Monday, October 14, 2013

The 80.

Back in the day, my grandparents purchased 80 acres of land in Hubbard County.  Kudos to them.  A mostly wooded patch located in northern Minnesota, it has been traditionally used over the years as hunting grounds.  I haven't been there in a number of years but decided to make the trip over the weekend.

After a drive through a rainstorm, a call to my grandpa, and some snapshots of racoons in apple trees, Chris and I made it.  We found my dad sitting on the porch.  It's strange to see a place you haven't seen in quite a while.  Some things are recognizable in a comforting way, while other things surprise you with their transformation. 

Although I don't hunt in the typical manner of the visitors to this spot, I did hunt quite a bit!  I have always thought mushrooms were interesting and after taking a class in college entitled All About Mushrooms, I was hooked.  With the weather as odd as it was I wasn't sure what we would encounter.

First there was the Honey Mushroom, Armillariella mellea.  A spore print relieved it to have white spores and we had our positive identification.  It was everywhere!  Too bad it would be a gamble to eat as it sometimes causes stomach upset.  After a discussion of how far away the nearest hospital was, we decided not to risk it.

Next was Wood Ear, Auricularia auricula-judae.  Although listed as edible, I wasn't interested.  Perhaps it looked too much like an ear.

As it had just rained, we found a number of Russula pushing their way through the soil.  A few hours later we noted some of them had been eaten by various wood creatures.  Russula brevipe was described by David Arora of All the Rain Promises and More as "edible but insipid".  I decided to forgo this snack.

We wondered about Red Tree Brain Fungus, Peniophora rufa,

and found/molested various Puff Balls, Lycoperdon whatevers.

The colors were lovely.  The birch and poplar trees were golden.

We even encountered some matching Witches' Butter, Tremella mesenterica.  It was squishy. 

No one was home inside this nest.  What bird makes a nest at eye level with mud walls?  I have no idea who lived here originally.

We both admired and avoided the Scarlet Waxy Cap, Hygrocybe punicea, as it is sometimes listed as poisonous. 

The Coral Fungus, Clavarioid something wasn't very abundant, but present. 

And then we saw it.  The mushroom to be had.  The mushroom of our dreams!  The Lobster mushroom, Hypomyces lactifuorum.

This mushroom is interesting in that it is a parasite.  It feeds on a couple different types of mushrooms.  Sounds delicious, no?

Well, it was.  Chris and I harvested a few of them and cooked them in butter and olive oil with a tiny bit of salt and pepper.  My dad was certain he would be driving us to the hospital. Just a few crackers or bread is all you need.  These were scrumptious!

The next day we went for a stroll again.  We enjoyed the views,

 took a portrait to commemorate our hunt,

and gathered a few more lobsters to bring home.

All and all it was a very fun trip, but when we started to feel the woods watching us it was time to head home.