Living where I do is both a blessing and a curse. There aren’t very many restaurants, there’s no where to find sushi and if you’re looking for high quality chocolate or butter, forget about it. On the other hand, being surrounded by nature does have its benefits. I’m woken up in the morning by the sound of birds chirping instead of car horns honking. I have a large garden and instead of going to a store to buy leeks or fiddleheads, I can go pick my own in the wild. It’s meals like the one you see here that make me glad I live where I do: Asparagus picked fresh from the garden, morels from under the apple trees and wild leeks picked just down the road. It’s hard to make those three items any more tasty than they already are, but if I’ve taught you anything at all it should be that (homemade) bacon makes everything better! I started by frying up a few slices of bacon and then removing them from the pan. Don’t ever throw away bacon grease! That’s flavour country right there. I fried the morels and leeks in the bacon grease while quickly blanching the asparagus and before adding it to the frying pan too. A squeeze of lemon was all I needed to finish things off, (clearly, I added the bacon back in at the end as well). To make this a complete meal, I also bbq’d some pork tenderloin, sliced it and smeared it with apple butter.
It’s the morels that I like the best about this dish. Just the smell of them evokes a sense of nostalgia. Ever since I was a young pup, still wet behind the ears, springtime meant morel searching time with my family in all of our known morel finding spots, (top secret of course). If you’ve never had the pleasure of morel hunting, I should warn you, it’s a bit of a tricky business and there’s protocol to follow. First you’ll need a morel finding stick. This could pretty much be any stick you pick up off the ground, so long as when you do so, you also spot a morel. From that point on you’ll have to carry your morel stick around and announce things like “the stick’s pulling me in this direction, the morels must be over here!” It’s also always a contest to see who can find the first morel. When it’s found, the morel hunter doesn’t pick it immediately but instead proudly calls out to everyone else that they’re the winner. Then everyone will gather around and try to find the morel for themselves. You never wanted to be the last person to see the morel as that clearly demonstrates your inferior morel finding skills. Once everyone has seen it, the morel would have to be cut at the base, you never pull them out of the ground. In my family, Dad would take out his silver pocket knife and hand it over to the winner to ceremoniously cut the first morel. The beautiful little fungus would then be passed around for everyone to inhale its wonderfully earthy fragrance. It was believed that once you had the scent of the morel, you could find more of them. I remember years where we would find dozens of them everyday and would subsequently enjoy feasts of morels. We had so many morels that we would dry them in the sun on the deck and store them in a big glass jar to be used all year round. This year however, the weather has been less than ideal for morel growing and we haven’t found very many. During a period of morel shortage such as this one, every morel is precious and I make sure to savour each delicious bite.