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!

Escargot, Morels & Ramps Soup

Several soupyears ago, Ellen and I had escargot and morel soup at a restaurant in Indianapolis – can’t remember the name of the establishment. Since then, I’ve been searching for a recipe. I seemed to remember it being the consistency of oyster stew, but all I found were cream soup recipes. Maybe that’s what we had.

So, this weekend I took the base for a cream soup and added my own touches, substituting morel rehydration water for some of the chicken stock, and ramp bulbs with their lower stem for garlic & scallions, and then added ramp powder. It turned out excellent, but it’s vey rich and filling, and makes a meal in itself. I served four 8 oz. SoupRampsservings - two for supper and two for lunch the next day. Realistically, with a meal, figure six 5-ounce servings

Note: I save my dried morel stems and grind them into flakes for later use. You make ramp powder by drying leaves in a dehydrator and then grind them in a small coffee grinder I usually use someone else’s grinder, like the coffee room grinder at work :-)
I’ll make it again in the spring with fresh ramps, morel water ( from rehydrated morels) that I will freeze this winter, and then use fresh morels for the recipe.

Ingredients
2 cups chicken stock
15 dried morels, stems removed, rehydrated with 2 1/4 cups warm water for 30 min
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup whole milk
handful of ramps, chopped ( I used 8 small ones, frozen this spring, with tops removed)
ramp powder
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 6-oz can escargot, drained and halved (2 cans if you like)
1/4 cup onion, chopped
6 tsp butter, divided 4 & 2
sea salt and white pepper

Directions
Chop morels into pieces same size as escargot.
Combine morel water, chicken stock, onions and morels in a pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

In another saucepan, melt four tablespoons butter over medium heat gradually stirring in the flour until smooth.  Remove from heat and gradually stir in the milk and cream.  Return to medium heat and cook stirring constantly, until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir mushroom- stock into sauce.

In a small pan, heat the remaining two tablespoons butter and add escargot, ramps, parsley; sauté for 2 minutes.  Add to soup along with wine.
Adjust the “garlicness” by with garlic salt. Then add salt, pepper, and ramp powder to taste.

 

Oysters – Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em

Oyster logI have often been asked by folks, “How fast does a mushroom grow?”. At the risk of sounding sarcastic I usually reply, “I don’ know, because my philosophy is Never Leave a Man Behind !” That’s pretty much true, in that I harvest anything big enough to be seen, with a few exceptions that prove the rule. The few times that I have marked a mushroom and come back to see its growth was when the work was easy. In other words, the subject was very, very close – like my back yard or a morel in a friend’s apple orchard..The last few days were just such a time.

After driving a long way for my first Hen of the Woods (my last post) on Friday, I thought a little “desert run” down a local trail near the house might be in order. It had been over a week since any rain had fallen here, so my expectations were low. After piddling around, I headed back toward my truck. I had skipped checking a large fallen tree just in the woods at the start of the trail. “Too dry for oysters,” I had thought. But then, this is a tree that has given up oysters regularly over the past two years in an unpredictable fashion. I could see the tree from the trail, but would have to get closer to see if oysters were present because there was substantial “crust fungus” on part of it. So I did – get closer.

Oyster1What I found was numerous patches of “pinhead” oysters up to nickel sized, with a few a bit larger. Because it was easy to get to, I thought, “What the heck. Take a picture and come back tomorrow.”

 

 

Oyster2I did that and you can see from the pictures that considerable growth had occurred. I picked 3 lbs on Saturday and left all the small ones. That’s my knife for scale. Note, also, all the gaps are filled in.

 

 

Oyster3I returned the following day, Sunday, and all the tiny ones were nice eating size, but not mature enough for our orange-headed fungus beetles to have invaded them. I picked another 3 1/2 lbs.

That’s the best quality oysters I have ever harvested. Yummmm-eeee !!!

Bottom line: If you see small oysters, don’t wait more than a day, but it can get substantial growth in one day, even if the woods are dry. They will be big enough for the pan, but not old enough to be slimy or beetle filled. Of course, this tale is episodic and not a controlled experiment. “All ‘shroomers walk in single file. At least the one I saw did.”

POST SCRIPT: I did go back once more, Sunday, which made 3 days from first discovery. The few small ones I had left on Saturday had not grown at all, and had, in fact, dried out. Still, by being patient I got about 7 pounds of the most beautiful oysters I believe I have ever foraged.

 

 

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