Recipe: Spring Shiitake Scramble

Our growing season is starting very late this year. We still don’t have mushrooms growing at the farm! In town though, we have a jumbled pile of dried up old logs hanging out in the side yard.  This last week one of those logs produced our first shiitake of the year. I spotted it one morning on my way to work and spent all day thinking about how to eat that one mushroom. Unfortunately, the squirrels were considering the problem too and they beat me to it. I came home to find a third of the mushroom stolen away!  I wanted that mushroom too much though, so I trimmed the mushroom, gave it a wash, and threw it in a tiny little scramble. It was amazing. Thank you squirrels for not taking the whole mushroom!

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Spring Shiitake Scramble

Shiitake mushrooms
chives or spinach
cheddar cheese, shredded
ham, chopped up small (optional)
egg, beaten

Remove stems from mushrooms and chop. Heat a small skillet or frying pan on medium high. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and heat. Add mushrooms and saute for a minute or two. Add ham (if using) and cook for just a minute or so till it’s warmed up a bit. Add the egg, chives, and cheese all at once. Stir and mix until the eggs are all cooked. Voila!

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What’s in a name?

Cherry Tree House Mushrooms.

It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue (well, unless you’re us and you’ve been saying it for 9 years). We’ve heard, and answered to, a lot of variations over the years:

  • Cherry Treehouse Mushrooms
  • Cherry Tree Mushrooms
  • Cherry Mushrooms
  • Treehouse Mushrooms

Besides being long and a bit unwieldy, the name hasn’t really matched us well for years. We chose the name when we started growing mushrooms at our house in Minneapolis, which we called the cherry tree house. Full story here. As difficult as the name is, it has been more difficult to think of a new name.  We’ve had numerous conversations over the years that usually devolve into silliness or fizzle out as we realize we just can’t come up with something we like better. A recent conversation went something like this:

Jeremy: Okay, let’s take this back to the beginning. We’re starting a farm! Isn’t this exciting? What are we going to call it? Something with “mushroom farm” in it.

Aimee: Why?

Jeremy: Because we grow mushrooms.

Aimee: Why?

Jeremy: Because…I like mushrooms.

Aimee: Why?

Jeremy: Ha, ha! I hate that question.

Aimee: This is the best conversation ever!

Jeremy: We did mushrooms because goats weren’t legal in the city when I started the farm!

Aimee: [silence, accompanied by the look you sometimes give your partner when you’re a bit exasperated…you know, “the look.”]

We went on thinking about how else we could define the farm. Does the name need the word “farm” in it? Should we use a word that would show our location, like “Clayton Mushrooms Incorporated,” or something with Blackbrook? Apparently that’s the name of a creek nearby…but of course there is also already a Blackbrook farm! Well, our farm is in Polk County. Nope – we will not have the word “Polk” in our farm name! We need something evocative, something that feels woodsy. I guess it should have “farm” and “mushrooms.” (I know what you’re thinking: “why?”)

We searched blogs and sites online with various lists of “easy steps for naming your farm” which weren’t really easy and didn’t really help us pick a name. I liked the idea of picking a name that was funny.

Jeremy: Our name can’t be funny.

Aimee: Because you have no sense of humor?

Jeremy: You got it.

I am happy to say our marriage survived this conversation…but we haven’t quite come up with a name. At one point Jeremy was sure we had come up with THE new name. But a few days later, we were both feeling lukewarm about it. I said to Jeremy, “Of course this new name doesn’t roll off the tongue and sound great. It’s not the name we’ve gone by for 9 years. It’s going to be be weird and hard to get used to a new name!”

But the time really has come to re-name. We’d like to ask you, our supporters and fans, to let us know what you think. Here are some of our ideas. Let us know in the comments, or drop us a line, or comment on Facebook: which name(s) do you like the best?

  1. Cherry Tree Organics
  2. Heartwood Mushroom Farm
  3. Heartwood Mushrooms
  4. Northwoods Mushroom Farm
  5. Northwoods Mushrooms
  6. Woodland Mushroom Farm
  7. Woodland Mushrooms
  8. Cherry Tree House Mushrooms (for anyone who feels they can’t handle the change – it’s okay to say so!)

Recipe: Mushroom Deviled Eggs

I sometimes struggle to think of new recipes for the blog/newsletter which is silly because you can practically put mushrooms in everything. Like say…in deviled eggs!

