Eye Candy for My Foodie Friends

seedmama(7)March 23, 2009

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These are morels harvested from my woods about 10 minutes ago. I think it's worth mentioning the connection to Winter Sowing. Once I discovered how successful WS was going to be, I knew I didn't have enough bed space that first year. Sound familiar? I embarked on a huge lasagna bed project. Soon enough it became clear I needed the lawn tractor to haul what would eventually amount to many tons of organic material. I cleared a path of dead trees and underbrush 6 feet wide and 60 feet long. I collected and put down cardboard and wood chips making a path for the lawn tractor. Today the path is rewarding me with morels. How lucky can a girl get?

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retiredprof(7)

OMG!!! Those are spectacular! You have such a flair for presentation, too.

Tell me you DON'T plan freecycle these this year. I'll keep the fish, you keep the morels.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 2:40PM
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seedmama(7)

Prof, You're probably picking up on the Italian platter too. It came from Deruta.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 3:13PM
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lgslgs(z6 SE ohio)

Excellent - did they sprout up through your new wood chip paths?

Lynda

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 3:34PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Beautiful, wish I a wooded area. No morels in my open sunny wood paths.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 3:37PM
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bakemom_gw(z6 Central Ohio)

Gorgeous! I am a foodie.

You are doing this in OKLAHOMA? I am impressed. Are you in the scrub oak belt?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 5:05PM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

You actually eat those? Last night I was peeling a sweet potato. I was wondering what numbskull dug one of these things out of the ground and decided it would make a nice casserole. I guess he had a lot of butter on hand too.

Really, what are those and what is their flavor? I'm not a big mushroom fan if that's what they are.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 7:52PM
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tosser

Ooh...aah... not only am I impressed, but deeply envious, as well. I was just thinking about these lovelies this past weekend. Maybe next week...?

How do Oklahomans eat them? Around here it's pretty much soak in salt water. Rinse. Soak in clean cold water. Rinse, drain. Dredge in flour. Dip in beaten egg. Dredge in cracker meal. Fry fast in hot butter. And there's your supper, unless you also happen to have a nice catfish to fry up. Oh man. Thanks for the pic!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 6:32AM
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stlgirl(6a MO)

Alright I've heard about folks hiking around the woods near here in search of morels. Though I myself have never done this. Too worried I would be the one to pick up something poisonous. Love your photo, now I have some ideal of what morels look like. Thanks!

StlGirl

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 10:56AM
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seedmama(7)

I've never eaten them, but tosser's recipe sounds pretty much like what I'll attempt tonight. This will be my first year. Last year I was feeding the baby and just didn't have the nerve to experiment, so I freecycled them. The people left with a sense of entitlement instead of gratitude, which left a bad taste in my mouth.

Regarding poison, it's my understanding that it's difficult to confuse a morel with something other than a morel. They look much like a Christmas tree shaped out of brain material. If you don't see me post tomorrow, you'll know that there CAN be a case of mistaken identity. Oops.

Out of curiosity I checked with a couple of restaurants yesterday. The first offered me $180 a pound. This didn't seem right so I called another. Same offer. My six year old was in the background listening and before I knew it he was separating them into two piles. The first was to eat. The second was to sell, with proceeds going toward Bionicles!

I split them in half a different way. We will eat half. The other half went to a local businessman this morning. His motto is "Loyal to Oklahoma, Loyal to You". I generally scoff at such lofty mottos, but without this man's loyalty several years back, my life today would be very different. His sister mentioned to me last year that morels were one of his favorite things in life, so I was very happy to take him some.

Bakemom, I don't know if I'm in the scrub oak belt, but I do have some post oaks, which I think of as trash trees. You lived on the west side of Oklahoma County, where the desolate prairie really begins to take hold. I'm further east, where the trees and rolling hill begin. It's like two different countries.

Before I cook these puppies, I'm going to put them in a mesh bag and go shake them around in the new shade area that hubby prepared a couple of months ago. Maybe I can expand the harvest.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 1:49PM
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retiredprof(7)

Oh, Seedmama: This is much better than Freecycling them. Didn't think about selling some of them off, but I can tell you-- if you were in a major metro area, you could get prime $$$.

