Ramps & Morels 2015

cornbreadIt’s that time of year. Once more my spirit lifts, and the cast falls off my eyes as I look with anticipation for the first morel. Should be today because the poplar in my front yard has leaves as big as a squirrel’s ear. Of course the trees in the forest are a little behind.

While waiting, I went to a ramp patch to see what the situation is. Ramps are up, but they need to grow just a little. However, the little ones are sweet and tasty, so I dug a nice handful and had them for supper. Fortunately, Keith had given Ellen 10 lbs. of fresh ground corn meal. I made the muffins you see by using a mix of 1 1/2 cups meal and 1/2 cup flour. Also, I crumble a couple of strips of rendered bacon into the batter. I use the bacon fat to grease the pan. A little hot grease in the bottom of the pan makes the batter sizzle when you spoon it in. Pretty dad gum delicious! Had the corn bread and ramps with white beans, onions and Conecuh sausage.

Conecuh sausage is made in Evergreen Alabama, and is a staple in a Marengo County (my in-laws) breakfast or shrimp boil.

Mushroom & Tortellini Soup

Ellen and I went for a hike yesterday, and it was 18 degrees. This soup was a wonderful way to finish off the morning!! It was given to me by my fellow County Commissioner and friend Myron Iwanski.

Mushrooms & Tortellini Soup

This soup calls for shitake and and baby bella (crimini) mushrooms from the grocery. For a mix and complexity of flavors, reduce the amounts and then add assorted wild mushrooms such as oysters and maitake (Hen of the Woods)

Ingredients

2 tsp butter
Mirepoix chopped (1 small onion, 1 small carrot, 1 stalk of celery @ 2:1:1 ratio)
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth ( I use homemade stock, not broth)
2 cups water
5 oz. shitake
8 oz. crimini
1 small Parmesan Reggiano rind (optional but good – also at Kroger))
9 oz. three cheese tortellini (I use Buitoni brand from Kroger – comes in 20 oz. pack)
Salt and pepper to taste (some truffle salt works great)
Whole parmesan to grate as garnish.
Chopped parsley as garnish

Directions

Melt butter in a Dutch oven – med heat. Add mirepoix and sauté until tender. Add garlic toward end.

Add chicken stock, water, mushrooms and bring to boil for 2 minutes. Season and stir. Turn down heat and simmer 20 minutes. Then, add tortellini to the simmering liquid and cook to al dente.

Remove the rind and serve soup

Garnish with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

NOTE: Stores well overnight in frig, so make the day before and reheat as an appropriate time saver. If you go out for a walk on a cold day, put the reserved soup in a crock pot on “low” and have it ready upon your return !!!

Morelanoia

Looking forward to the Asheville Mushroom Club Christmas potluck Saturday. It’s always great friends and great food.

Meanwhile, Jimmy sent me this e-mail. Watching the video of his song might be a good start to thinking about morels.

Hello Whitey, I hope you remember us. My wife Lois and dog Griffin went with you on the camp walk at Oconee in 2013. I’ve been enjoying your blog posts and envying your hen and chicken finds. We made a music video in Oct. and I finally got it up on Youtube about morelanoia. Please check it out at:   http://youtu.be/9yfqkPESlDI

If you like it please feel free to share it with the Asheville club and whoever. I plan on making another this morel season on the lighter side. There is also another video on my channel called Funga Among Ya recorded in a patch of Chantys in 2013.

Hope you enjoy the holidays and happy hunting!