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So many things are afoot these days, including a November Kinfolk Workshop on herbal infusions right here in Chattanooga. You can get your tickets here while they last! Also, a while back I mentioned that we were going mushroom foraging & promised you a recipe, and now I’m making good on that promise. The morning after the French dinner, Rebekka & her husband Manley picked me up bright & early bearing hot coffee, and we drove out to an old growth deciduous forest outside of Nashville. I kept calling it that. Because that’s where mushrooms live. And that’s what we were after.

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I’m no mycologist, but I knew that much; I knew I needed an old growth deciduous forest. We drove deep into the forest and then walked in even deeper, investigating every dead & rotting trunk we saw. I was there in hopes of identifying wild edibles (though again, not being a mycologist, I wouldn’t eat them unless they were positively identified by a professional), and Rebekka was there to forage for mushrooms to dye yarn with. Which reminds me, do you like our hats? I like my hat, nay I love my hat. Rebekka knitted it out of yarn she dyed (which you can buy at her new store Camellia Fiber Co.!) and the color I’m wearing is called, get this, cast iron! Even more exciting? She’s now carrying hat pattern kits! She was more successful than I in our foraging, and has since achieved some beautiful earthy hues with the mushrooms we found that day.

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What I did happen upon, however, was a massive, angry rattle snake. Well, more precisely Manley happened upon it with me a footfall behind him. No rattle. It just struck. It straight struck. A mere few feet from us, it whipped out faster than I could register what was happening. We ran, a primal sort of run. A slipping down the embankment sort of run. And then I, like the brave little fool I am, crept back up the slope to look at it: thick coils, now rattling, hissing, and flicking it’s forked tongue. I was in awe. Toadstools and serpents in an old growth forest are, admittedly, my speed. We here in the south have a pretty one dimensional view of the symbol of the serpent, but it’s so much more than Milton’s snake in the garden. When I see serpents I think of Ouroboros, the eternal return, rebirth, the shedding of old skin. The very rhythm of being. Forever passing away, forever becoming.

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It’s no great observation: both the great beauty & great bastard of life is that time marches inexorably forward. Moment to moment particles are in explosive flux, entire multiverses of possibility are imploding at every moment while others accordion outward with violent, star dust & dark matter spangled force. There are so few moments in time that I would’ve been happy to be crystalized in, where the feeling was so purely ecstatic I could’ve died happy. From a Motel 6 in the pacific northwest to the park by my house, most of those moments have involved either an embrace or laughter. Pretty much all of them have involved considerable amounts of oxytocin flooding my neural synapses, if I had to guess. And all of them have been followed by a sadness and a futile desire to grasp at them.

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I used to be obsessed with feeling ecstatic. I woke up everyday searching for it, trying to synthesize it in my laboratory. It doesn’t work. We have to live in time, accepting that our joy will fade the same as our pain, and both will come around again just the same. Summer fades to fall, trading the technicolor of tomatoes and summer squash for that of soon to smolder leaves and autumnal gourds. Sprouting fecund from the earth comes the dancing mushroom, the hen of the woods. Also come the saffron colored chanterelles and all manner of poisonous aminitas and sweet hedgehogs and gilly oysters. These beautiful liminal times aren’t really what’s hard to accept, the change. Every time the season changes the world seems to be lighting up somehow. What’s hard is all the in-between times. All the days where your heart isn’t breaking and you aren’t falling in love. The leaves aren’t changing, no snow has fallen, nor are garlic scapes sprouting up. The seemingly milk toast days that fill out our years. That’s when you really need to see the art in your daily life, when you need to fall in love with the sacred ritual that is washing your hair, the miracle that is butter, flour, water, and heat.

