by Shelly Conrad
We had a blast! It just got better and better, from the pizza and salad party on Friday till the cleanup crew finished Saturday night.
8 minute video foray overview by Dan Greene
Thanks to all who found time to meet and greet us at the pizza party Friday evening. It was wonderful for the organizers to put a face to the names of people we’ve been communicating with over the previous months. Then there were those we haven’t seen in a couple of years, and we had a chance to chat with you for a few moments, undistracted by mushroom programs or activities, and old friends, like Sam Norris and Rose Sullivan, who generously offered to help at every turn and whose infectious smiles lit up our evening. Thanks also to Kaila St. Louis, who couldn’t make it to the foray, but stopped by to say hello and spend some time with us.
Our sincere apologies to our gluten free friends for the lack of gluten free pizzas. We called Big John’s in Canaan the afternoon of the foray to add a couple more pizzas to our order, only to find out that they forgot to order the supplies for us and couldn’t provide even one of the four gluten free pizzas we had ordered a full month earlier and reminded them of the week before. They didn’t even apologize. It’s a good thing we went out of our way to make sure there were plenty of gluten free, dairy free and vegan options in the salad bar, including marinated tofu, marinated artichoke hearts, shredded Cheddar, Feta, Parmesan, tuna with lemon juice, pickled eggs, olives, roasted peppers, garden fresh tomatoes from Nelle’s organic garden in Charleston, marinated cukes from Shelly’s organic garden, Asian marinated french green beans, German potato salad, raisins, watermelon, cookies, etc.
Three cheers to Sirianni’s, a long established Tucker County family owned business and their owner, Walt, who prepared 25 hand made pizzas exactly as we ordered them, all of which were ready at the time they promised. Our toppings including plain cheese Neopolitan (like pizza Margherita), cheese and pepperoni, cheese and house made sausage, lactose free spinach with roasted peppers, and cheese with vegetables. Oh, and we forgot to mention that we put out a bowl of warm Chanterelle Duxelles, for those who wanted to spoon some over their pizza. Special thanks to Charlie Aller, who made 2 trips to Sirianni’s so we’d have hot pizzas throughout the night. And sincere thanks to all the attendees who made donations to help cover the cost of the pizzas, salad, soft drinks and snacks. We appreciate and thank you for your support.
It rained almost every day for 3 weeks before the foray, with frequent and sometimes severe thunderstorms. As the foray date approached, we became increasingly elated because we knew we wouldn’t have a dry foray. On the other hand, while a little drizzle won’t stop a die-hard mushroom hunter from going out into the woods, thunderstorms are a whole different situation. In an abundance of caution, we contacted NAMA and we are really grateful to Steve Rock, who sent us a bunch of interesting and educational slide shows and DVDs to use in case thunderstorms forced us to cancel our Saturday morning foray walks. One of them was on VHS, and we thank Anne Cecelia Smith for converting it to DVD format for us. Thankfully, though, we didn’t need any of the rain contingency materials because Saturday morning was cool, dry and beautiful.
In the days before the foray, Bill Roody, Donna Mitchell, Chip Chase, Charlie Aller, Bruce Boyer, Walt Sturgeon, Gary Lincoff, Tom Volk, and the WVMC organizers walked for miles and scoured the Canaan and Blackwater Falls State Park areas to find the best trails for our foray walks. They worked hard to make sure we didn’t send you out on dry trails with few or no mushrooms/fungi. We want to thank our foray leaders: Charlie Aller, Bruce Boyer, Laura Ceperley, Chip Chase, Nelle Chilton, John Harper, Diane Holsinger, Martha Hopper, Gary Lincoff, Alan McClelland, Shannon Nix, Sam Norris, John Plischke, Rose Sullivan and Nancy Ward. We are really proud to have had such a capable and fun crew and we got great feedback from the attendees about their walks.
While everybody was out on their morning walks, Donna Mitchell, Bill Roody and Walt Sturgeon sorted and identified the mushrooms our attendees brought in from home. If you brought some with you, we really appreciate it. Not only does it give us a chance to see what’s fruiting in nearby areas, counties and states – but, if we’d been rained out, the mushrooms you brought with you might have been all we had to work with during our educational table walks.
We are looking for an attendee from Monroe county who brought mushrooms from home, because one of your specimens was a County record. If you brought mushrooms with you from Monroe county, please email email@example.com and let us know.
While the foray attendees returned from their morning walks and ate their lunches, the foray kitchen crew served lunch to the foray walk leaders, volunteers and faculty. In addition to a few slices of leftover pizza and some innovative vegetable salads, we also served a Philippine Pancit and other delicious hot treats.
