Cooking in the Woods

Posted on: December 27, 2010

by Deborah in the UP

Even with all the articles I wrote for Country Side, it was still a surprise when another editor contacted me. A gal in lower Michigan was starting up a home based homesteading monthly newsletter, and asked if I would write for her. Wow! I was honored and of course said yes. After a few months, she asked if I had any recipes to contribute to her latest project: a cookbook for and about Morels. I’ve taken wild mushroom classes from some of the best in the UP, but I had never found a single Morel.. Truth be told, I still haven’t! I had to decline, but it got me thinking………

… if SHE could do a cook book, why couldn’t I?? So I did. And the series of Cooking in the Woods was born, with Cooking in the Woods.. With Mushrooms. It was an exercise in organization like I had never had before. First I had to select my recipes, then organize them by appetizer or main dish, all keeping with fresh, wild ingredients. Once I had that done, which was the easy part, I had to write each one out, with the commentary that became my style. I printed out a copy, and a cover (see photo). That’s when I realized I needed to set up a method that would print the recipes on both sides, in landscape and in order! Then I reprinted, and the page numbers were perfect!

The next books were a bit more difficult, but along came Cooking in the Woods With Soups, Snacks and Salads, then With Pasta, Breads and Pastries, and With Venison, Fish and Chicken. All based on the binder category’s I had set up for my recipe clipping, but with a nicer sound J . The way the printing was done, I printed one copy out, then put the stack in, reversed, and printed again, so it all came out on both sides and in order!! When I was happy with what I saw, I knew I needed it edited and critiqued. So I sent it to my sister. Now, my youngest sister, Lorna, has always been very critical and judgmental of the rest of the family, quick with a sharp tongue, so she was perfect! I asked her to find any errors, circle them and send it back. Ever anxious to point out my flaws, she dove right into the project. Meanwhile, I too, worked with the second Master Copy, finding any errors and correcting.

Once all the errors were fixed, I printed it out again, then took that to the printing office, and paid to have them do it. I did my own covers and sealed the ink with artist spray. Lining all the freshly printed sheets up around on the table, the counters, I did my own collating, then my own stapling. An intense project! But the local stores were receptive to stocking my missives! I was an author!

The edition after those, Cooking in the Woods With Elegance, was much more difficult.. And has never been completed. It was twelve complete menu’s, according to the month or the holiday, and always with local fresh ingredients. Some day I’ll finish that.

But back to that first one, Cooking in the Woods With Mushrooms. As I hardily advise in the introduction, never pick wild mushrooms unless you know what you’re doing, or are with someone who does. This past year was The Year of the Chanterelles. These delectable orange fungi were in great abundance. My gal pal and I would go to the fields every week, sometimes twice, and always come home with five to ten pounds of mushrooms… each! I have them frozen, dried, powdered. I ate them fresh on pizzas, with steak and mixed into other dishes. One of my favorite ways to have Chanterelles is in a risotto. A risotto is rice cooked slowly, with liquid added a little at a time. That alters the texture of the rice some and allows the flavor of the liquid to be fully absorbed.

Chanterelle Risotto

3 cups chicken broth
3 T. olive oil
1 pound (or more) Chanterelles, sliced thin
(or a blend of mushrooms)
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup rice (your choice)
½ cup dry white wine
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
2 T. butter
1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan Cheese

Warm the broth in a sauce pan. This is essential to a good risotto. Adding cold broth stops the cooking process, so always add warm.

Warm 2T. Oil in a sauté’ pan, add the mushrooms. (Wild mushrooms need to be cooked a full ten minutes to destroy any harmful enzymes/bacteria.) Cook over a low heat to retain the golden orange color. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining T. of oil to pan, add shallot and garlic, cook one minute, then add rice, stirring to coat. When rice has taken on a pale color, add wine. Stir constantly until wine is fully absorbed. Add ½ cup of broth, stirring until absorbed. Repeat until all the broth is used and the rice is cooked al dente.

Remove from heat and stir in the mushrooms (and all that wonderful juice), butter, ½ the cheese. Garnish with remaining cheese and chives.

Many thanks to my friend Kathy for sharing this recipe with me.

1 thought on “Cooking in the Woods

  1. Yum! This sounds like a delicious recipe Deborah. Scrolling through some of your Self Reliant Woman writings, good information.
    Your cookbooks would make a good contribution to anyone’s kitchen, if the recipes are as good as the one above!

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