As soon as I saw that the Latin name for Branched Oyster mushroom was Pleurotus cornucopiae, I had to grow some. This is a widely sought after variety well known to mushroom foragers, as it has an enormous range in the wild, and in many locales, can be found all year. Once again, the substrate here is just used coffee grounds with their filters.
The container is the difference. That’s a one gallon glass canister that was made in the US, and costs the princely sum of ten bucks. If someone had set out to design the perfect mushroom growing container, they could have done no better. The lid is left cracked open slightly as the mycelium expands, removed daily for the water spritzing, and then replaced to maintain humidity.It obviously comes off permanently when the young shrooms reach the top of the container.
Commercial growers in this country use plastic grow bags, which like all plastics, end up in our enormous waste stream. The glass canisters, with proper treatment, could last for generations. As far as single use plastics go, just remember P.I.E.–Plastic Is Evil. Last week, for the first time, plastic microbeads were found in some dude’s bloodstream.
The second flush of basement grown Oyster mushrooms is here, with a couple of whopper specimens. The smaller one went into this pate, and the larger one is going into mushroom gravy for our roast chicken tonight. Another species has already started eating coffee grounds in a new one gallon glass canister we bought. My plan is to have five or six different varieties of Oyster mushrooms started by the end of the summer.
1 tablespoon Bacon Fat (rendered from Lard de Poitrine, fatty Bacon)
1 tablespoon Butter
1 medium Oyster Mushroom, chopped
1/4 pound Chicken Livers
1 crushed clove of Garlic
2 tablespoons Brandy (or more)
Melt the butter and bacon fat, and briefly saute the chopped mushrooms. Add the chicken livers and cook until they are done to your liking–four or five minutes. cook the garlic for about a minute, and then set the whole thing on fire with the brandy. Whoosh! It’s as much fun as the Leo DiCaprio character had at the end of the movie Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.
The finished product, before it heads for the refrigernator for an overnight visit:
I must have used more livers than I thought, as that looks like about seven ounces of pate. It was zapped in a food processor with a few drops of cream, and will be covered in plastic wrap so it will be ready to be devoured beginning tomorrow.That big Oyster mushroom next to it? Not so lucky. It’s on the chopping block for tonight.
I admit to being skeptical of the sites on the inter webs that claim you can grow mushrooms from stems on moist cardboard, but I will kiss your butt on Twentieth Street in Birmingham if they’re not right. Those white furry things you see are mycelium, which are the mushroom equivalent of roots–only they grow incredibly fast. In fact, oyster mushrooms will feed on almost any kind of cellulose, including cardboard.
Being of an experimental nature, and having a workshop full of hardwood sawdust, I decided to try this. The base of this mixture is about three fourths of a cup of sawdust. On top of that is a layer of Amazon box cardboard. Then there are two clumps of King Blue Oyster mushroom bases, from the Oyster mushrooms that I recently grew. Both clumps cloned themselves, and when they hit the sawdust, it was all she wrote.
Another moist layer of cardboard is on the top, and I fear that it is not aware of the death penalty that it faces. Mushrooms are more like animals than vegetables, and Oyster mushrooms are documented to have killed both nematodes and various bacteria, and then eat them. And then, all things made of wood are on the menu.
I did manage to kill off a sourdough starter that I nursed for more than a decade, but that was just negligence. As we both love fresh mushrooms, I think these are keepers. So there it is–$13.99 for a lifetime supply of mushrooms, plus some ingredients that would have ended up in the compost bin.
Barbara Kingsolver, in her great book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, describes her family’s “Harvest Day,” when they would dispatch a few turkeys and chickens to meet their maker, and also to say hello to the freezer. Later, her young daughter Lily won a 4-H award for a presentation called “You Can’t Run Away on Harvest Day.” So true.
Especially if you are harvesting mushrooms. Their mycelium may run, but not so for the edible parts. We only needed a couple of these for breakfast, so I took the two largest ones from the back.
The goal was to turn these into part of an Omelette, and here is the process. This is for two people.
Oyster Mushroom Omelette
2 jumbo or 3 medium Eggs
2 large Oyster Mushrooms
1/2 large French Shallot
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Simple enough, but not as much as it seems. The first step is to sauté the Shroom and Shallot, both of which have been chopped. However, remove the caps from the stems of the mushrooms before chopping. Even with a hybrid mushroom like these King Blue monsters, the stem is still harder and chewier than the caps. So cook them in this order.
