Fall has really set in around here with foggy mornings, flying leaves and a fair amount of drizzly weather. All these mark the beginning of my favorite wildcrafting expeditions of the year, mushroom hunting. Getting out in the woods as things are winding down for the Winter to gather up baskets full of succulent, tasty fungi is a treat all on its own, not to mention the wide array of culinary possibilities that await upon returning home with the bounty. It's also a favorite wildcrafting adventure for my children, who after complaining about the enforced labor of berry picking by the time Summer is over, run about shouting with glee as they find fiery orange chanterelles, violet hued pig's ears, and creamy colored hedgehog mushrooms emerging from the moss and duff of the forest floor. Think Easter egg hunt in November, and you've got the idea. It's a good time.
The last two months have been a little drier than last year, so mushroom season has gotten a slow start, but I figured it was time to visit some of my favorite spots and see what could be found. My daughter and I brought along some friends who had never been, and although I could tell the season hadn't yet gotten into full swing, our rainy afternoon of scouring some nearby Forest Service lands yielded a respectable haul. Being the natural keen-eyed gatherers that they are, the kids managed to find more chanterelles than the adults. I'm not even sure that they're big fans of eating them, but the fun was in the finding.
Since then I've been enjoying such delights as gourmet chanterelle pizza, chanterelle scramble, Chinese stir fry with chanterelles, and beer cheese soup with chanterelles and artichoke hearts. I try to spend a few minutes everyday brainstorming mushroom recipe ideas, lest I run out of ideas before I run out of mushrooms. Since I only found chanterelles on this excursion, I'm thinking another is in order for some hedgehogs and hopefully a cauliflower mushroom if I'm lucky.
Fall is delicious.