Before the hermitage is built, how I prepare some of the food…
Kindling for the fire is abundant, ranging from fallen pine branches to small logs.
The stove seems to waste a bit of the flame. Just wondering how that would do with a elbowed stove pipe on it, turning red hot and causing fires?
Trying to make a stovetop oven (for bread) has so far failed, but I do have some ideas…
Now, the challenge of hermit recipes: No refrigerator (nothing canned that needs the fridge after opening), no freezer, no meat (perhaps fresh wild boar: see below), no fish (except small cans of tuna), no eggs (unless I get some fat and lazy hens who like nothing better than put out the eggs and get eaten themselves at the end of their days), and nothing that won’t turn to glop in daily 98% morning humidity. Even potatoes are really difficult to keep around (see below). Simple ingredients! I suppose I could use powdered milk if I had to… Any ideas? Email me at holysoulshermitage using gmail dot com.
Some of the following recipes were sent in by readers. I need all the help I can get. In junior high school (many decades ago) even we boys had to take home-ec. We were the first year for that. I had to make cookies to pass the course. That’s about as complicated as I get, although I do know sprouts and one bread recipe which I learned this past year at the seminary where I was teaching (see below). Here’s what first goes into the stove to make it work:
Recipe #001 — Saskatchewan Sprouts
I use a combination of sprouts (Fenugreek, Lentils, Kamut, Adzuki), one tablespoon of the seeds to a pint-sized jar, just perfect for a good-sized daily serving of the sweetest nature has to offer. Wonderfully nutritious.
Recipe #002 — Evergreen Hemlock Tea
New green sprigs from the Blue Mountains are the best! Just throw a heap into the pot on the wood stove at a full boil for a chunk of time and drink the water. Mm Mm good! Do NOT use Water Hemlock, which is deadly poisonous, as we know from Socrates. The evergreen hemlock makes for the smoothest most lemony tea you’d ever care to drink. Add just the slightest touch of sugar if you like.
Recipe #003 — Not quite St John Vianney Potato Soup
1 chicken bullion cube; 1 1/2 cups of water; 1 tbsp butter (I’ll have to substitute extra virgin olive oil for this); 1/2 tsp dry parsley; 1/4 tsp dry oregano; 1 1/2 cups diced potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. [This looks pretty complicated, but I bet it's really good!]
Now, for those who doubt that Holy Souls Hermitage is a rainforest that is humid and rots everything within days (a close second only to the most rainiest of the islands in the state of Hawaii), here’s a shot of a potato only about ten days out from the supermarket, stored in a cool “dry” place in its ideal dry bag:
Very cool! I think even Saint John Vianney would hesitate with these!
Recipe #004 — Hermit Bread…
Mix the ingredients and knead into a ball:
Mix 1 and 3/8 cups of water; 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt; 1 and 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil; 2 tablespoons black strap molasses; 4 cups freshly and finely ground hard red wheat berries; 3 teaspoons of ferocious yeast. I throw in a smattering of basil, flax-seed, rosemary (sparingly) and maybe some hot pepper if on hand.
I learned something about bread-making without a bread-maker machine: wait for the yeast to do it’s work! Then bake it. O.K. Better luck next time, perhaps. This is what I came up with (it didn’t rise at all, though it did bake through):
Recipe #005 — Tinfoil Veggies and Tinfoil Fruit
Toss tinfoil wrapped veggies and fruit just inside the stove door, but not on the fire: corn on the cob, potatoes with skins, even mushrooms (I’ll need a book on mushrooms for this one — Yikes!), not to mention apples, bananas… Mm Mm Good!
Recipe #006 — Blue Mountains Wild Boar Cabbage
2-3 slices bacon (optional [I'll have to go hunting for the wild boar that roam these mountains in abundance, or maybe they'll pay a visit. Saint Anthony of the Desert, pray for me!]); 1 large onion; 1 head of cabbage; salt; pepper; garlic powder.
In a large dutch oven or frying pan, cook chopped up bacon until almost burnt [that sounds easy!]. Add chopped onion and cabbage and stir until cabbage is wilted. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Cook until most of the water is gone and cabbage is desired tenderness. If need be, more water can be added. Add seasoning to taste.
