You’ll not find these beauties in the market. They grow in the shade of old red alder trees. They aren’t harvested like their blue siblings. They produce scattered bright red gems that birds love. The berries are tart and bright. It’s hard to gather enough for pie, but stepping outside to pick a handful for my breakfast or for a delightful snack is to accept gifts from the divine. And I am grateful.
We are experiencing an abundance of mushrooms! Everywhere I look, shrooms are looking there phallic little heads from under the carpet of wet leaves; or springing from stumps; or decaying beautifully along paths.
Are we a bit concerned that honey mushrooms, a parasitic species, are everywhere we look? Yes. But we’ll take that concern with a little salt and sautee it in bacon fat for our Sunday stew. (Honey Mushroom and Chickpea Stew with Cabbage, recipe follows.)
Spider Spring is a spongy little corner of the Oregon Coastal Range. And each time it rains, layers of mycelium blossom into strange and beautiful, occasionally yummy, fungi.
Honey Mushroom Chickpea Stew
Cut one or two pieces of bacon into a hot stew pot. When it behind to render fat, throw in mushrooms (stems removed, caps brushed and gills cleaned of all needles and soil). Cook until mushrooms release moisture and the moisture is evaporated. Add chopped onions. Cook until soft. Add fresh fennel and cumin seeds. Add 4 cloves or so of chopped garlic and a chopped jalapeno. When garlic and herbs become super fragrant, pour in a quart of broth (chicken or mushroom). Simmer for 25 minutes.
Add a quart of water and soaked chickpeas (1 1/2 cup, dried) to the soffritto. Cook for 2 hours. Add 1/2 pound bacon (Irish or Canadian). Cook for 1 hour more. Add a small head of cabbage (or less) and cook for 1 more hour. Taste, correct seasonings. Eat it up! Yum.