On my Facebook page a couple days ago, a great-nephew posted a picture of the Morel mushrooms he and his sons had found. Looking at the mushrooms, I could taste them. Oh, how I was wishing I had some to cook.
I grew up in southeast Iowa, where Morel mushrooms are plentiful. They are, to me, the Cadillac of mushrooms. Every spring, along about the end of April or first of May, Dad would say it was time to go mushroom hunting. My brother and I would grab our buckets and off we'd go.
Before long we were pushing through the timber looking for mushrooms. Some years we had filled all the buckets we'd taken along in no time at all. Other years, the mushrooms required a great deal of patience to find.
Although we were looking for mushrooms, I'd often get sidetracked in my search for my favorite flower - the violet, or as Dad called them, Johnny Jump Ups.
Once we had harvested a good-sized batch of mushrooms, we'd head home. Mom would wash the mushrooms, then slice them lengthwise, and place them in a bowl of cold water to which she'd added some salt and baking soda. Several hours later she'd drain and rinse the mushrooms. Then she'd lay them out on dishtowels and pat them dry.
Soon we'd be hovering in the kitchen as Mom dipped the mushrooms in beaten eggs mixed with milk, then into flour seasoned with salt and pepper before putting them into the hot butter in the cast iron skillet.
To keep my brother and me from trying to snitch the freshly fried mushrooms, Mom would tell us to set the table.
A few minutes later, it was time to feast on mushrooms and homemade bread. When we were done, not a crumb remained on the platter and a loaf of bread had disappeared.
Last June, I was in Butte at a farmer's market in early June. And there, sitting on a table, was a container of Morel mushrooms. In a heartbeat, that container was in my hand and I was digging in my purse for the money to pay for them. The next day, after getting home late in the afternoon, I got out a large bowl and soon those mushrooms were soaking in cold water.
Before long they were drained, breaded and sizzling away in melted butter. The aroma of them frying was only surpassed by the pure pleasure of eating them.
After the mushrooms were history, I called my brother to tell him about my fantastic meal. I almost dropped the phone when he told me Morel mushrooms brought $150 a pound in New York City a month before. Well, I thought, as our call ended, we had just eaten a $300 supper. Not too shabby.
I think my trip to Iowa next year will be at mushroom time.