We have been enjoying the Kate Humble and Steve Leonard ‘The Wonder of Dogs’ programme on BBC2 Thursday nights which explores all the amazing things that a lot of us don’t know about our best friends.
Sadly it is now finished but it covered the science of breeding, intelligence, breed traits, how humans have ‘used’ dogs in history as well as how we have welcomed them into our homes.
It is done in hand with an open university course so it is scientific in it’s approach but it is executed with a huge sense of fun. If you have the slightest interest in dogs or our relationship with them, you will find it fascinating and it can’t do dog reputation any harm after some of the horrendous and tragic articles in the news about dogs lately.
We have taken quite a lot of stick from friends and family about the parentage of our JRT Max who was supposed to be 10″ long (the last coat we bout him was 20″ long). He displays traits that you’d find in other breeds and not JRTs (he points – sort of ha ha). He isn’t mad and yappy like a lot of terriers and he isn’t very terrier like in many other ways.
Fox Hound, Dalmation, labrador, beagle are to name but a few of the breeds that people have wondered what he really might be. Pretty much anything other than a Jack Russell!!
We did everything right when we got him, we met the parents, went to the home where he was born and all of the things that the sellers told us about the others that they had from the same parents was pretty true.
He is a great family dog, he loves kids and he does look like his mum and his dad.
Clearly there is something else going on somewhere though and the breed traits and DNA tests that were covered in the programme a couple of weeks ago got us thinking.
So JC sent for a home doggy DNA kit (is there ANYTHING that Amazon don’t sell?) and the results were emailed through to us this week.
So!! To all those doubters…….
He is in fact very much a Jack Russell Terrier but he also has a bit of Fox Terrier in him from grandparents and from his great grandparents there is…………………..
I have expressed my desire to learn more about identifying fungi before and I still haven’t done the course that was a present from hubby christmas 2011. I really must! If only to broaden our menu and save us from inevitable tummy ache.
It hasn’t, however, stopped my foraging this week. There is a field where we walk at the weekends that has a small but productive crop of enormous and delicious horse mushrooms. I haven’t seen them there before but they are certainly there now and boy are they tasty looking.
The fields are still very green and the bright white beacon of deliciousness that these wonderful wild food sources are is clear to see in the middle of the field.
I couldn’t help but notice them and after clearing it with the farm I collected only those that had been knocked off their stems by the ponies in the field. Each morning, though, the ones that were tiny the day before had become monsters and so I couldn’t resist and picked some of those still growing.
Picking them properly is important (always use a sharp knife and cut off at stem, never pull them out with the whole stem) and you should never harvest an entire field.
Always leave plenty behind. There may be others who want to enjoy natures larder too but it is also important to maintain the crop to ensure they grow another year.
There are lots and lots left that will come to maturity over the next few weeks so we should see them again next year.
Preparing them is nearly as important. Never wash them. Clean off any dirt or insects and then brush the outside clean. I’m a great believer that a bit of muck and interest adds to the flavour but if you prefer, the skins can be peeled to remove any possibility of unwanted flavourings (whatever form that might take!!).
I love mushrooms. I love their meatiness which makes them a great substitute for meat in a vegetarian dish. I especially love risotto, chicken and mushroom pie and I particularly love fried mushrooms on a thick slice of thoroughly toasted wholemeal or artisan bread.
What a wonderful autumn gift.
We had Chicken and mushroom pie on Saturday night but we ran out of time for any other mushroom dishes this weekend. In order to continue to enjoy the taste and waste nothing, I have gifted some, dried some and preserved some for later when the crop has finished. Loving them fresh as I do, I have held back a few of today’s harvest to go into a mushroom based dish (whatever it ends up being) that I will conjure up later in the week.
The dried ones have a much stronger smell now they are jarred and I understand that drying enhances the flavour. I can’t wait to use them in a nice juicy dish in the middle of the winter when they are no longer available.
The others I have preserved in oil and vinegar from a recipe in the preserving book I bought some time ago. The flavours in the oil say to me that they should be eaten straight from the jar raw but we will see as I have never used mushrooms in oil before. New things are great!!
The smell of freshly picked wild mushrooms is amazing. It is rich and earthy and reminds me very much of being a child. We always came home with field mushrooms or something edible and free when we had been raking around the open countryside for as much of the day as we could squeeze out of it.
It brings to mind people like my grandparents and my gran particularly who loved a bit of free food and a forage. I’m sure it is her tasks to us kids to bring home something tasty that fuels my interest in hedgerow eating. I realised the other day when I looked at a photo of me holding the mushrooms that I picked that I have her hands…. almost identical!