Forest Exploration and More Mushrooms!

Snail Shells

“Teaching Children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.”
-Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth


A friend of ours dropped off some Morels for us the other day.  What a great guy as I wouldn’t share any of mine if I found them!

IMG_0333 IMG_0334

Today, we decided to go look for some of our own, but mainly it was just to get out into the woods.  My daughter is spending too much time in the house watching, My Little Ponies, on the IPad and not connecting with nature which surrounds us.  When I was younger I was always outside.  My mom would kick us kids out and lock the doors and we couldn’t come back in until she would call us in for lunch.  Of course there weren’t as many other distractions then.  We didn’t have satellite TV yet, no computers, video games, etc… so it was more fun outside anyway, I suppose.  I just remember our imaginations taking off.  We had a big hill behind our house which we would hike up and play in a tree fort we built out of branches and the bushy base of another tree. We spent all summer up there exploring everything.  I may or may not have even started quite a forest fire once practicing my girl scout fire building and extinguishing…..

little falls


The best thing in the world when we were younger, was riding in the back of the truck in the mountains! Especially with our dogs!
in truck

I always heard where you find snails there are Morels close by.
shell hunting

We didn’t find much for mushrooms, but rounded up (and left) quite a collection of snails!




Headed home after a fun filled afternoon


Three Cheese Ravioli with Morel Mushroom Sauce

morelSpring in Montana brings out Morels or as I call them, fungi gold, in the forests around our area.  They are a finicky mushroom that only usually grow in May and June.  They also vary year to year in the location where they grow, and they may or may not be in the same area that we found them the year before.  I grew up looking forward to May and hiking through the forests behind our house looking for these pinecone shaped fungi.  Problem is there are a ton of little pinecones on the forest floor also and trick us constantly.  It is not easy to find these sneaks but when you do get sight of one, it is like we won the lottery!  You have to be careful because the usually grow in groups or patches, so if you see one, there are more likely more nearby!  We found a few the other day so tonight I cooked them up in a mushroom sauce we put over three cheese ravioli.  I usually just fry them in salted butter, but thought I would try it a little different and I do have to say I really liked this recipe.  I used a recipe I found on the internet as a base but changed it a lot so I’ll just explain how I did it.

1 large package 3 cheese ravioli
4 tablespoons – divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
As many halved & prepped Morel mushrooms as you want **
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium shallot, minced
fresh or dried rosemary to taste
2 Tbsp. Half/Half
1/3 – 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Directions:  IMG_1638
1. Heat water to boiling in a large pot and season with salt
2. While water is heating, melt 2 Tbsp. butter and olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.
3. Once sauté pan is hot, add rosemary and mushrooms. I used salted butter so I don’t add anymore salt.
4. While mushrooms are cooking, drop the ravioli into the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon.
5. Add the thinly sliced garlic and the minced shallot to the mushrooms. Cook 2-3 minutes or until garlic and shallots are cooked through.

Mushroom Mixture

Mushroom Mixture

6. Boil ravioli according to directions on the package and drain. Reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water.
7. Add the 1/3 cup pasta water, the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, and the 2 Tbsp. half/half to the mushroom sauté. Boil for about 2 minutes and then add ravioli.

8. Add Parmigiano and toss all together until pasta is covered. Serve Immediately!