Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 21: Me Vs My Childhood Horror

It took me a quarter of an hour just to get up enough gumption to take the first spoonful of today’s meal. Needless to say, it was a long and difficult meal. I will admit that it didn’t need to be. Throughout it I kept inwardly reminding myself that it’s not as bad as you think it is. But it was like playing a mind game with myself (crazy right?) because my guts kept telling me that yes. Yes it is that bad.

So even though I knew it wasn’t so horribly, life-endingly bad, I still couldn’t overcome my feelings towards the soup. However, I did manage to get through it and I now feel a bit foolish for my childhood self and the big stink I would throw when my folks busted out the mushroom soup. It is still quite ingrained, but I don’t need a puke bucket anymore… so… sorry ma, sorry pa!

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Cream of Mushroom Soup (from a can)

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 20: ‘Magic’ Mushrooms

The work day ends and I hit the streets – on the hunt for Christmas presents. The big day is getting close and I’m not prepared. Natural sunlight has long since left for the day and by the time I make it back home I’m well into the evening hours. I have, however, called in the reinforcements so I have a mushroom meal already almost ready as I open the door.

My dining companion stands in front of the stove flipping burgers. Today I am trying mushrooms burgers for the third time. The first mushroom burger was a regular veggie patty smothered in sliced mushrooms, the second was store-bought pre-made burgers, and today I am having the grand-daddy of mush-burgs: The Portobello mushroom burger (the real kind where the patty is the whole mushroom cap.)

I look at the burgers in the fry pan and I’m astonished.

“Wow! Those don’t even look like mushrooms.” And they don’t. They look like meat burgers. They also smell like meat burgers and it seems impossible that a gigantic mushroom cap can transform so completely when it’s fried up.

As I do a mini-photoshoot of the burgers, lifting the bun, capturing different angles, I’m impressed all over again. The seemingly impossible transition has me on edge. When it the other shoe going to drop?

Lifting the burger to my mouth, I think of the gills and the texture and take a tiny bite. It seems just fine. I take another bite, a bigger one. And then another. Halfway through the burger I realize that it is absolutely delicious. There is no other shoe! It must be the Portobello mushroom – in each meal they’ve been in, I’ve been fine. Maybe it really is a mushroom with special edible capabilities.

“So how did you make them? Did you cut out the gills and the stem? I can’t see any remnants of them. It’s crazy – they look like a real burger.”

My dining companion turns to me, brow furrowed, with a look of suspicious puzzlement. “What? No. You wanted me to pick through the patties and take those pieces out?”

*a long pause*


The shoe drops.

“I got these from the mushroom burger package in the freezer.”

All at once, everything clicks into place and I realize I’ve been had. These aren’t Portobello mushroom cap burgers at all. They are, in fact, the same burgers I’ve already eaten on Day 12. I close my eyes and groan at my stupidity. It all makes sense. There’s no way a mushroom cap could just magically transform into something that looks, tastes, and smells like something better.

I never specified that I had to eat a different type of mush meal each day, but that was something I was trying to do. That is now no longer a possibility. I am a bit disappointed because I had thought the giant mushroom cap as the patty would be a really good test of where I stand, but now I must forge on ahead to the rest of the remaining meals.

I’ve done a lot of embarrassing things in my challenges. This one is kind of up there. I mean, I was halfway through my meal before I even realized something was amiss…

Comparison of Portobello Mushroom Burgers


I just never thought my dining companion would trick me like that. I never saw it coming.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

‘Magic’ Burgers – portobello & white mushrooms, swiss cheese, cheddar, provolone, avocado, onions, chipotle, and buns

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 19: Flavour Progress

So far I’ve been working on tolerating mushrooms (with varying degrees of success), but today I admitted out loud that they actually tasted good. I still didn’t appreciate their texture, but the taste really was good.

I have maybe broken out of my shutting-the-door-in-the-face-of-the–confrontation-of-my-own-pre-conceived –notions-of-how-mushrooms-taste tendency because I’ve been told multiple times that mushrooms generally just take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked with, but haven’t been able to accept that as a reality. I mean, I still don’t think this is always the case, but today it certainly was. They were cooked up with fresh Tortellini Mushroom Pastadill, lemon and parmesan in a tortellini pasta and that is exactly what they tasted like – a perfect dilly, lemon, cheesy blend of delicious. Too bad I’m still battling with the texture. Otherwise it would have been a perfect meal.

