The Mushroom Whisperer

I have always liked mushrooms. On pizza, from a can. When they would get a bit brown but not yet slimy my Mom would get them reduced at Kroger with beef for Steak night when I was a kid. I “hunted” a few times with friends when I was growing up, but never found any….

Then, I had a taste. My sister-in-law scored a kilo or so in a shady transaction in a bad neighborhood in Madison…yes, I am talking about Morel Mushrooms…. What did you think I was talking about? I was hooked! I studied Youtube and the internet. I made a list of tips and tricks, got a compass cause I am no Daniel Boone! We hunted all over the brother-in-laws’ 225 acres…my sister-in-law found… 1…whaa whaa whaaaahh….

So, the Hubs met a guy, who knew a guy, who could teach us how to hunt Morels…I am all in!!!

The hubs takes me and my 3 year-old to meet a youngish guy in a pick-up out in the middle of nowhere. He has a walking stick and a bag with holes….

I follow him through a field, under a barbed-wire fence and up a hill. He tells me he filled a 20 lb potato sack yesterday…I think “Yeah-right”!. HE starts speaking in riddles, like that blind dude in Kung Fu, “Before you look down, You must look up” and” Put your face to the wind, you will smell them” and “This” and” that” are signs…”follow the signs”. I ‘m starting to think this dude is the  “mushroom wacko” and he directs my attention to my feet…I look down and there is a HUGE  morel right in the middle of the path! I stoop down and he shows me how to break it off shake it a bit and place it lovingly in my bag. The Mushroom Master whispers, “where there is one, there are many.” I look around they are EVERYWHERE! Like a magic eye picture you stare at long enough. There’s one, over here, this is a good one…that one is a little past, I will skip it…I giggle and grin…within 1/2 of an hour I have a bag full of mushroom goodness!

Now I don’t know if you  have had the pleasure of tasting a morel mushroom–I think it is God’s way of rewarding Midwesterners for surviving another long, harsh, grey winter. There is nothing on earth like the taste. I must admit–I had some every day for a week–then they lost a bit of the appeal. I froze some and they made a terrific Morel Bisque in October!

I have heard many different ways folks around here cook and eat them…I like

Browned Butter

Whole Wheat Flour

Salt…simple warm nutty delicious

And Morel Bisque

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 large onion diced

24 oz (about 2 cups) Morel Mushrooms (you can ‘beef” up your bisque by adding cremeini or shitake)

1 tablespoon flour

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups heavy cream

1 sprig fresh  thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Melt your butter and oil in a heavy bottom dutch oven. Add onion and cook til soft. Drop garlic and mushrooms–sprinkle with flour and cook 3-5 min more. Add thyme and Chicken stock salt and pepper, bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer 2o minutes uncovered and transfer in batches to blender or use  emulsion blender to mix and mash. Return to pot and add cream simmer. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. This is Delicious soup–a great starter or companion for steak and a spinach salad!

When I spent time thinking about this post–honestly–I must admit I love the sunshine filtering through the trees and the dewy mist lingering at the green floor. I am amazed when I brush away a pile of dead, brown leaves and I find bright verdant shoots of life! I listen to the choir of birds and take time to admire the craggy bark at the base of elderly trees.

I can’t wait to go hunting again this year!

Even if you can’t stand mushrooms–go take a walk in the park, the country or a path near you and enjoy the life around–Spring has sprung! For real this time.

Sincerely, Sara

Have you ever hunted morels? How do you like them?

15 thoughts on “The Mushroom Whisperer

  1. My dad was born and raised in Iowa. I was taken on “The Great Mushroom Hunt” every year at Kankakee State Park. I was the only kid I knew that had a crazy mushroom hunting dad. My mom would never eat them just in case my dad might have picked a “dog pecker” AKA a poison one! I sure loved them and hunting them with that crazy mushroom huntin man. He would fry them rolled in egg then crushed crackers in butter, or just plain rolled in flour, salt and peppered and fried in butter. The other thing his did was lay them on top of “Sunday Roast” Tenderloin was my favorite. Roasting them bathing them with meat juices, mmmmmm, good eats! 😉

  2. Don’t do this to me ever again. Please! We moved last year to AZ from Iowa and I tell everyone how much I miss the Iowa tomatoes, sweet corn, and my asparagus bed. NOW, you’ve reminded me that even more I miss the morels. There is nothing like them and I’ll probably never have another one cuz even if I visit Iowa it wouldn’t be on THE day that the morels are popping. I can’t believe your photos and your haul. Oooooooog how I miss that wonderful flavor. Nothing better than light egg/breading and fried. But putting the leftovers in scrambled eggs the next morning comes close. Thanks for the memories. Now gotta go clean up my drool. (You know you could make big money shipping some to me:-)

  3. That’s a very sweet offer (and to the next one who commented.) Sounds like you have the makings of a new cottage industry, albeit only for a short time each year and very unpredictable. I surely hope you are again blessed with abundance. Smell the musty aroma for me, look under the dead elm trees, turn over the leaves gently with your hiking stick and say a prayer of thanks for such a rare tasty treat. And then share your bounty with someone who has yet to taste morels. (We always had the best luck on Mother’s Day weekend, or was that because that was the time we went hunting while visiting in-laws?) Where do you live?

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