Mental Break to Forage Mushrooms

It just wasn’t happening. The air was crisp. It had just rained a few days earlier. It had been a grueling week. And the studying was just a no-go on Saturday. It was time for a mental break.  So I went mushroom foraging with the hubby instead and was much happier for it. 🙂

Richly colored foliage – my favorite season

I happily took my mental break outside during my favorite season pursuing one of my favorite hobbies with my favorite person. (To be very clear for the curious minds out there, these are NOT psychadellics that we were hunting.)

The first species we came across was one I had not seen before and it looks like a corral growing out of the ground. It was the neatest looking thing! Just look at the picture! Someone took a sample of the Great Barrier Reef and planted it in my backyard woods and it grew!

Baby Corral Mushroom
Yes, I look ridiculously excited. No, I am not wearing makeup. Yes, this is a huge specimen.

After researching we were amused to find it is in fact a corral mushroom (Ramaria formosa). Roasted in the oven with a little garlic oil on top it made for quite the addition to dinner. We additionally found some Wood Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) mushrooms. If you have ever had Hot and Sour soup at a Chinese restaurant and noticed the thin dark strips that have a mushroom-y texture you have had wood ears. They are delicious in soups and stir fry. I packed them along for lunch at school today to add to my ramen because I am out of time for gourmet cooking as this ridiculous neuro final approaches.

First part of the harvest. Corral mushrooms with Wood Ears

Later in the day we also went to a nearby lake and found some Ringless Honey Mushrooms (Armillaria tabescens). Those are on the menu to have tonight with caramelized onion dip. I absolutely love the clumping formation they have!

Ringless Honey Mushrooms – So beautiful!

My husband has decided I will not be a crazy cat lady when I am old – it will be the crazy shroom lady. But seriously, there are so many different kinds! Next time you take a walk just notice how many different kinds of fungi you come across. They are all so different and spectacular. It reminds me every time to thank God for his incredible creation. Only a God with infinite creative power would make nature’s garbage clean up service beautiful and dynamic. Mushrooms literally exist to help decompose wood so we can grow new trees and plants and yet they come in myriads of morphologies, textures, colors, sizes, and flavors.

Mushroom hunting dates are the best.

Be passionate about details in life, it’s so much more satisfying. That’s all I can say when it comes to mushrooms anyway.

Check out the links on the species names above for more details on what we found, and this post on a different experience with foraged mushrooms.

Not edible, but super cool.

Have a favorite memory of mushroom hunting as a kid of do you forage now? 🙂

Adventures At A Pumpkin Patch

So you got on Instagram or Facebook and you scrolled for 2.3 minutes and saw exactly 8 different kids at pumpkin patches with proud parents displaying all the fall adorableness. And it’s totally adorable, and I love it too, and I am also thankful you were brave enough to read this-  another article on pumpkin patches – despite being in pumpkin overload season.

Pumpkins Everywhere!

Why did I go to a pumpkin patch might be a good question to start with. Aren’t they for kids? Well sort of. But, I love being outside, my husband loves corn mazes and we both love supporting local agriculture. And hey, the neuro test that morning was a relief to be over with and we were looking for ways to celebrate.

Supporting local agriculture might not be an aspect of pumpkin patches you had thought about, but they actually provide quite a bit of revenue for agritourism.

White Pumpkins. So cool!

Any of the U-pick farms, wineries, petting zoos, Christmas tree farms, or similar operations classify as agritourism and you may find some incredible experiences in your area. If you weren’t familiar with agritourism, it’s just farmers who wanted to take their trades and open them up to the public. Many farmers rely on the tourism revenue on top of their regular crops to make ends meet.   Not every pumpkin patch will have the same level of involved agriculture; some just buy pumpkins from a farmer and place them in a fun way to explore. (still lots of fun and makes for adorable photos) Check out what is in your area! There are usually several in a given place and not all patches are farmed equal.

Sourghum used to make the “corn maze”. Beautiful fall colors on the seed heads.

We scored an amazing “corn” maze (sourghum) and these two heirloom pumpkins. Wait, there are heirloom pumpkins!? Yes! And they are amazing! The one on the left is a Pennsylvania Dutch that very much resembles a butternut squash in flavor. The one on the right is called a Red Warty thing and it made some incredible pumpkin butter that night as well as a pumpkin alfredo sauce to top some sausage stuffed shells. By purchasing heirloom pumpkins we get to support agricultural heritage preservation of some exceptionally rare types.

The Hubby with a Pennsylvania Dutch (Left) and Red Warty Thing (right) as scores from our adventure

Tyler loves pumpkin butter and I don’t like paying $3 / jar so this was a fun adventure in saving money, supporting agriculture, and enjoying the majestic fall weather.

Green Heirloom Pumpkins

What fall adventures have you had?