Highlight of the season, found in the Hudson Valley on September 28th. It’s Lactarius indigo, aka blue milk mushroom.
I’m spoiled. Simple fact. Being married to a whiz-bang mushroom hunter/expert mycologist, I get a lot of morels, chanterelles and porcini, to say nothing of sulfur shelf, hen of the woods and other well-known wild delights. All are deeply welcome, don’t get me wrong. But at this point in my mushroom career they aren’t thrillingly special.
Lactarius indigo, on the other hand, is an edible miracle so seldom found that when I run into them I just about fall on my knees and weep. It doesn’t seem fair that a single mushroom could be both mind-bendingly gorgeous and outstandingly delicious, but there you are. Life isn’t fair.
late autumn color, late autumn flavor: winter squash, chestnuts and wild mushrooms
Must say I do love a soup that tastes rich and creamy without being heavy – or containing cream. Also nice if it doesn’t require an arsenal of seasonings and is easy and quick to make.
The quick part does assume the squash is already baked, and that you know speedy ways to peel chestnuts, but why not? *
As usual, the ingredient list is pretty much the whole recipe, but given that the beauty shot of the main ingredients promised something a bit more extensive, here’s a rough outline, based on the most recent iteration.
“Rough” and “most recent” are definitely the words for it; this is one of those home style soups that’s infinitely variable.
In other words, almost impossible to screw up.
Ingredients for autumn soup: chestnuts from a farmers market, Lactarius thyinos (no common name), hen of the woods, Queen of Smyrna squash
I took this picture to run with the recipe – not yet written – because I was about to roast the squash and chestnuts, making them less photogenic.
But then I realized the picture itself is a massive seasonal alert. So:
Bill’s detailed hen of the woods hunting advice is here.
The post where I roll all over in delight about the squash, after a timely reminder that the window of specialty squashes is both small and right now, is here.
And really a lot about roasting and peeling chestnuts is here.
I probably should have titled this “Harvesting Wild Mushrooms;” there are all kinds of them just about everywhere (or at least everywhere in the Northeast). Our vegetable gardens may be soggy – even without Irene this has been a mighty rainy summer – but in the silver lining department there’s a bumper crop in the woods and fields.
Not sure if I’m bragging or confessing; but either way we did pretty well morelling this year, at the expense of working on the new evergreen garden, up-potting the last batch of tomato seedlings, giving the raspberries their second weeding…
Morels Part 1: The All American Fried Morel Experiment
There will be trees and flowers and food and garden design and some eeks of the week and a great deal more. But as it happens we are starting out with the wild mushrooms that appear here so frequently, because, as Bill said yesterday,
“ A January Thaw: What could be nicer? Today at noon it was 56 F on our front porch.The sun was shining, our bees were out for their first cleansing flights of the winter, the odd songbird or two could be heard rehearsing spring calls, and on our new year’s walk this shining bit of cheer and promise: ”
No, they’re not edible; just a reminder that there’s always something growing (and always something to share).
I’m having the usual veteran cookie baker’s dilemma: too many tempting new recipes vying with too many old favorites (we will not speak about too little time or too few pairs of roomy pants).
Roll and cut Pepparkakor, the quintessential Solstice gingerbread cookie (animals, birds and stars belong to everyone, regardless of religion or lack of same.)
To cope this year, I’m going to try a 180 from the time honored “one dough, many cookies” strategy. As soon as I get this posted I’m going to shrink the list and use the dough for spicy walnut ginger fingers to make the fancy cut out shapes necessary to a proper assortment. They’re only a distant cousin of pepparkakor , but under the circumstances I’ve decided they’re close enough.
Bill, meanwhile, has none of these problems. He just keeps going out mushrooming and will with luck bring home winter oysters, about which ( and a few others) he has written another guest post
The delicious Winter Oyster Mushroom can withstand repeated freezing and thawing cycles and can be found through the Fall, Winter, and Spring in the Hudson Valley of New York.
Bill, being an honest and trusting soul, set up this photo without remembering that people have been known to stuff baskets with filler and put a layer of mushrooms on top. So just for the record that IS four pounds and nine and three-eighths ounces of black trumpets and the only reason it isn’t more is that we left the littler ones to grow larger for later.
Trumpet brie is one of the easiest, tastiest things to do with black trumpets and you don’t need many, either
Trumpet and caramelized onion pizza is also quick and delicious.
Maine crab and lobster mushrooms inside that crunchy crust
At the risk of jinxing things I have to say this is shaping up as a boffo mushroom year (in Midcoast Maine, anyway.) We haven’t had much chance to go out, but when we do we are finding things, including lobster mushrooms, which seem to be unusually abundant.
I am of the school that feels they get their name from their brilliant color. To me, the flavor is meaty, not fishy. But others claim they also taste faintly crustaceanlike. This isn’t as farfetched as it sounds; mushroom cell walls are primarily composed of chitin, the same material that makes crab and lobster shells.
Either way, they have a great affinity for Maine crabmeat, one of the world’s greatest seafoods.
Those bright red bits are the mushroom
Just by chance, our first summer foray was yesterday, when Bill went scouting and I tagged along, even though I was pretty sure we wouldn’t find much. (No rain for a while now and it’s up around 90 every day.)
Bill didn’t expect much either, but he doesn’t need much; one obscure little poisonous tidbit he hasn’t photographed yet is enough to make his day.
We were right, there wasn’t much – if you don’t count the mosquitoes and one huge honking Boletus bicolor.
Bill with a Boletus bicolor that’s on the big side for a solo specimen