As a very young girl, I recall my dad taking us children mushroom hunting. It was a highlight for all of us. I remember once when we as a family all went on a trek in the woods, one-year-old Jeriah stood pointing at a mushroom which the adults and other children had missed. He just stood there making his grunting baby sounds at it as we all stumbled right past it in our excitement.
Now fast forwarding 20 years, I am the one scanning hillsides for the prized morels in the balancing act of juggling little ones who are thrilled to have the adventure of going on a walk in the woods.
For one reason or another, the past 10 years of efforts in mushroom hunting have been futile. A year ago Daniel’s brother and family had kindly shared their bountiful supply of mushrooms with the entire church, so we did get to enjoy some of theirs.
Now Daniel is a woodsman at heart and didn’t give up that easily. This Spring after hours of hiking he has been bountifully blessed with mushrooms way beyond what we have ever found in a single year here in the woodsy area of Flat Rock Illinois. With a past record of nigh complete defeat on mushroom searches, you can only imagine how I felt when hubby walked in the door with two bulging bags after being gone for a couple hours of searching for these prized morels. My eyes widened, I lost my voice as my mouth dropped in amazement. It couldn’t be right, yet I was seeing it with my own eyes.
Opening his bags the children and I wondered over them in amazement. I took a deep sniff; why they smelled just like they had when I was little girl, trailing after daddy. “I want to take you with me,” Daniel informed me, “There is a spot back in the woods that I want to take you and the children to go look for some more.”
Finally the following week one evening our opportunity came to reality. We had just come home from being at my cousin’s wedding for the day and needed a breath of fresh air. We invited our next door neighbor and friend, Carolyn, to join us and help with the little ones on our walk way back to the farthest point of our 90-acre farm. It so happened that two of Carolyn’s friends had been at her house, so we were tickled for the opportunity of taking them along as well. (Unfortunately, yesterday Carolyn broke her leg and even as I write she is in surgery to have a long pin put into her leg. May God continue to give her grace.)
With five adults, our trek went quite smoothly with the three youngest being carried and Julia and Austin traveling on their own as we pushed uphill and down. Daniel got to the creek first. It was too high to cross without getting wet, and it was too chilly to wade right through it. Taking a couple large stones we tossed it into the water, creating stepping stones for us to walk on. One at a time the children, along with the rest of us, passed safely through to the other side.
It wasn’t long until the real fun began. Never, in all my life did I see so many mushrooms in one area. The children had a blast as we kept ushering them to the bigger patches. Rayni was impressed as she plucked them right off the stem. To a two-year-old, it didn’t matter if the bigger portion of the stem remained unpicked. As we kept picking, our two ice cream bucket filled up much faster than we ever imagined they would. Last minute before we had left home Daniel had grabbed a grocery bag ‘just in case,’ and it too was filling up astoundingly fast. Finally, the buckets were filled to the brim and so was the bag. Thankfully one of the girls had a scarf along which proved to work well as a makeshift bag to hold the rest of the mushrooms which were to be taken home.
After arriving home, we were all ready for a break; we had one more fun part remaining. Together we counted 350 prized morels.
There were plenty of mushrooms for all of us to enjoy. Later as I was cutting them up, a verse Psalms kept ringing through my mind, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” What a blessing, why we didn’t even need to hoe around them or water them! What is better than burgers straight from the grill, sliding them onto a piece of homemade bread along with onions, a slice of Swiss cheese, and plenty of mushrooms? Mmm… it’s worth the efforts for sure.
This year we were delighted to add some of ours to the pile for the entire church at a minister’s appreciation supper. Besides that, we still had plenty to go with burgers for a family night with my family. It was such a blessing to watch others enjoy this rare treat. Why don’t you give them a try.
Cut mushrooms in half. Mix up salt water by mixing a couple tablespoons salt to a quart of water. Soak mushrooms in salt water for six hours or until you’re ready to make them. They will keep, refrigerated for a couple days. The next step will be to rinse mushrooms, a piece at a time under running water, then tap them gently onto a solid surface such as a paper towel on the counter top to expel any water or dirt. You are now ready to dip them into a bowl with flour then place them into a sizzling skillet with plenty of butter. Mushrooms are always better with lots of butter, so for us this is not a time to cut back on butter. Fry over medium heat for a couple minutes on both sides or until crisp and golden brown.
Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.