Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Unintentional Mushroom Hunting, or how today's soccer ball becomes tomorrow's dinner

Picture it: mid-september in Michigan, my parents side front yard. We are in town and chatting out front while the kids play. The kids throw sticks in puddles. The kids pick up their sticks from said puddles, break them into small sticks, and then throw them in the puddles again. The kids run around the yard. The kids see a bunch of large ball-shaped mushrooms in the front yard and begin to kick one around as though it were a soccer ball.

Of course, I yell at the kids to leave the mushrooms alone. They are poisonous, I say. Get away from them. They are the same mushrooms that have grown in that particular spot since my parents moved into the place back when I was a lowly seventh grader.

Fast forward to the next day. My parents invite a friend of theirs from the lake over and the "grown ups" then traipse about the yard while my son happily watches the television (we don't have tv channels in Cleveland, just static) and I take the clothes out to dry on the line. And what are they out there doing, you might ask? Picking those same large ball-shaped mushrooms, called Puffballs. Because, yes, they are edible, and the guy that just came over, he's taking them home with him, but first, he's going to show us how to cook them up.

Fried Puffball Mushroom
What you need:
A puffball mushroom

1. Slice the puffball into 1/4-inch slices and trim off the harder skin on the exterior.
2. Put slices in bowl of egg. Then coat both sides of each slice in the bread crumbs.

3. Fry in oil a few minutes per side, until both sides of each slice are browned and cripsy. Top them with a sprinkle of cheese, if you choose.

4. Eat.

It was bizarre just how much these pieces of fungus tasted like fried cheese sticks. So next september, you might want to head out and see if you can find yourself some puffballs. Just make sure you research it first to avoid poisoning yourself on an unknown variety of fungi.

Puffballs need to be picked when firm, and they don't stay that way long. Before picking a puffball, put some pressure on it with your foot. If it stays, it's good to eat. If it disintegrates, well, don't eat those ones. Make sure to cut away any discoloration (it should be white white white), and the hard outer shell before cooking.

Bon Appetite.

(Pictured here with a nice rice noodle stir fry)

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