You may have noticed that we’ve been unusually quiet on the blog lately. There’s a really good reason and now that it’s official, it’s time to spill the beans. I am excited to finally tell you all that we’ve been working on a book! Wild Mushrooms: A Cookbook and Foraging Guide will begin shipping end of September 2020. This labor of love has been in the works for just over a year. It is basically a cookbook containing over 100 well-loved family recipes from 25 foragers (27 if you include Trent and me) that we know and love along with their stories.
We are neither writers, nor chefs (we are web designers, did you know?)! So when we were approached by Skyhorse Publishing early last year to create a “wild mushroom cookbook”, we were excited but also very unsure of whether or not we could pull it off. We’d be tasked not only with writing the content, but also with doing all of the cooking and photography. We must be crazy in love with mushrooms because we accepted the challenge.
Almost all of last year’s foraging adventures were undertaken so that we could collect the wild mushrooms we would need to cook and photograph recipes for the whole book. While it felt like we were just out having a lot of fun and procrastinating on the writing portion, all of that hard work collecting and preserving mushrooms was integral to the project.
As you know we travel a good bit to hunt the mushrooms we love, which often means we have to figure out how to preserve our quarry on the road. Sometimes large quantities, especially if we are hunting burn morels. Preservation is super important to our mushroom hunting success and highly interesting to us as a result. Rarely are we out to ‘collect enough for dinner’, but more so to collect, preserve and fill the freezer and pantry for the whole year. As a result we wanted to focus on preservation techniques in the book. How do you deal with pounds and pounds of mushrooms? We have turned mushrooms into just about anything you can fathom at this point – ice cream, sorbet, jam, shrub, duxelles, bread, confit, pickles, powders, infused liquor, tinctures, teas – we have tried so many weird and wonderful things. Part of the mission was to share these cooking and preservation techniques.
Another large part of the project however was to share the wonderful people we have met along the way in this great adventure. As a group, you all are blissfully uncategorizable. ‘Mushroom people’ cross all demographics and despite sometimes vast differences, are an amazing group of people. We have met some of the kindest and most gracious individuals with incredible knowledge sets, stories and skills. Many of these people have helped to shape who we are today by freely sharing their knowledge and passion with us. We have learned so much in the last 8 years and best yet – there is much, much more to learn! I love that this hobby/obsession grows with us.
Our highlighted foragers are all special to us in some way or another. From chefs and authors we have come to know and love, to much appreciated hunting buddies and friends. All of them have interesting stories to tell and delicious recipes to share that they have been cooking at home for sometimes decades. Grateful to them and very excited for you to meet them all.
While it was hard to decide, we chose to feature 14 of our favorite mushrooms to hunt and eat – black trumpet, candy cap, chanterelle, chicken of the woods, hedgehog, lion’s mane, lobster, maitake, matsutake, morel, oyster, porcini, truffle, and yellowfoot. We also decided to include several recipes that work with mixed mushroom combinations, as well as a section on medicinal mushrooms (chaga, reishi, turkey tail) highlighting teas and tinctures.
Unlike traditional cookbooks, the recipes throughout are organized by mushroom type versus conventional dish types. Recipes are mushroom centric meaning they aim to highlight the best way to feature and cook the wild mushroom in the each dish. Most also utilize preserved mushrooms, such as dried or frozen (but can usually also be cooked with fresh).
I am so proud of Trent for mastering the incredibly difficult task of food photography. He has been honing his camera skills for a few years, but this food thing was a whole new realm. The shadows, the light, the organization of food on the plate – all of it – not simple. We frequented the thrift store on so many occasions to find new plates, bowls, backgrounds, cutlery. What a crazy task! He did a killer job because I think the photography is simply amazing. We were blessed to have several talented chef friends helping us out in the kitchen – Joseph, Graham, Tyson, Jane, Matt, Angelee – you guys are seriously awesome. Thank you all.
So now you know what we’ve been up to. We were able to sneak in a trip to the SOMA (Sonoma Mycological Association) Camp this year in January right before the pandemic hit. I always love hunting mushrooms in CA, but what a fun event! If you get a chance to go next year, don’t hesitate.
After SOMA we hunkered down and started writing, interviewing foragers and cooking. What a relief to have this project almost done! You will see us sharing recipes more often which is a completely new angle. I hope you enjoy what is to come.
For now, please enjoy one of my favorite recipes from the book from Julie Schreiber, chef, winemaker and mycoventurer, Slow Cooked Pork Stew with Tomatillos. The flavors in this comfort dish highlighting porcini are totally out of this world.