A friend of ours gave us a few mushroom cookbooks last year and I’ve finally been looking through them. One of them is newer and has some mouth-watering looking recipes. The other one is from the 60s and has some interesting sounding recipes, such as:

  • Cream of wheat mushroom soup
  • Jellied mushroom soup
  • Pushcart Polpetta (??)
  • Flaming mushrooms
  • Dried limas with dried mushrooms

There are a few dishes in the book that actually look okay, like the Mushroom Deviled Eggs. I was dubious, but they are actually quite tasty.

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Mushroom Deviled Eggs

6 ounces mushrooms
3 Tbsp finely chopped onion
3-4 Tbsp butter
12 hard-cooked eggs
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp mustard
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper

Make sure you hard-boil your eggs before you start on this recipe so they can be cooled sufficiently to peel and work with.

This recipe works fine with fresh, frozen, or dried mushrooms. If you’re using frozen mushrooms, thaw them for at least an hour before use. Squeeze out some of the extra moisture and pat dry. If you’re using dried mushrooms, soak for at least an hour, or till mushrooms are soft, before using. Squeeze out the extra liquid and pat dry.

Remove stems from mushrooms and mince the caps. Heat butter in a skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and mushrooms for about 4 minutes, until onions are caramelized and mushrooms are starting to get crispy. Set aside.

Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks. Mash the yolks with the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Work the eggs into a smooth paste. Add the mushroom-onion mixture and mix well.

Fill the egg white halves with the mixture. You can spoon the mixture in, use a pastry bag with a large star tip, or cut the corner out of a plastic baggie and use that.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Mushrooms and veggies fry up

It must be getting close to spring. I’m growing tired of soups, stews, and chili’s. I want veggies! Fresh veggies! This is a quick recipe for mushrooms and veggies that can be altered to fit any tastes.  It feels like one of those “fake” recipes because it’s so easy – how can “cook up a bunch of vegetables” possibly be a recipe?

Mushrooms and veggies fry up

1 onion, chopped, minced, sliced thin (as you like)
1-2 bell peppers, diced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
2 oz dried (or 1 lb. frozen) mushrooms
Several cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound of Italian sausage (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re using dried mushrooms, soak them in a bowl of warm water for about an hour. When soft, remove stems and chop up. For frozen mushrooms, let thaw for about an hour – then remove stems and chop up. Saute mushrooms in a cast iron or other heavy pan until they’re starting to get crispy, 10-12 minutes. Set aside.

In a large pan on medium-high heat, add onions and a few tablespoons of oil and cook, stirring occasionally. When the mushrooms are starting to look a bit translucent, after a few minutes, add the bell peppers. Continue to saute and stir occasionally so everything is cooking and browning evenly. When onions and peppers are mostly cooked, add the zucchini and squash. Continue to saute and stir. Feel free to add more oil if the pan seems to dry. You may cover the pan for a minute or two at this point to help soften and cook the zucchini and squash. Add the minced garlic and cooked mushrooms. Stir to incorporate and saute for another minute or so. You don’t want the garlic to cook for more than a minute or two (garlic burns quickly).

That’s pretty much it! If you like some extra protein in your dish, you can fry up a 1/2 pound of Italian sausage (or any other kind of meat you like) and add that to the veggies at the end.

I decided to whip up some couscous and throw that in with everything as well.  While everything is sauteing, heat 3/4 cup of broth or water in a small pan. When boiling, add 1/2 cup of couscous. Give the couscous a quick stir, turn the heat off, and cover the pan.  You can add a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil at this point too if you like.  Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff up the pasta. You can serve the veggies on a bed of couscous, or dump the couscous in and mix everything up together.

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Recipe: Smoky Mushroom Chili

I’ve been enjoying making various soups this winter out of the Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook put out by America’s Test Kitchen. The other day I came across a recipe for smoky sausage and bean chili and immediately thought of several changes we could make to the recipe. It called for kielbasa but I used some of our mushroom brats. (So if you don’t live in the Twin Cities and can’t get mushroom brats from us, I guess you can settle for some kielbasa).  The recipe also called for liquid smoke. Instead, I used a bunch of our smoked shiitake mushrooms. The mushrooms were a great addition to the chili and they provided a wonderful smoky flavor and smell. (So I guess if you don’t live in the Twin Cities and can’t get smoked mushrooms from us…you’ll have to settle for liquid smoke!)

