When I was about ten, I would sometimes spend the night at Granny's on a weekend night, just because. When I think of Granny's house, I think of going to bed in the "Pink Room" (vs. the blue room, that was for boys...) smelling like Dove soap, putting on one of her silk night gowns and using a silk pillow case. She always used a silk pillow case because she said it kept her hair looking nice. When we got up in the morning, she would make homemade biscuit donuts that we drizzled in glaze or roll in cinnamon and sugar.
I am not sure why this is the memory that I go back to when I think of her. Maybe because it is one of those times that it was just the two of us at her house. Most of my time there was spent with my brother, sister or our cousins - we always had fun at Granny's. I can hardly ever remember her getting mad, I don't remember many rules. There were always plenty of cookies in the cookie tins, push-pops in the freezer and boxes of macaroni and cheese in the pantry. We loved playing dress-up with her trunk that was filled with my Mom's and Aunt's old dresses. At Christmas time she would let us put up the tree a few weeks before it was necessary (which was very exiting) and decorate it however we liked, so long as her collection of strawberry ornaments were on display.
I think my appreciation for the changing seasons stemmed from Granny. She loved seeing the vibrant leaves of fall, or the first blooming magnolia trees in the spring. When she drove us around town she would always point out a favorite burning bush that was in full flame on Franklin Street or a cherry tree covered in blossoms... that she couldn't wait to get her hands on when it was full of fruit. She loved the changing of the seasons.
As most anyone can tell you, Granny loved no other season more than "Mushroom Season." For those of us in the know, "Mushroom Season" refers to Morel Mushroom Season. For a few prime weeks just as Spring begins to slightly warm (usually around April) and after a really good rain, mushroom hunters go in search of the prized Morel that grows wild. Granny was a Morel fanatic, to say the least. She had a pair of fabulous cowboy boots and a special stick that she deemed her hunting gear. Every spring you could be certain that she'd be out checking her secret spots. She had a keen trained eye for hunting them.
After a long battle, our Granny passed away last week. Though we are sad she's no longer going to be with us, we are all relieved that she is no longer spending her days in pain. In honor of Granny, I made this Cream of Morel Soup to share with my family this weekend as we celebrated her life.
Though it is exactly the opposite of "Mushroom Season" right now, but I was able to find dehydrated morels at the Brookside Market. They were a little pricey, but a little goes a long way in this creamy soup.
Cream of Morel Mushroom Soup
serves 4, 2 cup servings
1 cup of dehydrated morel mushrooms
4 tablespoons of butter
1/2 of a small white onions, minced diced
2 cups of baby portobello mushrooms, minced
1/4 cup of flour
6 cups of half and half
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
good olive oil
In a small bowl, rehydrate morel mushrooms by soaking them in warm water for 30 minutes.
In a sauce pan, cook onion in butter on medium for 4-5 minutes. Add minced portobellos and cook for 4-5 minutes until they begin to soften.
Drain morels from water and slice in half lengthwise. Add them to the portobello and onion, cooking on medium for 1-2 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until it is hot and bubbly. Add half-and-half. Stir until smooth. Bring to a simmer. Add fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve drizzled with really good olive oil.
Another thing Granny was known for... she would say, "You know me, I love anything lemon."
In her recipe box, I found about 10 different recipes for lemon desserts. And Dump Cake - one of her old favorites, for sure.