Morel Mushrooms, Hoosier Style. As If There Were Any Other Way.

Mamacita says:  It’s that time again; the morel mushrooms are back.  That’s right; the snow is finally gone and the semester is almost over and the MOREL MUSHROOMS ARE BACK.

Did I mention that the morel mushrooms are back?

It’s that time again.  The morel mushrooms are here.

THIS is a morel mushroom.  Accept no substitutes.

THIS is a morel mushroom. Accept no substitutes.

My kids still speak wistfully of the day they visited their step-great-grandmother Margaret Stobie Crowder (she whom John Dillinger once tried to carjack. . . .) and she shared with them her unbelievable and, naturally, SECRET, morel mushroom patch.

Remember now, Hoosiers do not share this kind of secret with ANYBODY. People who will show a stranger their genital surgery scars will not share a morel mushroom location with their own mothers. Margaret took the kids across her fields and invited them to help themselves to the mushrooms.

They were everywhere. It was like a planted crop. You couldn’t take a step without stepping on morel mushrooms. They were all afraid to move, because around these parts, folks, you just don’t STEP on morel mushrooms if you can help it at all. They’re too valuable!!

How valuable are they? Well, if you can bear to part with yours, you can easily sell them for fifty bucks a pound. But it’s rare to find anyone who would part with them.

They came home fully loaded.

We once went to dinner at a friend’s home, and when we got there, she was preparing morel mushrooms as a last-minute addition to the meal. It seems that the night before, her husband had gone to their secret mushroom patch and had dumped two huge buckets of morels into their kitchen sink. All the guests were flabbergasted; usually, people don’t share their found mushrooms with others, either. To this day, none of us can remember what the main dish was at that meal. All anybody can remember is the mushrooms.

Except for me. Naturally, except for me. I am a freak, for I do not care all that much for morel mushrooms. I enjoy preparing them, but as for eating them. . . . well, let’s just say that everybody wants to sit by me, because I don’t eat mine and am happy to share.

And speaking of preparing them. . . . don’t let anybody tell you to use crushed saltines!!!

The proper Hoosier method is to let the mushrooms soak in salt water overnight*, and the next day, to mix together a little flour and a little cornmeal and a dash of salt, coat each mushroom, and fry in butter for just a few minutes. Remember to turn them.  Don’t let the butter burn.  Don’t overcook.  A few minutes is all they need.

Pan-fried morel mushrooms, Hoosier-style

Pan-fried morel mushrooms, Hoosier-style

Let them cool just enough to tolerate, and turn your crowd loose on them. There will never be enough.

Back in the middle school, my students used to bring breadsacks full of morel mushrooms and sell them to the teachers for twenty dollars apiece. The teachers got morel mushrooms for bargain rates, and the students got cash. It worked out pretty well for both parties concerned. I never bought any from a student; it wasn’t that I didn’t trust them, it was just that, well, I’d seen these same kids try to tell the difference between a noun and a verb all year, and pick wrong every time. There was something about believing that they could tell the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool and pick correctly every time, that just didn’t hit me quite right. I’m sure they knew; outdoor kids know these things. It was just a feeling I had.

This practice would probably be frowned upon today.  It’s too much like a drug deal, except that morel mushrooms were more valuable.

morel mushrooms

As for the finding of them, I am probably the only Hoosier in the history of the state who not only doesn’t like to eat morel mushrooms, but also can’t find them even if they’re right there by the toe of my shoe. I can’t SEE them. I also tend to step on them, which makes me the kid who is picked last for anybody’s mushroom team. Usually, I just stay home and get ready to cook them when they’re brought home, whether I end up with a bowlful or a handful.

But if you live around these parts, around this time of year, around now, anywhere you might go, you won’t be able to escape the morel mushroom stories. In southern Indiana, we’d rather hear about the morel that got away, than about your boring old six-feet-long fish that got away.

And since I don’t care for them myself, that would be the “Queen’s We” that I’m using here.

I love to say that. It sounds so borderline.

P.S.  Morel mushrooms are not the same thing as the big round white puffball mushrooms that grow in formations we here call “fairy rings.”  And be careful when you cook up a puffball; there are all kinds of puffballs and they all look alike.  The ones that grow in fairy rings are usually safe, though.  Usually.  Always check before you bite.

This is a fairy ring.  Go ahead and eat it.

This is a fairy ring. Go ahead and eat it.

If you slice a white puffball mushroom in half and it’s solid white inside, it’s probably safe to eat it.  If you slice a white puffball mushroom in half and there is anything other than solid flawless white inside, dispose of it before it kills you.

