NEWS FROM THE HILLS

‘Tis spring; come out to ramble,
The hilly brakes around,
For under thorn and bramble
About the hollow ground
The primroses are found.
And there’s the windflower chilly
With all the winds at play,
And there’s the Lenten lily
That has not long to stay
And dies on Easter day.
And since till girls go maying
You find the primrose still,
And find the windflower playing
With every wind at will,
But not the daffodil.
Bring baskets now and sally
Upon the spring’s array,
And bear from hill and valley
The daffodil away
That dies on Easter day.

 

By A. E. Housman

 

The gold of the daffodils is now fading, tarnished by wind and rain. Their duty is finished for another season, when they again will gladden our hearts as true harbingers of spring.

April is shaking out her rain-drenched hair and purple pods of lilac bloom hang drooping in the misty rain. The mingled colors of dogwood and redbud are a balm to the senses as the hills come into their own once again.

This has been a wonderful morel mushroom season, with bags of them being harvested in the woods and along the creek. The morel is probably the best known mushroom that is eaten in our area. It has many common names, such as “Molly Moochers” “merkles”, and “muggles.”

Most folks like them rolled in flour, salt and pepper, and fried in hot bacon grease or butter. They can be batter-fried by combining an egg with two tablespoons of milk. Dip split morel in this, then roll in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry in oil or butter until golden brown. My favorite way is to sauté them in oil or butter (or bacon grease) with a touch of salt and pepper. They are good, any way you fix them.

Morels need to be soaked in salt water to remove any bugs that may be lurking in hidden crevices. Take my word for it—I know. Also—DON’T EAT RAW WILD MUSHROOMS!

I hate to confess this, after praising wild mushrooms to the high heavens, but it may be a lesson for someone else. (I think I’ve learned my lesson also.)

My daughter Patty had a large bowl of morels that had been split and soaked overnight in salt water. She set them on the bar prior to cooking them, and I came along and ate a couple of them. Now I have eaten raw morels before with no ill effects. However, this time there must have been a miniscule bug deep in the crevice of the mushroom. I immediately got nauseated, then wobbly on my feet.

I hurried to the bathroom where I vomited several times. I got sicker and sicker, then broke out in a cold sweat. When my family called an ambulance, I was hardly aware of their movements. To make a long story short, I was kept overnight in the hospital and returned home the next day, sadder but wiser. Don’t be afraid of the morel mushroom—just be sure to cook it first.

Poke greens are up and ready to pick. They are my favorite among all the wild greens. If you harvest them while they are young and tender, they are reminiscent of asparagus. Also, keeping them cut below ground level assures you of tender poke every few days.

We had a call from one of our readers wondering about the term “poke salat greens.” She wondered if they could be used in a salad. Actually, no. Pokeweed is the proper name for this wild green. ‘Salat” is a German word meaning salad. This word probably came to the Ozarks with early German settlers.

Old timers ate one pokeberry each year as a preventative or to treat arthritis. We were always told that poke berries were poisonous, and some sources say the whole plant is poison. I know that young, tender poke stalks make mighty fine eating. We had a mess for supper, along with an iron skillet of corn bread. It was scrumptious.

I found a recipe for “Poke Cakes” listed under Mountain Soul Food that sounds good. Parboil pokeweed in large amount of water, drain. Make a batter of coarse meal and egg—add just enough water to make a thick batter. It should not be runny. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder or favorite flavorings. Dip parboiled poke in batter, and fry in hot oil or bacon drippings. Don’t fry too fast.

We have had some more remedies for treating boils come in. Jackie Winberg recommends zinc and vitamin A. She takes zinc tablets and a large dose of cod liver oil, or a vitamin A capsule. She admonishes, “Don’t touch it—it heals from the inside.”

Vonnie Clay offers the simple remedy of eating Jello. When she and her sisters were growing up in the 50s, they were plagued with numerous boils. A friend of her mother’s advised her to fix Jello for the girls. Vonnie says it takes a little while to see results, but she assures us it will work.

Jimmy Ferrell of Chapmanville sends us a testimonial concerning the deodorant method of curing plantar warts. He used Mennen’s stick deodorant on a plantar wart on the bottom of his big toe. He wrapped it in duct tape, changed the dressings, and on the fourth day he pulled the wart out—leaving just a little hole.

April is leaving us; soon May will arrive with flowers and song.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a little prayer that is fitting for this season.

 

WE THANK THEE

 

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass so fresh and sweet;
For song of bird and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear and see;
Father in Heaven, we thank Thee!

The Waynedale News Staff
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