At lunch I took a quick hike in the woods. I didn’t find any morels, but I did find some mushrooms. They weren’t there last week! That bit of rain we got spurred them to pop, it seems.

Pheasant back mushrooms, also known as Dryad’s Saddle, are one of the most common mushrooms I stumble upon here in West Michigan. In my limited experience, they don’t taste like much but they sure are beautiful!

I sliced a few off a few trees, knowing that the smaller ones will be more tender. An interesting thing about these mushrooms is that they smell like cucumber and watermelon. Once you cook them, they seem to lose most of that flavor. It’s bizarre, but also a helpful way to identify them.

Near the Pheasant backs I found some mint! I haven’t found much mint deep in the woods, so this was an exciting find.

There were two varieties: one with fuzzy stems, and another with smooth stems and smaller purplish leaves. I found the latter in a field last year, and tastes very much like Mexican oregano after its dried. Looking forward to experimenting!

The forest floor is covered in little green things, so it took some concentration to pick out more of the mint. After a few minutes of wandering and picking, I had a nice handful.

For dinner I thought I’d make a little “flatbread” or open-faced quesadilla, using a flour tortilla as the bread. I sautéed the Pheasant backs with garlic, ramps, and spices, then placed on the mozzarella and tomato sauce already on the tortilla. I baked for a few minutes until the cheese melted.

It looked nice, and the flavors were OK (especially the sautéed ramps!) but the mushrooms were devoid of flavor.. Just floppy rubbery pieces of stuff. Maybe I cooked them too long, or should only take the very smallest ones I find. Or maybe I should marinate them.

At any rate, my experiment wasn’t a failure; I learned something that didn’t work. If I do that enough and I’m sure I’ll find what does.


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