In fact, when it comes to mushrooms, if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, it’s safer not to do it.  Let someone else bring mushrooms to you.  Some of them are deadlier than cobras.

And some are the tastiest thing you’ll ever encounter in your life.

Choose wisely.

P.S.  Always leave one puffball in the fairy ring and let it dry.  When it’s completely dry, kick it and let the spores fly.  That’s how you get the fairy ring to come back the next year.  Require your children to take turns being the kicker.  Keep track.  This is an honor.

It’s, like, science or something.

Easter 2015

Mamacita says: Happy Easter, everyone.

What? Oh, oops. . . . .

Here. This is more like it. I do love those vintage Easter postcards. I hated growing up and finding out that those baby kittens were probably going to eat those baby chicks. I would also hate to have to tell you all how old I was before I realized that the bunnies weren’t really responsible for all those eggs.

But ultimately, this is Easter to me.

And isn’t it wonderful that so many of us, with so many different beliefs, can hang out here in the Blogosphere and get along great and love each other without having to constantly proselytize and try to sway each other to our own beliefs?

Oh, sure, those people are online too, but I don’t pay much attention to them.

Lately, there’s been a lot of meanness in Indiana, but I refuse to believe that the majority of Hoosiers are represented by Mike Pence and his brand of Republicans.  The backlash against Pence and his minions and their horrific Religious Freedom bill has proven that most Hoosiers definitely are NOT with Pence.  It’s a good feeling, because if I really thought the majority of Hoosiers thought that bill was a good idea, I’d have to move away.  Which, most  many days, doesn’t seem all that bad to me. . . .

It’s the people whose beliefs are quietly lived every day, the people who show me by example what their values are, who get my attention.

And who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? If you don’t believe me, just look around for a minute or two. Think of your family.

And if you’re alone, look in the mirror.

See?

Happy Easter, dear internet people. Eat chocolate. Smile. Have some eggs. Rejoice over something.

It’s a good day for rejoicing. . . .

Quotation Saturday: Easter

quotation saturday, mamacita's blog, jane goodwin Mamacita says: It’s Easter weekend, and Quotation Saturday begs your leave to take full advantage of said fact. Nah, I’m kidding, Quotation Saturday does what it wants; sometimes it makes itself known when it’s not even Saturday.

Easter is a wonderful, special time of year. For some, it marks the end of harsh winter and the beginning of beautiful spring; for others, it’s the holiest of holy days, and for still others, it’s a children’s holiday full of bunnies, chickies, candy, and colored eggs.

Quotation Saturday wishes to please you all.

1. We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine. — Dwight L. Moody

2. Easter is very important to me, it’s a second chance. — Reba McEntirehe is not here, he is risen

3. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes – undisturbed in form and position. — Josh McDowell

4. I have always wanted a bunny and I’ll always have a rabbit the rest of my life. — Amy Sedaris

5. I’ve got great people who handle my schedule, and everything does revolve around the children. If there’s a parents’ night or an Easter bonnet parade or a Nativity play, whatever it might be, then I plan everything around that. — Victoria Beckham

6. I read the Scriptures at the American Cathedral on Christmas and Easter; that’s it. It’s a task I love. — Olivia De Havilland

7. Easter is reflecting upon suffering for one thing, but it also reflects upon Jesus and his non compliance in the face of great authority where he holds to his truth – so there’s two stories there. — Michael Leunig

8. Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. — John Paul II

9. Christmas and Easter can be subjects for poetry, but Good Friday, like Auschwitz, cannot. chicks, cat, Easter, devour, Scheiss WeeklyThe reality is so horrible it is not surprising that people should have found it a stumbling block to faith. — W.H. Auden

10. If anyone or anything tries to curse or kill the Goodness at the Center of all things, it will just keep coming back to life. Forever Easter. — David Housholder

11. Easter is never deserved. — Jan Karon

12. Love paid a price so hope could become a reality. — Susan GaddisPeeps, pink, Easter, Scheiss Weekly

13. Two thousand years ago Jesus is crucified, three days later he walks out of a cave and they celebrate with chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps and beautifully decorated eggs. I guess these were things Jesus loved as a child. — Billy Crystal

14. So with Easter. It was fun, as a child, to bound down the stairs to find seasonal sweet-treats under each plate, but again, with the passing of time, and the shadow of death over our broken family circle, I’ve seen Easter as highest necessity. If chocolate bunny, Easter, Scheiss Weeklyhope is to flourish, it had better be true. –Gerhard Frost

15. The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice. — Henry Knox Sherrill

16. Easter tells us that life is to be interpreted not simply in terms of things but in terms of ideals. — Charles M Crowe

