There is nothing quite like fall in New England. It’s so cliche to say it, but I can’t help myself. October is my favorite time of year and I look forward to it the way most people look forward to summer. Autumn makes me feel refreshed and brings about a whole new slew of ideas and thoughts that I tend to carry with me throughout the next 12 months; till October rolls around again. Perhaps it has to do with October being my birth month, or maybe it’s just my time of year. Either way, it makes me feel good and I relish the crisp days and the smell of the earth as it settles in for a long sleep.
This trip back east has admittedly not been the easiest. Money has been tight, transportation sparse and my health not so good. After a few weeks with a wretched cough, I decided to take the time and visit a doctor. While in the room, I was informed that I have bronchitis and was immediately put on a nebulizer and a hefty round of antibiotics. It’s never easy being sick, especially while traveling, but this diagnosis was a wake up call. It forced me to realize that it’s time to focus on my health and not just the book or my business. It had been nearly ten months since I allowed myself the time to see a practitioner and I was frustrated that I let it get to this point.
So I decided to let go. I cancelled my remaining book events and decided to settle into my existence as a person and not just an author or a business owner. I removed my shop from the site (don’t worry, it will be back), spent time with friends and booked a train ticket back to Montana. I’m fully taking this sweet month of October to better myself and in turn, be better for the people I love. The pressure I have put on myself in the last 8 months has turned unhealthy and I’m excited to make a change.
A week or so ago, my friend Laura texted and asked if I’d like to go on a walk with her. One of my favorite places in southern Maine is a riverside trail called the Bridal Path and without speaking, I knew that Laura would want to go there too. So off we ventured, armed with coffee and a years worth of catching up to do. On one particular side path, we discovered quite a few clusters of secret mushrooms and sacred ghost pipe, which we left behind. But the discovery of the Lion’s Mane caused Laura to squeal and run to the periphery of the path.
Lion’s mane is a funny, Seussical looking mushroom with a slew of health benefits. It’s quite delicious too which is extremely helpful. Lion’s mane is said to benefit brain function, enhance the immune system and alleviate depression. It’s a stark white little creature with a furry looking skin (those hairs are called the spines) and can be found growing on different varieties of dead or dying hardwood trees.
We walked around with the mushroom for a few more minutes before deciding to head back to Laura’s seaside home to cook it up for lunch along with some Maine chaga tea. While Laura did most of the cooking, the following method of cooking is similar to what I observed her do and what I would most likely do myself.
How to cook a lion’s mane mushroom:
1 lion mane mushroom head
1-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to season
Submerge the full mushroom into clean, room temp water and let soak for 3-5 minutes to clean off any excess debris. Once mushroom is clean, gently start removing the spines from the base of the mushroom in small or medium size chunks (compare size to the top half of your thumb) with a knife or your fingers. Set on a plate and pat dry with a towel to remove water.
Heat a small pan over medium low heat and melt 1 tbs of butter and add the shrooms. With a mixing spoon, gently coat the mushrooms in the hot butter (add more if needed) and continue to cook on medium/low heat until golden brown.
Place cooked mushrooms on serving tray or plate and serve right away. These would also taste great in a salad or a creamy pasta dish.
If desired: tincture remaining raw mushroom stem in alcohol or apple cider vinegar. Or place to rest outside to return to the earth.
Gather an assortment of meats, cheeses, crackers/bread, spreads, nuts and jellies. Arrange them on a large serving tray or cutting board. Get creative with how to arrange your spread and make sure to have a decent variety of goodies.
Here’s a list of what Laura and I added to this particular tray so you can have an idea of what to do:
Raw goats cheese
Homemade sun dried tomatoes from Laura’s garden
Cabbage tempura from the Six Seasons cookbook
Bacon, broken up into small pieces for bite size consumption
Fresh plums, sliced
Lion’s mane mushroom (but you already knew that)
Charcuterie boards are quite possibly my favorite ways to consume my favorite foods. Add whatever makes you happy and feel good.