Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mysterious Mycelium or Ordinary Mushroom?

Perhaps you have never considered the origin of every ones favorite fungus. Delicious stroganoffs, robust Italian red sauces brimming with caramelized mycelium and spicy schezwan dishes loaded with our versatile little friends. No matter what your taste in food, I have yet to meet anyone who was not some kind of a fan of the earthy mushroom. But had you really considered their genesis? After much debate and serious soul searching we as a family decided to attempt to grow our own Shitake mushrooms. Having had no professional training in the growth of fungus, outside the shower and the plentiful and varied crop of poisonous 'shrooms I excel at growing everywhere I don't want to, this was a slightly intimidating project. After all, what if a stray spore from a rogue poison mushroom were to somehow elbow its way into my house and set up residence among the innocent shitake crop. After ascertaining that the probability of such an occurrence happening was nil, we set about buying and setting up our Shitake Block. These inoculated sawdust blocks came from a company called Mississippi Natural Products ( Who, conveniently, happened to be selling them at my farmers market) after refrigerating them for a few days we sprayed the block down with water covered it with an included humidity bag and left it to its mysterious Myceliumn self ,on our kitchen counter top. Within days bulges appeared, and shortly there after ,whole recognisable mushrooms took form. This was better than any magic, add water and it grows, toy we ever got as kids. It is a wonder this block grew at all with the amount of watching it got. The good news is Mushrooms are not adversely affected by to much attention. When the exciting day came to harvest, everyone had a hand it. I would say there must have been at least two pounds of mushrooms on this block. Very little cleanup needed to be done before caramelizing these beauties in some coconut oil, worchestshire, garlic and white wine. A spattering of gray salt was added and every mushroom consumed with in minutes of serving. Since then, I have used them in hot and sour soup and spaghetti as well. Everyone is enchanted by the process of culinary mushroom growing and we are now considering broadening our horizons and cultivating button and portabello varieties as well. You have to appreciate a crop of anything that can be grown in a compact space on your counter and provide such entertainment for the whole family to boot. Particularly, when the item in question, merely sits in one spot like a lump on a log.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

That first steps a doozy...

As you can see, that is clearly an understatement. For those of you who have only just gotten past the title of this blog do to the dubious spelling of the word doozy feel free to call me and give me the correct spelling. Lets remember, however, that it will automatically identify you as a member of the over sixty crowd, as the under thirty crowd has never even heard the word before. But.....I digress. To the casual onlooker this staircase may seem to be less than safe and almost impossible to maneuver, however this is an actual improvement. Impossible! you exclaim in horror. I assure you, previous to the removal of the floor, the stairs were like every other stairway in our little town, built for incredibly petite, somewhat anorexic women who had had their feet bound as children in China. Moving furniture up for this select group of inhabitants must have been a piece of cake. If you are unfortunately, of a taller stature somewhat wider and somehow managed to avoid having your feet bound you and your furniture were out of luck. The new stairs currently being built will accommodate feet of all sizes and furniture for full grown people and with any luck the first step will be much less of a doozy.

Way down South...

Way down South stands a beautiful old house...with no floor. Where did the floor go you may even now be asking yourselves. Luckily in this instance we actually meant the floor to come up. If there is one thing that is in no short supply in the South, besides craw fish and shrimp po-boys it would be old houses that haven't had a lick of fixin in forever. So when we bought this gem of a project we knew it would need updating and being head over heal in love with history I was enchanted with the idea. Three years later I am no less enchanted ...just covered in grime. Taking Her , our pretty Victorian Lady down to her skivvies has been dirty work. Upon opening one wall we found the wall constructed from old door jams, still completely intact. You gotta do what you gotta do. I have to respect the ingenuity that is inherent to the American experience that allows us to persevere under whatever circumstances we face. So when you have a perfectly good door jam and limited funds...well it just makes good sense. In the South we have been recycling since before it was cool!

In our neck of the woods houses don't stay where you put them. So after a century of slow migration it was rather imperative that we re-do the floor joists and settle them securely on mostly new piers. That is definitely where the real fun begins. Two jacks...brothers, go husband and a smaller jack ( the non-human variety) spent a frustrating morning driving piers deeply into the ground. Before you set pen to paper in a quest to find out from me why they would spend time pursuing this unclear past time. Let me assure you this was not intentional and therefore involved a lot of spitting ( not my husband) and standing in a group with heads cocked to the side. Before you shake your head in disgust, unless you have tried leveling a house in a swamp...well, enough said. Eventually they either hit the backside of China or a well placed rock and the house was declared level...enough. The good news is the floors are going in faster than they came out and I anticipate a day soon when I will walk the floors without fear of my leg going through to the earth below, sadly an experience we have had. Have no fear in the greatest of traditions we are planing all the floors down and re-using them however there will be no doorways used to re-frame the walls ...we're saving those for the roof.

One should always begin at...well, wherever one happened to leave off.

The truth is, this may be the beginning of this blog, but this is far from the beginning. So, I thought, do I start at the beginning and if so ...which beginning. My childrens, my marriage, my birth the creation of the world. I am sure you will be relieved to know that after much deep thought, a few glasses of iced lemon water and a quick check on the progress at the Cherry St house ( our 110 year old victorian we are currently remodeling), the present seemed the best place to start. I am relativley certain however that during our discourse you will at some point or another be exposed to snippets of any of the above subjects. When you are, you may discreetly yawn and scroll quickly down the page until I get to a more interesting topic. I shan't be the least bit offended since I can niether see nor hear you. For those of you who feel the need to call me and tell me that my memory on the subject of my birth is not accurately depicted ( and you know who you are) ...get your own blog.