All posts by peacocksbookswritingsandrecipes

My grandfather, Anastasios Kavadas, born March 3, 1893 in Vathi, Lefkado Greece, came to America for the first time at the age of 14 as a stowaway. After a short time, he returned to Greece. Later on he came back to America on the TSS Themistocles from the Port of Patras. The ship landed at Ellis Island February 24, 1912. He simplified his name to Thomas Robert, and eventually made his way to Dixon, Illinois. Grandpa operated Tom's Shoe Shop in Dixon before he became a restaurateur. He owned several restaurants, two of which were the Chuckwagon and Villa Cafe. His baked chicken was the best. People would come from Lasalle and Peru Illinois on a Friday night just to eat his fish fry. My family are all into fishing for fresh fish still today. I loved the Chuckwagon, which was directly across from the train depot. My mom and us kids lived above the restaurant where Grandpa Tom gave her a job as a cook.Today they would have been called, chefs.The restaurant was my playground. Even though I was only about nine, I loved serving the customers and eating special foods my grandpa prepared for me. In the back was a special butcher shop where they prepared all their own meats. Food hasn't tasted the same since he passed away. One of the favorite special drinks Grandpa made for the grandkids was Nesbitt Orange Grapette sodas. I can't imagine drinking that now.

Mushroom Hunting Tips

In the Midwest, morel mushrooms can be found in late April to mid-May. Morels are known as an early spring mushroom.

May 12, 1990 in Oregon, Illinois, a man found a giant Morel weight two pounds, measuring eleven and one-half inches and had a circumference of seven and one-half inches.

They say that a heavy snow fall will produce a great season. Most likely due to all the moisture the snow brings. Morels like a cold-snap after it has been warm for a few days. You need a few 70 degree days with a low in the 50’s at night; followed by a cold-snap and then warm weather again.

The morel mushrooms tend to grow around old apple orchards and dead elm trees and logs. Old stumps and fallen trees are a popular growing spot along with living white ash and maple trees.

When you see redbud trees beginning to bloom, the oak leaves just opening, and May apple plants popping up in the woods, it is time to put on your hiking boots, get out the Deep Woods Off, put on long pants and long sleeved shirts to protect you from the poison ivy and prickly bushes.

Make sure you bring a compass or your GPS, a walking-stick to move the twigs, water and healthy snack, and a mesh or cloth bag for your treasured morels. Don’t use a plastic bag.

For the beginner, know your trees before you take your trek in the woods and always go with an experienced hunter. There are dangerous plants and fungi that can be lethal.

When you spot your morels, be gentle and clip or break them off so they will continue to grow for years.

Now go back to your campsite and prepare your treasure with plenty of butter.

Tidbit: This article is dedicated to my mother, Dorothy, Aunt Vi, and Aunt Jeanann who taught me how to hunt mushrooms from the age of three. And don’t smoke in the woods!

The Orphan Brigade

The Orphan Brigade was the name given to a group of military units from Kentucky to fight for the Confederate states.

The photo is of Johnny cakes cooked on a shovel. Purchase History Lover’s Cookbook to find out interesting anecdotes, nineteenth century recipes, view beautiful photos, and learn more about the history of the Civil War. Check out the book on Amazon to find out what Foreword Clarion Reviews had to say.