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

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 16: Mush Puff Pastry

The last thing I wanted to do today was eat mushrooms. I mean, really. I had a couple of sporting commitments, arrived home late and needed to eat those mushrooms in the last dying minutes of the day before I went to bed.

*get it? –last thing I wanted to do’? (Maybe I’m just overtired and that seems like a clever playing of the words.)*

Anyways, I was tired so I had some puff pastries on hand that are simple as:

  1. Plop on baking sheet.
  2. Cook.
  3. Eat.

Mushroom Puff PastryThey didn’t look very good (despite that description over <<<<< there), but I was so tired my inner gag didn’t even cough. I just began the process of chewing and eventually they were all gone and I was allowed to go to bed. While not overly horrible, they were no pleasant surprises with them either. Sort of a tired meh.

Today’s Fungus Feast

Mushroom Puff Pastries –mushrooms, shiitake sauce, onions, cream cheese, pastry, and a whole lot of fake

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 15: I Mostly Hate Mushrooms

I dived into another mash Home Skilletup of breakfast and mushrooms again today. My favourite part of the meal was the perfectly cooked potatoes. My least favourite part was the perfectly cooked mushrooms.

You see, that’s the thing. As far as sliced mushrooms lurking in most meals go, I’m finding that I can eat them. I eat a little slower – not like a ravenous wild dog which is how I usually approach dinner – and that’s probably a good thing. I am still tense during the feast and once the last shroom is gone I relax immensely. I don’t seem to be outwardly gagging and I’m beating my inner gag reflex into submission, but it’s still there.. just quieter, broken, but still there. It has a tiny voice that every once in a while drifts up out of my subconscious with a trembling whisper – why?

Because I’m belligerent, obviously.

It’s more than that though. It’s about facing a fear and working through it. It’s about strengthening the mind. It’s about fostering a belief in self. Do I hate mushrooms? Yes. Do I still hate mushrooms so far into this challenge. Mostly. The point is that you if you truly set your mind to something, you can do it. I’m taking my biggest, nastiest food aversion and I’m facing it every day. It is slowly, but surely changing my perception of mushrooms. I mostly hate mushrooms. That is a far cry from an everlasting hate, disgust and the rampant refusal of allowing mushrooms to taint any food that will enter my belly. I am learning that this aversion is very real and very much an intrinsic part of who I am, but I’m also learning that I am capable of overcoming the way that I think and experience them. It is mostly the way that I think about them that I am changing, but eventually how I experience them will change with more noticeable results as well.

Read those last two sentences again.

Now think about it.

This doesn’t have to be about mushrooms. For me, right now, it is. But this can apply to anything. Read those sentences again. Think of yourself. It might be bigger than mushrooms, but whatever it is that you want to change how you think about it – just know that you can do it. It might be a battle. You might barf. But if you stick with it, you’ll make it. And you don’t actually have to be belligerent like me to do it. Just be willing to try and willing to commit to seeing it through to the end.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Home Skillet: cremini mushrooms, potatoes, green onion, eggs, cheddar, peppers, garlic, & garlic salt

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 14: Going With the Flow

I’m on a boat with no paddles and the current is taking me ever further along the winding river of mental training. There will be bumps along the bank, and there will be rapids that will make the goings rough, and there will always be an ever-present possibility of capsizing. Such is the way that the river runs.

And yet, it’s becoming seamless. I don’t need paddles. The river itself is taking me where I need to go. I’ve committed myself to this river. I’ve committed myself to seeing this challenge through to the end. Every mile is another mushroom and I collect them like tokens that unlock a piece of the mental stranglehold my food aversion holds over me. Just the act – the process – of putting one foot in front of the other, of rising to the challenge each day and putting it behind me is making it easier.

Lego SantaFor the eating of today’s mushrooms, I was in public. I knew it was a risk. I could end up making a scene. I could end up vomiting over my co-workers dinners. I could ruin Christmas. I knew this was all a possibility. I also knew that it was a slight possibility. The only mushrooms being served were fresh, whole, uncooked white mushrooms. The fear rose up as I stabbed my fork into the first one. No one is watching. Don’t wrinkle up your face. Don’t give it away. I bite into it. I’m focusing. This has to go well.

The mushroom doesn’t seem to be made of rubber. Instead, it is surprisingly easy to eat. It tastes earthy instead of dirty; the texture is interesting instead of vomit-inducing; it seems almost juicy in a fresh sort of way instead of a fungus-secretion kind of way. I eat them all easier than many of the previous days and I can’t help but wonder if it is really happening… if I am actually doing this, if my brain is being rewired and success, all of a sudden, seems possible. As if it’s not just about tolerating the mushroom and controlling my gag reflex, but that I might actually want to eat mushrooms.

But then I think of the pan of simmering, saucy shrooms and I grimace inwardly. Today was an easier day. Tomorrow may not be. I am still a work in progress and the way the mushrooms are prepared plays a very important role in how I engage with them. Nevertheless, it’s starting to seem that the current itself is carrying me along and I’m just going with the flow.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Whole, Uncooked White Mushrooms

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 13: A Blessing & A Blight

I have been called strong-willed. I have been called stubborn. Belligerent. Difficult. Persistent. Tenacious. Headstrong. Bull-headed.

I have been called all of these things (mostly by my mother) – I am a Capricorn after all. While these traits can be both a disadvantage and a blessing, I had expected them to be detrimental to me this time around. On one hand, it is this stubborn streak in me that has lent to my success in multiple challenges, but on the other it also meant that I would have to use that same stubbornness to overcome… my own stubbornness. Basically I’m a dog trying to catch my tail here.

It is my own bull-headedness that has grown my lifelong disgust and refusal to eat mushrooms. And now, I am attempting to break down that steadfast stubbornness so that I overcome this fungi related food aversion. But. It is precisely my innate stubborn persistence to succeed that will help me to do this. Wrap your head around that. Like fighting fire with fire. Except that cliché is always used to say that you can’t fight fire with fire – you just end up with a bigger fire. Only that’s wrong. You can fight fire with fire. It’s a forest fire fighting technique that doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface, but can work.

Right now, I’m putting out the fire.

That’s how it seems. I refuse to get too cocky as I still have the more intense meals to get through yet, but with today’s meal it seems like I’ve broken my food aversion will. It’s not quite success. It’s more of a resigned Welp. Another day, another mushroom. Because I have to eat them every day, I’ve been wearing down that high-strung keep that damn fungus away from me! tendency. My stubbornness to maintain this challenge through to the end seems to be triumphing over my belligerent refusal to eat mushrooms… A blessing and a blight.

Now, a little bit about the actual food from Tortilla meal with mushroomstoday. My meal was… tortilla stuff. Fancy right? It was a tasty meal. I ate the mushrooms in my resigned, mechanical way – neither enjoying them nor overwhelmingly hating them and day 13 came to an anti-climatic end.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Tortilla Stuff – white button mushrooms, corn tortillas, red, orange and yellow peppers, garlic, white onion, and green enchilada sauce