Dish :: Spring Fever

I brought this post over from the old blog.  Original post date was March 2010, hence the springtime theme.

I’m not really down with the fungus consumption, but I know plenty of folks who are.  Here in Michigan, late spring is prime time for mushroom hunting.  Although not a fan of eating said fungus, one of my favorite memories of my childhood is that of scouring the forest for the mysterious delicacy known as the morel mushroom with my mom and grandma.

There’s a lot to experience in the woods besides poison ivy… knee-high forests of may apples, the forbidden-to-pick trillium, tiny purple crocuses and violets poking through the carpet of last autumn’s discarded leaves.  You’ll hear the soothing sounds of the cardinals and robins and chickadees, the obnoxious calls of the blue jay, and more than likely, a flock of geese coming home from their winter escape.  If you’re really quiet, you might even get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a mama whitetail and her cute baby Bambi, or a sweet, fuzzy little bunny.

You might wonder why one would hunt for mushrooms when they can be purchased at just about any grocery store.  The morel is a finicky little fungus.  You can’t just grow them, and they don’t do what they’re told.  They prefer damp, dark areas deep in the woods, but with just enough sunshine to motivate them to burst forth from the earth.  Morels grow where they want, when they want, and only an avid fungi-phile will know how to find them quickly.

Being a child has its advantages in mushroom hunting… Little ones are closer to the ground, their eyes are better, and even though the young attention span is sometimes lacking, I think there’s a certain focus and patience a child can have when searching for something truly special.

I always outdid my family members in the hunt (at least that’s how I remember it), but looking back, the baskets of treasure we took home were nothing compared to the memories of those outings that I still cherish today.

Here’s a recipe for your springtime bounty, if you’re so inclined:

Grandma Voss’ Sautéed Michigan Morels

2 cups of fresh morels, halved

3 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 clove of garlic, diced

1 small onion, chopped fine

salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauté pan (or better yet, Grandma’s cast iron skillet); add the garlic and onions.  Cook till the onions are almost transparent.  Add the morels and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.  Season, and serve immediately over steak, pasta, rice, fish or chicken.


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