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When I long for electricity & season change, that’s when I have to remember that the world is not a long line. It’s not some concrete, corridor. It’s a living, breathing disc, a circle. A wise serpent. And for every joy that fades another lies in front of me. But more than learning to wait for the great joys, the seas of oxytocin that crash over you and just as quickly ebb, you can learn to find ecstatic experience in the everyday. Looking beneath rotting trees for mushrooms, hands in butter and flour making a short crust, cooking, knitting, and brewing all sorts of everyday magic. The everyday magic is the only way to be happy. If you live to find the highs and to avoid the lows, you’ll always grasp & be forever hungry. I would know.

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To honor the mushrooms of fall I made a  galette filled with hen of the woods & chanterelles (inspired by this delicious looking galette from Imen) found at the market as opposed to in the forest, though one day I hope to possess the skills that will allow me to safely ingest the spoils of the forest. Along with fennel, a touch of cream, and a few generous pinches of Dancing Fern  (an ACS winning Reblochon style cheese made here in Chattanooga by Sequatchie Cove Creamery that also happens to currently be my favorite cheese and not just because it’s local but rather because it is amaze). It’s an earthy free form pie, and it’s my ode to forests, serpents, fungi, and all of that everyday magic. An ye harm none, do what thou wilt.

The humble art of kitchen magic in the form of herbal infusions, everything from oils to salt to spirits, is what we’ll be covering (both the making of & the enjoying of!) at this month’s Kinfolk workshop here in downtown Chattanooga; I’d love for you to join me! You can learn more about it & purchase tickets here.

ps. As some of you may know…I’m opening a shop, Sweet Gum Co. full of southern made & found kitchen provisions! It’s looking like we’ll be opening sometime in the next week (no promises, but I hope so!). If you’d like to be notified of our grand opening, you can sign up for the mailing list in the sidebar. 

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wild mushroom, fennel, & dancing fern galette

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 small shallots thinly sliced, about 1/3 cup
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 pinches of kosher salt
  • 1 med fennel bulb, halved, cored, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp herb de provence
  • 1/8 tsp fennel seed, ground
  • 8 oz wild mushroom in bite size thin slices, about 1/4" x 1.5"
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream
  • fennel fronds to garnish
  • 2 oz good, pungent soft cheese, like dancing fern, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 a recipe of buttery pastry crust

Instructions

  1. In a skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and a pinch of salt, cooking without browning until fragrant & turning translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add in the fennel along with the herbs de provence, fennel seed, and another pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occassionally, until the fennel begins to soften.
  3. Add in the mushrooms, lemon juice, and the final pinch of salt and cook just until mushrooms are softened and just cooked through.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in cream.
  5. Heat oven to 425°F
  6. Set aside the filling in a bowl to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile roll out your dough on a well floured work surface into a rough circle.
  8. Gently place dough onto a sheet tray, and mound the cooled filling in the center, dot the top with the pieces of cheese and fold up the edges, trimming them to make it a move even shape if desired.
  9. Bake at 425°F for 25-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly at which point it can either be served warm or allowed to cool further and be served at room temperature. Garnish with fresh fennel fronds.
http://localmilkblog.com/2013/11/foraging-wild-mushroom-fennel-dancing-fern-galette.html

32 Responses to foraging + wild mushroom, fennel, & dancing fern galette

  1. Sanda says:

    What an adventure you had. I do love your hat and want one as soon as I can get it !!

  2. Mia says:

    Where did you buy this wonderful bag from the third picture?

  3. Molly Yeh says:

    You are a brave soul. One sight of that snake and I would have been out of there as soon as you could say fungus.

    What a beautiful post… I love how you describe those inbetween days when you’re not falling in love or breaking your heart. Sometimes I hate them and sometimes I love them.

    One day I will get up the courage to love mushrooms… And then I will try this galette :)

  4. Gorgeous photos and beautifully written!
    Erin
    http://www.francoisetmoi.com

  5. Those wild mushrooms look perfect. Lovely recipe!

  6. i love nothing more than a good galette and look forward to giving this one a try! somehow, even my clutzy hands can make these look pretty :) gorgeous photos, can’t stop looking…

  7. Nadya says:

    What a wonderful adventure is inside of this mushroom pie!

