Hens, Honeys and Lobsters

Last Thursday, Sept 10, I went over to the Brevard, NC area to scout the trails where my “cousin in-law” Ken and I are going to lead an all day foray during the NAMA (North HenAmerican Mycological Association) gathering this weekend outside of Asheville. Ken and I spent about four hours on the trails, and decided on a plan which should give our participants a good experience. Along the way a few good things happened. In mid-Sept, Ken found a small patch of black trumpets, we saw our first Honey mushrooms of the year, and I found a small, and I mean small (10 oz.) Hen of the Woods, Grifola frondosa. We split it :-)

HoneyFriday morning, I got up and figured that if Honeys were up in Brevard, then maybe here too. Sure enough, they were and along the way I experienced something worth sharing. Strange Jack O’Lanterns were around also. Last year I posted a blog picture that showed Honeys and Jacks intermingled at the based of the same large, dead oak., Well, Friday I saw what appeared to be the yellowish honey-colored cap of an Armillaria mellea (top), but they were in fact Jack O’Lanterns, Omphalotus illudens (bottom), unless the name JackHoneyhas been recently changed. Apparently the recent heavy rains had leached the orange pigments out of the Jack. If a novice had been foraging, and not turned the cap over to examine it, and ignored the other ID features,, the could have very well picked one or two it they were in a rush and not mindful. Look at the exposed gills in this picture and notice how whitish they are. To a pro, no prob. To a novice, prob.

Lobster5Today was a dry day; however, I took a flyer on my favorite lobster spot – the one that had that 100 pound yield several years ago. It’s way past mid-August, but Ken and I had found a few small ones on Thursday, so I went in anyway. Bam! As I entered he woods, orange spots appeared and I got about 10 pounds. They had the feel of and size of having come up over the weekend and then sat in the low humidity this week. Pretty good though. So . . . . .  be looking because we re still in the Summer-Fall transition period. Puffballs haven’t shown up yet – any day now.

Jack O’Annualantern

jack2Yep, that’s one that returns each year. Bob O sent me this photo this afternoon wondering if the mushrooms were edible. Now, I want to be very accommodating to Bob O, because he’s the one that found the 11 pound giant puffball in the same city park last year, and I want neither he nor his friends in GI distress.They looked like Jacks, but I drove up to Cedar Hill Park anyway and checked them out. Glad I did because I learned a neat story.

jack1Bob lives in the house he grew up in (parents deceased) right around the corner from the park, and he attended the elementary school that used to stand where the park is now. As he told it, the first grade classes planted an oak tree each year in what became a line of large oaks at maturity. The tree where the Jacks are growing – from the roots – is the last, literally, standing in a long line. Bob planted one of the oaks.

jack3It was obvious to me, from its condition, that this oak is also on it last legs, or roots as it is. Bob O is around my age which is 69. So here we have someone interested in mushrooms who planted the giant oak, a Senior Oak age 60+,  that now produces a beautiful bioluminescent mushroom for its birth giver to enjoy as it fades away.

Go get some and take them home Bob, and enjoy their company in a dark room. Ain’t nature GRAND !!

Salmon with Chanterelles and Red Pepper Puree

Salmon_DishfreezeThis was my Labor Day entrée using a cedar plank on my Big Green Egg !! Accompanied by fresh roasted  bicolor corn, roasted okra and Tunisian fennel salad (with Harissa).


Salmon with Chanterelles and Red Pepper Puree

2 large red bell pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
2   tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced
6    ounces fresh chanterelles, cleaned and sliced
4 salmon filets, 6 oz. each

Place the oil in a sauté´ pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the chanterelles, reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, adding a little water if the bottom of the pan is too dry. (Today, I used previously prepared and frozen chanterelles – just like fresh – see above picture on the right)

Place the peppers in a baking dish and put in the oven.  Roast for 10-12 minutes.  The skin will shrivel and begin to blacken in spots.  Let cool in a paper bag.  Remove the skin from the peppers, then slit the peppers open and remove the stem, seeds, and veins.

Place the peppers in a blender and add the lemon juice, sugar, and salt.  Blend to a smooth puree.  Place puree in a small saucepan and warm slightly. Meanwhile, prepare the salmon by either:  grilling 4-minutes on each side;  lightly simmering for 30 minutes; or baking on a lined baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.  (I basted with an olive oil, lime juice and cilantro mixture) When the salmon is done, place some of the red pepper puree in the middle of each plate.  Cover the puree with some of the mushrooms, place the salmon filets on top, and serve.

Serves 4

The mushrooms on top of the salmon works well also. You can also buy roasted red peppers packed in olive oil at the supermarket. They work well. I particularly like this dish when the Copper River sockeye show up at the fresh fish market in July, which is chanterelle season.