Recipe: Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms, a la Meagan

True story: I used to hate mushrooms. Just looking at them gave me the shudders.

My hatred turned into a hesitant like, then love, a few years ago. J and I were at an Italian restaurant, and J, being a Mushroom Lover, ordered stuffed mushrooms baked in a pesto cream sauce. They arrived at the table, the steam redolent of basil, Parmesan and Italian sausage. My  mouth watered a little bit, and as I have a policy of trying foods I hate once a year, I decided this cheesy concoction was my best bet.

So I tried one. I hesitantly moved it onto my appetizer plate. Cut into it with my steak knife. Dipped the slice in the cream sauce, and haltingly (this sounds dramatic, but I kid you not—I really hated mushrooms!) moved the fork towards my mouth.

Then? Well. Earthy, herby, creamy bliss. I started to like them then—on a trial basis—but my affection has grown steadily ever since.

Now, mushrooms remind me of autumn.  They pair well with traditional autumn seasonings like sage and thyme. They’re even nicely symbolic of the dark season, since they grow without light. Since it actually feels like autumn here (I’m continually amazed!) I picked up a huge box of Baby Bellas at Costco and have been enjoying them for days.

Here’s my favorite easy mushroom recipe, which is less of a recipe and more of a…method? Enjoy.

Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms, a la Meagan

Ingredients:

(This is a very elastic recipe–do with the amounts what you like)

2 tbsp butter

8 oz. (ish) Baby Bellas, de-stemmed and sliced

1 clove garlic, smashed and minced

Generous sprinkle sea salt, thyme (fresh is best, but dried is fine). Fresh parsley is a nice finishing touch if you have it.

Splash of red wine, dry white wine, or cognac

~1 tbsp Whole grain or dijon mustard

2-4 tbsp Heavy cream

Directions:

1. Melt butter in pan.

2. Add sliced mushrooms, toss in butter. Add salt and herbs.

3. Add a couple of tablespoons of wine. Be aware that mushrooms expel water as they heat, so don’t add too much liquid or it’ll get soupy. Let it cook for a few minutes.

4. Finish it off. First, stir in the mustard.  Then add 2-4 tbsp. of cream to thicken the sauce. Cook for another minute or so before taking off the heat.

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Note: this recipe is AWESOME when made as a topping for steak. Simply pan-sear a steak then continue this recipe in the pan with the steak drippings.

Note 2: I tried taking pictures buuuuuut….the lighting in the apartment kitchen is terrible. Plus, the mushrooms were so good that I only got two horrible photos before they were gone. Rest assured, they’re delicious.)

Note 3: The Kitchn’s What Are Cremini Mushrooms blew my mind.

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Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

[First, I have to say, my kitchen is a terrible place to take pictures. The people who redesigned it installed lighting that throws shadows everywhere. Obviously not food bloggers. 🙂 When I went to preview this post the pictures just looked terrible, so I decided to leave them out.]

Moving on!

Saturday morning we made our way to the mall for mine and J’s optometrist appointments. As we pulled into the parking lot we happened upon a happy surprise–a farmer’s market! I thought I knew about all of the markets in town, but apparently not. It was nice sized, not very large, but big enough to have some meat, crafts and a few veggie vendors. When we entered the market a lady shoved a $3 coupon in my hand. Sweet.

The market stalls were picked over by the time we got there, but my roving eye spotted a display of winter squash.

Winter squash = winter is coming…hahah. No. Sorry. I mean, yes, winter is coming, but we don’t live in Westeros…okay, forget it.

It does mean that autumn is on its way, and to celebrate these happy little finds I fixed up the squash in my favorite way.

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash, quartered and seeded

1 tbsp. olive oil

1-2 tbsp. butter (depending on the size of the squash)

2 tbsp. maple syrup (the real deal, please)

sea salt, to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400*

2. Rub/sprinkle/spray the acorn quarters with olive oil. Then, chunk up the butter and put it in the little cavities of the squash. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with salt.

3. Bake at 400*, from 25-35 minutes

4. Eat with gusto.

Notes

I prefer Grade B maple syrup for all syrupy applications. It has a much stronger flavor that really holds up to high heat cooking.

The Land of the Living

I know.

I know!

Most of the time I bitch and moan about how dry it is. And it is. The third-most severe drought in Texas history. In fact, later this week I’m going to do a post on mercy-killing your plants and being a ruthless Darwinist in your garden.

However.

Plants live. Nature lives. We live. And there should be celebration that in a time when things are dry and hard that there are melons on the vine, corn unfurling to the sky and the hope of autumn as I plant my green-cover crop.

Mystery Melon on the Vine

Sweet Corn Forest

Basil + Heat = ❤

So, what to do to keep your hopes up during a drought or, likewise, during the winter? Well, keeping busy is the conclusion I’ve drawn. Nothing has helped so much as to take action.

1. It’s important to keep up your soil fertility. The drought, heat and mineralization effects of irrigation on your soil can be hard for plants and soil to handle. I’ve adopted a policy that as I take specific plants out I amend with compost, Ladybug TerraTonic and seed some clover. After the clover grows to about 4 inches, I’ll turn it into the soil, cover the ground with mulch and let it rest until late August/early September.

Clover Seeds and Ladybug Brand TerraTonic

2. Get a hobby. July and August will be long, quiet months around these parts. So I’m going to take up knitting again, as well as painting and, of course, spend more time writing. Also I’ll clean up the tools and in late July begin some seedling flats for broccoli, cauliflower and the longer growth autumn veggies.

3. Though planting takes a backseat now, especially for the home/hobbyist gardener, it’s still a time when eggplants, melons, winter squash and pumpkin can be planted from seed, until mid-July. Cosmos, a particularly drought/heat tolerant flower, can brighten up any patch of garden. Desert plants like agave and yucca will probably be fine.

4. Plan! Planning is the best part. Catalog your seeds and order new ones. Inventory your tools and see which ones need repair. Looking to take down some brush? Get price quotes. Building a chicken coop? Mobile, stationary? What about raccoons? What about city laws, HOA guidelines? Now’s the time to plan and budget.

5. I like rituals to mark transitions and will be doing one tonight at the new moon. It’ll be pretty simple, just a few words, but marking seasons is important.

So, there you have it. Those are the five things that are keeping me somewhat busy and hopeful as we ride out the summer. What are you doing for summer in your region?

Some Purple Survivor Flower--Verbena?

Garden Pictures: Cherry Tomatoes

I promised garden pictures, and here they are! Cherry tomatoes in the Earth Box.

The garden is doing well so far this year. We expanded and relocated it from its previous position, and I’m having some trouble with sun exposure. However, the tomatoes have already set fruit, the lettuces are dying back and the cucumbers, melons and eggplants are beginning to take off. Sure signs that early summer has arrived!