One bonus that came with our lake property and cabin near Hood Canal: mushrooms! I didn't even know that chanterelles existed here, until our neighbor told me about them, then took me out and taught me how to find them. I would cut a few each year and cook them, or share them with my sister. Just think of all those mushrooms gone to waste... or to my neighbors. No worries. There are plenty to go around, and everyone always shares.

This year the mushrooms came early, and in abundance. So for the first time, I actually went mushroom hunting outside of our own property. I did a bit of research first, to try and identify some good places to look. I learned that chanterelles love moss (knew that) and salal (didn't know about this relationship). Both are everywhere in the woods around Hood Canal. So are trees and hard-to-climb-over huckleberry bushes, downed trees and branches, gullies and hills, and shrubby ponds with standing water. Lots of things to make it hard to walk through the woods.

But I set out anyway with my friend Linda, armed with some tips from my neighbor. We did pretty well, considering all of the aforementioned pitfalls of a walk through the woods. But in the end, we found the most mushrooms around the well house on our property. This small shingled shed is in a small clearing that has grown over with moss and edged by salal, and underneath moss and shrubbery we found lots of the elusive chanterelles.

We each brought home a bag full. I set mine out on paper towels in the sun to dry slightly, then brushed them clean of dirt (a soft pastry brush works great), sliced them into thick slices, and sautéed them. Then I set them on paper towels to cool, and packaged them in ziplok bags small batches to freeze. They'll be perfect in recipes this winter, when mushroom hunting is just a memory.

This is about 3 pounds of chanterelles. and the largest ones are about 4 inches across. Gorgeous, aren't they? I found a couple that were about 7 inches across, the largest I've ever seen. They'd been rained on and were past their prime, but I brought them home and used them to seed a mossy area near the cabin.

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