Recipe: Mushrooms and a lot of veggies

On my way home yesterday, Jeremy texted, “You’re getting a lot of veggies for dinner!” We have a CSA share through Blackbrook Farm (who we also sell mushroom add-ons through) and yesterday Jeremy picked up our box of veggies. So many beautiful veggies! Jeremy set to work cooking up as many different things as he could – and added mushrooms of course!  To the best of his memory, here’s what he did:

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Mushrooms and a lot of veggies

— 1/2 cup wild rice
— 4 strips of bacon, chopped
— vegetable oil
— 4 large scallions, chopped
— 3 bok choy, chopped
— 2 cups of chopped bok choy and kohlrabi leaves (and/or other greens)
— 8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, with stems removed, chopped

Place the wild rice in a wire strainer and rinse with cold water. Place the rice in a pot and add water so water is 3/4 of an inch above rice. Bring to rolling boil for ten minutes then simmer, covered, until the rice opens and becomes fluffy, or about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally while simmering. Keep an eye on the water and add a little more if the pan starts to get dry and the rice isn’t ready yet.

While the rice cooks, fry the bacon in a teaspoon of oil on medium heat.  When soft (3-5 minutes), add the chopped scallions, chopped bok choy, mushrooms, and salt to taste.  Stir occasionally as this cooks. Once this mixture has cooked through and begun to caramelize, add bok choy and kohlrabi leaves (and/or other greens), and cook another few minutes.

Top rice with veggie/mushroom mixture and add toasted pecans.  Enjoy!

Soaking logs

I wrote about our log soaking last year and shared a video of the new system.  As I said then, it would get much faster once everyone got used to the new system. After a whole season of learning tips and tricks last year, this process has gotten much faster and easier.

Here’s a video of Andy loading the logs into the tank last weekend. (Warning to our mothers: close your eyes about 30 seconds in and pretend nothing happened!)

 

Force-fruiting is going well and the mushrooms are picking up the pace!

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A flurry of activity

A lot has been going on the last week or two at the farm.  We finished moving all the newly inoculated logs out of the fruiting house. They are enjoying their summer home in the sun-dappled woods.

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Even though the weather is still a little bit weird, we decided to start force-fruiting so the first batches were soaked and set up in the fruiting tunnel.  This year we’re trying something new. The extra rack above the fruiting racks is to hold the fruiting blanket, instead of having the blanket directly on the logs. The blanket keeps moisture and humidity in for the first couple days until the logs start “pinning” – that is, when the mushrooms start to grow. We can’t wait to get our first big flush of mushrooms!

We’re also experimenting with a few in-ground mushrooms this year – Almond Agaricus, Bluefoot, Blewits, and Winecaps.  We grew Winecaps at our house in Minneapolis way back in the day, but it wasn’t practical to have them at any of the locations our farm has been at over the years.  With our own property, we can do whatever we want (WHATEVER WE WANT! =) ), so we’re going to give them a try again.

We’ve eaten Almond Agaricus, which smells and tastes like almonds, but we’ve never grown it. We picked a nice sunny spot on the edge our field and Andy (farm employee), did an epic job of tilling it up, getting rid of weeds and grass. Jeremy dumped in a bunch of mushroom compost and mixed the spawn in with that and then covered the whole bed over with straw. If all goes well we should be seeing these mushrooms popping up in a month or two – in plenty of time for folks to get some at the farmers market!

The Blewits and Bluefoots (Bluefeet?) like more shade.  We picked a shady spot in the yard near the house and Andy and Ashley (our other farm employee) laid down cardboard (for weed control) and they’ve been dumping in compost, leaves, and wood chips. We’ll probably inoculate these shady patches over the weekend and cover them with straw mulch. These varieties take much longer to fruit so we probably won’t get any till next spring. We’ll all have to be patient!

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Recipe: Mushrooms and Veggies over Grilled Polenta

The search results on our website tell me this will be our fifth recipe with polenta. If you don’t like polenta as much as I do, you can always put this amazing mushroom/veggie dish over something else – or eat it on its own.

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Mushrooms and Veggies over Grilled Polenta

For the Polenta
1-1 1/2 Tbsp. coarse salt
1 2/3 cups polenta or course cornmeal
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Put salt into 7 cups cold water in a medium heavy pot. Add polenta and whisk in. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Add olive oil, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring often with a wooden spoon until polenta thickens and pulls away slightly from bottom and sides of pot, or between 20-40 minutes – depending on grind.

Pour into a wet glass baking dish and cool.  Cut into pieces with a wet knife. Grill on a very hot, dry grill or sear in a nonstick skillet until golden brown.

Mushrooms and Veggies
6-8 oz. shiitake or other mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 handful cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 brat (we used our own mushroom onion brat from the farm!)
2-1/2 Tbsp olive oil

Saute onion in hot oil (2 Tbsp) until translucent and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Then add mushrooms, zucchini, and cauliflower and cover, stirring every few minutes.  Cook until veggies are tender.  In another pan fry brats in remaining oil until browned.  Remove from heat and slice.

Add together veggie and mushroom mixture and brats.  Spoon on top of polenta and add grated Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!

 

 

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!

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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