Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Hiatus

Last Wednesday, Ralph's sister and niece were involved in a very serious car accident under wintry road conditions. Our niece was released from hospital, but Yvonne is now in a coma at St.Mike's Hospital in Toronto. The trauma team there is incredible, and the support we have been receiving from other family members, friends and neighbours has been heartlifting. As the medical team tries to help her regain consciousness, and the surgeons continue to repair her battered body, we welcome your thoughts and prayers.

Anyone wishing to track Yvonne's progress can do so at "Yvonne's Journey" -

Thanks, Julie and Ralph

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Story of Ralph and Julie...In the Beginning

After all these posts, many of you are probably curious about how we got started in the mushroom business. For over 30 years, there was an egg-laying operation at the farm, started by the two senior Baumlisbergers, Eugene and Irma. When they sold their quota, the two barns were empty and waiting for the next venture, to be spearheaded by Ralph. A friend of a friend was interested in using the buildings for growing mushrooms, so we looked into it and realized that it was actually a perfect fit for our existing infrastructure (storage space, coolers, trucks, packing area, and of course, the two barns) In the end, we decided to do it ourselves, and the rest, as they say, is history.

We were fortunate to make a connection with a wonderful mushroom grower and wholesaler within an hour's drive of our farm, who patiently helped us get started. We purchased 30 large blue oyster mushroom blocks from him and harvested our very first crop within a short time. Exciting days, indeed! So different from the hens! Alot quieter, but still needing attention every day.

More to come in the days ahead...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

They come in all shapes and sizes..apparently!

Here is an extremely unsually shaped shiitake mushroom I picked today. The consensus at the farm was that it is a kneeling figure...what do you think? (Absolutely nothing was picked off or added, this is how it was picked . There is even brown sawdust at the back of it that I didn't trim off.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Recipe: Shiitake and Leek Penne

These are the first flush of a new shiitake crop. We grow on enriched hardwood sawdust blocks, with our first pick coming approximately 5 months after innoculation. The blocks will fruit for 1 1/2 to 2 months, with cleaning and soaking in between flushes.

The following recipe is from a new recipe book I got from my children for Christmas, Mollie Katzen's "Vegetable Heaven", with a few changes...

3 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cups cleaned, minced leeks (about 2 large leeks)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
2 large handfuls fresh spinach
5-10 large raw shrimp, rinsed and shelled (optional)
3/4 to 1 pound penne
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Saute the leeks for about 5 minutes in the olive oil, stir in mushrooms and salt, and cook for about 10 more minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp, and cook til just done, then add spinach leaves and cook until wilted, stirring every few minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large potful of water to boil, and cook pasta until just tender. Drain, transfer to serving bowl and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Immediately sprinkle with cheese and stir well. Pour sauce over pasta, mix well from the bottom. Top with fresh ground black pepper and enjoy!