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!

fruiting mushrooms

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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!)

Before and After

We had a lot of “before and after” on the farm this last week. As I mentioned last week, we got a start on turning all of that cut wood from last year into firewood. Jeremy thinks he got through maybe 1/3 of the pile of wood. There is a LOT of firewood!

 

Last weekend I was also working on that darn pack shed again. It’s SO CLOSE to being painted! But it’s not there yet. There are just a few bits at one end that are too high up for me to reach and we don’t have scaffolding. We have one ladder that is too tall and one that is too short!  So Jeremy has to finish those bits when he finds some free time. In between painting the pack shed and stacking firewood, I got to work painting a room in the upstairs of the farm house. We thought it could use some freshening and brightening up.

 

All this week Jeremy has had temporary folks coming by to help with the big fall project of moving the 5,000 logs in the woods up to the shade structure at the front of the farm. That is a bit of a long term project, though hopefully it will be wrapped up by the end of November if not sooner!  With the crew on hand Thursday, Jeremy decided it was time to take the shade fabric down from the shade structure. They’ll have to move the fabric on and off as they move more logs in and if the weather warms up to pick mushrooms. But with snow in the forecast, we don’t take any chances leaving the shade fabric up. We left it up once about 2-3 years ago and the weight of just a couple inches of snow from that early snowstorm bent the pipes of the shade structure!  We definitely don’t want to go through fixing that again.

 

We’ve got more to do to button up the farm for the winter and Jeremy is already contacting loggers looking for the new batch of 5,000 or so logs for inoculations to start in December.

I’m going to take a break from regular weekly email updates over the winter – you’ll just be hearing from us when there is a Winter Market happening. You won’t miss us too much though – Winter Markets are practically every other week now!

Recipe: Wild Rice and Shiitake Stew

Mmm, it is the season for soup and for wild rice. This recipe sounds amazing… but I have to be honest: I ran out of time this week and didn’t get to make a batch. I have no pictures to show you how yummy it looks!  You really can’t go wrong with wild rice, broth, and shiitakes though. So if you make this recipe, tell us how it turns out!

 

Wild Rice and Shiitake Stew

Serves 3 or 4
1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
or
8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup wild rice
2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks or small celery root, diced
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. oregano
1-1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp. rosemary
1/2 cup milk or cream
1/2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
pepper to taste
1/4 cup friesago or parmesan cheese, finely grated

If you’re using dried mushrooms, place them in a bowl and cover with water. Soak for at  least one hour, or until plump. Remove the mushrooms from the water (save the water) and pat dry.

Remove mushroom stems, chop caps and set aside. 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.

While the rice cooks, heat butter or oil in dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery with salt and cook until the onions have softened and turned translucent, or about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, or another 15-20 minutes.

Add the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir until they become sticky and there is no more visible dry flour. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine and mushroom water (if you don’t have mushroom soaking water, you can put in about 1/2 cup of broth). Simmer the mixture until it has thickened and the liquid has reduced. Stir occasionally while simmering.

Add the bay leaf and stock. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Add the rosemary, milk, and wild rice. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until the soup has thickened to your liking. Stir in the vinegar, half the cheese, and pepper. Serve immediately with remaining cheese sprinkled on top.

 

adapted from recipe provided by Northern Lakes Wild Rice

Recipe: Shiitake Spring Rolls

Another fun way to eat shiitake! Jeremy says spring rolls are just a vehicle for eating peanut sauce, and I can’t argue with that. But if you can’t eat peanuts – don’t worry. The sauteed shiitake are so tasty – especially if you saute them till they’re just a bit crispy on the edges – you won’t miss the peanut sauce at all.

 

Shiitake Spring Rolls

Serves 4
1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
or
8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
1-1/2 Tbsp canola oil
1 oz. rice vermicelli
4 rice wrappers
1 bunch cilantro
2 to 3 oz. microgreens, sprouts, spinach or baby lettuces
1 scallion
1 small carrot
thai peanut sauce
or
4 Tbsp teaspoon hoisin sauce
4 Tbsp finely chopped peanuts, or to taste

Cooking Instructions
If using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water to cover for an hour or two, then pat dry with a towel. Save liquid for soup stock or other recipe. Remove stems, then heat oil on medium low heat. Slice mushroom caps and saute until fragrant and soft, or about 5 minutes. If mushrooms look dry add more oil to the pan. Set aside.

Add vermicelli to boiling water; boil until al dente or 3 to 5 minutes. Drain. Prepare vegetables. Slice scallion into 2 to 4 inch slivers; grate carrot; wash and de-stem cilantro; and you may want to chop lettuce or spinach.

