06:30 It was a dark morning with heavy cloud, and a brisk North wind. 2o C. It was too dark to spot for geese and ducks – which is a bit of an obligation if you’re out in the area at this time of year – so we headed to my dad’s to dig potatoes. As we pulled up, we spotted a flock of birds on the top of the hill that the garden is on. ‘Are those grouse!?!?’, said I, as I screeched to a halt. Nope – but close. Hungarian partridge – about 20-30 of them. I ran inside to grab an air rifle, but by the time I returned, they had buggered off. How glorious it would have been to add partridge to our impending breakfast menu. Dang.
07:00 We dug ¾ of a 5 gallon pail of red and Russian fingerling potatoes, and topped up the rest with carrots and onions from the garden. Potatoes were slated to appear on the morning menu. Before leaving, we picked some shaggy manes from his driveway and back yard – enough that we had a supply for breakfast before even getting started.
We then moved to a second spot, borrowing a local baptist church’s parking lot. We did well again, and also found a really tasty looking specimen of field mushroom. But neither of us were in the mood for toxicity this morning, so we passed on trying to eat something new. Not often you’re going to hear the two of us say that.
The last spot we checked, just another couple hundred yards down the road, yielded a coveted trophy mushroom. A fat, full grown, fully intact, un-inked, pearly white [inside], 6oz Shaggy Mane. Yen did a great job of digging up around the base to make sure we got as much of the base and stem intact [sometimes they break]. I can’t recall every picking one of quite this size and girth. We figured it might still be in good shape due to it’s position under some tree cover. Who knows. It was a fantastic find, and a great way to finish up our mushroom foraging for the day.
08:30 With our hands dirty, tubs happily bearing mushrooms, and stomachs getting growly, we headed back home. On the way we spotted another nice ‘shoot’ of geese and ducks, yet again on ‘illegal land’. Arriving home, we had to get the mushrooms cleaned and processed prior to eating. Total weight of mushrooms picked: 2.6 kg [5.7 lbs]. It took over an hour to peel of the shag, grass, dirt, and bugs, and get them all cooking. Once cooked, they stop decomposing. Our home smelled wonderfully of mushroom.
10:30 Farm eggs. Home-made bacon. Garden tomatoes fried in bacon fat. Rye toast. Fried wild mushrooms. This meal would have been a fine one any day of the week, but having been out all morning hunting food, it tasted even better. It got awfully quiet for a while. Classic.
The concept of the day was ‘let’s go out and get our hands dirty putting some things together for a nice meal in the morning’. Mission accomplished.
12:00 Round two. Pan seared marinated elk steak with roasted garden potatoes [the very ones we dug at 7am]. Add to that a glass or 3 of Sirius 2003 Bordeaux. I have to admit that I wasn’t terribly hungry at this stage, but that didn’t much matter.
13:00 Yen left, bearing a bucket of garden veg, a couple ziplocs of cooked wild mushrooms, some roasted garden beets, and 2 frozen Canada goose breasts. The older I get, the more I love fall. It’s a touch of foodie heaven.