Grief Journal Kitchen

Her ‘Morel’ of the story…

Written by Jen Sill

Written by Jennifer Sill

Isn’t it funny how a simple recipe can really make you stop and remember?

In this case, one little magical ingredient brought tears to my eyes this week.  I’ll give you the recipe for the yummy little Morel and then a ‘taste’ of why they are so magical to me.

 Fried Morels

Ingredients:

  • 20-30 small morels (soaked in a tub of hot water and 1 tsp of salt and then rinsed well)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cracker crumbs finely crushed
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

1.  Mix the flour and crumbs, salt, pepper in a paper bag
2.  Roll the morels in the egg mixture. Drop them in the bag and quickly shake.
3.  Melt the butter with the oil in a pan. 
4.  Saute the mushrooms until brown.  Serve.

Now the ‘rest’ of my story…

I come from a family of hunters and I married into a family of hunters.  Mushroom hunting in the spring just comes naturally.
These little ‘shrooms are usually very hard to find. 

Here are the hints we use:
1. The lilacs are in bloom. 
2. Wait for a really good soaking rain followed by a sunny day.
3. Spot a dying Elm tree

Even then, Morels are hard to spot.  A trained hunter can walk right by them. 
My husband, father-in-law and I set out for our yearly hunt last week.  We found an AMAZING harvest this year.  We gathered more than 300 in 24 hours!!  But the first one I found this year really got me thinking… and remembering. 

My family would hunt mushrooms along the Platte River when I was a child.  I’d often end up hand-in-hand with my Grandpa Bud.  He was one of the best spotters around and didn’t mind being ‘dragged down’ by a novice.  In fact, he enjoyed hanging out with children.  He pointed out the hidden treasures under tree trunks and in the dirt.  He’d lead us straight to them and patiently wait as we clumsily stomped on a couple trying to pick our first one.  He taught us to be gentle with the little mushrooms.  He taught us to pinch them off at the bottom in hopes of getting them to come back next year.   

 

This is probably about the age I started hunting mushrooms with Grandpa. The same age my daughter is right now.

 

Grandpa Bud passed away one week before we went on that mushroom hunt.  I can’t help but wonder if he had a little bit to do with this record year of mushrooms. 

He may just have wanted me to pause and think for a minute.

Those same lessons he taught hunting mushrooms were echoed in the life he lived.  He never wasted a thing — not even a mushroom. Grandpa was the kind who would walk around the house turning out the lights and complain just a little when he had to throw scraps out to the cats instead of people finishing their meals.  He was always kind and gentle.  And he ALWAYS found magic in the little things.  Even through the haze of Alzheimer’s his eyes would light up when my children smiled at him.

He passed those traits on to his children and his children’s children.  As we spread his ashes in the same Platte River that runs along our mushroom hunting grounds we all remembered Grandpa.  Our memories were not grandiose gestures — they were all magic in the little things he did. 

Here are two more magical Morel mushroom recipes for you to enjoy! 

I don’t mind spending a little extra on a fantastic meal like this.  You may get better results using 1 cup of heavy cream and substituting 1 cup of creme fraiche instead of 1/2 a cup of sour cream and 1/2 a cup of cream cheese, but I just don’t think my grocery store carries crème fraiche. 

I’ve never used it, but I see most of the recipes online use the crème fraiche. 

Madeira Morels

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce dried morels (soak for 30 minutes in very hot water and 1 tsp of salt)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts  (I often use 3 of the really big ones from my grocery store)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Ground black pepper – to taste
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (for dredging)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup shallots (2 large)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 cup Madeira wine
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

2.  Rinse morels (even after having soaked them.  Dirt gets in all the grooves.) 

3.  Pat dry with a paper towel and set aside.

4.  Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Dredge them in flour and shake off the excess. 

5.  Heat the butter in a large saute pan.  Cook the chicken over medium-low heat until browned on both sides (8-10 minutes).  Remove and place in a ovenproof casserole.

6.  Add the rest of the butter to the pan along with shallots, drained morels and garlic.  Saute over medium heat for 2 minutes, tossing and stirring constantly.  Pour in Madeira and reduce by half over high heat (3 minutes).  Add sour cream, cream cheese, cream, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3/4 teaspoon of pepper. 

7.  Boil until mixture starts to thicken (5-10 minutes).  Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake for 12 minutes.

*Note – there is no glorified way to take a photo of this.  It might not look amazing but it is!  Trust me!!

Morel Eggs

My husband actually makes these eggs.  They are amazing!  We should call them ‘Trash Eggs’ or ‘Clear the Fridge’ eggs. 

We mix up the meats and veggies.  It is one of the first things he ever cooked for me.  Today’s were especially good all because of one of my favorite ingredients the magical mushroom – the Morel.

  • 12 eggs – beaten
  •   Milk to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3 slices of smoked ham cubed
  • 2 celery sticks sliced
  • 10-12 small or medium morel mushrooms (after having soaked in hot water with 1 tsp of salt)
  • 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese

These are your basic scrambled eggs with a twist.

1.  Saute the celery and mushrooms in the olive oil.  After the celery becomes translucent, add the ham.

2.  Whip the eggs with some milk and your salt and pepper.

3.  Pour over the mushrooms and celery.

4.  Once the eggs are set, add cheese and serve.


Hope you enjoy all these recipes as much as we do!  Do you have a Morel Mushroom recipe?  We would love to hear from you!

About the author

Jen Sill

For nearly 15 years Jennifer spent her time clawing her way up the chain as a television producer and newsroom manager. She’s helped create and produce newscasts and talkshows. Just as she was realizing some of her professional goals, she decided to give it all up for a family. Although Jennifer has lived in Miami and L.A., she has always called Nebraska home. She always knew she wanted to raise her children in the Midwest.
Jennifer is now trying to find her way in a new world. She may be frenzied and frazzled sometimes, but she would not give up being a mom to her almost four year old and her almost two year old for anything.

8 Comments

  • What a great success and story! Grief is hard, but when God gives you these moments to remember loved ones, it is the best and a piece of you is able to heal. The sad tears become those of joy and laughter and you only hope you can pass these traditions and traits down they way they have. Thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you, Trista. SO true. Sometimes when the work piles up and the kids are throwing things in the toilet, it is easy to just let life pass you by. It is nice to stop and remember. Being out in the trees… with nature all around was just what I needed.

  • #Tear – thanks for that — I’m at work!! LOL – good job — Very sweet — I’ll have to try these recipes.

  • Hi Jennie, I saw this website on facebook or something. What a great opportunity. It looks like a lot of fun, and I hope it’s going well for you. Great story about the mushrooms! I remember going with you to Deer Brooke to hunt mushrooms, too. That was so fun. Deepest sympathies for your grandfather. He was such a wonderful person and I feel privileged to have known him. Let me know when you are coming back to Nebraska and maybe we can get together. Good luck with your new website. Leslie Wagner

  • Leslie,
    Some of my fondest memories are the days we girls spent in ‘the cabin’. Oh, my!! SO silly. Thank you for checking in on this web site. I love that it is a way to give back to Central Nebraska even when my husband’s job has us in Iowa. Hope you keep checking back!!