A walk on the wild side

Our dinner is in the oven—a chicken pot pie. The chicken (and broth) are from two Pat’s Pastured stewing hens we had left from our winter stockpile. Our own carrots, parsnips, and tarragon went in. As did a Laetiporus sulphureus or Chicken of the Woods wild mushroom. So if you find no more posts, you will know why.

Chicken of the Woods is supposed to be a safe choice for beginning (and frightened) wild mushroom eaters. Cherisse and I had taken a wild mushrooming course a few years ago, and what we learned was that we weren’t willing to risk trying them on our own. There are supposed to be a “foolproof four,” of which Chicken of the Woods is one. But there is also a “fatal five” and there are plenty of look-alike mushrooms where one is tasty and the other can make you very sick (or dead).

My sister went to an all-day forestry program on Thursday, and one of the courses was on wild mushrooming. She mentioned Chicken of the Woods and her interest in trying it. Then on our afternoon dog walk in the woods, I saw a brilliant stripe of orange on a distant tree.

Chicken of the woods
Chicken of the woods

We went to examine it, and sure enough it was a plentiful, and fresh, growth of this mushroom. So we picked one (it was 4 oz.), sautéed it, and will be taking our chances shortly. (We did take a small bite before adding it to the pie, and it is good. It does taste a bit like chicken.)

It has been a busy couple of days cooking. At the Providence Farmers’ Market yesterday, we purchased our annual 60-ear sack of corn that we blanched, removed from the cobs, and froze in 2-cup packages, to enjoy throughout the winter. We kept out 4-cups of kernels and today Cherisse made corn chowder (from the New Basics cookbook). Because bacon is a key flavor in the soup, and we had an entire package of Pat’s Pastured bacon, we cooked up the rest for our last BLT of the season…made possible because we had also purchased 8-quarts of “second” tomatoes. The tomatoes we will cook with some eggplant we also bought (our own eggplants were a complete failure this year), to make a ratatouille. We froze what was left on the corncobs because these are a favorite of the chickens, who pick them clean. We plan to bring them out as a treat in the winter months when grass, and fresh produce scraps, will be in short supply.

And now it is dinnertime.

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