Nevertheless! It is still progress so that’s just a tad bit awesome.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Tortellini Pasta – Cremini mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, dill, lemon, and parmesan

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 18: Where’s The Beef?

I ate a Salisbury Steak in “rich gravy” for lunch. The most disappointing thing wasn’t actually the mushrooms. It was the bite-sized hunk of what they called steak.

While the mushrooms were terrible in that they were the kind you’ll find in pre-packaged food, my dislike for them was actually surpassed by the disgust I held for the steak. It’s a different kind of disgust from my mushroom disgust. It’s the same difference of when your parents say “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.” And it cuts you right to the core. I was the disappointed parent today, slowly shaking my head at what people are calling steak.

It even came with a “tastes like home” guarantee. Sorry, but no it doesn’t. I come from the land of AAA beef piled up in freezers all across the county. I know a good steak when I eat one. This sucker was so low on the steak scale it didn’t even compute. I mean, I’m struggling to even say that it’s real food. Salisbury SteakFirst of all, it doesn’t matter how tender a steak is – you should not be able to cut it with the edge of a fork, especially as easily as I did with this one; it was pretty much like eating beef flavoured porridge. Second, it shouldn’t be all pasted together like a grey, somewhat edible version of plywood. Third, no steak should ever be cooked in a microwave!

Am I a steak snob? No. I just have steak standards.

I guess the lesson here is that no matter how much you dislike something, there is always something worse out there to distract you. Geez. That’s a little depressing. Let’s end this a bit more positively. When things seem bad, just know that they only seem that way because you’ve also had/seen/experienced better and that it still exists out there somewhere. Like a good steak. They’re out there. You (I) will find it.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Salisbury Steak  – mushrooms, gravy, mashed potatoes, and “steak”

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 17: Holy Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttake.

I have spent a lifetime picking mushrooms out of meals. This is the first – and probably only – day that I did the reverse. THE REVERSE. I scraped away all of the other ingredients in today’s casserole and dumped them in the garbage bin until only the mushrooms remained.

How on earth can this possibly be my reality?

Well…. Because although I wouldn’t say that I am horrible in the kitchen, I also wouldn’t say that I am particularly gifted in there either.

Due to some life choices, I needed to have my mush meal during lunch rather than at supper and it was an unavoidable-needed-to-be-cooked-like-real-food-and-not-alphagettis-nuked-in-the-microwave type situation. But I don’t have enough time to whip up a family of four casserole over a short noon hour so I pulled out the old slow cooker.

That thing is the greatest of all inventions. It’s saved people time, heck, it’s probably even saved relationships. Lives! All of humanity! The crock pot is idiot-proof. Just slice, dice, toss, click and let it do its thing while you bugger off all day and then come back to a tender, perfect meal of awesome. That is how it’s supposed to work. That’s how it has always worked.

Until today. My first mistake was that I didn’t plug it in. So when I came home at lunch everything was exactly how I left it. No soft warmth to greet me at the door. No down-home smell wafting towards me. Just a cold pot of stuff probably gaining bacteria while sitting on the counter. With no options, I had to revamp my game plan. Wait until tomorrow or put that sucker on high and scarf it all down after work?

I’m not the patient type. So I plugged it in, slapped it over to high and went on my hungry way.

My second mistake was pouring 3 cups of rice into it and not nearly enough liquid. So this time, when I came home I was met with a warm fragrance laced with… burn. I think it takes real talent to be able to mess up a crock pot meal. It takes a special kind of intelligence to burn food in a crock pot, but I pulled out all the stops and managed to do it.

Slow Cooker Caserole

Now, because I didn’t have proper liquid proportions, those 3 cups of rice didn’t cook. So the entire thing  was just a mishmash of mistakes and altogether quite unsuitable for the eating… and I’m not even talking about the mushrooms. Oh the horror!

So with hard, uncooked kernels of rice and the black, burnt charred remains of broccoli and cheese…. I basically tried to eat two-face for supper.

On top of all that, the only solution was to pick through the casserole in my old Mush-Detective ways, and (this is crazy) save the mushrooms.

Today was just not my day.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Casserole: shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, cream, chicken stock, broccoli, cheddar, Monterey cheese, and rice