Using your favorite omelette skillet, and naturally ours is cast iron, sauté the stems in olive oil until they begin to soften. Then and only then add the caps and shallot, and cook only briefly, as shallots are easy to burn. These just happen to be echalote traditionelle longue, straight outta France. Those were recently the subject of more than one political controversy.
In the early 2000’s some air headed US politicians banned several food imports from France, including shallots, in an attempt to score cheap political points–fortunately now they are on to similarly idiotic ideas, like banning vaccine mandates, books, and CRT. I never knew that cathode ray tubes were that bad. At least these short attention span dudes forgot about the dangers of shallots.
When the shallots and shrooms have cooked just the right length, add a mixture of eggs and cheese. Cook briefly on the stove top, and then throw the whole thing in the oven, and cook until the omelette firms up. Our oven was pre-heated, because were eating the following with this:
We served the biscuits with:
Naturally the preserves were made by yours truly. It makes a great combination, and disappeared quickly. We also still check the weather on our old Trinitron tv, which is only hooked up to an antenna. It’s CRT has withstood the years without fail.
Instead of waiting for a mushroom porn photo of a giant clump of Oyster mushrooms, here is an update. These are at the fast growth stage, and get larger overnight. My estimate is that they grew a quarter to half inch last night.
The King Blue Oysters are actually a hybrid mushroom, bred to combine the cap texture of the Blue Oyster with the size and tender stem of the King. Another perk is that they have the storage length of the King, which is rare for an Oyster mushroom.
The substrate here is just coffee grounds and filters, but we only use the unbleached (brown) filters. This has proven to be so effective that we are going to try another Oyster species soon, and drink a lot of coffee.
Time to look for some good mushroom pasta recipes. I’m thinking linguine in a mushroom garlic cream sauce.
My first el cheapo attempt at growing shrooms is looking up. Those are King Blue Oyster mushrooms that are beginning to form “knobs,” which will generate mature shrooms. These have only been in the jar for a few weeks, and we should have good shrooms by next month.
Now to explain the el cheapo part. I have had the Paul Stamets more or less bible on growing mushrooms for years, but it breezes past the easy to grow part, and is geared more toward the pro grower, which I am not. Then I ran across an article by fellow Southerner Tradd Cotter about growing Oyster shrooms on used coffee grounds. It works like a charm.
The process is this: layer used coffee grounds with the filters, and then add some mushroom spawn–I bought mine on fleabay, and they were top quality and dirt cheap. Repeat this until you reach about an inch from the top of your container. As Cotter rightly points out, this is the perfect way to recycle kitchen waste.
We should get more shrooms than we can eat here, so we will have to learn mushroom preserving methods next. I bet they will can well.
We’re having a mushroom summer this year, with endless rainfall–sorry Oregon. As climate scientists quite accurately predicted, extremes have just become more extreme, as the years pass. A few years back we had the longest drought in state history, which was over two months with zero rainfall. Last month we had right at a foot of rain.
At any rate, in the space of less a hundred square feet, I found three species of Lactarius. This blue one is the most obvious, Lactarius indigo. We usually have one every couple of years, but this year there is a cluster of six. Next to these is Lacterious deliciosus. Both are said to be right tasty. The spoiler is a huge colony of Lacterius chrysorheus, which is quite poisonous. My Falcon guide to mushrooms, written by two Virginians, naturally, says it has Type 8 toxins, which sounds like next level bad.
As much as I would like to have a big plate of the first two, I have not held up my end of a deal struck with Melanie Jane, in that I not eat any wild mushrooms until I get a certificate in Mycology. Rumor has it that there is one mycologist in Birmingham. I admittedly am somewhat attached to my liver, as long as it functions.
If you do the right thing, Karma will treat you right. MJ and I have given away so many eggs that we are getting free food in return. Long live bartering.
Case in point was the cooler full of locally grown beef that one brother-in-law gave us, and the cow was grown by yet another brother-in-law. In the pile of meat were a couple of packs of cube steak, something I had never eaten before, and usually associated with greasy spoon diners. Then I read on the interwebs that good quality cube steak is really round steak that has been pounded flat for tenderizing. This was of the best quality, and I immediately thought: Grillades.