After lunch, it rained. It rained so hard, we had to turn up our microphones so the speakers could be heard during their presentations. But we didn’t care. We were busy enjoying faculty members: Gary Lincoff (Which mushrooms are preferred in Asia versus North America and why), Walt Sturgeon (Getting to know Appalachian Boletes) and Tom Volk (Cryptic species: the hidden gems of mycology, which included some of our favorite edibles). We’re grateful that each of them took time out of their busy schedules to join us. Their presentations were educational, informative, and so much fun, we spent almost as much time laughing as we did learning. Organizer Shelly Conrad wrapped things up with a cooking demonstration on how to prepare candied Chanterelles which were later served over ice cream.
During the review of specimens table walk, we got a closeup look at the diversity of mushrooms and other fungi collected at the foray. Some items come in during every foray, regardless of the rainfall or humidity, like Indian Pipes and Amanita bisporigera, and others are hardly ever seen, like chagas and Sparassis, which beginners and photographers had a chance to examine up close. We were delighted to learn that the precious chaga wasn’t tossed into the compost, but taken home by the Plischkes, who ground it up for tea. Tom Volk described and provided information about the chaga and other items in the collection.
Walt Sturgeon taught us about the boletes that came in that day, many of which we’d seen earlier in his slide presentation but, as Walt pointed out, there’s nothing like actually being able to hold a mushroom in your hand, smell it, feel the texture of the cap and stem, and make notes or take photos for the future.
Gary Lincoff spent some time teaching us about the Sparassis that came in that day and then he detailed some of the unique characteristics of the genus Amanita. Since the most deadly poisonous species belong to the genus Amanita, every beginner needs to know how to identify Amanitas before attempting to collect and consume wild mushrooms. Until you are completely confident identifying Amanitas, Deadly Gallerinas, and other mushrooms that will make you sick or kill you, it’s best to avoid collecting any gilled mushrooms. While anybody might have a reaction to any mushroom, just as some people have reactions to peanuts, there are somewhat safer genera to explore as you continue learning about wild edibles, including Hydnums, Polypores, and eventually some of the boletes Walt taught us to identify.
Mushroom identification books were available for sale, most of which were signed by the authors at the foray, which will help supplement the information we learned during the foray presentations and table walks.
We were also honored to have visiting mycologists John Plischke III, Rick Kerrigan, and Shannon Nix, who were gracious enough to spend time answering questions and discussing the various finds with attendees and with each other. We loved meeting you or seeing you again and we thank you so much for coming and for helping out. We’re still amazed by Alan McClelland’s energy. He split his time between taking photos, identifying mushrooms, cooking and, somewhere in the middle of all that work, he and his wife Cathy found time to draw a fabulous picture on an artist’s conk to memorialize our foray.
A big shout out to Becky Plischke, who recommended that we take a group photo of all the mycologists and organizers, which we did, even though we may have to Photoshop Rick Kerrigan into the shot, because we couldn’t find him anywhere (he must have been in a nearby Agaricus patch at the time the photo was taken). Thanks so much, Becky. We would have missed a great opportunity if you hadn’t suggested the photo. A photo is attached and others are posted on our Facebook Group page.
Bill Roody warned, “There’s such a thing as too much rain,” as far as collecting goes, and we worried that there wouldn’t be many large fleshy mushrooms found. Bill Roody, Donna Mitchell, Walt Sturgeon and our visiting mycologists pitched in and identified 137 species, including 30 species newly recorded Tucker County, 3 species newly recorded in West Virginia, and one or two unidentified Cantharellus species in Randolph County that are being sequenced by Tom Volk. We’re still waiting for the final tally on the mushroom/birder walk, but it sure sounds like everybody had a good time. We tried our best to lure all of the identifiers to move to WV permanently. No luck there – but we hope they will return next year for the club’s 10th anniversary foray. We’re not sure of the details yet, but we know for sure that cake will be involved. Maybe Chanterelle cake. Maybe Candy Cap cake, but definitely cake. Maybe ice cream too.
Thanks to all of our volunteers. We know everybody pitched in, one way or another, to help things run smoothly. There were some hitches along the way (there always are), but for the most part, it was really more fun than work and we hope our volunteers had a good time. We cannot overemphasize how much it meant for us to have you on our team. The success of our foray is the direct result of your hard work. We know it, we sincerely appreciate it, and we never take it for granted.
