Before I fly home, I definitely had to make some mushroom picking trips.
It’s something I miss a lot in Canada and which is plenty in Latvia.
It’s a land which has maintained its ecological integrity. Forests are quite wild and frequently not that much walked or travelled, although, large number of people would enjoy them, pick wild berries and mushrooms there. These natural forests are extra clean compared to highly developed countries.
It might sound like a walk in the park, but it actually isn’t. It’s not that easy to get over the fallen tree trunks and branches, bushes, thick young firs, aspens, birches and bushes. There is no path usually and one goes led by intuition or guess since wild mushrooms do not grow everywhere, but they are friendly neighbors of some particular tree and moss combination, as well as they like some grasses and dislike or never grow near others. King boletes love outskirts of the forest and can be also found near old roads. The orange-capped boletes grow rather in long grasses, but every forest is different and one has to figure out where they might be hiding.
It is a sporting activity that carries a lot of excitement, hence, finding a bunch of king boletes makes one happy and also proud.
The rainfalls and pretty warm weather this September definitely helped mushrooms grow fast and almost in every forest.
I regret I do not know such places in Ontario, but one should most likely drive for many hours in order to find a clean place where wild mushrooms love growing. It was just slightly out-of-town in Latvia, but we made lots of stops. Every ditch that separates road from the forest was full of water, and getting in the forest was a challenge.
I personally enjoy to a huge extent picking mushrooms, I like eating them, as well, but still: nothing compares to overcoming all obstacles and getting a full basket of nice and valuable mushrooms. King boletes belong to the most nutritious wild mushrooms and they are pride of everybody who takes a walk in the forest. It is believed they help conquering even cancer, not to mention that their protein content can exceed the amount of proteins in meat. Dried king boletes contain more protein than meat.
It is a wonderful food and can be prepared in very many ways: Latvians make mushroom sauces, soups of mushrooms; we dehydrate and dry them and use afterwards either as powder or spice; dried mushrooms can be added to broth, soup and any other dish. We pickle them and prepare delicious salads. Wild mushrooms can be prepared with salt for winter and then eaten any way one likes. They go into pies, and it is not only a snack, but a very delicious main course on many Latvian dinner tables.
Enjoy the pictures! Well, some picture-taking was very tricky since I had the basket on one arm, it was heavy, not less than 4 kg, I balanced myself on some small dry patch and here and there it was almost impossible to place the phone so that it would take a picture.
The poisonous beauties: fly agarics or fly amanitas
The bright red poisonous mushrooms frequently signal that king boletes are not far
Small king bolete getting out of moss after rain
To get the close-up, I pushed moss down, a bit larger king bolete
Orange cap aspen boletes, so lovely!
This family of orange cap aspen boletes was hiding in long grasses
Full basket of orange cap and king boletes
Absolutely delicious and extraordinary beautiful
They were so firm and so fresh
I took like 100 pictures, I couldn’t resist because I rarely have such an opportunity
I will catch up with my blog friends once I am back home. My trip will take some time and, unfortunately, there is large time zone difference, and that will require adjustment from my side.
Please make sure you check out the gallery pictures closer to the end!
Latvia is a place I come from. Most of my family and relatives still reside in Latvia, but I went for a chance to change my life dramatically a bit more than 13 years ago and relocated to Canada. Everything was different, I had to adjust myself, learn a lot and, basically, I can say I’m fine by now. It feels like I started fresh almost at 50 again.
Time passes so fast, but there are things which I miss a lot while in Canada. I definitely miss my mom, my daughter, grandchildren, my sister and also friends. The other thing which is quite important and which I miss every time I go to the grocery store is Latvian food. I miss the huge variety, the very natural produce, wild mushrooms, wild berries, endless salads, soups and deserts. I miss dairy products and the huge selection of fresh-water and salt-water fish which we do not have in Canada, and it is hard to live without their cakes, pastries, pies and all the stuff that comes on the table just rarely, but makes all the difference. For instance, black or rather grey peas with crunchy bites of Latvian bacon and kefir, or thousands of dishes made of Latvian cottage cheese which is always excellent quality compared to what I have when I can find it in Canada. I mean the raw, nothing added, nothing removed cottage cheese. Their daily bread selection is worth writing a novel about: from dark rye and carrot bread baked using ancient Latvian recipes to all kinds of white, dark bread made with or without seeds and from all kinds of grains. The freshness is breathtaking, and so is the taste. I have always hard times finding a good quality bread at home, it goes bad and stale next morning, and it usually falls apart. My guess is: it consists of hardly anything, but costs a lot.
Therefore, I try everything Latvia can offer, and that is plenty. Neither I want, nor I intend to avoid such a delicious pleasure: it is a feast from the day 1 of my stay here until the dinner before my flight back home.
