Serendipity Shag | Seared Mushrooms with Garlic and Thyme

Serendipity – the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.English Oxford Dictionary

On the occasion of the solar eclipse, a fortune teller posed doubtfully in front of a disc jockey bumping Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart. As I sat on the folding chair across from her, she smiled and said, “I see that you are one who makes up your mind to be happy.”


I considered times of suffering and saw that a curious nature redirects me upward and onward. The future does not play out in my head with any expectations other than a faith that my storyline will be scripted as uniquely as my body was formed and the journey leads to edification.

That said, however the cards are dealt – I am all in.

An early memory demonstrates. I was waiting to play outside. Actually I was waiting by the screen door for my mother’s supervision when a driving rain began. As thunder and lightening gained a foothold, I distinctly remember feeling out of sorts… sad, but wait… happy.

The change was possible by a swivel of sorts.

I changed my mind from outdoor play to the pretend world of Ms Cook. Dress up and stir up. Ms Cook’s companions George and The Puppy were ever present. George is a fox. He is serious and hard driving. The Puppy is, well, the puppy, and she loves beauty. They are the two halves of Ms Cook and they have navigated my life for sixty plus years.

I knew nothing of such insight until I called on Sherry Scheitel some thirty years ago. Sherry is a local artist whose eclectic designs lift the landscape.

At the time, Sherry’s house was as charming as a homeschooling mother of two boys could manage. The busy kitchen embraced a table for school work next to a picture window. Color reigned supreme.

She explained her teaching methods and then I made a request. A paper image of Ms Cook, George and The Puppy was needed.

She advised silhouettes and I waited for the outcome of which I have used in a variety of ways for these many years. Psychology Today says that oldest children, as myself, are more likely to create imaginary friends; however as a benefit, I embraced an unintended consequence of Sherry’s interpretation of Ms Cook.

George pays attention and takes care of business. The Puppy creates. The portrayal bloomed into an inner life for me that has been more valuable than church going or cake eating.

We have a tribal connection, that began when she gifted me a personal eureka and then just recently something akin to a bag of gold. As the dryad I know her to be, she foraged Hen of the Woods, Oyster and Tree Ear mushrooms and shared them along with her favorite way to eat them all up.

In gratitude, I paid a visit to a house that she designed in partnership with a pond which sits under Elk Ridge in Culleoka, Tennessee. Sherry is a seeker in all things. She is certain that that everyone is divine with the same amount of God within. The way she sees the world, everything is connected.

The Scheitel scenery is exquisite. One can imagine the same stillness today is as it has been through the ages. She forages mushrooms, purslane, chickweed, persimmons and paw paws.

Her studio spawns the same sort of melange that she sees vibrating outdoors.

An early lesson in spirit through her Aunt Marguerite’s Sunday School class at the Buffalo Valley United Methodist Church in Hohenwald may have awakened her gift. “She told us about the folklore of nature,” says Sherry, an enchantment that drew the young girl into the healing practice of an intuitive art.

Handy, how everything we needed was there for a shag. A new book published by Garden and Gun, S is for Southern, explains “A Grand Strand old-timer will tell you that a proper shag should be danced from the waist down – smooth footwork sliding across polished floors”.

Sherry’s Seared Mushrooms with Garlic and Thyme

I am a BIG fan of mushroom broth or mushrooms in soup, but there is nothing better than these mushrooms served on the side, on top of scrambled eggs, on a piece of toast or with some pasta.

Do not wash mushrooms, just inspect and wipe away away debris.

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces mushrooms ( oyster, trumpet, maitake, hen of the woods, tree ear etc.) torn into pieces
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 sprigs of thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until just beginning to smoke. Arrange mushrooms in skillet in a single layer and cook undisturbed until bottoms are golden, about 3 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, toss mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes more.

Reduce heat to medium and add butter, thyme sprigs, and garlic to skillet. Spoon melting butter over mushrooms before serving.

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