Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Peace

We've been keeping busy these days, trying to juggle day-to-day commitments with holiday preparations. Our son, Phillip, has been home from his studies in Sudbury, and we've welcomed the extra help!

As we all bustle about, finishing our shopping, baking and house cleaning, enjoying evening get-togethers with friends and neighbours, let us all remember to take time for ourselves and each other. It is so easy to get caught up in rushing about...this is the one time of the year when we need to slow down and enjoy.

No matter what holiday you celebrate, we wish you all a peaceful and joyful time with your loved ones. Make sure to take advantage of the mistletoe whenever you see it!

All the Best for the coming year, and a Very Merry Christmas from Natalie, Phillip, Ralph and Julie Baumlisberger

Monday, December 14, 2009

Growing Shiitakes

This is a heart-shaped shiitake mushroom we picked this morning!

Although Blue Oysters are the mainstay of our growing operation, we also grow shiitake mushrooms. With their woodsy aroma, and robust flavour and structure, they are fabulous for winter stews and stir fries. Today, I cooked a rump roast of beef that was raised by a local farmer and friend. Paired up with some Ontario leeks, carrots and our homegrown shiitake mushrooms, it was a dinnertime feast. Because of their dense structure, the shiitakes keep their shape, even after roasting for several hours, and the flavour they contribute to the gravy is out of this world.

Next time you cook a roast, throw in half a pound of shiitake mushroom caps - you don't even have to slice them up, just remove the stems and maybe cut the larger caps in half. Bon appetit!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

RECIPE: Cream of Mushroom Soup

Great on those blustery, wintery Ontario days... like today!

1 1/2 lb. mushrooms (any variety you like, I use Blue Oysters) chopped
1 small onion, chopped
6 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. flour
6 c. milk
3/4 c. heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook mushrooms, onion and stock in large pot, covered, for 30 mins. Puree slightly with hand-held blender (optional). In separate pot, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 2 - 3 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in milk. Add mushroom puree. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool slightly, stir in cream and serve immediately.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Mushroom Growing 101

When people find out we grow mushrooms on our farm, we are often amused at their preconceived ideas about the whole process. Let's clear up some of those assumptions...(for the record, we grow Blue Oyster, Yellow Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms, twelve months a year)

Blue Oyster & Shiitake Mushrooms require manure to grow.
Nope! That's because they are "saprophytic" - in the wild, these mushrooms are found growing on dead organic material, such as tree stumps, and are actually part of the decaying process. Different varieties of mushrooms have different growing requirements.

Mushrooms grow in the dark.
Just like the idea about growing in manure, this is a popular misconception. Our growing rooms have the lights on for 11 or 12 hours a day.

Specialty mushrooms are hard to cook.
Far from it! Yes, there are lots of recipes that can be a bit more complicated, but it's as simple as slicing a few raw shiitake caps into your salad, or frying up some sliced blue oysters with butter, onions and garlic to serve alongside your steak. Watch for lots of great recipes on this site.

Mushrooms will go bad quickly if you don't use them up in a few days.

The best way to store oyster and shiitake mushrooms is unwashed, in a paper bag in your refrigerator. I have never had our mushrooms go bad or spoil - the only thing to watch for is that they will dehydrate with time. They are over 80% water, after all. The blue oyster mushrooms, if purchased fresh and stored properly, will last a week to ten days, and the shiitakes up to 2 weeks....but we bet you'll eat them up well before that!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stay Tuned!

Welcome to our new online meeting place! We will be using this space to keep you informed about what we do - growing mushrooms. Lots of recipes, health information, updates about farmers' markets and eating local.

Until later,

Julie & Ralph Baumlisberger

RECIPE: Oyster Mushroom Dip

Great for holiday entertaining!

3/4 lb. blue oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. parsley, minced
1 8 oz.pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
sea salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In large skillet, saute mushrooms, garlic and onion in oil, until onion becomes translucent (about 5 - 8 minutes). Add parsley. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, use a food processor or hand blender to cream the cheese. When mushroom mix has cooled, add to cheese and process, leaving as chunky or as smooth as you like. Salt and pepper to taste.

Makes approx. 2 cups of dip.

Serve with crackers, pita chips or raw veggies. Enjoy!