Friday, September 20, 2013

Confessions and Mushrooms

Let's start the day with some confessions, shall we? 

I have a poor sense of direction. I often struggle to find my way home from places I've managed to find my way to. This happens where there are roads, street signs and landmarks. I'm completely hopeless when "off road".

I'm not a big fan of spiders. At this time of year they become very visible, and this year there seems to be a whole heck of a lot more of them than normal. I've been told they are beneficial in many ways, but that knowledge has not seeped from my conscious awareness to the part of my brain that controls automatic and irrational reactions. 

I live in a place where there are cougars and bears. I have learned some basic "bear aware" strategies over the years, yet I have a sneaking suspicion that if I were confronted by one of these large, local mammals I'd panic. 

Hmmmm. Having read those last two confessions I'm beginning to wonder if the connection from the "knowledge" part of my brain to the "reaction" part of my brain is faulty. 

Because of these shortcomings, I'm particularly grateful when brave friends are willing to roam through the forest with sweat running down their necks, spiders dripping from their hat brims, and pine needles in their underwear, to forage for chanterelle mushrooms. I'm even more grateful when they share those mushrooms with me. 

Of course, the fact that chanterelles are delicious may also have something to do with my gratitude.  Thanks to our brave friends T and R we had a particularly awesome lunch last Sunday. 

I know it doesn't look like much. Blame my amateur photography skills. And my desire to sit down and eat!
Usually, when we are lucky enough to acquire chanterelles, we make pizza. Sadly, there wasn't time this week for pizza-making. Still, I'm particularly pleased with the meal we made with our gift of mushrooms. It satisfied on so many levels. 

First it was economical, as it allowed me to use up the ends of many items lingering in the fridge. The salad was leftover from dinner the night before, as was the home-made honey-mustard dressing. The sandwich allowed me to use the last bit of an onion and the remains of a wedge of cheese leftover from earlier meals.

The meal also included a number of locally grown and prepared ingredients. That always makes me happy. On our small plates we managed to squeeze in the following local stuff:

  • Bread from Vassili's Denman Island Bakery
  • Chanterelles (a gift from foraging friends T and R)
  • Smoked salt from Vancouver Island Salt Co.
  • Smoked Boerenkaas cheese from Natural Pastures
  • Honey from Big D's Bees
  • Sweet pepper from Fiesta Greenhouses
  • Tomatoes from our garden
  • Cucumber & onion from Sleeping Cougar Acres (gifts from L)
  • Lettuce from Whole Hog Farm
  • Garlic from our garden

In addition, the open-faced sandwich was much easier to prepare than pizza, and it came together quickly. Here's the recipe, if you can call it that.

Sauted Chanterelle Mushrooms on Toast

  • chanterelle mushrooms (as many as your friends are willing to part with)
  • 1/4 medium onion - chopped
  • 1 clove garlic - minced
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • smoked salt
  • bread - toasted
  • cheese - sliced, grated, whatever.
Preheat broiler.
Clean and slice chanterelles.
Heat oil and butter in a frying pan.
Add onion and garlic.
Add chanterelles.
Add a small sprinkle of sea salt.
Cook until onions and garlic are translucent and mushrooms are tender.
Sprinkle with a wee bit of smoked salt. 
Top toast with mushroom mixture.
Top all that goodness with cheese.
Pop under the broiler until the cheese is melty, gooey and delicious.

Lastly, our lunch was darned yummy. Seriously, you need to find some brave friends willing share some chanterelles and try it yourself!

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