17. The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances. — Robert Flatt

18. Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, “Christ is risen,” but “I shall rise.” — Phillips Brooks

19. You’ll wake up on Easter morning, And you’ll know that he was there, When you find those Easter lamb, Scheiss Weeklychoc’late bunnies, That he’s hiding ev’rywhere. — Gene Autry

20. The resurrection asserts a truth which is by no means always written legibly for all men on the face of nature. It tells us that the spiritual is higher than the material; that in this universe spirit counts for more than matter. — H.P. Liddon

21. The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks. — Douglas Adams

22. It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. — Rainer Maria Rilke

23. If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring. — Victor Hugo

24. It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you spring flowers, Easter, Scheiss Weeklydon’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! — Mark Twain

25. Strange as it may seem, the association of eggs and bunnies at Easter time are actually connected and, to discover more, we must once again turn our attention to the Saxon fertility Goddess, Eostre. — Carole Carlton

26.  There would be no Christmas if there were no Easter.  — Gordon B. Hinckley

27. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes – undisturbed in form and position. — Josh McDowell

28.  Unfortunately there is nothing more inane than an Easter carol. It is a religious perversion of the activity of Spring in our blood.  — Wallace Stevens

29.  There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who love chocolate, and communists. — Leslie Moak Murray

30. The stone was rolled away from the door, not to permit Christ to come out, but to enable the disciples to go in. — Peter Marshall

Happy Easter, bunnies, chicks, eggs, Scheiss Weekly

The Fault, Dear Brutus, Is Not In Our Stars, but in Ourselves. . . by Caesar

Mamacita quotes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: Act 1, scene 2, 15–19

Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Soothsayer: Beware the Ides of March.

Caesar: What man is that?

Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the Ides of March.

And what, pray tell, are the Ides of March, that Caesar needed to be warned against them? Should we all beware the Ides of March? What are Ides?

There is no reason for any of us to beware the Ides of March. Or the Ides of September. Or the Ides of February. Etc. Heck, my beautiful daughter was born on the Ides of June.

The Ides of any month are simply the days between the 13th and 15th of any month. These days, we generally appoint the 15th to be the Ides.  The soothsayer (truthspeaker) was merely warning Caesar that something bad was going to happen on March 15. Caesar had already had other warnings – one from his wife, who had had a terrifying nightmare about death in the Senate!

“Alas, my lord, your wisdom is consumed in confidence.  Do not go forth today; call it MY fear that keeps you in the house, and not your own.  We’ll send Mark Antony to the senate-house, and he shall say you are not well today. . . .”

Caesar was very superstitous and took the warning seriously; however, this didn’t prevent him from leaving the house on March 15 anyway and walking out into the public forum.

. . . . where his best friends were waiting for him with daggers, whereupon they jumped him and stabbed him to death. For his own good, and for the good of Rome, they believed.  Much as Judas betrayed Jesus for the good of the nation, because Judas believed Jesus’ claims were flying too high for his own good.

HIstory is full of trusted friends who kill for the good of the nation.

Caesar was just too ambitious, they thought. So, rather than risk his rise to power and popularity, they offed their best friend.

Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius – the three musketeers, the Bobbsey triplets, the inseparable pals. Caesar trusted them; he loved them; they were his friends.The betrayal was as shocking and unexpected as if Hermione had turned on Harry and Ron and stabbed them to death.

"I get it.  You choose him!"

“I get it. You choose him!”

Which is why, when Caesar saw who was attacking him, he cried out, in disbelief, “Et tu, Brute?” Which means, simply, “Even you, Brutus?”

Remember how horrified and hurt and disoriented Harry and Hermione were when Ron accused them of being in love with each other, and abandoned them?  That.  There are many ways to stab someone in the back, and sometimes figuratively hurts more than literally.

But Brutus and Cassius, and the others, had realized that their pal Caesar was a little too cocky for Rome’s own good, and when even one’s best friend brags in public that he was as elite and cool as a god, one must do something to protect the nation. Those of us who are heavily into mythology know what always happens to any mortal who flies too high (another mythological reference!) and thinks too much of himself/herself.  It never ends well for the braggart.  Ever.  It’s called “hubris” and it’s the kiss of death.

“Beware the Ides of March.” And now you know what that means, and why Caesar was warned to be careful of that day.

It was, like, you know, cuz the soothsayer somehow knew that Caesar’s BFF, his dearest and most beloved friends, had had enough of his bragging about his coolness and were going to take him down. And they did.