Turning round steak into a Grillade is the classic Southern way of turning inexpensive meat into a thing a beauty, and is sometimes referred to as fried meat a la Creole. I adapted the recipe for Grillades with Gravy from the latest reprint of the Picayune’s Creole Cook Book, and the result was unbelievably good.
4 inch squares of pounded Round Steak, seasoned highly with Salt and Pepper
6 large Mushrooms, sliced, and sauteed in Bacon Fat, Lard, Butter, or Oil
The recipe in the cook book uses tomatoes instead of mushrooms, but we won’t have good fresh tomatoes here for a while, and I had bunches of shrooms. Begin by cooking the onion in the bacon fat for about a minute. When they begin to soften, add the garlic. Cook until you can smell the garlic but DO NOT burn it.
Add the flour, and begin the basis for a brown roux, aka a gravy. Stir regularly, as a roux is also known as “Creole Napalm.” When you get to a brown color to your liking, add the Grillades to the top of the roux, along with the mushrooms. Add the water and stir. Mine looked like this.
That’s my favorite heavy cast iron skillet. Close it about 7/8 of the way with an equally heavy cast iron lid. Stir regularly, because even with the stove set at the lowest setting, this sauce will stick and burn, and the dish is ruined. Add more water when the gravy begins to thicken excessively. Simmer a minimum of thirty minutes, though we just cook ours until it is completely tender. This cooked forty or forty five minutes.
Serve over Louisiana, or any other good, rice, and garnish with chopped parsley, unless you enjoy food that is just really brown. That was served on one of Grandmother Lilian’s Tennessee made plates. Leftovers made the best steak and biscuit with gravy, the next morning, in history.
This beauty popped up just a few feet from our house, and I have made a very tenuous identification. When I first saw these a few years back, I matched it with a picture and description in my field guide to be Lactarius rubrilacteus. This one looks even closer to the photo than the first ones did.
These are apparently quite tasty, as they are closely related to Lactariusdeliciosus. Alas, I will never know or not, unless a professional mycologist shows up at the door with a skillet and some olive oil. They will still have to take the first bite.
Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. In this case, it was Easter Turkey, instead of Easter Ham. I can’t say that I have any reason to complain about the result.
The backstory: I wasn’t about to drive to the BHAM to buy a quality ham, so we fished out a 20+ pound turkey from our freezer, a Christmas gift from MJ’s employer. It was time to go all Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on this bird.
Like Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill, I needed Japanese steel for this job. There are five cuts necessary for this dish, and I pulled out MJ’s massive Japanese cleaver. Cutting off the wing tips, and throwing them into the stock pot, are the two easy ones. Then the thighs/legs come off in one piece each. Finally, the back is removed, and it joins the wing tips in the stock pot. I forgot that the giblets get boiled. Those are for giblet gravy.
Brine the Turkey parts overnight in a standard salty brine, and make the stock and a large skillet full of cornbread to use as the base for the dressing. My cornbread has no flour in it, because I use the fine ground McEwen and Sons organic cornmeal. Other wise, it’s a typical cornbread. The next day, it’s time to reconstruct the bird.
The bird rests on a big pile of Cornbread Dressing, which consists of a regular, crumbled cornbread, egg, turkey stock, cooked celery and onion dressing, with two important additions. A. D. Livingston says include a cup of croutons for some crunch, and my addition is a good hand full of reconstituted dried porcini mushrooms, which are chopped and added after soaking, along with some of the porcini water, to add a little mushroom flavor to the dressing.
Put the bird back together in a manner resembling how it looked before it was dismembered. We also baste ours regularly with melted butter while it cooks, in a 375 degree F oven. That dark brown color is a good indictor of the fowl being cooked through. That big French roasting pan is quite an improvement over the gigantic cast iron skillet we formerly used. All the meaty part of a twenty pound turkey in a ten pound skillet will strain the sturdiest oven rack.
So thanks to Julia and Jacques for forever ending the stuffing of a Turkey cavity. These brined birds stay juicy and tender, and the legs can be removed early, if they cook faster than the breast does. Put them back in to re-warm just before the cooking is finished, and you once again have a reconstructed Deconstructed Turkey.