  8. thank you for writing this. the constant search can be exhausting but *i* think an exercise much like chasing butterflies, it’s elusive and … well anyway, you described it just so.

    there are so few people who can wear high waisted jeans, where did you find those great pants?

  9. Sarah says:

    My mouth is actually watering right now. Your photos are amazing. I’m so happy to have stumbled across your blog!

  10. Demetria says:

    love these! the foraging photos are magic.

  11. Beautiful in every way, Beth..

  12. Catherine says:

    This looks so lovely and perfect for cooler fall weather! It’s been a long time since I went mushroom foraging, thanks for the vicarious trip back through this post.

  13. Such beautiful photos and words – this galette looks just divine.

  14. Ileana says:

    I am so into galettes right now, and this little number is lovely.

    My best friend went foraging recently during a trip to Vancouver. They came across some rare matsutakes. Her Japanese sushi chef mama fah-reaked out! I bet you’re not far off from a similar moment, feeling like you’ve struck gold while out hunting for mushrooms.

  15. sowmya says:

    Gorgeous photos ,beautiful write up and a lovely recipe !!

  16. melissa says:

    Thank You. I needed to be reminded about everyday magic and you express it so well.

  17. Rikki says:

    Your words are genuinely magical, let’s not even begin on your food and your images..

  18. My word, I’m so glad everyone is ok! How crazy. Cory keeps talking about going foraging for mushroom up at his parents’ place and I’m dying to go do it…

  19. I dod not go for a mushroom hunt this year and it’s always such an interesting experience. I do not like to get up so early to drive to the forest, but then in the morning woods are magical.

  20. phi says:

    So I have this dream of turning my basement into a shiitake mushroom farm from used coffee grounds. Since you move/work much faster than I do… I think you should do it, and share the pictures, of course.

    As for chanterelles and other wild fungi… I like them from dark, musty corners of old Mendocino forests in years like this, when they are so abundant, it’s even more of a pleasure to feast wildly just like they are. I think I’m growing into a mushroom beast from all of these fungi.

  21. I enjoyed reading this post so so much. From beautiful (your hat!) to exciting (foraging!) to terrifying (a rattle snake!?!) to touching (“The everyday magic is the only way to be happy.”). I would love to make this galette!

    A few weeks ago I wrote about mushroom foraging on my blog and posted a delicious funnel chanterelle flatbread recipe. Foraging truly is one of the biggest joys fall has to offer.

    Have a great week,
    Sini

  22. Absolutely beautiful story you’ve told with these photographs. I need to do some mushroom foraging as soon as possible…the double joy of woodland and fungi. So happy to have stumbled upon your blog!

  23. Cara says:

    hello! is it possible to find out what is the pattern for your friend rebekka’s hat? love your beautiful blog and your photographs.
    cara

  24. Emma says:

    This is a gorgeous ode to life.

    My thought on foraging – since you want to give it a try, start with one kind of mushroom, just one! Learn all of its characteristics, and what sets it apart from lookalikes – though it helps to choose a mushroom without similar lookalikes. Once you feel comfortable finding and identifying that one mushroom, add another to your repertoire. It will escalate quickly from there, promise:) And it’s sooooo worth it.

  25. My goodness, woman, you are a triple (if not more!) threat! Your southern gothic moody photos, your recipes for culinary delights, and your words—words that make everything else on the page irrelevant, since they create such a vivid picture and basically make me feel like I’ve already enjoyed whatever dish it is you’re sharing with us!

    Although, that certainly won’t stop me from trying to make this soon! ;)

  26. Linda says:

    Honestly Beth.. your blog takes my breath away. Your writing, recipes, photographs.. everything. Makes me want to improve and try new things!

  27. […] Bake this beautiful wild mushroom, fennel, & dancing fern galette. […]

  28. em says:

    my heart yearns for the change of season. how I have spent three long years in the never-ending sea of sunshine and heat, treeless desertscape of arabia, I do not know. the Cumberland Gap calls to me

  29. This is a gorgeous rustic galette!

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