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.
The Deer (or fawn) Mushroom, Pluteus cervinus, grows on wood and looks a little like polished wood grain.
It is edible! We haven’t tried them yet, so I’ll update when we do. It does looks just like its poisonous relative that grows from the ground, so we will only sample ones that are obviously growing on wood. On Spider Spring they are growing in clumps on an old vine maple stump.
As the name implies, deer love them. But that’s not why it’s called the Deer Mushroom. The creamy white gills have antlers! They have special cells that grow out and split. The spore print is pinkish or peachy colored, so the gills become pink with age. Deer Mushrooms are beautiful. Even if they weren’t food, I’d feel lucky to have them growing on our property.
Boletus chrysenteron, the cracked-cap bolete, is not poisonous. But it is slimy and unappetizing when cooked. A troop of these grow along the path from the driveway to the yurt.
Their cracked surface and yellow tubes distinguish this from other boletes. The spores are a brilliant greenish yellow. The cracked-cap is an interesting little fellow.
This picture of beautiful fly agaric, or fly amanita, was sent to its by Nathan’s mom in northern Wisconsin. It is psychoactive and poisonous. Mostly it is awe-inspiring.