Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mists and mushrooms

There is something radically wrong with the wheel of the year. It appears some wag has given it a shove and it has skipped summer altogether. Why else have we been shrouded in mist, soaked with continual downpours and chilled with temperatures that forced me out of bed at 1am to seek tea and thermal socks? Circumstantial evidence, perhaps, but it’s the mushrooms that swing it for me.

A glut of mushrooms appears in the Grey Mare’s field towards the end of August each year: buttons, pink and brown-gilled field mushrooms, the occasional flat horser, as big as a steak, and sometimes a puffball, divine sliced and fried in butter. But they’re here already, admittedly in much sparser quantities, yet still sufficient to pick a couple of handfuls each night.

In our pre-packaged world, there is something deeply satisfying about eating something you have found, gathered, prepared and cooked. I risk scratched arms, snagged and sticky-budded sleeves and purple fingers to retrieve glistening brambles from the hedge, so I can savour the custard-coated crumble later. I clamber onto wobbly fences and avoid stout, sharp thorns to reach the best sloes, which will be combined with gin to be sipped in the glow of Christmas and on crisp hunting mornings. Plums and apples are collected from the garden to create chutney to accompany Stilton on thick buttered bread.

No, I have no quarrel with autumn; I just wish we’d had summer first.


21 comments:

Gill said...

The mist appears to be clearing here on the west coast- at last. It can't be time for mushrooms- I haven't made elderflower champagne yet!

@themill said...

Mushrooms? Really? Must go and check the fields. Off to France this w/e so hope to god it's warmer there. We seem to have had all four seasons in two months up here.

beta mum said...

When we were in France in October half term I was out trying to coax myself into a gentle jog around the block, when an old French chap stopped me to ask advice about whether or not the mushrooms he'd picked were OK to eat.
He didn't know how close to certain death he'd come.
The last time I picked mushrooms they were not for cooking.
But I do remember picking them from a field behind our house when I was little, where a horse called Laddie lived.

Mya said...

I have mushrooms in the garden too, the rain has been relentless.

All those foodie descriptions are going to have me skulking off to the pantry...feeling decidedly peckish now!

Meteo report for @themill - weather in the S/W of France set fair for the next couple of days - temps mid twenties.

mountainear said...

There are two new born, very late, lambs in our field tonight. What a welcome to the world they've had. Torrential rain and swirling mist. So many sodden animals, hunkered down in the lee of hedge and tree. I feel like inviting them in to get warm round the Aga - then remember I switched it off when it was warm at the weekend.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

The idea of you standing there in the altogether wearing just your thermal socks at 1 a.m. is a rather stimulating image. I hear what you say about being a hunter-gatherer in our Tescoworld. I also reach for the brambles and in some years I pick my own vegetables from the Earth. Screw you Mr Tesco!

Lizzie said...

We are still in summer in the Marches, m&m. Have you ever thought of moving south? You'd be ever so welcome here. Hugs, Lizzie x

lady macleod said...

I think it is most unfair of you to tease me with the cool, misting weather! Food wise, we're set.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Gill, mum has my great-great grandmother's recipe for elderflower champagne. We've never made it but granda reckons its gorgeous...

@themill, have a wonderful time. How long are you gone for?

Beta Mum, you must've been his guardian angel ...

Mya, I had a fancy for stilton after writing about it but it had all been bought by the tourists...

Mountainear, they are late lambs! What start, indeed ...

YP, sorry to disappoint, but I was also wearing PJs!!

Thankyou Lizzie, but I'm a Northern lass!

Lady M, you donate me some of your weather and I'll donate you some of mine and we will achieve that elusive happy medium!

Stay at home dad said...

Have you? Nothing like that down here on the Thames Riviera.

It would account for poor old WITN and Rilly though...

Mopsa said...

misty it may be, but it's broiling down here - I have just finished my animal feeding and sorting rounds and could only stand to do it in thin cotton nightie and wellies. 93% humidity or summat ghastly like that. No mushrooms yet, but they will come.

Vanessa said...

Absolutely freezing up here too. I'm typing this in sheepskin boots with the heating on and feeling somewhat cheated. I know climate change is a bad thing but I did hope that global warming might make the Edinburgh weather a bit more bearable. At this rate rate I shall have to stop bitching about the school-run mummies in their SUVs and buy one myself in an attempt to chivvy it along a little.

DJ Kirkby said...

Yummy! Reminds me of going Chantrelle picking when I was a kid. I was alway terrified that we had picked a Jack o Lantern by mistake and that mom had missed it when she checked before cooking them...Obviously we did'nt or she did'nt as I am here to write this comment...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I'm always fearful of mushrooms, frightened they might turn out to be magic or something.
I wear thermal socks every night. Can't sleep without 'em.
And where do you hunt? They come across our land, just wondered..

Motheratlarge said...

Mmmm... mushrooms, reminds me of the Cevennes hills in September. Yes, autumn, you're quite right. Have to agree with Vanessa (we live in same city) that weather a couple of hundred miles north from you is even worse. So bad, in fact, we may scupper plans for thrifty Scottish holiday near home and resort to a cheap flight somewhere sunny.

Brom said...

I'll have to be brief with this as there isn't mushroom left in the comment box.

mutterings and meanderings said...

SAHD, you'll get yours, just wait and see... nearly Wimbledon time isn't it?

Mopsa, ghastly is such an under-used word!

Vanessa, I stupidly wore sandals to work today. I can be such a fool ...

DJ, that's part of the frisson ...

CJ, I'm clueless about the ones in woods but ones in the fields are pretty straightforward and untoadstool-lie. The Percy - but only lcoal due to lack of transport.. although my tweed jacket has been out with the West Percy too!

Motheratlarge, we're not actually that far apart - I'm around 25 miles south of the border and half my family comes from Edinburgh...

mutterings and meanderings said...

Brom, there's as mushroom as you like!

dulwichmum said...

You are making me hungry lovely girl!

DM

dulwichmum said...

Oh dear - that sounded rather suggestive - I just meant I fancied some cheese on toast!

The Grocer said...

A forager, how wonderful, we must share tips. You should combine some of your mushrooms with some of the roadkill we drive past every day. Pickled Hedgehog thighs are exceptional with puffballs.