Saturday, March 24, 2007

Haiii Yahh! Shhhhiiiiii-take!

I've been trying to finish this post since Monday...craziness has ensued this week, and it's impacted my leisure time activities. Back to the (semi)regularly scheduled program...

Wandering through the posts at Slashfood, I came across one that linked to a story on the Boston Globe site about Mushroom Ragout. A loverly sounding dish--amix of mushrooms, both plain and exotic, a little wine, a little butter, what IS not to love!

Okay, next to cheese and bacon, I really do adore mushrooms. Quiche is just a cradle for that unholy trinity! The bestest and most favorite way (I think) to have mushrooms is sautéed in a ton of butter with salt and pepper. Which isessentially what you do with this ragout, only with less butter. I printed out the recipe and went rummaging around in the fridge. I had a package of shiitakes and a package of sliced cremini (baby portobellos), which I figured would make
an acceptable substitute for the variety listed in the Globe's recipe.

What the hell is up with the labeling on cremini/crimini mushrooms anyway? For years and years, you could only find them occasionally, but now that they’re labeled “baby portobellos,” they seem to be running out of the produce department’s ears. The good thing is that they aren’t much more expensive than the regular white button mushrooms, and often go on sale. According to Wikipedia, all these mushrooms—button, cremini, portobello—are the same damn mushroom anyway, depending on size. Guess it really does count.

Shiitakes, on the other hand, really do seem exotic…grown on tree stumps has got to account for something in the price. I’ve always thought of them as a “Japanese” mushroom, but it seems they are native to and were first cultivated in China. Maybe, I’m not smarter than a 5th grader after all.

Usually only the caps of the shiitake are used, because the stems are rather woody. I was Googling and trying to find a way I could dry the leftover stems to hold for flavoring soups and stocks, but I can’t seem to get past the bajillion entries with “…rehydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms…” and find a method. It seems a shame to toss them, because those little packets of dried exotic mushrooms are kinda pricey, and how cool would it be if I could make my
own? I’ll keep experimenting when I can.

And, the fact that they grow on logs is rather intriguing, and you can get kits to grow your, so I’m sort of tempted to try it my ownself. (You’re sensing a new Showtime series about illegal trafficking in homegrown shiitakes…like Weeds but with antioxidants. And logs. Can't forget the logs.)

Then, the realization that I’ve managed to kill 3 thyme plants, 2 basil plants, 1 giant oregano plant, and every rosemary plant I’ve ever brought into the house this winter stops me. I can grow herbs all summer, but for some reason, they seem to commit seppuku when I bring them in the house. I faithfully water then, make sure they have light, etc., etc., and they still turn brown and die. I’ve got one lone sprig of basil clinging to life on the backsplash of my kitchen sink that will probably breath its last any day now. Let's just say "Shiitake happens," and be done with it then.

I was thinking that I might try to rig something up in the basement for this coming fall, in case the plants were dying because they were too warm in the house, but I’m not sure you can even buy a grow light in this state any more. So many people have been busted for following the Weeds plan for retirement. Tons of homes in the metro area have been raided, because people have set up commercial-style pot growing in the basements of houses…and these houses are in
expensive neighborhoods. Although, with the craziness that is the housing market in the metro ATL area, expensive is as expensive does...I saw a house in a neighborhood on the way to Lenox Square Mall, that was the essential equivalent of what we have now--sort of a split-level 50s-60s brick rancher--and it had a price tag of over $700,000 on it, and that was 4-5 years ago.

Anyway, I digress...which I am wont to do these days. Work is continuing to chug along. The commute still sucks, but the bi-weekly direct deposits are nice, very nice. I did my first teachback of the initial software kick-off training this week, and I believe I passed with flying colors. At least I think I did, because no one told me I had to do anything over. I did a lovely PowerPoint to go along with the material, and you would have thought I had brought fire to the cave people. Just call me Prometheus. Actually, I sort of did it as a teaching tool for myself to learn the software, and while we were watching a demo of some task training that we did for the designers, they started mentioning something about an overview presentation, slide show, or 3-ring circus to introduce the software and sort of "soft sell" it to the customers who maybe hadn't seen it before or hadn't had a hand in the selection/purchase of a new system. (Sound familiar to you people who knew me in the job before this one?)

Anyway, I made it pretty and used it, and got rave reviews for it, so it might become a standard thing for the department to use, especially during WebEx presentations.

We're off to subtropical southern Illinois for one last visit this coming week. Yee, ha. It's supposed to be warmer, so I'm taking the travel knit collection to wear. Illinois--don't make me regret not packing my snow boots!

And, some fun for your weekend...presenting The Fabulous, Fantastic Fabiofone! I got Fabio to call The Man and leave a message, which was pretty hysterical, I thought...and this prompted The Man to request the link and have Fabio call everyone he knew and say odd sweet nothings. So, if you get a weird call from a man with a very weird accent saying he's Fabio, well he is!


Linna said...

I haven't had a chance to use the Fabiophone yet, but what a hoot!

Come to Huntspatch to buy your growlight. I've been looking for a very small one to put in the greenhouse window in my kitchen. The window faces NE, with the angle of the house blocking all light from the South, so it doesn't get enough light to grow things like African violets.

Belinda said...

Never been a HUGE mushroom fan, but they're growing on me lately like a fungus. HAR! Besides, cheese and bacon...doesn't that make anything better?