My dearest Gary once said that I am at my most relaxed when I am outdoors.
A month or two back I was on a mission, that mission to find somewhere where I could forage for pine mushrooms. This meant time out with a special friend, who, I must say, I’ve had a few adventures with. Maggie is loads of fun and loves a bit of adventure, so a date and time was set.
On the day, I met Maggie at hers, transferred my baskets to her truck and we headed off, chatting, laughing, catching up and looking for a suitable place to forage. Many plantations were off limits due to logging, but when we had almost given up, the last one on the list was logging free. She parked the truck, we gathered our tools (baskets and knives, and entered the edge of the plantation. As we collected our bounty of mushrooms and pine cones we both found ourselves becoming more and more relaxed in our surrounds, wandering off in different directions, and coming together again, this led us to chatting about forest bathing and the benefits afforded by such a simple pastime.
I was a little surprised to hear that Maggie had never foraged for mushrooms and wasn’t game to try the ones that I had collected. But that was Ok, I brought them all home and cooked, pickled and dehydrated them, Mushroom Bourguinon anyone?
Who needs meat! This dish is a fabulous way to showcase beautiful mushrooms, and is perfect made using pine mushrooms, slippery jacks, etc. when available.
- 400 ml mushroom stock (including the liqueur from rehydrating the porcini)
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 15 g 1/2oz dried porcini or shitake mushrooms
- 1 tbsp 20g butter
- 150 g 5oz shallots, peeled, and if large, halved
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 4 carrots thickly sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tsp potato flour
- 200 ml red wine
- 850 g mixed mushrooms
Heat the oven to 170C (fan).
Bring the stock to boil and add the porcini mushrooms.
Remove from the heat and let the ingredients infuse for 30 mins while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients for the dish.
Drain the porcini mushrooms, and reserve the liquid. Chop the mushrooms and set aside.
Strain the liquid to remove any grit left behind by the mushrooms. Add mushroom stock to make up to 400ml.
Place a large pan over low heat, add the oil, shallots and garlic, and cook until they start to colour and soften (approx. 10 minutes).
Add the carrots, tomato paste, and flour, stir to combine and cook for 1 minute.
Slowly add the wine and stock, mixing well.
Increase heat and continue stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens.
Add the fresh mushrooms along with the rehydrated porcini mushrooms and stir to combine, bring back to the boil, cover with a lid and transfer the pot to the preheated oven.
Cook for 1 hr.
Scatter with fresh parsley and serve with mashed potatoes and steamed green greens.
- I like to freeze the liqueur left from rehydrating mushrooms to use as mushroom stock.
- For vegan option, replace butter with olive oil.
One outing has led to many more, with more planned, in fact Gary and I are planning to head out again this week – to take time out and relax, as well as collect more pine cones.
Each time I visit the plantation, I remind myself to stop, to observe, to listen (oh the joy to hear the mournful cry of the black cockatoo), to feel, to breathe – to slow down. It’s amazing how much more you see, hear and smell, if you slow down and become in tune to your surrounds. I have very few photos, simply because I become totally distracted by the simplicity and beauty of my surrounds. The pine cones, old and new, and those fresh ones that had obviously been chewed and dislodged by cockatoos high up in the tree tops. The forest floor funghi, the safe and the those that must be avoided. The slivers of sunshine that throws a spotlight on snippets of beauty in the shade and shadows of the canopy above. The Japanese call this Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing) and is recognised for its restorative effects on a persons well-being through slowing down and connecting with nature, they are unkowingly relieving stress and getting exercise, who would have thought!
Really, it doesn’t matter what it’s called, I can recall the enjoyment of being outdoors from childhood, not knowingly for the therapeutic benefits, but just because it’s always given me so much in return – leaving me feeling calm, relaxed and free.
A few tips
- Find somewhere where you find it pleasant to walk – for me it can be a plantation, a park, a rainforest, natural bush, the beach, in the mountains, beautiful gardens. I think you get the idea…
- Turn off devices, this is time for you.
- Stop, take in your surrounds, observe, listen, feel, breathe – slow down .
- Walk slowly, this is not a race, don’t rush.
- Begin to take in the trees, stones, birds, animals, plants and flowers.
- If you wish, find somewhere to sit, a rock, a log, a seat, on the ground, relax and breathe.
- Listen to the sounds of the forest, the wind in the trees, the crunch of the stones underfoot, or the quietness of your steps on the thick carpet of pine needles underfoot, the sounds of the wildlife.
- As you leave, take a moment to consider how much different you feel from the time you began your walk with nature, and if you are like me, whisper a little thank you to Mother Nature for her beauty and kindness, providing nourishment for your mind, body and soul.
Until next time..
Nurture your soul and your body, and
- Mushroom Bourguinon