“If my heart is set on pursuing real treasures, my mind must be fixed solely on the privilege of enjoying them and freed of the obsession of owning them.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough
“We ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the universe. The diversity of the phenomena of nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the skies so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.”
― Johannes Kepler
“… food is not simply organic fuel to keep body and soul together, it is a perishable art that must be savored at the peak of perfection.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri
My annual check from my 401K retirement fund arrived today and reminded me that while The Artist and I are many things, rich is not one of them!
Well, at least not when it comes to the Babylonian Money System, but we have riches beyond measure in other ways.
Today broke cold and the temps never got over 50. With freezing temperatures forecast nightly for the next few days, we think that our mushroom foraging season may be just about over. However, with the recent rains, we were hoping that we might get one more flush before the cold kills things off.
We planned on hiking today and seeing if by chance we might find a few wild mushrooms and turn them into something warm and yummy for dinner on a cold day like today.
The island did not disappoint us and instead showered us with it’s riches!
First, right in our front woods, The Artist picked a huge bowl of weeping boletes (Suillus granulatus).
I started thinking about what I could make these into for dinner, but wanted to see if we found anything on our hike before I committed myself.
We headed out to one of our favorite private land isolated spots to see what might be growing after the recent rains. We were surprised to find a new mushroom for us and one we were just reading about yesterday!
This odd looking fellow is commonly known as the Late Fall Oyster (Panellus serotinus). Like many wild mushrooms, this is rich in not just nutrients but also medicinal components. We picked a few dozen to try later. Since it’s a new to us mushroom, we wanted keep to our rule of only eating a couple to see how they react, so unfortunately I won’t be making dinner from these, but I will cook them up and freeze them to enjoy later!
As we hiked along we spotted one of our favorite fall mushrooms … Honey mushrooms! (Armillaria mellea)
I could definitely make something for dinner from these and my mind turned to mushroom stroganoff or wild mushroom risotto, but we still wanted to see what else we might find!
Sure enough we were not disappointed!
We were super excited to find some beautiful Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)!!!!
These are a real delicacy and make a rich addition to soups, stews and stir fry. We harvested about 40 of these and this I decided, was to be the main star of tonight’s dinner. The honeys could be cooked up and frozen for later as well as the weeping boletes.
With idea of a rich warm dinner for tonight dancing in my head, we were amazed when another prized mushroom presented itself …. the Lions Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)
We have eaten these before and they made a wonderful dish that tasted similar to crab. I decided that I would use these along with the oyster mushrooms!
The Artist and I were in awe and grateful for the bounty of riches presented to us today. We discussed dinner plans as we hiked along and settled on a riff of an old French Canadian favorite of stewed chicken and dumplings.
We decided to make a wild mushroom version of this dish with several twist to make it even richer … we would use wild sea snails or Periwinkles (Littorina littorea) and a broth made from seaweed and dried mushrooms. The Artist would make buttermilk dumplings to simmer in the rich stew!
We hiked over to the ocean to take in the view which was beautiful but freezing as the strong wind blew over us.
A little rockweed to flavor the stock as well as some periwinkles was in order … this island is so rich in its gifts!
When we got back, I started on cleaning, cooking and freezing the mushrooms we were not using for dinner while The Artist fed Edog a rich chicken dinner. First up was to cook the Late Fall Oysters and clean the Lions Mane and Oyster mushrooms.
Next was cleaning the Honey mushrooms and cooking and freezing these.
Lastly was cleaning the Weeping Boletes .. these have a sticky cap and everything sticks to them … pine needles, bugs, etc. They take a lot of washing to get clean. I cooked these up as well and had two containers to freeze!
Now it was time to open a bottle of wine and start dinner!
First was making a rich stock …. I used our own seawater, rockweed, birch polypores, carrots, onions and even some dried Lactarius helvus powder that we made, commonly known as the fenugreek milkcap.
The stock was rich and heavenly!
Next I sauteed the Oyster and Lions Mane mushrooms and the snail meat in garlic, olive oil and butter and finished with sea salt, black pepper, Provencal herbs, white wine, lemon juice and heavy cream … delicious!
Next I sauteed carrots and onions in olive oil and added some flour to make a roux and then added the hot stock and stirred until thick. In went the mushroom and snail mixture and when simmering, The Artist added her buttermilk dumpling dough!
Simmered for 25 minutes and then fresh peas and chopped parsley were added for a few minutes more and then served up!
We both were speechless.
This dish was absolutely amazing and words fail to describe just how rich in flavor and nuanced those flavors were. No single flavor dominated. The Artist described it best when she said I finally composed my 9th symphony. This is what real food is all about … local ingredients and wild foods we harvested and prepared ourselves.
While that little retirement check I deposited today will have to last us the next year, both The Artist and I feel like the richest souls on the island. Martha Stewart, David Rockefeller, Mitch & Steven Rales, Charlie Butt, Bob Bass and Ned Johnson may all be billionaires who live here, but I doubt they dined as well as we did tonight.