Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Joys of Spring

Beautiful weather here in the Texas Hill Country.  I can say that even though today dawned grey and drizzly.  From here at my desk I can hear my garden cheering.  I walked around the yard yesterday taking pictures of the new growth and reveling in the joys of Spring.  Peach trees in bloom, the hope of juicy peaches in July makes my mouth water now!
The fig has lots of new growth even though I neglected to prune it last Autumn.
The lettuces that were covered in snow exactly a month ago are now lush and ready to pick.  Salads are on the menu most every day.
Sugar snap peas are up and beginning to climb the supports.  So few of these make it to the table as I can't resist picking handfuls while I am gardening and eating them on site.  Crisp and oh, so sweet!
The horseradish root is sprouting.  Have you ever had fresh horseradish?  It would make you swear off the grocery store stuff! 
The poppies, which I planted years ago in honor of my mom (whose nickname is Poppy) re-seed every year in different places around the garden.  It's a sign to me that Spring has arrived.
And the arugula, which we've been eating for months, is now going to seed.  I let the seed scatter all over the garden and then replant it in the beds...or let it grow right where it is-usually in the paths!  Come September it will sprout and start the cycle all over again.
Lest you think my obsession fascination with morels has waned, I will leave you with pics of the fruits of my 4 mile walk yesterday.  I was impressed with the size of the mushrooms and am wondering how much longer they will be around.  We are still eating morels daily...most recently grilling them with onions and piling them on sandwiches.  My goodness...
I saw the first snake of the year yesterday.  So very sweet! And so very glad it wasn't a rattler as I almost stepped on it...
On another note, the Comfort Area Farmers Market begins its 2010 season on Saturday, April 3rd
from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. so come on over if you are in the area.  It is held in the Comfort Park right on Hwy 27.  It looks like it will be a great year with lots of new vendors and exciting programs planned.
We will be open every Saturday morning through Autumn.
There is also a great new Open Air Market starting in Comfort the first Saturday of every month beginning in April, which coincides with the Farmers Market Opening Day.  It is being held behind the new thrift store in town, called General & Thrift at 606 High Street, from 8-4.  All sorts of vendors will be setting up and BBQ will be available for sale. 
Do come visit us at these markets and support the local economy and pick up some terrific products.
And a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear husband, Scott.  He tolerates, no...encourages me in all my varied endeavors and is my biggest champion.  I can't imagine life without him. 
Happy Day Sweetheart!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Biggest Haul Yet!

My friend Debbie and I went out this afternoon and within an hour had picked over a pound of mushrooms!  I had been telling her about them and even showed up at her house yesterday with some for her to try, but as much as we looked at her place, there were none to be found.  I was afraid that she thought I was making all this up (complete with pictures!).  But today she was thrilled to search under cedars and tromp through the woods after she found her first mushroom.  I'm telling you, it's addicting!  Some of the morels today were so big!
Last night we ate quinoa with asparagus and amazingly lush and rich dish.  It is supposed to rain tonite and tomorrow, so Sunday or Monday we'll be out again.  And next week, I'll start drying some of the bounty.  What a gift! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A 3 Hour Walk

Couldn't get out of the house fast enough today, the hope of more morels pulling me.  But I had a few things to take care of around here, so it was after 11:00 before I headed out armed with a backpack full of supplies: camera, scissors, bags, water bottle and snacks.  And what a good walk it was!
Just a bit over 5 ounces. I crawled on my hands and knees under lots of cedars, but it was worth it.  Here are some pics of the morels as I found them:
Cute, huh?  This next one was growing out of the bottom of a tree.
At one point I had been walking about 40 minutes without finding any at all.  I figured that I had gone out of the area where they would grow.  As I was ducking under a branch, my glasses (which were perched on top of my head) got knocked onto the ground.  "Stop here and look!" I thought to myself and crouched down where my glasses were.  I found a morel about 4" from where my glasses lay.  Up to that point, if I found one morel, I would find more in the same area.  So I sat down where I was and began to look around.  Just to my left I found what would be the biggest grouping of the day.
I think I will wait a few more days before going again.  I left quite a few tiny ones in the ground.  I am hoping to find enough more to dry some for later.  As for now, I can't help but get home and saute some up for lunch.  Adding a bit of chopped garlic and brown rice, they made a tasty lunch!  With enough left over for another meal!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Be Still, My Beating Heart

I don't know where to start, so I will simply post this picture and go from there:
For about 2 weeks now, I have been walking the woods with my trusty sidekick, Sophie, scouting out areas where morels might grow.  I knew the season was coming up and that the conditions were so right for them this year...wet, cold and with some periods of snow on the ground (see previous posts!).  I have never found a morel, but have eaten them (and swooned with every bite) and have been told that they can be found in Texas.  Indeed a neighbor has found them on their property and a ranch where I sometimes work has had bumper crop years. I know they've been found in Gillespie County and lots in the country outside Austin but, as I said, conditions have to right.      
I just knew this was my year. I felt it in my bones.
I've been working out of town for the last 6 days on the ranch where the bumper crops of morels have been found, so "dry land fishing" (as I've heard mushroom hunting called) was a big topic of conversation.  When I finished work today, my friend Steve told me,
"If you find some, call me and if I find some, I'll call you! We need to know the season has started!" 
It has been cold and dreary all day and has rained about an inch in the last 12 hours, but once I got home I couldn't help myself.  I put on a sweater and my new rainboots and headed out with Sophie at my heels.  I  half heartedly looked in a few places, but thought that tomorrow would be the day to REALLY start looking.  It is supposed to be warm-in the low 70's- and sunny.  But the walk was going along so nice and although I was a bit cold, I thought I'd go check a few of the places I had scouted out.  I walked probably a half mile through the woods and came to a rocky slope with small trees.  I just stood there.  I am completely serious when I say I FELT them.  I knew they were there.  I just stood there looking around.  My eyes locked on a spot about 2 feet in front of me.  There it was- a small morel not much more than an inch tall, poking out of the ground.  My heart stopped.  I crouched down and saw it was 2 morels, one much smaller.  I picked the larger one and stepped back to a flat rock and sat down.  My heart was beating as I sat and looked over the leaf covered ground.  About 4 feet in front of me and to my right, I saw a large one. I said out loud, "Oh my, oh my..." which brought Sophie running.  I stepped carefully over to the one and saw it was FOUR morels.  I picked the two largest and went back to my rock, turning them over and over in my hands.  I must've sat there for 10 full minutes, just amazed that I REALLY had found some morel mushrooms.  I was getting cold, so I decided to head back home.  One last time I walked to where I had found the first one and stepped just beyond it.  There, at my feet, were 2 more.  I picked the larger and, after marking the spot, headed back through the woods towards home.
Tomorrow will be quite a day!