Mushroom Log: Supermarket ‘Shrooms

Criminis courtesy of Rebecca Siegel

Criminis courtesy of Rebecca Siegel

Mushrooms occupy a strange place in our palates. Neither part of the plant or the animal kingdom, they are an oft-feared addition to any meal. Yet the little decomposers beneath our feet have tremendous health benefits for our bodies and for our planet. In the spirit of reviving the good name of mushrooms everywhere, Dear Food presents an in-depth look at the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of the mushroom world.

Latin name: Agaricus bisporus (and Agaricus hortensis)

Other names: button mushroom, white mushrooms, crimini (or cremini), portabella (or portobello, portabello, portobella), cultivated mushroom

Ever since I began my journey into the world of mushrooms, I’ve gotten a kick out of the mushroom section of grocery stores. There is some clever marketing going on in that section. You may have already guessed, but here’s the secret: most of those mushrooms are really the same kind.

Dear Cold Brewed Chocolate, You Are Like Hot Chocolate’s Older, More Sophisticated Sibling

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Many moons ago, I learned of cold brewed coffee, a wonderful concoction in which coffee is brewed in cold water over the course of 10 or 12 hours, when it was mentioned in Cory Doctorow’s fantastic novel Homeland. Of course, I immediately had to put the book down, grind up half a cup’s worth of coffee beans and immerse them in two cups of water. As these were the days I worked night shift, I brought my brew with me and downed the whole thing 10 hours later… which was approximately 12:00 at night.

Those who have drank undiluted cold brew know what’s coming next. Little did I know, cold brewed coffee is highly concentrated. I wound up drinking an entire pot’s worth of caffeine in those two cups and then wondered why I was shaking when I went home an hour later. I, uh, don’t always think things through.

Nonetheless, cold brewed coffee is delicious (in moderation)–it’s stronger and less acidic than its traditionally brewed counterpart. I can thank Cory Doctorow for teaching me about it, which is why, when he posted an article about cold brewed chocolate on his blog the other day, I knew I had to try it.

Sourdough Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

A tasty-looking homemade pizza courtesy of Food Recipes (follow the link for an alternate pizza crust recipe!)

A tasty-looking homemade pizza courtesy of Food Recipes (follow the link for an alternate pizza crust recipe!)

I know, I know: pizza gets a terrible rap in America. It’s a big ol’ disk of greasy cheese and possibly a meat-like substance that your parents got when they didn’t want to cook dinner that night. Or what your high school or college got in order to lure unsuspecting students to an event. You can get good pizza, but it involves going to a restaurant somewhere and spending a bit more than you probably want because it’s a pizza for crying out loud  (this is not to say that pizza from fancy restaurants is not delicious–we just have a stigma). And don’t even get me started on the whole “artisanal” pizza thing.  

But I have seen the light.  Today, I am here today as a pizza-missionary, seeking to cure our starved pizza-culture. Believe it or not, you can make good pizza at home. I am by no means a pizza-expert–nay, merely an amateur–but I have learned this: it all starts with the crust. 

Delicious Ramen From Scratch

misoRamen

Having successfully and single-handedly dispelled the myth that college students live off of ramen, I have a confession to make: I straight up love ramen. I haven’t had any store-bought noodles for a long while because they’re really not healthy, but they’re so warm and salty it’s hard to resist.

So, naturally, I have been looking for homemade ramen recipes to replace the prepackaged stuff while still getting my noodle fix. After months of searching and many failed attempts, I have finally found it. 

Mushroom Log: Fly Agaric

Photo credit/E. Dronkert

Photo credit/E. Dronkert

 

Mushrooms occupy a strange place in our palates. Neither part of the plant or the animal kingdom, they are an oft-feared addition to any meal. Yet the little decomposers beneath our feet have tremendous health benefits for our bodies and for our planet. In the spirit of reviving the good name of mushrooms everywhere, Dear Food presents an in-depth look at the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of the mushroom world.

Latin name: Amanita muscaria

Other names: Fly Amanita

Disclaimer: Look, I know this is a food blog, but please don’t eat this mushroom. It’s probably more important to know what mushrooms you shouldn’t eat than the ones that you should, and this is one that you most definitely shouldn’t.

But isn’t it pretty?

Mushroom Log: Lion’s Mane

It's obvious why this mushroom got its name. Flickr/Wendell Smith

It’s obvious why this mushroom got its name. Flickr/Wendell Smith

Mushrooms occupy a strange place in our palates. Neither part of the plant or the animal kingdom, they are a oft-feared addition to any meal. Yet the little decomposers beneath our feet have tremendous health benefits for our bodies and for our planet. In the spirit of reviving the good name of mushrooms everywhere, Dear Food presents an in-depth look at the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of the mushroom world.

Latin name: Hericium erinaceus

Other names: Old Man’s Beard, Pom-Pom Mushroom, Monkey Head Mushroom

The Lion’s Mane mushroom holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first mushrooms that I collected from the wild—and the first one that I ate. I found some of these guys growing a lot on an off-beaten path on campus, cautiously poked one (they do not look like mushrooms), went home to do a ton of research and eagerly returned to collect. In all, I wound up with quite a few pounds of Lion’s Mane and let me tell you: they were good.

Dear Sourdough Starter (plus a recipe!),

Beautiful sourdough baguette! Photo credit/Connie Ma

Beautiful sourdough baguette! Photo credit/Connie Ma

A few months ago, I wanted to make bread, but I had a problem: I didn’t want to buy a an $8 jar of baker’s yeast because I probably wouldn’t use most of it and the unused yeast would just die. I also didn’t want to buy some of the little packets of yeast because that’s ultimately, like, one-third of the yeast for the same amount of money.

So I had a brilliant idea: I will get myself a gooey mess of active yeast and bacteria that has to be periodically fed with flour and water lest it dies, thereby forever creating more work for myself just so I don’t have to shell out $8 for a jar of yeast.

That, my friends, is how I got a sourdough starter.