Recipe #007 — Hermit Shiitake Mushrooms
[Pronounced: shĭ-tá-key !!!] A meal by themselves or good with just about anything. Just fry them up, say, with olive oil. Great! and good for you in so many ways. G.C., a benefactor, personally delivered six large shitake logs to the hermitage today, giving me great advice about mushrooms. It looks like these logs, just innoculated last year, and having just fruited for the first time, are ready to produce for four to eight years. Just dunk them in water for 12 to 24 hours, then watch them get ready to harvest within three days (perhaps ten if its a bit cold). Cycle them through, one per week, giving the others a rest. If there are too many to eat in the Summer, then dry them so as to reconstitute them with water in the Winter. Way cool for a hermit! Here’s some of the logs fruiting, with some of the mushrooms measuring 5 1/2″ across:
Here’s the deep woods mushrooms website of my benefactor. Check it out! Full disclaimer: his son was a seminarian in the seminary where I taught, and is now continuing his studies in Rome.
For an evening meal: six smallish shiitake mushrooms fried over the woodstove with just a bit of olive oil. Absolutely scrumptuous.
Recipe #008 — Feast Day Scones!
Feasting on Feast Days is just as important as fasting on fast days for Catholics! Atheists haven’t a clue about really celebrating. So, about feasting:
Makes about 24 scones [Being a hermit, I would make less!]
3 cups self-raising flour. [I'm told that, for me, without a fridge, that will mean three cups of fresh ground discount wheat berries with about 1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast]
pinch of salt
1 cup cream [which means tinned cream, or, for instance, sweetened condensed milk]
1 cup lemonade
Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in cream and lemonade. Mix with a knife [KA-BAR!] until mixture comes together. Turn dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Knead gently until smooth and pliable. Cut scones into rounds using a scone cutter [KA-BAR!]. Arrange close together on a lightly greased tray. [My oven is about 8 inches in diameter, sitting on top of the wood stove. Maybe I can make three at a time!] Bake in a very hot oven (220°C) = 428 °F [That would be one white hot fire in that wood stove! Yikes! Not sure if I can reach those temps. We'll see.] for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Serve with jam and cream [the remainder of the tinned cream/condensed milk].
Recipe #009 — Vomit mushrooms!
Actually, I don’t know what these are. Even if they were edible, I would hesitate. I mean, what would the recipe be for a mushroom which looks like vomit, and then itself vomits over everything. Note the vomit it spews out on the side. Anyone know what this is? A delicacy?!?
Maybe this critter (about ten feet from where I sleep for the moment) ate the vomit mushrooms and died right quick. Mushrooms have to be cooked, after all. So, maybe if I cook these…
Recipe #010 — Protein Bugs!
Saint John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey, didn’t he? Here’s a great source of protein invading the Shiitake Mushrooms:
Actually, Saint John ate carob pods or Saint John’s Bread, a food for the pigs, which the prodigal son hotly desired to stuff down his throat (a literal translation of the Greek!), a penitential food of the poor, but not a grasshopper! So, no extra protein for me, I don’t think, unless someone can convince me otherwise of their great medicinal properties! Just one slap down knocks all the bugs out. Easy. Not to worry!
Recipe #011 — Hermit Onions
If you have a number of onions to choose from, pick the one that’s going “to tops” (pictured):
Cut all the onion”leaves” into bits and fry them up. Scrumptuous! This is the best part of the onion. You’ll almost want to toss the rest, but put in the onion as well, in thanksgiving! Slugs optional. Be sure to check inside the onion “leaves”, which are hollow, for these critters. These might be poisonous. Dunno. Snails, I know, have to be boiled in a rolling boil, multiple times, always with new water, to remove the toxins…
Recipe #012 — Hermit Chiken Mushrooms
This kind of shelf mushroom, Chicken of the Woods, growing out of a naturally fallen oak tree, is quite unique. Just fry it up in olive oil (extra virgin, of course!), and have a taste, and a look. It looks just like chicken. It tastes just like chicken. Only better. Quite Awesome. More:
Recipe #013 — False Truffles
I found what looked like some Italian White Summer Alba Madonna Truffles, but are, in reality, merely false truffles, possibly edible. These liars are found throughout Western North Carolina. I have no idea how I could possibly use them. They’re just tiny and worth nothing.
Recipe #014 — More shelf mushrooms…
Don’t know if this kind is edible. Looks delicious anyway! If it is edible, what would be the method for cooking them up? Possibly drying them up first, turning them into powder, and mixing them with bread dough? Dunno… This one is dripping with dew on a hot and sunny day. It’s always but always soaking wet in this rain forest. And, as I find out, it is officially a rain-forest, with over nine feet of rain per year. We’ll get a cloud burst for ten minutes that won’t even be a blip on the weather map. Sunshine everywhere, but here. Wet, wet, wet! I wouldn’t know how to dry out mushrooms without them growing mould and mildew unless I put them on a not too hot wood stove…
Recipe #015 some other mushrooms, for which there probably are no recipes as they may be deadly. Dunno …