The Fall Foray at Oconee State Park, near the Chatooga River in South Carolina, was jointly hosted by the SCUMS (South Carolina Upstate Mycological Society), Asheville Mushroom Club and the Georgia Mushroom Club last weekend – Sept 14-16, 2012. About 90 people attended. Acitivities included talks by Jay Justice and Taylor Lockwood and forays on about a dozen area trails, a fund raiser auction, as well as the terrific-as-usual pot luck Saturday dinner. Conditions were somewhat dry, but a large number of mushrooms were found and properly identified and recorded. The picture below is a shot of the pre-sort tables after the Friday forays. A LOT more came in on Saturday.
I left Knoxville Friday afternoon anxious to get there because Sam Landes and Cornelia Cho had invited me for Friday dinner. I knew that would be a treat. I got to their cabin around 6:00 and I wasn’t disappointed. Cornelia had fixed a fabulous Thai appetizer I had never seen before – Mieng Kham. You take a fresh La Lot (betel) leaf and place on it a small amount of diced lime sections, peanuts, red onion, ginger root, toasted coconut, and tiny dried “stinky” shrimp, thai bird chilis and top with sweet red chili sauce. Then you fold the leaf into a “ball” and pop the whole thing in your mouth. Delicious! but go very light on the bird chilis!!!! I mean maybe ONE small piece of diced chili. I had three the size of pinheads and almost croaked the first time. Second time I used ONE. Lesson learned.
We also had raw beefsteak mushrooms (left picture), and Sam made a wonderful stuffed squash. There was more, but these tell the story. Sam is a great cook and Cornelia is alway such a wealth of knowledge. I enjoy sharing our mutual love of food with them.
As some people know, I also have an interest in spinning, dying and weaving. So, when Cornelia told me about the needle felting she was doing I was very interested. She had recently been on NPR’s Science Fridays program. The video http://www.sciencefriday.com/video/09/14/2012/fungi-fans-felt-the-love.html is pretty cool, and I bought the bolete pillow she had made at our Saturday night auction. I’m going to try and do one.
Now the sad but funny part. You can see my cousin’s husband Ken to the left holding a Hen of the Woods. In almost 20 years of foraging, I have yet to find one. On Saturday morning he and I stepped into the woods near the “barracks” we were sharing with a number of other people and sort of looked around. We didn’t find anything so I went inside for about 5 minutes. While I was gone, he sat down at the picninc table beside the barracks, looked up and saw the HEN. Any of us could have seen it too by just looking out the kitchen window. Fortunately, Ken shared with the group and I had a delicious meal with Ellen and Derek Sunday night when I got home.
One other Hen was found, and it too was near a cabin. None were found along the foray trails. Sometimes the best is right in front of you, so always be looking I guess. All in all, it was a great weekend with good folks sharing a common interest while learning new things from each other. That’s the benfit of belonging to clubs if you are interested in learning more about mushrooms.