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In last week’s post, I gave some hints that alluded to one of my adventures.   The outing called for a sharp knife, safety goggles, bear spray, a whistle and a basket with a handle.   Just in case you were dying to find out what the heck that was all about , these are the tools of choice, when one goes mushrooming! 

 

When my friends brought over this basket of freshly harvested Chanterelle and Oyster mushrooms, I was excited to learn more.   Apparently, the warm fall, coupled with the rainy summer, have made this the best mushroom season in over 15 years.  I didn’t even know that I knew a couple of fungophiles who really know their stuff.  Seeing my interest, Neal agreed to take me to the woods to forage and it was a grand adventure!

It’s one thing to drive through the beautiful fall woods and quite another to leave the path and walk into the thick woods.  For one thing, the light is different.  It’s filtered and softer and gives the scene a dreamlike quality.  While I wanted to look for mushrooms, I was stunned and distracted by the beauty in every direction.  I’m glad I took my camera so I could capture this surreal landscape that included downed logs with symbiotic eco systems living on them, thick (I mean really thick) moss and duff under your feet, dozens and dozens of mushroom varieties in so many beautiful colors, a little wildlife and my fungi fun guy, Neal, as he introduced me to mushrooming.   

The slides show some of the highlights of the day including seeing my first snowshoe hare, a tree stump that had been gutted by a bear (there were tracks, people!) and lots of mushrooms.  If you look at the background in a couple of the shots, you can see why Neal suggested safety goggles.  Bushwhacking and log hopping can be treacherous!  

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After two days of hunting, I had so many of these apricot colored jewels, it was incredible.  The first feast I prepared was a penne pasta  that I sauced simply with chopped, sautéed Chanterelles, seasoned with a generous pinch of red pepper flakes, the juice from a freshly squeezed lemon, a handful of parsley, freshly grated black pepper and a lot of aged Parmesan.   Fabulous!
 

These  Honey Mushroom caps were one of my favorites varieties – similar to a shiitake in flavor.

 

I could think of no better way to serve them than sautéed and unadorned atop crispy chewy toasts.  A little drizzle of olive oil to finish them and a nice glass of wine made a fantastic appetizer.

If you couldn’t tell by all the gushing, mushrooming was an adventure of a lifetime for this former desert gal.  I will never forget it.  Thanks, Neal!

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