We were happy to welcome all of you who drove several hours to attend the foray. It meant a lot to us that you came so far and we worked hard to keep the foray on schedule so you’d get home before dark. We sincerely hope you felt the trip was worthwhile, that you had a good time, and that you will be able to join us again next year.
There was a bumper crop of Chanterelles this year. Some old timers have never seen a year like this. That comment is not in the form of a complaint, just an explanation as to why we had so many Chanterelle dishes in the tasting menu. The mycophagy dishes we loved best were Lolita’s rice noodle and Chanterelle Pancit, Alan McClelland’s black bean noodle and black trumpet dish along with his amazing spiced plantains, and Lolita’s traditional Spanish Tortilla with black trumpets. As a reward for the hard working kitchen crew, Alan was kind enough to saute a variety of edibles, none of which ever made it out to the tasting tables. It was hard to tell which mushroom we liked best, because they were all so delicious, but it was really a great experience trying one right after another and comparing the textures and flavors as we worked to prepare the tasting dishes. Alan’s wife, Cathy, was always running around doing something and, among other things, she was kind enough to make gluten free cupcakes for those who got cheated out of their gluten free pizzas on Friday.
So, how about those T-shirts by Charleston, WV artist Jeff Pierson! They are unique and sure to become classics. We have some left over, which we will photograph and list on our Facebook Group page, in case you’d like to see or buy one for your collection. There was also a basket of mushroom related stuff that didn’t make it into the silent auction and we’ll list those items on the FB page too (they include a new copy of Mushrooms of Northeastern North America, a hand-made mushroom shaped candle, an ornamental metal watering pitcher with mushrooms on it, and a hand painted one quart ceramic mushroom pitcher).
2013 tasting menu (recipes to follow in next newsletter). If you helped prepare any of the dishes or brought or prepared anything we forgot to mention, please email us to let us know so we can mention you and/or your contribution in our next newsletter with the recipes. Please don’t be shy – we want to give credit where it’s due and you sure earned it in that hot kitchen. A photo of the worker bees in the kitchen and on the serving line is attached. We learned a lot from Tom Volk, a seasoned server from his Blue Star activities, who worked so quickly and efficiently, the rest of us had time to take brief breaks (so we could actually taste what we were so busy serving) while Tom manned our stations. Wow!
In the Kitchen:
by Shelly Conrad
- Goat cheese, mango chutney & sauteed Bradley Crostini (prepared by Cathy McClelland)
- Cannellini and Chanterelle soup (prepared by Nelle Chilton & Shelly Conrad)
- Chanterelle Dip (prepared by Shannon Nix)
- Candied Chanterelles over ice cream (prepared by ?)
- Gluten-Free Muffins (prepared by Cathy McClelland)
by Alan McClelland
- Black Trumpet & Chanterelles with Organic Black Bean Pasta
- Mushroom shaped organic coconut cacao cookies and coconut macaroons
- Spiced Plantains
- Cheesy potatoes (someone’s mystery recipe?)
by Lolita Fansler
- Chanterelle & Chicken of the Woods Pancit
- Black Trumpet Potato and Egg Tortilla
- Corn and Chanterelle Chowder by Nancy Ward (prepared by Nelle Chilton?)
- Marinated Chanterelles by Donna Mitchell
- Chanterelle Vermouth by Gary Lincoff
- Delicious home made brownies by Kara Brown
- Black Trumpet Butter by Walt Sturgeon
- Wild Rice & Bradley Casserole (3 versions!) by Nelle Chilton
Wild Edibles Tasting prepared by Alan McClelland
- Black Velvet Bolete (Tylopilus alboater)
- Califlower Mushroom (Sparassis crispa)
- Chesnut Bolete (Gyroporus castaneus)
- Gerard’s Lactarius (Lactarius gerardii)
- King Bolete (Bolteus edulis – Eastcoast North American variation)
- Peach Chanterelles (Cantharellus persicinus)
- Quilted Green Russula (Russula parvovirescens)
- Tawny Milk-cap (Lactarius volemus)
We are a non-profit organization and the annual foray is our one opportunity to raise funds for the next year’s activities, so we hope you’ll take a moment to click on the Paypal button below to join our club or make a donation to help fund next year’s foray. Those who have attended our forays over the years know that our goal isn’t to stockpile money in a bank account. The more money we have, the more snacks, drinks and amenities we provide to our attendees, volunteers and faculty. Your membership dues, foray fees and donations are gifts that keep on giving.
Suggestions: Our goal is to make the foray better each year. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know if you have any thoughts on how we can improve your foray experience next year.