Tuesday, June 11, 2013

God is gross

Honeysuckle wool
This gives you an idea of how long her wool can get.

When Honeysuckle's principal owner, Anita, is gone, seeing to her health and well-being as a pet falls on me, though Denis is good to bring her dandelions in summer and kale in winter. As we all know, sometimes our pets purposely do things that are disgusting - I'm thinking about how our dog used to find things to eat on the boulevard during walks; things I don't even want to know what they were; things I could't stop him from gulping down however quickly I jerked back on his leash and yelled NOOOO. Or, and this is true of any animal we may be responsible for husbanding, like cows or goats, …. or it may not be anything they can't help, like musky glands or baby lambs stuck in birth canals. Or even the normal digging, biting power cords, chewing one's home to bits.

Anyway, I was thinking about things like this as I had Honeysuckle positioned upside down on my lap because her long wool sometimes needs to be trimmed away from certain parts of her anatomy - she had a buildup of matted and clotted fecal matter that needed to be carefully and meticulously cut away. She lay patiently on my lap as I snipped away and thought what a nasty mess this was. But as usual, I couldn't help thinking about the deeper meanings our encounters hold for us if we think about them for more than two seconds. How good I felt helping this innocent animal with something she couldn't do herself. Although it was stinky, it felt right and proper and grace-giving - like in that moment I was doing exactly what God told us to do when he blessed our Mother and Father in the garden and sent them out to take care of the earth.

Then as I was reading and reading and reading, because it is such a looooong book that requires eating in small bites, The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, I came across a letter on the very topic of how we can be repulsed by the natural consequences of being a natural beast, and thought how clever I might have been to be able to scold C.S. Lewis for his scruples.

"Physical disgust is a sensation which I have very often and of which I am always ashamed. If one lets it grow upon one it will in the end cut one out from all delighted participation in the life of nature. For God is gross and never heard of decency and cares nothing for refinement: nor do children, nor most women, nor any of the beasts nor mien either except in certain sophisticated classes. And yet it's hard to feel that the faculty of disgust is a sheer evil from beginning town. I don't know what to make of it." (#146, p. 371)
I couldn't agree more. 
Honeysuckle on lap
Do even part-time owners look like their pet? Here we are getting ready for a clipping.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Morchella Eschulenta (Morel Mushrooms)

It has been perfect morel mushroom weather. A cool, moist spring with a few warm days causes this strange woodland treasure to appear for those who have eyes to see and enough stamina to push through miles of thorny vines and masses of tangled brush and trees. Anita and I have tromped through promising woodlands for hours looking and haven't found a single one. The vendors who sell them at Farmers Market have a slightly scornful look for the pitiful folks who step up to pay $30.00 a pound for their springtime addiction. To us it is like junk. White Tiger Heroine from Maynmar. Truffles from France. Etc.
This week I thought maybe we could afford a small treat. You know. A tiny amount. I could buy exactly 9 medium mushrooms - about 1/2 pound. That would give us three each. That is what I planned to do until last Sunday when Joe, our friend from Heartbeet Farm, offered to take us out to a wooded area near their farm.
After two hours of searching and Denis getting lost, we were about to give up when Joe found a large patch poking out of the decay and leaf litter. Denis wrote a beautiful blog about our experience  http://www.blog4critique.blogspot.com/. You should go read it now.
It was almost enough to pick them and just fondle them without ever getting to eat. I couldn't bring myself to hope for more, but when Joe insisted we take them all, it felt like Christmas, like strawberries and cream, like unmerited grace.
I can't imagine preparing them any other way than the way my mother taught me. Anything else seems like an awful waste. Sinful. I'd rather have two intense morel-ly bites than a sliver here and there lost in a pasta dish or quiche.

Hard to see
Look how they blend in with surroundings and are very difficult to see.

Happy with a basket FULL of morels. This must be about four meals worth.

Soaking in salt water
First, cut the large ones in half lengthwise and soak in cold salt water about 5 minutes. This drives out little critters hiding in the crevasses. Drain and individually rinse each one under running cold water. Handle gently. Morels are hollow so shake the water out through the stem. Place on a clean dish towel and pat dry. Don't worry about a little dirt in the cracks. It won't hurt you. You need bacterial diversity, don't you?
Pat dry

Mix a simple tempura-like batter.
1/2 cup flour (Or substitute corn starch to be gluten-free. It takes a little more to get the right consistency.)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. garlic salt, pepper
Whisk together in shallow bowl. Should be the consistency of cheap paint. Not too thick. Dip mushrooms in and turn to coat.
Saute in medium hot skillet with plenty of butter for browning. They should sizzle when placed in pan. Press down on them a little to flatten. Turn when browned and crisp. Doesn't take long.  Drain on paper towels. Eat while hot.
Sizzling goodI was right. We've had them on three occasions and enough for one more round. Grace upon grace, we've never had this many morels! I'm all for experimenting with food. But not here. Not with these. 

Golden morels