Vegetable Side Dishes
This is the time of year that I start hearing and reading about people going out and foraging for morel mushrooms. Whenever I see photos of bowls full of freshly harvested morels, my jealous bone is activated and memories of harvesting morels flood my being. Memories of traipsing through our bush, checking under “that log” and at the roots of “this tree” come rushing back. I still remember where some of those hotspots were. It is one of the most elusive mushrooms with a very finicky sense of habitat. There is a reason that the term ‘hunting for morels’ is used. People ask whether we weren’t afraid of picking poisonous mushrooms and keeling over? No, we weren’t because we had my bushlore grandma and we had A Book. This particular book told us everything we needed to know about mushrooms. We also had A Book about wildflowers and A Book about birds. So as you can see, we were all set.
After finding and picking all the morels we could find, we brought them back to my mom and she would promptly soak them in salt water to draw out the slugs that loved to hide inside the fleshy coneheads. Did you know that the term coneheads originated from the morel mushrooms? I didn’t either. Just kidding. Back to the slugs. Eww! SLUGS? Yes, slugs. I purchased some morels with great anticipation years ago at the market and forgot that this was an essential step of the cooking process. I remembered posthaste when the warmth of the frying pan drew those slimy beasties out of their hiding place. Ugh. It almost put an end to my obsession with the mushrooms. Almost. Yet here I am, getting all excited just writing about them again.
Mom or Dad would fry them up in butter and sprinkle them with salt and pepper and when they were perfectly brown and starting to crisp, we ate them, just like that. Oh my. As a result, most of our large family loved eating mushrooms and we had them quite a lot. If mom had leftover rice, she would fry it up with mushrooms and onions and we kids gobbled it up with gusto. Even Dad, who always proclaimed that he Did Not Like Rice, ate it and admitted that “this rice was pretty good”. The fact was that he didn’t like sweet rice with raisins, aka rice pudding, and couldn’t seem to remember that he actually liked savoury rice. Dear Dad. How I miss him!
Recently we had quite a bit of rice left over and I had binged on purchasing three different kinds of mushrooms in self-defense after seeing tantalizing pictures floating by of people’s morel bounties. We also had some shrimp and a small Alaskan salmon in the freezer and fresh green beans from the same shopping trip. It was a beautiful day, perfect for grilling seafood and garlic green beans that I wrapped in a foil pouch to grill. I figured frying up the mushrooms with the leftover rice would be a perfect accompaniment to the meal. You bet. It was. It was a meal fit for a mom. This mom, at least.
Note: The Garlicky Green Beans were from an earlier post of mine. I used the Maple Salmon Fillets recipe from our Martin Family Fruit Farm’s cookbook, A Celebration of Harvest, and this Chili Lime Shrimp recipe for this meal.
Probably because of my longstanding history with mushrooms, they have always intrigued me. If you want to read about the process of mushroom production, here is a link to a farm close to us, Brantford Mushroom Farms. Since mushrooms are not getting into restaurants these days, there is a surplus of them. Help the farmers out and buy lots of mushrooms!
Mushroom Fried Rice
DirectionsHeat the butter in a large skillet. Add the chopped onions and mushrooms and fry over medium-high heat until the onions are fragrant and the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Add the cooked rice and more butter if needed. Fry it all together without turning too often, sort of like hash browns. You want to give it time to develop a brown crust on the bottom before turning. Turn mixture about three times, turning the heat down if it’s browning too fast. Great served with chicken or seafood.