By Stephen King
Holy Wah! The flowers are out, the birds are chirping, and we are swatting bugs. It is now officially Warm. But, that being said, we aren’t quite into the beach blankets and swim suits yet. But, it isn’t snowing. So, life is good.
Now, as far as outdoor stuff, once again, there are just tons of things going on. First, this past weekend was one of “those” weekends for outdoor people. That is, it was the Season Opener for Walleye and Pike.
Now, at the moment, I have only been getting a few reports. But, from what I have been hearing, most of the walleyes did not come out and play. Pretty sketchy. Lots of people out there chasing them around. But, not that many reports of people getting lots of them. A few. But, not that many. But, once again, I don’t have a lot of info. So, more of that next week.
But, the trout are still biting. And, about the same. Some people telling me the fishing is wonderful and they’re catching lots. Other people… Not so much.
However, I am pretty sure a lot of this has to do with some of the people. Short story. A few years ago, I was fishing Black River. At the “big hole”. When I got there, mom and dad and a couple of teenage kids were there. Right away, I knew these were also not “expert” fishers. Dad was tossing in a hook. With a dried-up old spawn bag, he had found on the bank. Mom and the kids were watching.
I watched for a couple of minutes, being nice. Then, Dad, Mom, and the boy headed off downstream. The girl, decided she wanted to watch me. And, we had been chatting. So, she stayed.
As they left, (they only went about 50 yards downstream.) I put on an orange flat fish. Tossed it out right into the best part of the current. The thing was in the water like 30 seconds, and I had a nice 5 or 6-pound rainbow totally nail it. I landed it. Pretty easily.
My little friend… was totally amazed. Then, she put her hands on her hips, in said, in that totally teenage girl way, “I really think my Dad and mom just don’t know what they’re doing.”
I was nice. Did not want to make her image of Dad any worse. Because, I was sure he was a totally nice guy. Mom seemed very nice as well. As did both kids. But, just did not know how to fish. Enuff said.
So, sometimes, when you get mixed reports, it because the skill level of those reporting are pretty mixed.
Now, last week, I mentioned I was going to get into Pike this week. But, I am going to put that on hold for another week. Because a few other things have popped up.
Like, the morels and leeks are out in force. And, in a bit of a quirk, I ran into 5 times National Morel Picking Champion Anthony Williams. He stopped at my store. When he walked in, I had a bit of Deja vu. Like, I had seen him before. But, between my work as a Writer and having my store, I meet a lot of people. So, I didn’t think much about it.
Then, we got talking, and he mentioned he was the 5 time Champ. I was like, “Heh, I know you! I saw you a couple of years ago and wrote some stories about you for the local papers.”
Tony laughed and came right back, “Wow! I thought you looked familiar. I remember talking to you. At the Library in Engadine, with Melanie, the Librarian.”
Then, he was, “But, what are you doing in a junk store?”
I responded, “Selling junk. I own it.”
But, a few tips from Tony: The trees. Look for the right kind of trees. Old apple tree groves are the best. For the black morels, the early ones, look for aspen. For the white morels, the later ones, look for ash.
Then, in the early season, look on the south sides of ridges. Then, later, look on the north side. And, as you walk, go up and down the ridges. Rather than from side to side.
And there is a lot more to it than that. But, those are a couple basics.
Then, the leeks are also out. Those, I have described before. They have a broad leaf, like a tulip. And, a bulb on the bottom, like a green onion. And, when you pick one, you can really get that onion smell.
Now, you can eat them just like a green onion. Sprinkle a little salt on them and nibble. But, I haven’t shared a recipe in a while. And, I have a good one for this week. Let’s call it “Creamy Morel and Leek Soup.” (I just made that up.)
Anyhow, I am not going to give exact portions. Because most people like to vary them to taste. But, I will give you some guidelines.
So, here we go: First, take one medium-sized chicken breast (Half of the top part of the chicken.) Dice that into about 1-inch cubes. Fry that in a medium skillet using butter, instead of oil. Along with the chicken, add in about ½ cup of diced carrots. Add in spices. I use lemon pepper, garlic salt, and a bit of red pepper. Be careful with the red pepper. You don’t want that to totally take over the dish. Just add just a tad of heat to bring out the flavors a bit more.
Then, when the chicken is about done, toss in about a ½ cup of celery and about a ½ cup of leek bulbs. Cook until everything is done. Set aside.
Next, in another pan, I use a medium-sized saucepan, I throw in about a cup of morels and about a cup of leeks. Again, cook with butter. Now, you don’t want to overcook these. Just cook until they turn a bit brown. Like, caramelize the leeks. This releases the sugars and flavors.
As they get done, add in a couple of cups of water, and one chicken bouillon cube. Cook until the cube dissolves.
Then, add in the chicken and the rest. Also, at this time, I add in about half a can of water chestnuts. Because I like water chestnuts. But, I have also made this using slivered almonds. They work about the same. You decide which sounds better to you.
Then, add in some evaporated milk. The milk in a can. I use a whole can. About 16 ounces. Then, bring this back to a boil. And, just as it starts to boil, add in another stick of butter. Cook until the butter melts and blends in. And, it’s done. Now, when serving, if you want to get really cute, you can chop up a few of the leek leaves and garnish with those. Pretty tasty.
Now, once again, I am out of time. And, right about here, I usually say to get off that couch and get outdoors this week. But, after that soup recipe. It may be time to just kick it on the couch for a while and recover.