fall’s wild harvest

One of the great perks of being a teacher is the breaks in the academic schedule.  We just had our fall break, and this year it coincided with 7 days of glorious weather.  The husband also had some time, so we did some fishing and crabbing out at the coast.

my favorite way to cook big oysters...on the grill

The fish my husband caught was a hen fresh from the sea.  We used to take salmon roe and make steelhead bait with it, now we salt it and make caviar instead, because we are Much Wiser Now.  It is really beautiful, and of course, delicious.  This is what the roe looks like when it is removed from the fish.

And in all the fair weather, I got to do some hiking in the coast range, and picked some wild mushrooms.  We had some heavy rains followed by a long stretch of fair weather, so the mushrooms were in beautiful shape.  Chanterelles are lovely in cream of mushroom soup with just a touch of nutmeg.  Picked fresh they have a slight scent of apricot.  We dry ours in the food dryer and then rehydrate for soups and sauces.  They are also excellent on homemade pizza.  Good picking etiquette is to cut the mushroom above the bulb at the base, and always leave a few in every patch to perpetuate future good picking.

you never find just one! A gorgeous clump of chanterelles

I found one of the possibly most delicious and satisfying wild mushrooms….a giant King Bolete.  It had several companions who were all past edibility, but this one was still in good enough shape to bring home and eat.  It was the most delicious mushroom I have ever eaten, and we dried the stem and tubes for future use.  The cap was almost as big as a dinner plate!

And finally, as if we haven’t been eating well enough, my husband tagged his first deer in 11 years.  I literally have been thanking the earth for her generosity, and marvelling at the richness of our lives for the last 10 days.  It is a blue wonder.  We have been joking about how one cannot find a mason jar anywhere in our house as they are all being used to store food.  I think we will make it through winter, no matter what La Nina throws at us.  Let it snow I say.  Or rain (more likely).

I also got to help Clare and Brian from Big Table Farm sort grapes one day for this year’s pinot vintage, which was a hoot.  Clare made us amazing pizza for ‘winery lunch’.  These folks work so hard and make just beautiful wines from some of the best organic grapes in the Willamette Valley.  Clare has documented some of the process here on her blog.  And I had a lovely day in the fields with my friend Amy at Square Peg Farm, harvesting mangels for pig food.  A mangel is a type of gigantic beet, and Amy and Chris will use those as well as squash and pumpkins to finish off their organic pork for market.  Their farm outside of Forest Grove is so beautiful I literally get homesick for it over the winter.  You can find Square Peg Farm produce (and Amy and Chris) at the Saturday market in downtown Portland.

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