Gastronomic Fight Club SM

Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hunting Morel Mushrooms

posted by snekse
I'd like to tell you about my first mushroom hunting trip. But I can't. It's a secret. Locations, techniques, everything.

Mushroom hunters are part of a secret society. They will share their secrets with each other, but only in very vague details. And the closer you are to their territory, the more vague the details get. And as you get really close, what little information they give turns into disinformation. Such as taking circular erratic paths to your destination so people cannot follow your trail. I'm not making this up. We're talking full on espionage tactics here.

So I felt very honored that my step-father agreed to take me mushroom hunting with him. I really was mostly joking when I mentioned in my previous post. Not only did he take me with him, but he took me to one of his ultra-top-secret locations. So guarded is this spot that he's never brought anyone there, not even his dogs. About all I can tell you is it was located in Northeastern Nebraska and we were surround by trees. That's all you're getting out of me.

The Hunt

I do at least get the satisfaction of claiming I found the first morel of the day. But beyond that, my hunting skills were pretty dismal. Every dead tree called my name, but I think they were in cahoots with the mushrooms because none lead to the prized hole ridden fungus I was searching for. After about an hour of searching on my own, I made my way back to my guide, who by this time had about a half a bag full of morels. With a little more guidance I found a couple of more on our way out, but nothing to really brag about.

Taste Testing

After cleaning, soaking and drying our bounty, we prepared the mushrooms a couple of different ways. My mom breaded and pan fried a batch because that's how her mother always did it. Not bad, but a little heavy for the delicate taste of morels. I'd like to try them with panko crumbs or tempura batter. My step-father sauteed a batch in a bit of butter because that's how his mother always did it. Again, not bad, but the butter was a little heavy for the delicate taste of morels. I'd like to try them with a light olive oil and *maybe* a little garlic. Of the two methods, I liked the sauteed morels better, but it was nice to have the breaded morels for a change of texture. The next morning we made scrambled eggs with them, both on the side and mixed into the eggs. Very tasty, but they were better just on the side or maybe as an omelet filling. Either way, leave them in larger meatier chunks. Just curious, has anyone tried them steamed?

Tips

So that was my first morel mushroom hunting trip. Very fun, but now I think I'm hooked, so I have yet something else to obsess about. If you too want to become obsessed, I'll leave you with this parting tip for finding morels. Morels are finicky species and only grow under certain conditions. Despite what my pictures may lead you to believe, look for them under bonsai trees in densely populated urban areas for a delectable treat.

** UPDATE **
Per the Nebraska Games and Park Commission’s Web site, "when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear, when lilacs and woodland violets are blooming, when the first asparagus breaks earth, on Mother's Day – that's when you start looking for wild morel mushrooms." Look on the north-facing hill side slopes and moist wooded area under rotting elm trees.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Five More Rules for Eating with My Daughter

posted by snekse
I don't know if my biological clock is beginning to tick or if eating with kids is the new vogue food topic; either way, here's a good NY Times article about eating at home with your kids. I think how you eat at home with your kids plays a crucial part in how easy it is to take your kids out to eat to a place that doesn't have arches.

Generation Pad Thai

Again, I'll give a quick summary.

1. Make your children eat at the table from a very young age.

2. Make them eat what you do, even if you have to purée it.

3. Pack lunches fashioned from leftovers.

4. Eschew filling your kids with snacks.

5. Buy them the most expensive chocolate you can afford.

I'm not so sure how much I agree with number 4. Their reasoning is that you should basically starve your kid so they'll eat whatever you put in front of them when it's dinner time. The issue I have with this is that I'm constantly reading about how it's actually healthier to disperse your calorie intake throughout the day. I think as long as you're controlling what and how much your kid is putting in their mouth, then letting them have a snack between meals is not all that bad - especially if they are active. I'm a little less likely to give my kid a snack if they've been inside all day rotting their brain in front of the TV.

I do, however, completely agree with number 5. If people know what truly good food tastes like, they are less likely to fall prey to the cheap and accessible traps that are out there. I can easily pass on Hershey's chocolate because I have 4 lbs. of Scharffen Berger in my basement. Not only is Scharffen Berger better for you because it contains less sugar and fat, but because it's 72% cacao, I eat less at one time. My craving can be satiated with just 1 or 2 ounces.

If you have any other good advice for making your kids into mini-foodies, let me know.

RELATED LINKS:
Ten Simple Rules for Eating with My Daughter

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ten Simple Rules for Eating with My Daughter

posted by snekse
I don't like to just post links to other sites or articles, but since I figure this is an issue all foodies will run into at some point in time, I figured I'd post this. I don't have kids yet, so I'm not sure how practical the advice is, but it's still a very interesting read.

Eating out with Young Children - Practical Advice for Parents

Here's a quick summary for those of you who have too many kids to allow you the time to read the entire thing :-)
1. Your real enemy in getting a decent meal is not your child, it's the clock.

2. Pick somewhere close.

3. Pick somewhere good.

4. Find a place with lots of small dishes.

5. Pick a restaurant run by people who are in it for the long haul.

6. Go early.

7. Compress the meal.

8. Make your own kids' menu.

9. When the last dish arrives at the table pay for the meal.

10. Tip big.

Hopefully with this advice you'll be able to use the new year to shape and mold your own gastronomic mini-me.

RELATED LINKS:
Five More Rules for Eating with My Daughter

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Food Blogger Tools

posted by snekse






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