Seedybeans Blog

Celebrating the Humble Harvests of High Desert Homesteading

Holy Boly!!

 

      

Oh the glories of gardening, verdant life all around your home, plucking your nourishment from right outside your back door, truly a glorious and satisfying act.  But what I find even better, is food, wild and free, there for the plucking with no effort needed by me but a keen eye and a gracious heart.  Nature in her perfect cycles is sprouting life everywhere, only for wandering humans to stumble across it, gather it up and be feed, it is the most natural thing in the world.  Wild food is so simple, yet feels like such a miracle every time I am gifted with some.  Well, these blessed rains have been kind to the wild foodies this year, especially the mushroom hunters. On any given day in August you can take the drive up to the ski basin and find tons of hikers wandering off the trails into forest groves, baskets in hand, looking for mushrooms.  We have gone up three times already and have never come home with empty baskets, the only trouble is everybody else is doing the same thing, so there isn’t much to go around and unfortunately people are tearing through in a way that looks like anywhere too many people have traveled–trampled ground, yanked and discarded fungi, and yes, trash, sad but true.  I will however commend a hiker that made my day.  He exited the trail and as he passed us he asked how the harvest was.  We had found one nice Boleta (we were only there for about 30 minutes) and showed him.  He said, “Check out what I scored” as he opened up a plastic shopping bag.  It was full to the brim with garbage!!  I was delighted he had harvested trash instead of mushrooms so we gave him our prize and thanked him heartily.  I love when people impress me!! It is not always about what you get, but what you give.

Though our harvest from the ski basin was less than abundant we simply love being there, wandering in the forest and soaking up the medicine of the forest itself.  We brought our nephew who visited from Barcelona last week and he had the time of his life with his wild mushroom hunting uncle.

Though the harvest was minimal, we were happy to have gotten up to the forest three times in 2 weeks and were content.  But last we got a tip about a mushroom forest from a friend who we had turned on to mushrooming and by golly I have never had so much fun in the forest before in my life, well maybe in high school while mushrooming!!  It was like a candy store, mushrooms everywhere, I really did feel like an elf, gitty with the abundance, slowly being lured deeper into the forest by another glimmer of color among the fallen leaves, fairies just watching from the trees as we were being put under their spell.  To go mushrooming, one must go slow, at a mushroom pace.  You must watch and listen and let them call to you.  It is like tracking, only when you do find the critters they just seem to smile and peer up at you, rather than dart away.  It is like playing hide a go seeks with a four-year old, who has more fun being found than eluding you.  The harvest was totally glorious, in fact I weighed in when we got home, 25lbs of mushrooms!!  Mostly Boletus Edulis, which I call holy boly!! They are a sponge mushroom, opposed to a gilled mushroom and almost the whole family is edible, with a few exceptions so beware.  By no means am I a mushroom expert, though I may be good at finding them, there are so many millions of kinds, I simply have learned a few and stick with them.  If you want to learn more about mushrooms I recommend Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora.

 He is kind of zanie, but a total expert.  He even mentions on page 546 the Boletivorus clandestinus, a strange breed.  Studying a field guide is totally helpful and can really be fun, even if harvesting isn’t your thing.

So now what to do with 25lbs of Mushrooms? Well, we dried them on screens in the sun and jarred them up for the winter. I made cream of mushroom soup last night from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and though it looked like brown mush, it really was wonderful!  I will be hunting more recipes as the season goes on, but for now it is all about enjoying the wilds and putting food up for winter.

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