Yesterday I picked chanterelles for the first time.
I source a lot of my food at stores, but I’m diversifying. I get chicken at a nearby farm; local eggs from one health food store; grass-fed beef from another. I prowl around the land, city & country, for food.
Food sourcing has become my practice since I’ve become paleo. Maybe it’s even a spiritual practice sometimes.
I picked a trillion blackberries this summer. They’re in my freezer now, just waiting to be partially defrosted and served with coconut cream (find the recipe for coconut cream below!)
I’m a newbie wildcrafter, but I’m already appreciating all the intrinsic primal-certified exercise as well as the food, and as a perk wildcrafting also appeases my latent bunker-freak survivalist.
I’d like to kill a deer. I’ve never killed anything in my life, and I’m hazy on the details of what is involved in turning a stag into venison, but I’d like to know. I think.
And yesterday I went mushroom picking.
My good friend and mushroom guide, Elaine, can spot chanterelles under a log in a gloomy hollow from 50 feet away. As we loped through the understory, talking incessantly like old girlfriends do, she’d stop to tell me there were some right under my feet. I’d hunker down, peer around, and poke at the moss until I found them. It’s late in the season and they’d been fairly picked over, but she found lots peeking out from under the moss and rotten logs. She taught me to leave the small ones and we only harvested those that were at least palm sized.
Elaine showed me all her favorite, best, secret mushroom spots.
After a while I noticed I was crouching in the moss and finding them as we talked. I was discovering the mushroom wavelength; suddenly seeing fungi everywhere.
We gathered about 10lbs of chanterelles in 2 hours, mostly golden and a few white ones, and Elaine insisted I take most of them home.
I arrived home with a big bag of mushrooms covered in pine needles, leaf litter and dirt and realized I’d been so excited about mushroom picking that I hadn’t given any thought to cooking them. Not surprising for someone who (still, sometimes) hates to cook!
After cleaning them, which took 2 of us working concertedly for 20 minutes, I followed Elaine’s advice and let them cook ‘dry’ without oil in my two biggest cast iron pans. They released a lot of liquid which I was supposed to let evaporate, but there was such an improbable quantity of mushroom liquor that I poured some off. Once the remaining liquid had cooked off, I added coconut oil (rather than the recommended butter) and big chunks of garlic, and browned everything gloriously. We ate them with leftover thanksgiving-turkey soup and they were….medium!
Next time I won’t pour any of the liquid off (must learn to do as I’m told). Matthew and I agreed they’d make a great omelette filling, and the leftovers are snuggled into a glass container in the fridge awaiting that fate tomorrow. I found a promising recipe for Warm Chanterelle and Pancetta Salad online, which I’ll be ready with next time I head out.
Meanwhile, here’s a recipe that makes a cup of coffee or any kind of fruit divine in moments…
I’ve found this recipe in several locations, but I first discovered it in my favorite paleo cookbook, Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan.
- Refrigerate 1 or 2 tins of coconut milk overnight.
- Separate the thick white cream from the clear coconut water. Add a capfull of vanilla extract and some nutmeg to the cream, if you like, and beat briefly until gloriously thick, like whipped cream.
- Serve it with berries or dollop it in your coffee.
- Use the coconut water in a smoothie, salad dressing, or soup.