Chicken of the Woods Asian Lettuce Wraps and Cardamom Grape Jelly

September has been a great month, it has been one of my best foraging months ever. It started early with wild grapes and I played around with a new grape and cardamom jelly that will be one of my mainstays from now on. Then I got into the elderberries and the sumac which were both new to me but I quickly found ways to use them. I made a cocktail with elderberry syrup and elderberry ice cream it has been a delicious month.

As the month progressed I found some puffball mushroom and a giant chicken of the woods that I made beautiful Asian lettuce wraps with and tried making pickled mushrooms for the first time. The pickled mushrooms are really good and I can't wait to try them with some venison.

Speaking of venison I got out one day to go bow hunting for deer and within the first 30 minutes I was out there got surprised by a doe that snuck up beside me. I was completely unprepared for her and my bow was still hanging up so when I tried to reach it I spooked her and she ran off. I grabbed my bow and got settled back in and saw another doe about 20 yards off in the woods. She walked out into a clearing directly behind me and I thought I might get a shot at her as she passed behind me. As she got out into the opening I notice d she still had a very small fawn with her so I had to let her go.

Later that day I had three does come directly in on me and had a beautiful 10 yard broadside shot. I was using my longbow and right before I shot said to my self, "aim low". Clearly I didn't aim low enough and shot right over her back. No venison on my first trip out but still an eventful day.

The next day I headed out to do some squirrel hunting and spent the entire day out there. I managed to get 4 squirrels and came across another first for me. A giant Hen of the woods Mushroom. It must have weighed ten pounds and I was able to bring most of it home with me. I dehydrated half and then froze the other half. I really can't wait to use that up.

My September ended the way all Septembers should in a swamp in Wabasha for the duck opener. It wasn't the best opener I have ever had but it wasn't the worst either. My buddy Eric and I managed 9 wood ducks over the weekend and I am really looking forward to cooking those.

Tomorrow is October 1st and I have a lot planned for the month of October. Hopefully it will be as bountiful as September was, but even if it isn't it will be a lot of fun trying.

Wild Grape and Cardamom Jelly

4 cups of wild grapes (stemmed)
2 cups of water

Cook the wild grapes and water in a sauce pan over medium high heat for 15 minutes and then use a potatoes masher to release the juice from the grapes.
Let the grapes cool off and then strain the grapes through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve and collect he juice. Reserve 2 ½ cups of grape juice.

            2 ½ cups wild grape juice
            4 cups of sugar
            ½ tsp cardamom seeds (finely ground)
            1 packet sure jell Liquid pectin

Stir together the juice and the sugar and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to until all the sugar is dissolved.  Add the cardamom and bring to a rolling boil. Add the sure jell and bring back to a rolling boil for one minute. Turn off the heat and pour into sterilized half pint jars. Seal with new lids and place in a water bath canner for 15 minutes to complete processing

Chicken of the Woods Asian lettuce wraps

1 head of Butter Lettuce
1 pound of Chicken of the Woods Mushroom cut into ¼ inch dice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
½ tsp white pepper
1 egg beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 small shallots, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 cloves of garlic
1 can minced water chestnuts 
¼ cup toasted pine nuts

Green onions 

Whisk together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, corn starch, sugar, white pepper and egg and set aside. Heat the canola oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and shallots and sauté for 2-3 minutes until soft then add the chicken of the woods and continue sauté for 7-10 minutes until the mushrooms are starting to brown. Stir in the water chestnuts and toasted pine nuts. Add the sauce mixture and continue cooking for about five minutes. When the cooking is done spoon the mixture onto lettuce leaves and top with hoisin sauce and green onions.