I've eaten these before and, from your pic, they not only look non-poisonous, but absolutely prime. Keep the prep simple--a quick saute with butter, maybe a sprinkle of garlic and S&P. Think truffles--less is more.

Prof

PS: Thought I'd pass this tidbit along. I read on a blog they they increase fertility if they don't kill you. From the looks of that plate, you'll be mighty fecund tomorrow!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 4:43PM
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plays_in_dirt_dirt(Z7A VA bordering NC state line)

Here in south central Virginia, they're called "hickory chickens." People who hunt them and find nice stands won't divulge the location, not even under threat of torture! We sometimes have a lot of mushrooms growing in our lawn, but they're not morels, and I'm afraid to eat them.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 4:46PM
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retiredprof(7)

Oh, absolutely. Hunting morels is a cult thing, but in a wonderful way.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 5:22PM
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playintheyard(zn6 MA)

Wow -- I've never heard of them before. They do look like x-mass trees made out of brain matter lol. What do they taste like? I'm assuming a mushroom ha ha.

Wouldn't that be great if you go harvest bunches next year to sell? How many times a year do they come around?

clueless Yankee-Annette

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 5:41PM
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bakemom_gw(z6 Central Ohio)

I know they hunt them in Licking County (I am not kidding about the name) and sell them here in Franklin (Ben) County. I thought they ran about $60 a pound over here.

Butter, garlic, parsley and some sea salt -swooon.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 5:46PM
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lgslgs(z6 SE ohio)

We hunt them here in Jackson county but they don't go any further than the kitchen. :)

Lynda

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 7:28PM
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gardencrazy(6 Southern Ohio)

Those look soooo good. What luck. I was thinking of ordering a kit off of a site I found so I could grow them myself.
www.gmushrooms.com

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 8:56AM
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not_a_contessa(z5b S Central PA mtns.)

I'm amazed, I'm stunned, I'm sooooo jealous!!
I live in the mountains and for 9 years I've been trying to find out where and how to hunt morels. The locals keep it verrrry secret, I can't get one generous soul to show me how it's done. You are so lucky, good for you, I love seeing your kind of success story!

Mary

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 12:33PM
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wendy2shoes

There's morels in them thar hills! I'm soo envious! My dad told me about them (died 1982..not from mushrooms!), and how delicious they were. Also, that they were one of the few 'shrooms that you could definitely identify, along with puffballs, so that you wouldn't get accidentally poisoned.
As they say "There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters"
Kudos!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 11:40PM
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retiredprof(7)

Seedmama: We need an update! How did you finally decide to prepare them? And the result?

Prof

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 1:49PM
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seedmama(7)

I washed them in a salt water soak. The salt water is supposed to scare out the critters living inside. I later read that washing them, as with other mushrooms, is unnecessary and dilutes the flavor. As I found no critters, I'll skip that step next time.

I quartered or halved them, depending on size, and gently sauted them in butter. I offered to toss in some of last year's WS parsley, and a dash of shallots, but hubby objected.

I found it intriguing that the mushroom flavor could be so intense, yet in no way overpowering. An onion of similar intensity would certainly raise objections to many pallettes. We had them as a side dish with rosemary grilled pork chops. Yum!

I've since learned that the main season doesn't kick in for another couple of weeks, which was one factor driving the restaurant price. Once high season arrives, the morels will command a measley :) $50-$75 a pound. I'm not selling.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 8:41AM
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retiredprof(7)

Excellent! And rosemary-grilled pork chops--that's how I do them, too.

I always fret over mushrooms. I used to use a vegetable brush, but found it too harsh. These days, I wet a paper towel and rub them really well. If I absolutely must rinse, I do it quickly and blot dry.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 5:32PM
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dorisl(5)

yummy! We shared ONE between four peoples once, simply sauteed in butter.

