt water nothing added and I couldn’t believe it yaba mick doesn’t love kiju so he only wanted one claw and I got the rest, lucky, lucky me it would have to have been the most deliciously pleasurable feeds I have eaten in memory I enjoyed it immensely and yaba mick kept sayin- you ok there or what, you not talking is everything ok wid you, talk to me are you liking that one……. I think it was the quietest he has ever seen me 🙂

This is a long blog with no pictures of the actual food or process unfortunately but I added a nice cover photo of the foraged flowers I used in the salads we had with the meals, pictured are red flowers of a hybiscus sp., yellow cottonwood (Hibiscus tiliaceus) flowers and snake weed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) flowers which taste strongly of mushrooms and In the blog I show pictures of the Guineafowls gorgeous feathers and a shot of the gift yaba mick bought me home the other day,it is a Rhinoceros Bettle- Xylotrupes gideon isn’t he absolutely stunning, n no I didn’t eat him, not saying I wouldn’t try one n yes he is dead, I’m going to spray him with a varnish and keep him in my van his name is Rex.

Well I hope you enjoy my blog and I hope it wets your appetite for utilizing the useless loss of life on the roads around you, if you eat minya that is, you can also use the skins if not damaged and yes there is probably some law against it all but some rules are just so stupid you cant abide by them, well I cant anyway, we are in a sad sad state of affairs if it is illegal to feed yourself from the death caused from our actions unintended or not ,there would be less need to farm and kill if we all utilized this resource.

Note: all language words used are KuKu Yalanji 

Mango & Tamarind Madness Continued

Mango & Tamarind RelishOk it is the first time I have fermented something directly in the sun I was inspired by an indian mango relish recipe so I gave it a go, I cut and pulped up magoes as previously shown and I addded Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) pulp, spices, chilly, mustards seeds and raw sugar. I let this sit outside in the sun for about five days and it is hot up here about 31 in the shade……. It was so active I had to put a bowl under the glass jar because it bubbled over it was wildly active for the whole time I had it out side and then for another week inside on the kitchen bench I didnt think it was going to stop so I put it in the fridge the excaped liquid taste very alcholic and I felt a bit tipsy after tasting it, I had it in the fridge for a week and it is still active as soon as it hits room temperature I’m not sure how long it would actually take to stop so it will live in the fridge. I dont love this one it is quite alcholic tasting it is an unusual taste but I’m sure some people would love it so dont be afraid to try it just because I’m saying I don’t like it 🙂

Fun With Funny Fungi Ears

Whilst walking my regular Mayi (Yalanji for food) trail the other morning I found some Jew’s ear fungi (Auricularia auricula-judae) on an old rotten log there was just enough for a feed so I took them home and had them fried up with eggs on toast with home made mango & tamarind chutney, they are not my favorite fungi but I am always happy to add something anything wild and different to my diet.

Jews ear fungi Auricularia auricula-judae,I am having to leave my tropical paradise in a couple of months I have to go back to Tasmania to pay off the bill for fixing my van. I can live off the land down there better than anywhere else because I know that country and climate very well.. So I will be blogging about temperate foods and fungi again from January, I am most exited about the fungi they are my absolute favorite wild food and just in general I am fascinated with the fungi kingdom.

So even though going back to Tas was unplanned and unexpected so soon I am seeing all the positives everything happens for a reason and it is getting very wet, hot and humid up here now, but I am hoping for a couple more bush foods that I have had my eye on to be ripe for me before I go so I can share about them, so not finished yet 🙂