But even when I was a kid and first read that scene, something inside of me SAW the expression on the man’s face when he realized that his best friend in all the world had stabbed him in the back. It was a heartbreaker.

And now you have a perfect example of another expression. Backstabber. Stabbed in the back.

Shakespeare is so awesome; I loved the language even as an elementary student. It’s exactly the same language that you’ll find in the King James Version of the Bible, which I also love.

Perhaps one of you can also answer a question that has puzzled Shakespeare fans for years: Why in the world did the man bequeath his second-best bed to his wife?

I tend to agree with Jane of Lantern Hill, who was of the opinion that “Perhaps she liked it best.”

P.S. Don’t be afraid of the language. Relax, and try to see the poetry and the amazing graphics in Shakespeare’s witty turn of phrase. It’ll knock your socks off, if you let it.

P.P.S.  Just in case you don’t think you know anything at all about Shakespeare or Julius Caesar or unexpected, untimely death, might I remind you of this little gem you may have wept over recently:

fault in our stars, shakespeare, caesar

New School Policy: No Child Looks Like A Behind

Mamacita says:  Are you paying attention to your child’s school?  Are you looking closely at the contents of your child’s backpack every night?  Are you listening when your child tries to tell you what he did or not not learn/do at school?  Everyone who has children or knows children or has ever heard of children, or who lives in this country or any other country, should be super savvy about what’s going on behind those locked doors.  It’s important.  Our children are in there.  We, whether we have our own children or not, simply must not let our country’s educational policies go without parental checks and balances.  Our nation’s schools, and other nations’ schools, are full of students who will grow up and eventually be in charge and we need to know what’s going on in case something needs to be changed, while yet there is time to change it. If we wait too long, those students will be changing our Depends, and we’d best make sure they’re being taught how to care for themselves and for each other and for total strangers, and to advance themselves academically and socially and physically and mentally and culturally, because that’s what our schools are supposed to be doing, in, among, and around the drill, drill, drill for standardized tests that have elbowed all the joy out of the building. . . . Whew. Run-on sentence, anyone? Fragment?

backpack contents, school

I dug through my archives and am re-posting my own ‘take’ on “No Child Left Behind.” I scribbled this eleven years ago while sitting through yet another interminable teacher’s meeting at the middle school, chaired by two women from the State Department who had obviously not been inside a middle school for many, many years, nor had they ever taken a class in public speaking. . . .

Here’s my personal take on “No Child Left Behind.”  I call it, “No Child Looks Like A Behind.”  Are you offended by my obvious disrespect?  I’m so sorry.  Please bite me.

“Responding to demands from organized groups of concerned and dissatisfied parents, the State has hired an official Photographer. This official Photographer’s goal is to ensure parents that all children will be attractive and well-groomed when exhibited publicly in the yearbook and at the mall.

‘No Child Looks Like A Behind,’ the agency and motto set up by the State, will be implemented this year, and by spring 2004, 93% of all students enrolled in Indiana schools will be evaluated. Any child found to be still below established standards, ie ‘ugly, ‘funny-looking,’ or merely ‘homely,’ will be referred to the district’s Reconstruction Committee, which will identify specific problems, and recommend procedures and practices which can sculpt the child according to his/her individual needs.

no child looks like a behind, school picture

Next year, the State will begin to implement the somewhat controversial “No Child Acts Like A Behind” program. Details will follow shortly.”

While I was in the archives, I came across my Survivor show suggestion: it’s an edited-for-the-middle-school version of something that’s been making the rounds of the spamernet for many years. I just raised it a few grade levels. Again, one has to do something to stay awake and appear attentive when those State Department people come down with their big ideas and plans for a school they know nothing about. . . .

Have you heard about the next planned Survivor show? Two businessmen, two businesswomen, and two elected government officials will be dropped into a public middle school classroom for 6 weeks.  These people will be referred to, for future reference, as “the novices.”

Each novice will be provided with a copy of their school district’s curriculum, and 7 daily classes of 36 students each, with some fluctuation as students move in and out.

Each individual class will have 6 learning-disabled children, five with A.D.D., two gifted children, two who speak limited English, and one who speaks no English at all.
Three in each class will be labeled as severe behavior problems. Two are pregnant. Twenty-one have divorced parents; of these, eleven are in the middle of custody battles. Five are on juvenile probation. Three are living in foster homes. Despite what an IEP might state, there is simply no budget for aides.

dysfunctional classroom, school

Each novice must complete lesson plans at least a week in advance, with annotations for curriculum objectives and modifications, and organize, create, or purchase materials accordingly.  There is no budget for these purchases, so be sure to bring your checkbook.