Fill a large bowl with hot tap water and dip a rice wrapper in water for 15 seconds to a minute or until soft but still holding its shape. Lay wrapper on cutting board and place ingredients at the center – like a burrito – starting with the mushrooms. Fold in the ends so that the filling stays inside and roll up tightly. Recipe makes four spring rolls; serve immediately with peanut or peanuts/hoisin sauce.

Recipe: Mushroom and Chevre Bruschetta

Confession time: We have a TON of mushroom recipes (as you might imagine) and when I started up this little weekly update I planned out what recipes I’d share each week. I’ve been looking forward to this week for a while, which is designated “shroom + bruschetta” week.  For recipes we don’t have pictures for we’ve been trying to make them up that week and get pictures, but that doesn’t always happen.

But mushroom bruschetta is easy! And so yummy!  Jeremy whipped up a batch yesterday for dinner and it was… SO. GOOD.  Amazing!  Unfortunately, what he made (and painstakingly photographed) is not actually the recipe we had all ready to go! The recipe below is basically a fancier version of what we usually make. It just goes to show the versatility of this recipe.

Our version? Jeremy sauteed shiitake and oyster mushrooms and a bit of garlic. He spread a couple slices of lovely baguette with butter and seared the buttered bread in a hot cast iron pan. The mushrooms/garlic were piled on top and sprinkled with a little grated parmesan. I promise you: this little mushroom topped toast is absolutely divine.

But this version with chevre sounds pretty amazing too. You will not be sorry, whatever version you try!

 

Mushroom and Chevre Bruschetta

Serves 4 as appetizer
10-12 ounces shiitake and/or oyster mushrooms
extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves – 1 peeled and finely chopped, the other halved
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves picked
1 sprig summer savory, leaves plucked – optional
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 dried red chili, crumbled
1 small pat butter
1 lemon
3 oz. herbed chevre
4 small slices bread such as sourdough

Trim stems from mushrooms and save for soup stock. Chop mushroom caps. Put a large heavy frying pan, big enough to hold all the mushrooms in one layer, over heat and add about 1-2 tbsp. olive oil. When hot, add all mushrooms to the pan and give it a shake to
toss the mushrooms in the oil. Add the chopped garlic and fresh herbs and stir again. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and the crumbled chili, add to the pan and sauté gently for a few minutes. If the mixture becomes dry, pour in a little more oil.

Once the mushrooms have started to turn a golden color, after about 3-4 minutes, add the butter and a nice squeeze of lemon juice(not too much) and toss again.

To finish this off and make it into a creamy sauce, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan. Simmer for a little longer, until you have a nice simple sauce that just loosely coats the mushrooms.

Toast the bread and rub toast with the cut side of the remaining clove of garlic. Place each slice on a serving plate, top with a healthy dab of chevre and pile the mushrooms and pan juices on top.

adapted from Jamie’s Oliver’s “Jamie at Home”

Abundance

This is the time of year when the mushrooms really start going crazy. The temperatures and humidity are just right and the mushrooms are extra happy. It’s also when we first start to see the fruits of our labor in the spring (pun intended!)

Jeremy was giving a tour of the farm a few days ago and saw the first of the mushrooms popping out on our 2017 logs. We never soak and force-fruit logs in their first year. They just lay out in the woods growing mycelium and basking in the dappled sunlight. Usually in August and September they test out their fungus growing powers and pop out several mushrooms per log. With almost 5,000 logs in the woods this year, that’s going to be a LOT of mushrooms.

first2017mushrooms

The first of the 2017 mushrooms!

Not to be outdone, the logs that we force fruit get a bit crazy too.

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All these mushrooms are picked by hand, so there is a LOT of picking to do! They can also grow incredibly fast. Jeremy will go through in the morning and pick the mushrooms that are ready and by late afternoon a bunch more mushrooms, that weren’t ready in the morning, will be ready to pick.

Unfortunately, August is one of the slowest months for mushroom sales! Orders from co-ops and groceries are down and the farmers market isn’t as hopping as we would like. We’ve got mushrooms on sale right now at The Wedge and Seward Co-ops and the other co-ops in the upper Midwest that carry our mushrooms will have them on sale by the end of next week. Just our way of enticing more people to buy and cook mushrooms. We’re selling mushrooms to Restaurant Alma and Northern Fires Wood Fired Pizza as well, so those are two other ways to get your mushroom fix.  We’d like to sell mushrooms to more restaurants. If you work for a restaurant that might be interested, drop us a line!