Smoky Mushroom Chili

2 onions, minced
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound dried navy beans (1 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
1 pound mushroom brats, sliced 1/2 inch thick
8 ounces andouille sausage, sliced 1/2 inch thick
12 ounces (3 packages) of smoked shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

1. In a large saute pan heat vegetable oil on medium-high, then saute onions and bell peppers for 10-20 minutes until the onions are starting to brown and bell peppers are softened. Add chili powder, garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook for another few minutes, then transfer to slow cooker.  (You’ll need at least a 4-quart slow cooker/crock pot for this.)

2. Stir broth, beans, mushroom brats, andouille, smoked mushrooms, soy sauce, sugar, chipotles, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beans are tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

3. Discard bay leaves. Transfer 1 cup cooked beans to bowl and mash smooth with potato masher. Stir mashed beans into chili and let sit until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, avocado, scallions, or whatever else you like on your chili!

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Recipe: Pasta with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, and Cheese

This pasta dish is quite easily adapted. I found it in the New York Times sometime last year and it had been adapted from an Italian cookbook. I changed a bunch of things, and you too can add or remove things to suit your tastes!  I’ll probably revise it again because I felt like there was too much pasta and not enough brussels sprouts – which is saying something coming from someone who prefers pasta over brussels sprouts! Even so, this is a fabulous hearty dish to enjoy in all this cold weather.

Pasta with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, and Cheese

1 3/4 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 to 3/4 pound penne pasta
10-12 ounces shiitake mushrooms
1/2 pound Italian sausage
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup ricotta
8 ounces Gruyere, in 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 sage leaves, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the prepared brussels sprouts in a large baking pan (either a 10-by-15 roasting pan or a 9-by-13 lasagna pan), toss with a little olive oil and salt, and roast for about 20 minutes, till they are slightly browned and tender throughout.  When the sprouts are done, remove the pan from the oven and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and let water come back to a boil. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Just before draining the pasta, remove 2 cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Trim stems from mushrooms and save for soup stock. Chop or slice mushroom caps; set aside. Heat a frying pan and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Crumble Italian sausage into the pan and cook, stirring and turning occasionally, until the sausage is fully cooked and there is no pink. Spoon the sausage out into a separate bowl. If there isn’t much oil left in the pan, add another couple tablespoons of olive oil and saute the prepared mushrooms for about 5 minutes.

Tip the drained pasta, mushrooms, and sausage into the roasting pan with the brussels sprouts.

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Add ricotta, Gruyere, and 1 cup cooking water, and toss well. Add more liquid if you think the pasta is too dry.

Warm butter, olive oil, and garlic in a small saucepan. When melted and beginning to sizzle gently, add sage and fry for about 30 seconds. Spoon or drizzle the butter and sage over the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 20 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before eating. Those brussels sprouts really hold the heat!

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Winter Projects

Did you miss us? We have had the farmers market the last two weeks and I meant to send updates at least whenever we had a market, but things get busy for me (the farmer’s wife) during this season. Not that Jeremy hasn’t been busy – there are lots of projects going on at the farm!

First up was replacing some roof panels in the packing shed. Some of the translucent panels had been damaged by hail so every time it rained, water dripped in. Not anymore! Also, at long last, the painting is all done in the pack shed!  We are well on our way to getting this building inspected and certified as a food warehouse.

Next up was a shade structure expansion. Having inoculated almost 5,000 logs earlier this year, we are going to need more space for them. Jeremy and Andy (our newest employee), got pipe, cut it to fit, and had it all laid out on Monday.

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Monday was a blissfully warm day (at least for upper Wisconsin in December!) and then the temperature plummeted overnight and the snow arrived. It was far too cold to work outside.  It felt warm enough by Thursday (or we here in the upper Midwest just acclimate that fast) to finish putting up the pipes. Another project done!

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Yet another project on the farm is converting the old inoculation shed/storage shed into employee housing.  For those of you who have been to the farm, you may have noticed this decrepit looking shed propped up on pallets right outside the door of the house.  We plan to move it eventually, but Jeremy and Andy are getting some work done on it first.

Making sure it’s all insulated:

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Taking out the overhead door and replacing it with a window and wall:

employeeHouse2

The electrical is done so after the wall was completed they were able to turn on a space heater and get the shed nice and toasty.  This is basically our first foray into tiny houses and we’re pretty excited about it.  Jeremy picked up a small wood stove which will be used for heating it. We do have plenty of wood around to burn!

Lastly, the first load of logs was delivered today – so inoculations for 2018 will be starting soon. No rest for mushroom farmers!