Sometimes Marty thinks I dreamed up this whole Fat of the Land thing so I’d have an excuse to spend more time outdoors. I’m not going to argue with that theory. Seems like I’ve been logging more nights in the woods lately than at home. As a result, here at FOTL headquarters we’re way behind on bringing you the latest adventures in the field and in the kitchen.
The cool, wet spring has produced an epic morel mushroom year in the Pacific Northwest—and I’ve been only too happy to harvest my share. Flush after flush of naturals keeps flooding the mountains, with multiple flushes sometimes at the same elevation. I’m finding so many naturals that I’m not even bothering to work the burns. The dryer is running overtime. In fact, I had to upgrade my homemade system to a store-bought Nesco dehydrator to handle the volume. Good times.
Over the Memorial Day weekend we went looking for sun, camping on the far eastern flank of the Cascades in what is high desert badlands. It was one of those classic Northwest beer commercials as we assembled for this group shot in down jackets and other winter gear. Even in desert canyons you can find an oasis of wild foods. We came upon on a large patch of miner’s lettuce that provided our salad greens for the weekend, and closer to the pass we went on a family hike and found morels in abundance on the elk trails.
Our friends Tip and Bridget whumped up a killer morel pasta dinner. I don’t have the exact details but it went something like this: chopped red onion and morels sauteed in butter, deglazed with red wine, finished with fresh sage and heavy cream and tossed with parmesan and fettucini.
The following weekend proved just as bountiful as we moved up in elevation to find the freshest morels. At one point I stumbled on a blowdown and figured there had to be a morel or two. Sure enough, one after another pointed me up the slope until I realized an area smaller than a football field was loaded with more than a hundred of the sneaky fellers.
There’s always a catch. The weather has been a boon to morels but our spring king season is looking like a bust. The boletes need warmth to pop. This year they’re a couple weeks late and I’m afraid the main flush will happen all at once and then the season will quickly wind down with a crop of wormed-out porcini. Luckily I managed to harvest a bunch at the very beginning. More on that in my next post.