Mushrooms are springing up from the ground, in our favourite foraging grounds.
I like to think they are secret, but there is no doubt, other people know about them too.
I never forget the time, as we drove home from Brett's brothers house, on Mayurra Road. He was driving and I was just gazing out the window, probably mesmerized by the wind towers in the distance. A lot of white patches caught my eye, before I could utter the words, Brett asks, "Did you see what I just saw?". Immediately the car wa pulled over on the white metal road, and we pile out, the girls too, and walk over to the biggest ring of mushies I have ever seen. That was two years ago, probably around the same time of year too.
I can vaguely remember a pile of rubble sitting in the same spot in years past. Where a farmer has scoured the paddock and deposited the rocks by the roadside. I can only guess, thousands of mushroom spores were dumped along with it. When the rocks were finally taken away the spores remained, creating a huge ring of future mushroom harvests.
We aren't complaining.
One mushroom I haven't cooked for myself, is the Slippery Jack. They are found growing around pine trees. I do have vague memories collecting them with my parents with their Italian friends, around the pine plantations around Kalangadoo, where I grew up. Very vague memories of eating them too.
Mum tells me they cook them up with garlic and some vinegar. This is how I remember eating them. From memory, I didn't mind them. I think I just liked eating all the Italian food, and generally liked the Italian ladies. I went missing one day, and Mum found me sitting on one of the Italian ladies' toilet, just down the street.
Mum had already told me to look for them down the road from her place in town. There are pine trees that line the drain, running down beside Belt Road and Fifth Street. The community garden is on Fifth Street, along one side, is flanked by the pine trees. There are Slippery Jacks everywhere! Mum has told me several times before to not take the ones growing on wood, only ones growing in the dirt.
I did take the ones I picked, to show her before I ate them. I would strongly advise you not to eat any mushroom you are in doubt about. EVER!
Slippery Jacks are named for the slippery skins after the rain. Once I'd peeled the top (apparently the skin can give you the runs, I guess the sliminess just goes straight through!), I washed the dirt off the underneath. They were a bit dirty and when washed the spongy underneath, became quite soggy and had absorbed a lot of water, so I removed the spongy bit. It came away easily.
What you are left with is perfect mushroom goodness.
I have to be in the mood to eat cooked foraged mushrooms. The smaller, younger mushies aren't too bad, but the bigger ones really have an acquired taste. I was so glad this soup turned out great. There have been times I have made it and not been overjoyed by it. The Slippery Jacks don't really have a heap of flavour, so I guess it evened out the strong taste of the foraged field mushies.
I am going back to pick more mushies when I get the chance. I have a hankering for some creamy mushroom pasta. But in the meantime I made soup.
If you are not feeding an army, or want to be eating mushroom soup, til the cows come home, feel free to halve the recipe. You could always freeze the soup for Ron (later on).
You will need:
1 kg of mushrooms, sliced (I used half field and half slipperies. You could use ones from the non- nature supermarket. All good)
25 grams of butter
1 tablespoon oil
3 cloves garlic (use less if you are not me, or not)
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon thyme, or 1 teaspoon of mixed dry herbs*
1 litre of water or stock**
1/2 cup cream
Place butter, oil and garlic over medium heat in a large saucepan.
Add mushrooms and stir well. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the juices have evaporated.
Stir through flour for 1 minute.
Add stock, thyme and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add cream, turn off the heat and serve.
I loved this with some garlicky toast and a sprinkling of chopped chives. You could use garlic bread.
* I dry my own fresh herbs from the garden in a little posie. When dry, chop up the leaves and keep in a sealed jar in the pantry. Good for sprinkling in and on everything, from roasts, baked spuds or adding to casseroles.
** I just use water if I don't have stock. A good way to make easy stock, is to add water to the pan after a roast and let it sit. Scoop off the fat, when it is cold, and keep the water. Easy, freezable, flavoursome, stock. Not gourmet, but better than nothin'.
On this same double star thingy. If you get impatient after ten minutes, and there is a bit of water to be evaporated, bung in the flour and use three quarters of a cup of stock.
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