:)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 8:42PM
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stage_rat(5--Indiana Riviera)

I get a few morels in my yard. Yay for dying cottonwood trees! If you know what to look for, morels look like nothing else. But, there are poisonous mushrooms that look about three-quarters like a morel. Here's one link that shows the different shrooms:
http://www.michiganmorels.com/morels2.shtml

Also, Alton Brown applied science to the belief that mushrooms should not be washed. Mushrooms soaked in water for a long period of time absorbed just a tiny bit more water than mushrooms rinsed quickly. He then acted cranky about all the mushrooms he'd had to brush clean in the past.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 11:47PM
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anewgarden

Morels are wonderful! Lucky you! Couldn't happen to a nicer person!!
We pay a lot for them here in NYC. I haven't bought them in a few years.
I used to cook them in butter with an herb, sometimes tarragon, sometimes parsley.
About washing--I agree that water takes some taste out of them and other mushrooms. So what I have done, esp. with chanterells,( if you find THOSE in the woods I'm flying out) is to rinse them quickly in Vodka. It has no taste and will kill any critters or bacteria that could possibly make you sick. A few times I have washed them in Port, which sure has a taste, along with sautéed shallots, not bad at all!
BTW-- Do you have Fiddlehead Ferns growing there too? I think they pop up about the same time,no? They are good!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 8:38AM
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drippy(7bAL)

I have very much wanted to become a morel - and other wild mushrooms, perhaps - hunter, but am very afraid of the poisonous thing. Anyone know a good place to get started with that? I'm not sure I trust photographs alone - I'd love to find a local group in MA (where I am now) or SC (where I'll be soon) that might have seminars.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 8:26PM
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seedmama(7)

"I'm not sure I trust photographs alone"

This point was brought home yesterday.

My friend and neighbor wants very badly to find morel mushrooms. Her morel loving brother is the business man I referred to in an earlier post. She's been feeling left out and was so excited when she called me Tuesday night to ask that I step into my driveway. She wanted to show me a ginormous morel she had found. But when I went out she realized she had swapped vehicles with her husband and did not have the morel with her.

I made a point of stopping by her place at noon yesterday to see the motherload and be excited for her. When she showed me her treasure, the words that just fell out of my mouth were, "That's a red morel."

"You mean as in false morel?"
"Yes, as in very poisonous. Look at it. It's red."
"No, it just looks black because it's past its prime. I showed it to my morel loving brother and he said it was still fine to eat."
"I'm telling you, it's a red/false morel and I really wish you wouldn't eat it because I don't want to drive the carpool for both our children all by myself next year."
"Oh, you're just trying to ruin my fun."

In the background her husband was going back to thegreatmorel.com and looking it up. He took the mushroom to the kitchen and did a cross section which determined definitively it was a false morel. False morels, although they have hollow spots in a cross section are generally solid. A real morel has a hollow trunk. Furthermore the real morels here are golden in color (we don't have the black kind) and it was very clear to me that the blackened red color was not the edible kind.

The pictures on the great morel were very clear to me. I don't know if she just wasn't seeing stuff in her excitement to find a morel, or the pictures just didn't do the job for her. Either way, I left there with goose bumps.

I found five more yesterday and prepared them somewhat differently, this time with only butter, no breading. Much better for my palette. On the flip side, I tried just brushing them very well and not washing or soaking them. That was a mistake. Despite a thorough brushing, there was still grit and that detracted significantly from the experience. Next time, it will be a quick swish in water, as opposed to a soaking, then followed by a treatment with the kitchen sink sprayer. I'll get it right eventually.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 12:31PM
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drippy(7bAL)

Thanks for that story, Seedmama - see, that is creepy, because I believe there are edible black morels, too. I think when I get to SC - probably will have to wait until next year, now - I will try to find a seminar led by a knowledgeable wild mushroom hunter. And even after that, I may do the first tasting of my first picking myself before feeding to others!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 1:15PM
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seedmama(7)

Drippy, you're right, there are edible black morels, but they still look far more like the gold ones in shape and size, just different by color, than the red ones do. First, there's no mistaking the red undertone with the black. Think dark coleus. Second, the hollow factor is the real tell tale sign.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 5:46PM
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