Editor's Note: This column is about wild mushrooms. Wild mushrooms can be very dangerous or fatal to ingest if you don't know how to identify them properly, so take some time to learn about them or take someone with you who is an experienced mushroom hunter.
Mushroom season has arrived! Have you ever tasted the satisfaction after stomping through the woods for a couple of hours and finally stumbling upon a large patch of yellow sponge mushrooms? I have on occasion had this opportunity, but not often. (Editor's note: these mushrooms are more commonly known as morels)
As a little girl Dad would take us children with him on our 90-acre farm roaming the woods in search of these tasty springtime treats. By the end of the trek I usually ended up with a handful of wildflowers as we left the woods even though my little bread bag often only contained a few lonely mushrooms.
Now since I am married, I enjoy making mushroom treks with my husband, who is an avid mushroom hunter. So far this year we haven't had any luck on our new land which was a disappointment for Julia and Austin who also like to go along.
Daniel's brother John and his family reported an amazing mushroom story the opposite of ours.
Early one morning last week John and his wife Virginia and their three little children, including 1-year-old Mathias, went on a mushroom hunt with a few of their friends. It was a beautiful, crisp morning as they headed for their favorite mushroom spot. Their excitement escalated a few minutes later as their brain tried to absorb the signals coming from their eyes. Right in front of them was a huge patch with scores of mushrooms. Little Mathias toddled around watching his brother and sister and other hunters pick mushrooms by the handful and putting them into a large mesh onion bag. He wasn't sure what all this meant, but one thing was sure, everyone was having the time of their life!
After an intense hour of picking they started homeward with a huge load of prized mushrooms. Upon arriving home they quickly weighed them and discovered a whopping 22 pounds of mushrooms. The tally was 445 mushrooms. They cut them all in half and then placed them in an ice chest with salty ice water.
That day John relayed the mushroom story to Daniel. They discussed various options of what they could do with them such as selling a portion of them and such. Daniel teasingly remarked: “You could think of people who don't have any mushrooms at all!”
The following day we found out that John's planned to fry mushrooms for the entire church! Wow, what a treat! The rest of us took soup, salad and desserts to go with mushroom sandwiches. On Sunday evening we gathered at the home of Nathan Lehman's where John and Virginia, along with the others, fried mushrooms for a total of two hours. It smelled so good stepping into the kitchen where the frying was done and, yes, they tasted delicious as mushrooms always do. By the time supper was past our 120 people at church had cleaned up all 445 mushrooms!
After supper everyone was seated as we listened to a report from the Wengerds who had gone on a three-month mission trip to Argentina, South America, to an Amish community there.
The evening was a blessing for everyone, brimming with delicious food and fellowship. Thanks to John and Virginia for their generous giving!
If you're fortunate enough to find mushrooms in your area be sure to fry them, it's worth the hassle even if you only have a couple.
Cut mushrooms in half lengthwise.
Soak in cold water, adding a dash of salt to kill any bacteria. Let soak an hour or more. Rinse under running water one piece at a time. Next roll each half in white flour, then fry in butter in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Flip mushrooms and fry on the other side until then. Daniel likes his crispy all the way through where I like mine that are still a bit soft in the center, so adjust cooking time to your preference.
Gloria is an Amish mom, housewife and writer in rural Illinois. Readers with culinary or cultural questions can write her at: PO Box 157, Middletown, OH 45042. The Amish Cook has been publishing weekly since 1991. The column's creator and editor is Kevin Williams. To learn more about the column visit www.amish365.com/about.