Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fungi and Bivalves: Seasonal Favorites

We got just enough rain recently to warrant a walk in the woods in search of the first of this season's fungi.
My dad and I headed out to a favorite coastal forest with my dog Abalone leading the way.
There was not much popping up out of the conifer and oak duff that makes up the woodland floor, but a few familiar fungi beckoned that we proceed.

At first we bumped into the most well known and feared mushroom on the planet ,the Amanita muscaria aka the fly agaric. These are quite toxic, but I simply cannot help taking a picture pretty much every time I see one...especially when they are this massive!
Next we found a patch of healthy oyster mushrooms. They just so happened to be 15 feet over our heads in the boughs of an old oak. So what could I do but go for a climb?

As we searched the forest here and there my dad found his first porcini ever!

A few hours later he found another!

Then, Abalone and I came across one as well! This was also my first ever!

A few more oyster logs were encountered, and we made off like bandits with a nice early season haul!

The next day we hiked down to a favorite rocky beach in search of the first California mussels of the season. There has been an unusually long quarantine this year on Dungeness crab as a prolonged plankton bloom has resulted in dangerous levels of naturally occurring domoic acid (which can make them toxic to consume). Usually mussels will also be affected by such a plankton bloom, and in Humboldt and Del Norte counties they currently are! But along our stretch of coast, the mussels got the "all clear" from the CDHP Biotoxin Information Line (1-800-553-4133) which conducts regular tests for the biotoxins which can lead to paralytic and amnesic shellfish poisoning...and which YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CHECK before even thinking about harvesting shellfish. So we were clear for the first harvest of the season!

So we gathered up a few pounds of delicious mussels.

That night my mom made a nice seafood soup using lingcod my dad had caught and the mussels we had just procured...it was pretty darn tasty!

It was one heck of a good time and as the mushrooms dried in the dehydrator we started hatching plans for our next foray.

A few days later I made an awesome pot of oyster mushroom and mussel chowder!

It was incredible!

Hope to see you out there this winter!

Keep the old ways alive!

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