A Family Builds a Homestead in the Rain

Firsts Among Fungi

My husband and I have spent enough time morel-hunting over the years to border on embarrassing considering we have never found a single one. That is until now, or rather, our last week at our new home. Best or most ironic of all: it was in our own backyard. We had purchased a bagful at the Eugene farmer’s market the morning before.

We actually found two, both in burn pits. I had the highest hopes for finding morels among the charred debris and across the snarled land that was logged last year, both inviting conditions for the delicious mushrooms. I’m hoping that there will be many more in two weeks as people have been reporting their finds all over the Willamette Valley and at higher elevations.

My husband fried them up– along with our market specimens– in a bit of butter, and the flavor was unparalleled.

My daughter also picked her first mushrooms on that trip: dozens of puffballs scattered across a sunny field. She’s been with me as I’ve collected meadow and brown field mushrooms plenty of times, but these little white delights were all hers. Like a true fungophile in the making, she drank in their mellow mushroomy scent.

On a short hike up the road we also came across gatherings of gregarious Agrocybe praecox, which are pretty and interesting, but whose edibility is, according to David Arora, “mediocre at best; disgusting at worst.” We took enough for identification but let the rest be.

All those hours in the woods and meadows of the Pacific Northwest are never wasted, even when the disappointment over an empty bag is at its worst. I’m notorious for traversing the most majestic of landscapes with my back hunched and my eyes trained intently on the ground. The forest floors have so much to offer– orchids, trillium, violets; beautiful but toxic salamanders; and on a good day, the most intriguing of wild mushrooms.



Similar posts
  • Cucumber Salad with Corn, Feta and Herbs At the height of summer, on long days of working and playing outside, nothing is better than a refreshing garden-fresh salad. The lemon cucumbers that have been ripening back-to-back on our vines are deserving of better than a humble supporting role. We’ve enjoyed plenty sliced with a pinch of salt. As a basis of a more substantial [...]
  • Chinese Chicken Salad with Bitter Greens In the summer heat, we opt for cold meals and barbecue as much as possible. This salad has been one of our go-to’s in rotation, ready to be grabbed out of the fridge and tossed with a bit of the delectable dressing. It’s a simple use for a small amount of leftover chicken, which in our [...]
  • Making Mustard From Wild Seed When the mustard flowers were flush and the fields bright yellow, we spared several patches when mowing for the benefit of the bees and butterflies. Then as the petals dropped and the plants grew brown and brittle, I decided to collect their seed and make the beloved condiment. My husband suggested making mustard a while [...]
  • Pickled Cat’s Ear Buds The population of edible plants growing from our driveway down to the creek and up the hillside is astounding and exciting– beyond the salad greens we eat almost daily to include vegetables for roasting and stir-frying, fermenting and pickling. I have been topping our daily wild salads with dandelion buds for months, split in half to reveal their [...]
  • The Nature of Perspective We are blessed with the most kind, generous neighbors here. They’ve welcomed us in with offerings of all sorts– moral support, most invaluably– including history and context of the area and its people. Those we’ve met have driven by the place for decades, and all have deeply lamented the recent clear-cut of the long-preserved forest. Part of [...]


  1. MM MM
    April 17, 2015    

    Hi Kelly! I’m very intrigued with your mushroom knowledge! I too live in the Pacific Northwest, the inland northwest to be exact, and we have mushrooms growing on our property, but I have no idea, nor anyone to show me, which are good or bad. I took a picture of some yesterday, and they are on my blog (if you will click on my name it should take you to my blog). Maybe you might recognize it. So, morel mushrooms usually grow around burn piles? We have lots of those. I’ll keep my eyes out for them. Very interesting post!

    • April 17, 2015    

      Thank you! Morels are choice mushrooms for novice hunters because with proper, thorough identification, they are virtually unmistakable. I highly recommend David Arora’s fantastic guide “Mushrooms Demystified” and cross-referencing before you ever consider eating a wild mushroom. I also recommend going out with an expert a few times to get your feet wet. Next, I recommend joining the PNW Mushroom ID Forum on Facebook. Finally, you will learn that IDing a mushroom involves spore printing, cap and gill examination, and many other important factors. All that said, mushroom hunting is one of my favorite hobbies and you are in an excellent location to begin your journey! I will check out your pictures on your blog! Happy hunting. 🙂

  2. April 18, 2015    

    Beautiful fungi pictures! I love mushrooms, but in this household they all come from the grocery store (unfortunately). I do not trust my knowledge about mushrooms enough to go out and pick them myself.

    • April 19, 2015    

      That is a good approach to take if you’re not confident in your identification skills! It takes a lot of research and practice and I definitely have a lot of learning to hone my own familiarity.

No Pings Yet

  1. Pickled Cat’s Ear Buds | Little Fall Creek on June 4, 2015 at 6:23 pm


I'm Kelly. Writer, crafter, forager, country winemaker, cook. Mama of an awesome toddler and married to my best friend. We recently returned to the Pacific Northwest, where we're setting out to grow, make, and learn as much as we can as the future unfolds.

Follow Along

Never miss a post! Receive updates by email.

Popular Posts