August 19

When you ask someone who has just come from the forest with a basket full of mushrooms “Where are the mushrooms?” they will look at you, smile, and say “In the forest.” they just won’t tell you where in the forest. The places of where mushrooms can be found are carefully guarded by mushrooms hunters/gatherers, and Uncle Krzysiek took us to just such a place. Unfortunately, no matter how much Jason, Renatka, Artur, Uncle and I looked they just were not there. It was too dry and too early, but we did not give up hope. As we drove through the forest on the designated/(ridden into a permanent state by other drivers over the years) road, we looked at the forest road till we heard Renatka scream, “Stop! I see a big one!”. Unfortunately there was only one. A few yards up the road I screamed “Stop! I see one.” there were three. A few miles further there were some more and eventualy we had half a basket of what I think in English are called “The King Boylean” or “Boylin” – Prawdziwki (look it up I don’t have an encyclopedia on me). And that was that for the wild forest, of course like true mushroom hunters we had that undying hunger to fill both of the baskets. This need brought us to Uncle’s home made forest which was crawling with Maslaki (rough slang translation accumulates to “Butter Mushrooms” because they had a slimy top, they are tasty but icky to touch).

So with these we filled up our baskets. Back home Grandma, Aunt Bogusia, and I peeled them. My finger tips were brown for three days straight from peeling those fungi. In the evening over sausages from the grill and vodka we all sang old Polish Campfire and Scout songs, even grandma surprised us by singing with us. When it was Jason’s turn to lead us in song he choose “We all live in the yellow submarine…” refrain, and we all followed to it since Beatles were big pretty much everywhere.

So here are some yummy recipes, remember you need cook the mushrooms first before canning, making soup or sauce out of them.

Cooking fresh mushrooms:
Peel mushrooms, chop from stem to cap checking for bugs, if you find holes, the worms are close and you might as well throw them away.
Put mushrooms in cold water (twice as much water as mushrooms) for 4 handfuls of mushrooms put in a tablespoon of salt. If you know now that you want to make soup now add 6 leaves of Italian (flat leaf) parsley when mushrooms are not cooked yet (remove before they become mushy). Add one small onion the size of half of a fist (or quarter of a fist if you are a football player)
Boil/simmer for an hour or until soft (thoroughly soft, not just squishy).
Next, well it depends what you want to do with them. If you want to can them then put them drained in a jar quickly, well packed, close jar, store in cool dark place for up to 3 months. Or you ca put them in zip lock bags (minus the water) and freeze them.

Soup
So you just cooked them and they are soft enough to eat pleasantly. You will use the mushrooms and the water they are swimming in to make soup. Add a pinch of pepper, 200 grams (8oz cup) of sour cream (although its in a firm state you may want to stir some of the mushroom water into the sour cream to liquid it up) and 1 tablespoon of flour for thickening (add the flour into a cup first and a tablespoon of cold/ice water to the flour and work into a thin paste). Hopefully you removed the parsley before it disintegrated. At the very end right before serving you can chop some Italian Flat Leaf Parsley and throw some on the soup. You can eat it straight, with boiled barley, or with pasta (I suggest Angel Hair pasta).

Mushroom sauce
Sauté chopped onions, 2 handfuls (roughly) for 4 handfuls of mushrooms, when transparent add the freshly cooked mushrooms, sauté till it smells yummy, add 2 – 4 tablespoons of sour cream (with water worked in for smooth texture), bring to boling stage, add flour (with cold water worked in like for soup). Add more salt/pepper to your liking, sprinkle some freshly chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, eat with boiled potatoes.

–Marzena