Photos by Bernadette Dryden, Outreach and Education publications supervisor
A few weeks ago, Bernadette Dryden, our publications supervisor, asked me if I wanted to go to the Missouri Mycological Society’s (MOMS) annual foray at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. “Maxine says they’re good cooks and make brunch out of the edible mushrooms on Sunday.”
Maxine Stone is a former MOMS president. She’s been working with Bernadette on a new book about mushrooms in Missouri. Bernadette is also writing a new Missouri game and wild edibles cookbook, and I’m working on a new online field guide with a mushrooms section. So we had lots of reasons to spend a weekend in the field with a bunch of people who like to hunt, identify, cook and eat mushrooms. “Sure,” I said, and I packed my chef’s knife and apron, just in case we’d be needed in the kitchen.
The Friday night potluck was lavish, with plates of wild-collected or homemade delicacies—ripe persimmons, pickled chanterelles, dips and breads made of wild mushrooms, “pond” paella made with frog legs, cakes rich with fruit and nuts, and several bottles of homemade wine and spirits infused with mushrooms. Clearly, these people knew how to throw a party.
We settled in for a great weekend among our new best friends. The foray was one long celebration of the wild mushroom: info sharing, mushroom gathering and identification—and our favorite—cooking and eating! Sunday turned out to be the most fun either of us has had in the kitchen in a long time. We teamed up to clean and slice the mushrooms and prep other ingredients. An hour and a half later, we set out a generous buffet, including baked polenta with chicken-of-woods and blue cheese ragout, oyster mushroom frittata, a salad of carrots and tooth mushrooms, and chicken-of-the-woods with cream sauce.
We enjoyed ourselves so much we hated to leave. On the way home we planned what to take to next year’s Mingo foray—the new mushroom book, of course, our favorite recipes and a few more sharp knives.
Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until next September to enjoy MOMS members’ company again. They’re having another event, “The Hawnting” at Hawn State Park, this weekend (Oct. 23-25), and their annual “Wild Times” dinner is Nov. 1 at Babler State Park.
Organizing ingredients, checking recipes
My cooking partner, Jim, and I display our beautiful oyster mushroom frittata.