Morels and more

A few of the morel mushrooms I bought at the farmers market.

This morning I saw morel mushrooms at the Ferguson Farmers Market. I had to buy them.

It goes back to an experience I had last year.

It was March. For the kids’ spring break, we asked Aunt Marcy and Uncle Ken if we could stay a few days at the clubhouse near Clearwater Lake, and they said yes.

The weather was cool and the lake was high, but that was fine by us. We just wanted a safe escape from the pandemic with no worries of running into other people.

Jadzia and the family at a recent trip to Clearwater Lake. Jadzia loved bratwurst more than almost anything. She also has her art notebook nearby.

I think I was photo-bombing Jadzia’s selfie here.

It turned out to be our final family vacation with Jadzia. In fact, St. Louis County issued a quarantine order that same weekend, and we mostly stayed home for the rest of the year.

Anyway, shortly after we arrived, I started raking leaves in the front yard. When I reached the section of the yard near the fire pit and some trees, I spotted several mushrooms. They looked an awful lot like photos I had seen of morel mushrooms. Excited to find them, I plucked them and set them aside.

Later I told Yoli about the mushrooms. She wanted to be certain they were real morels, sinec false morels can be toxic. My phone gets almost no internet service when we stay at the lake, so we couldn’t pull up any photos to check. Based on my memories, I felt confident they were real, but I couldn’t be certain. So we let them be, and I planned to bring them home with us.

Anyway, we enjoyed a fun several days, cooking outside, hiking, visiting the dam, trying to fish. When it was time to go home, my mind was consumed with packing, making sure the house was clean, and that we had put everything away. I forgot the morels.

When we arrived in Ferguson, I suddenly realized my mistake.

Even though I came home empty-handed, I consulted the internet just to see if my memories were right. Yep. Every photo I saw looked exactly like the mushrooms I had found. If only I had remembered to bring them home, we could have tried them.

Fast-forward to 2021. When I saw the morels at the market, I just had to buy them. Yes, they were way too expensive. But we had never tried them before, and everyone seemed to rave about them. So, I bought a pint container, and looked up some recipes for pan-frying them.

Yoli prepared them. First she washed them, then coated them in flour, and finally fried them in butter.

We ate them as a side with an alfredo pasta. Josie and Ludi each tried them and loved them. Joseph has no interest in mushrooms — or things made with butter, he said.

I couldn’t help but think of Jadzia. She had become an adventurous eater, and I am sure she would have tried the morels. I hope she would have loved them.

Breaded and fried morel mushrooms

Return to the Club

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Editor’s note: This summer we spent a few days at the “clubhouse” built by my great-grandparents near Clearwater Lake. It was our first time back there in a few years. Though the lake was very high because of spring floods, we still had a great time. On our way home we visited the Johnson Shut-ins. Ludi shares a few memories from the trip:

When we got to the lake, my dad needed to buy supplies for fishing. The Lake was very high. The only way to reach the dock was by boat. Josie and Joseph rode a boat with him to go to the dock to buy stuff.

During our trip, my dad was whittling. I asked him if I could try. He had one or two extra pocket knives, so he let me use one that he got at church. That’s how I learned how to handle a pocketknife and how to whittle.

We hung up the hammock. We walked around. We went fishing near the top of the flood parking lot, then waded in the water after we finished fishing.

After several days, we packed up and got ready to go to the Johnson Shut-ins. There were these huge rocks there, so you could climb on top of a rock, and there would be water going over it. You could slide down it like it was a slide.

As you got deeper through, the water would get much deeper. It was fun because there were certain areas where there were big rocks together, so it was like a fort. Me, Josie, and Joseph would play in the fort and splash water at each other and stuff. Then there was a scary part: a family said they saw a snake. Me and Josie were really scared because I thought I saw a snake when we were heading back towards the shallow area, but we never did actually come across one.