When I was a child my parents used to hide our entire Easter baskets somewhere around the house, gradually making it harder for my four brothers and I as we got older. In the beginning the basket filled with goodies might be sitting behind the curtains or couch but then later, it was in places like the wood burning stove or among the dozens of coats hanging in the coat closet. At some point even the garage and basement became fair game, further adding to the unspoken dare–Can we find it? I suspect my father thoroughly enjoyed trying to outsmart us and had many laughs at our expense.
I remember the excitement of waking up on Easter morning, knowing we had this challenge waiting for us. Unlike on Christmas morning when we had to wait for the entire family, Easter was different as we could look right away, not needing to have everyone present. And look we did, our secretive selves never letting on when we found one of our siblings’ baskets. We just moved along, pleased to have discovered it, but keeping a poker face about its whereabouts.
Last week I discovered a similar feeling to the one I had as a child looking for my Easter basket–a grown-up kind-of treasure hunt that I am sure many people around the country partake in–with even more secretive poker faces than the ones we wore as children. My partner and I were out on a hike and met a woman who asked if we were looking for morels–a kind of edible mushroom with a reputation for being among the most delicious. We weren’t looking before she asked, but we WERE looking after she passed. Morels, we exclaimed, wouldn’t that be fun? We both knew what they looked like but had never sampled them. They can be found in the spring, late April and into May where we live in Western North Carolina.
And so our photography hike turned into a hunt for morels, especially when we spotted one alongside a rocky creek below an old railroad bridge. Talk about exciting! We were thrilled and then proceeded to scour the area looking for more and finding just one many minutes later. We stowed our treasure in our sandwich tuperware container and headed home.
We cooked up shallots in a heavy cream sauce, adding the mushrooms and then some baked chicken. With a nice wine and some caramelized green beans, it was a reward much more memorable than a child’s Easter basket. Yum! Talk about delicious!
Now every time we go out we keep our eyes peeled for morels! It is such fun to look for and FIND them. Last week while we were camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park we found a handful, including some very large ones on a steep bank.
Have you ever collected and eaten Morels? What recipe do you enjoy with this woodland delicacy? Click HERE for the recipe we used, from Food Network. It might inspire you to go morel hunting too… just be sure you know what you’re doing as that is today’s quote:
“There are old mushroom hunters and their are bold mushroom hunters, but there are NO old, bold mushroom hunters!”
Thankfully morels are a fairly easy mushroom to identify –you can read more about that HERE. Happy day! And happy mushroom hunting!