As I walk along the Central Market (I came here with just one intention: to take a few pictures because this is sort of very large farmer’s market, the largest in Europe), my eyes run all around and it’s great I’m not hungry because otherwise I’d end up buying too much stuff. Most people, however, prefer the ecologically clean product stores. Prices are quite high in stores which offer organic, biologically and ecologically clean produce and all kinds of other foods, and frequently above the affordable level, but still: Latvians take food seriously and they can certainly choose something great even when the wallet is not that full.
There is something else: traditionally Latvians do gardening, even these who live in the downtown of Riga, usually have some out-of-town place where they can grow something. Latvia did a lot of farming in the soviet times, and it was actually quite agricultural outside the biggest cities. The first Latvian Republic before the World War II was famous for its fantastic dairy products, bacon, butter, meats and produce. Although, agriculturally used land and the number, as well as size of farms have decreased, the need for good quality food is the same. People know what is good, Latvians know what delicious and fresh means, and therefore, the food quality standards remain high.
If you are wondering what I mean with all this praising, I do suggest you stop by in Latvia for the greatest and cleanest foods one can try. It’s worth it. I did not notice where their fast food places were, I know there are some, but people who think about their health won’t eat in such places. I personally never learned loving fast food, I don’t think they are popular here because everything is geared towards healthier, fresher, cleaner and less processed.
I have taken pictures also of smoked fish and meats, and these are certainly not for daily consumption, they are not part of a healthy diet, however, small bit here and there cannot harm. They taste incredibly good. If you have never tried, you won’t know how delicious these things are: smoked fish and chicken especially, and I miss such treats a lot. Some fishing villages still smoke fish like Latvian fishermen did 200, 300 and more hundred years ago.
Caraway seed cheese is my favorite, it always has been. When I was 12 or so I worked at a dairy plant during the summer (all kids worked). I had to help by preparation of caraway seed cheese. It was warm and so yummy that I never forgot this taste. The only place I get it as I like is Latvia. I tried to make my own in Canada, but milk and cottage cheese were totally unsuitable: they are too processed and do not have the same properties, so, I did not get very good caraway seed cheese. Dairy products are definitely bad and low quality in Canada. I sometimes wonder: why wouldn’t they go to Latvia, for example, and learn how to achieve greatness in dairy products. It’ s not going to happen because their profits come always first.
Well, wild mushrooms and wild berries are something Ontarians do not get to see or taste. Some might, but it’ s not everybody by far. Mushrooms are still in season, but there are less and less berries in the forest because fall sets in sooner in Latvia than in Canada.
mouth-watering Latvian dairy products
Meats and smoked meats
Fresh, live and smoked fish
A few veggies (because they looked so nice) and some wild berries and mushrooms
I actually wanted to publish separate posts about separate food groups, but time is really short, so I will leave you with these pictures and I am going back home soon.
P. S. We have been awarded with a fantastic, sunny weather. It is so warm, and the air is so full with fall flavors. The sun is dancing in reflections and leaves. The beauty of this season is breathtaking and sad at the same time: this is the feast before the long silence and sleep, yet, there is no way to describe the passionate intensity of colors. My artistic nature enjoys every single one of these colors, every shape of disappearing beauty. These days have been so uplifting, cheerful and inspiring.
Look how leaves are dancing and swirling around, and it is such a sad dance with wind whispers brushing our face and with colors fading away and making a room for the silence.
The silence covers our daily struggles and doubts with weightless cloth of dusk as the darkness sets in to rescue us from the exhaustion. Or? Or to torture us with its deceptive softness and tranquility. Some of us cannot close our eyes and to say the prayer with hope that the next day is going to meet us with more enjoyable expectations.
The bare trees share our despair, but the cool sun tries to make everything look better and more attractive. Or? Or our wrinkles are visible so well in the bright sunlight and there’s nothing we can do about it. Not at this moment which takes so much away from us and leaves nothing instead.
I am finding that getting older has made me more moderate and more appreciative of half-tones; grey hues, soft shadows, fine lines and I can also experience the entire autumn within just one leaf, I don’t need the whole tree anymore. Or? Or this is the experience reminding me that nothing is here to keep. I am writing down this moment and splashing some paint over paper. Somebody might find it, and they would be speculating: who did this and why these colors are so strange and washed out?
It’s a very late autumn day with just one leaf still not saying good-bye and not flying off the tree. It has my steps which get lost in the rustling layers of leaves. This is how the day walks away, too. So little done, no perfect memories remain, no bad pain, no huge achievements. Just small steps melting away in the rustling leaves. There is not one single color missing in this bright carpet of leaves: the mosaic is complete.
Are you just like me, a person sensitive to the sunlight and lack of it? Well, the gold of falling leaves and frost-touched trees will still shine through the dullness of cool days, but more than ever we should be thinking about the preservation of some sunlight within us for the exhausting and energy draining winter.
There’s inspiration everywhere at the moment. Have you seen the vines recently? Yellowish, soft green, orange, light red, saturated red and purple: it is such a symphony of colors which burst out straight in our backyard. What do the bright orange and red ash-berries and rose hips tell you? Pick us for tea, pick us for jam, and pick us because we’re ready to celebrate the fall!
