And what a delicious fungus it was. I don't normally cook dangerously; but having transplanted a patch of lily-of-the-valley at the base of a grand old sugar maple in my backyard the day before, I came out to inspect my flowers the next morning. Right above them was this beautiful shelf of white mushroom that had definitely not been in residence before.
It was a truly lovely 'shroom.
It was a pearly white with a cascading shape and sweet aroma.
And most importantly, it looked delicious.
Now, I'm no foraging expert. I am more in tune with the idea of foraging than successful in its application. I've failed at harvesting stinging nettles (gathered them too late in their development) and at figuring out fiddlehead ferns (gathered them too early in their development). The potential for disaster with harvesting wild mushrooms always steered me clear but this specimen was so tantalizing. And my husband Dan was so cute when I pointed out this gorgeous fungus and its potential for our dinner. He exclaimed that he had just fallen in love with me all over again.
Out came my field guides, my mushroom books, my Euell Gibbons library, and research on the Internet. After much study, it appears that I had an Oyster Mushroom, a wild edible delight that blooms on decayed and dying maples during the spring and summer in the Northeast. It has no toxic lookalike mushroom cousins on this continent and so it was with only a small amount of trepidation that I cleaned it up, dipped cut up sections in brown rice flour and then dipped them back in some beaten egg. After a final dredging in some gluten-free bread crumbs, I sauteed them briefly in butter and garnished my 'shrooms with some chopped lemon thyme and parsley.
Heeding well-worn foraging advice of the ages to only sample a small amount of this new wild edible, we adults munched on our CRISPY fried oyster mushrooms with moderation on the first night. They were earthy and delicate and had a nice chewy texture. The next day, having noticed that we were still alive and were suffering no ill effects of my foraging adventure, we heated them up and feasted once more on these delicious wild treats.
I noticed one more shelf of oyster mushroom blooming at the base of my tree and decided to come back a few days later to cook it up, but alas, the passage of just a couple of days had made this mushroom dry up quite a bit and turn brown. There were also lots of insects in residence, so it was not the evanescent thing of beauty that its had been.
I am sending this successful mushrooming adventure post over to Healthy Green Kitchen, who is hosting this week's episode of Weekend Herb Blogging. WHB is the popular food blog event centering on edible plants, herbs, flowers and fruits, and is headquartered at Cook Almost Anything. Healthy Green Kitchen will post a roundup of delicious posts from great cooks from all corners of the globe, so tune in after tomorrow's deadline to see what was cooking.