Each novice will be required to teach, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct and record homework, grade and record exams, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, document benchmarks, communicate with parents, notify certain parents daily of their child’s progress, and arrange parent conferences at the convenience of the parent.

parent conference, school

They must also supervise recess, monitor the hallways and lunchroom, sell and take tickets at athletic functions, sponsor extra-curricular activities, and chaperone dances. These activities are of course performed without payment; and the novices are responsible for anything that goes wrong, including student misconduct at these functions. The novices must also be prepared to answer parents’ questions about their child’s school work, at these functions. .

In addition, they will complete a set number of drills for fire, tornadoes, earthquakes, intruders, and shooting attacks.

They must attend workshops (100 hours), faculty meetings, union meetings, textbook adoption meetings, IEP conferences, evaluation meetings, curriculum development meetings, and any other meeting called by a supervisor or parent. Any plans or appointments previously scheduled must be cancelled in the event of a called meeting, including doctor and dentist appointments for the novice or for his/her spouse/children.

Novices are required to counsel and advise parents and students over the telephone, after school hours, at their homes. Therefore they must memorize each student’s grade average and daily attitude and any problems, in preparation for those calls, as official gradebooks are not permitted to be removed from the building. An unlisted number will not help you; the parents will obtain it and they will use it.

teacher phone, school

 

Novices must provide special, free tutoring for those students who are behind, and strive to get their non-English speaking children proficient enough to take the ISTEP test. Remember, the students’ scores reflect the teachers’ skill, and the novice will be reprimanded accordingly.

If the novice is sick, has a sick family member, or is just having a bad day, they must not let it show. God forbid if you get pregnant.

pregnant school teacher

 

Each day, they must incorporate reading, writing, math, science, health, and social studies into the program. They must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment at all times. Remember, any boredom on the part of any child during the course of your class, is the novice’s fault and may be used as an excuse for failure by the child’s parents.

Any failure on the part of a student, is the novice’s fault.

The novices will only have access to the golf course on Sundays, but on their new salary they will not be able to afford it anyway. There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch. They won’t be leaving the building for lunch anyway, since lunch will be limited to 24 minutes daily, on the days they don’t have lunch duty. On those duty days, lunch will be eaten while supervising the lunchroom. Lunch is at ten thirty, so by two p.m. the children will be hungry again. The novices will be hungry also, but hunger isn’t measurable by any kind of state statistics so the standards must be taught regardless of the growling stomachs. It would be easy to schedule the students’ lunch at noon but that would mean paying the cooks for an extra hour.

hungry school teacher

 

Novices will get a thirty minute prep period on many days, but don’t count on getting any papers graded or xeroxed then, since this is the time many parent or principal conferences are scheduled. Substitutes are getting harder to find, so probably each novice will be dropped down into an absent teacher’s classroom during his/her prep period, unless a parent asks for the novice. Novices should plan to arrive at school before 7:30, since parents like to drop by for unannounced conferences before they go to work. Don’t count on getting home before 5:30, either, since after school is the time many more meetings are scheduled. Spur of the moment is a favorite time for parents to talk to their child’s teacher. Besides, after school is the time the novices will have to do their xeroxing, since the actual break is taken up with other people’s business on most days. This can be done, of course, only on those days that the copier is operable.

After the novices get home, they should not plan on watching much tv or spending a lot of quality time with spouse or children, since they will have from two to four hours of grading and preparation each night. Not to mention the phone calls from parents.

Nightly school teacher load of papers

 

On the days when they do not have recess duty, the novices will be permitted to use the staff restroom as long as another survival candidate is supervising their class. It doesn’t matter if the teacher is sick or not. The size of the bladder makes no difference. No bathroom trips except one possibly very short trip, on those non-duty days.. The novices must never get diarrhea. It just doesn’t fit into the schedule. Novices must also purchase kleenex, anti-bacterial hand wash, bandaids, sanitary napkins, safety pins, hair elastics, nail files, pencils, pens, and paper for the use of their students. They must also buy a thermometer, and know how to read it correctly. All of this is, of course, done with the novice’s own money.

school teacher has no time to pee

 

The novices must continually advance their education on their own time and pay for this advanced training themselves. This can be accomplished by moonlighting at a second job, which most real teachers actually do, or by marrying someone with money. The winner will be allowed to return to his or her job.

Now substitute the word “teacher” for each “novice” and you will have a very realistic picture of what a real teacher does.  

Pass this along to your friends who think teaching is easy, and also to the ones who know it is hard. They will both benefit.

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I do love a parody, as long as it’s intentional and not just some walking joke like Benny Hinn or Mike Pence.