Red cheeks of apples
The distant autumn sky
Herbal tea with a tiny bit of fresh ginger is an excellent warming and body cleaning drink. As you may know, moderate doses of any tea which you feel attracted to, will only do good for you. Fruits and vegetables have top nutrient value around their harvest time. Although, we can eat vegetables and fruits all year round nowadays, the naturally ripened and freshly harvested ones are the best choice for our taste buds and body, especially those ones grown in the area where we come from or reside in.
The red rowan
Take a walk
The more sun and good weather a fruit or vegetable has enjoyed during its ripening, the more of good energy it will have. Indeed, I’m referring not only to the energy we are measuring in calories, but also to the universal energy which is present in everything either as positive, neutral or negative vibrations. This energy has also a direct value: it will result in pleasure, feeling of happiness and life energy, in a strong bad luck resisting force. This means: the same fruit or vegetable gives us double benefit when we consume it straight after its harvest while it is still full of life, has undamaged cells and is rich in flavor.
Garden is full of treasures
Calorie counting makes people mean, small-minded, it upsets them, and they feel as if being punished for something which is not their fault. This is the time to enjoy any natural fruit and vegetable dishes, eat them free of guilt and with huge pleasure, therefore, our meals will result in great effects on our mind and health.
This is the time to take long walks, make our hearts and souls take off with leaves and dance in the wind! It’s way overrated that big physical loads in sweaty gyms make one feel good and healthy. Look at some people: how much struggle they go through to get their daily dose of physical exercise! Fresh air is absolutely free so far, and the best exercise everybody will benefit from is a simple walk. When the sun plays a shadow game in colorful leaves, it is also a pleasure for our eyes. This is exactly the way to achieve mindful experience of happiness right here and right now. Why not go for it?
Did you know that brown shades of lipstick are really in for the fall? How about coffee with cream if you’re blonde like me?
Autumn is here. I don’t really like that much thinking that it is a fall; therefore, I’m sticking to the more poetic British “autumn”. Nature is thoughtful and prepares carefully for frosts, winds, rain and sleep. Well, we will be not sleeping for 6 months, but our energy levels due to lack of sunshine and the great mood vitamin D decrease can go down, too, therefore, we go for comfort foods, comfort settings, comfort treatments and we certainly consume more sweets than we should.
Seasonal turn is a good time for creating new habits. Why not right now engage in some herbal tea? Make it a habit? Some herbal tea is beneficial in many ways: it can calm or re-energize, wake up or help falling asleep, take care of brain alertness, improve mood, decrease pain or infection, so on and so on. The only thing one should do is to choose the right thing, I mean, the right tea. The most beneficial herbal aids are those which grow in your native land or land where your parents and grandparents are from. Our DNA has much longer memory than we do, so we should trust it and support it. Our body will respond with good health.
I hear and read quite often how people are told: you cannot do it on your own. I dare to say this message is very misleading and it carries exactly the opposite meaning of what our human nature is about. The only person we always can and should trust and rely on is WE. We know ourselves the best even though we sometimes do not want to admit that we are having all this huge knowledge. We want to put our weak side first and complain about lack of support and that there is nobody who we can cry on a shoulder. Well, there is always this one: we ourselves. Theoretically it is like this: if some other human has done it, I can do it, as well. We are made so that we can do everything we need during our lifetime. That includes much wider skills than we can think off, much more understanding than we would imagine, much more strength than we believe we have. Sometimes resources are hidden very deep, and getting to these resources can be tricky. However, humans are the most adaptive creatures on the earth, or would we still be alive if we weren’t? Just to mention the piles of chemicals we are breathing, drinking and eating in, we have quite adapted to harmful substances; to a degree that mild poisons don’t kill us, at least in a short term, they don’t. Therefore, whatever you problem is, you should know that you can deal with everything in the best possible way. Your own health is in your hands, your own success is in your hands and also the solution of your own problems is YOU. Many people really need to start thinking: I can do this on my own. What is usually stopping you from achieving your goals? Bad luck? Could be. Bad financials? Quite possible. Bad inherited disease? Well, many people go through all kinds of health problems.
You will make a difference in the moment when you take control of your life in your own hands. Support is great, but you don’t even need it BECAUSE YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING ON YOUR OWN. As soon as you realize how many opportunities are straight within you, how many solutions are just waiting to be discovered, you will start RELYING on yourself. TRUSTING yourself, because you have all the answers already. It is hilarious how some people want to convince you that they know what exactly your problem is! They are just guessing and here and there they hit the right spot. Asking for advice is completely another thing. We should appreciate any advice and yet, only we decide whether to take it or not, whether there is something valuable for us, in particular.
I am attaching some of my fall pictures. I couldn’t resist since there is always so much beauty straight in our backyard.