Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mushrooms - Springtime Morel Hunting!

I'm so excited that spring has finally arrived and one of my favorite parts about spring is our early spring walks in the woods, discovering the magic of a woodland waking up again after a long sleep as the sun begins to warm it's branches, the soil, and the breeze. We recently spotted those first tiny lavender petals of Hepatica nodding on their furry stems...

I'm anticipating seeing the tall and eager Jack-in-the-Pulpit reaching for the trees...

and the Trillium, dotting the wooded hillsides with it's happy white faces.

...but what I am most excited about...

what I can almost taste already...

is these...

these delightful, delectable, complicated, evasive, nuggets of earthy goodness.

I just love mushrooms. I love mushrooms sauteed in butter, I love mushrooms deep fried, I love mushrooms sauteed and stewed. I love pan-fried onions and mushrooms on a steak, I love grilled mushroom kebabs, I love rich and creamy mushroom soup, I love mushrooms in butter and ranch dressing mix slow-cooked in the crock pot. I do NOT love raw mushrooms. I don't like them at all, really. But a good, rich, meaty pan-fried mushroom? Yummmmmmmm!

I typically use portobello mushrooms, or cremini / baby bellas (little baby portobello mushrooms). They're relatively inexpensive, easy to find, and delicious! In my very unprofessional, yet worthy opinion, they're more flavorful and rich than the standard white button mushroom and equally as easy to clean, use, understand, and cook with.

However, my real love? The elusive Morel. If I were to write about hunting and cooking Morels, this is what I would write:

and I just love the way Sylvia from Feasting at Home describes the Morel's elusiveness and apparent free-will:

If I were to buy a mushrooming book, this is probably what I would get for the area in which I live (Wisconsin), because of it's vibrant photos of both the yummy mushrooms and the poisonous look-alikes.

Morels can be tricky, tricky, tricky. They hide among the dry leaves and old bark on the forest floor. You scan and stare and scan and stare and look as hard as you can and you don't see them, and then you step on one!

Last spring we took Gavin and Addison Morel hunting with us. Gavin hunted on foot with me and Addi rode in the Ranger with Cliff and toddled around in the woods here and there while Cliff did his hunting maintenance up in the woods. Gavin and I looked and looked and looked. We looked around the old bare elms who had lost their bark. We looked in the damp green areas where all of the other mushrooms were growing. I think we counted about 26 different types of mushrooms along the way, but we never saw one single morel. We finally gave up as it was long past lunch time and Addi was falling asleep on the seat of the Ranger. On the way home we stopped at the farm to pick something up or drop something off and Gavin mentioned to Grandma what we had been up to. Gavin told Grandma all about what they look like and how they're so hard to find. Grandma walked us over to her flowerbed, right in her front yard, and there in the cedar mulch around her flowers, were three beautiful Morels! We snatched them up, took them home, and fried them in butter! Apparently a day or two prior, Grandma and Grandpa had pulled out a few bigger ones that had popped up and tossed them in the compost. Goodness, gracious! We didn't find any Morels in the wild of the woods, but we sure did have fun looking and noticing all the different kinds of mushrooms that were out there! We have so much fun exploring the wooded hills and valleys of our farm and surrounding lands!

 Yes, it really was this green in the woods. Everything was wet and the air was humid and we 
felt just like we were inside a greenhouse. 

When we got to the farm, Grandpa was out getting the newspaper, and Gavin joined him to walk him back to the house. Just a sweet and tender moment. 

and then... THIS of all places, is where we found our five little morels. 
Directly in front of that frog garden figure.


(photo source for flowers: 

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