Friday, September 24, 2010

Dinner for a Rainy Autumn Eve

Mashed Potatoes and Pan Gravy

One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of wild foodstuffs you can forage for yourself. I've heard that the Coastal Salish Native Americans had the most sophisticated art forms in North America, due largely to the fact that food is so easy to find here that the tribes had lots of free time to pursue art, storytelling and other non-subsistence activities. Having grown up in the woods and seas of the Coastal NW, I love the abundance of berries, game, edible roots and fungus.

I went mushroom hunting yesterday with my mother, whose depression-era sensibilities make her a natural for finding free food. Chanterelle mushrooms grow wild here but with rapidly expanding housing developments, choice patches are getting few and far between. Mushroom lovers guard their stashes vehemently and I think she had me swear myself to secrecy at least 5 times during the drive to the patch she'd found on a thickly wooded and steep hillside.

After an hour of struggling through spongy loam and slippery rotten logs, we had a respectable haul of about 3 lbs of fresh Chanterelles. We divvied up the stash and I brought them home. It was a grey and drizzly day so a warm autumn meal sounded perfect. What better to go with freshly picked wild forest mushrooms than pork and seasonal vegetable like leeks? I included a standard mashed potato recipe using Yukon Gold potatoes and some fresh chives. It was a fit meal for a cold day.

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