Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 25: Perspective

This is the end. Of the the Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, that is. The last few days have been tough. I designed it that way so it would give me a chance to build up to the meals that would be the most trying. So at least I got that right. However, tonight Roasted Mushroomswasn’t so bad. I piled up a variety of mushrooms, cooked them whole and ate them. Simple as that.

Also, I was allowed to use a fork. Being able to cut the mushrooms rather than bite into them like finger food does make a difference for me. The texture didn’t seem as bad as it usually does and the taste was completely okay. A month ago I was thinking I was an idiot for taking on this challenge. Now, I’m glad I did. I pried my mind open and it was a good thing. (There’s a lesson in that, folks.)

I won’t say that I like mushrooms. I know that I still prefer not to eat them, but I also know that I don’t have quite the same revulsion as I did before. Perhaps, in time, this too would change. Eating mushrooms every day is a bit tedious. There were many days where my longing for some other form of food had nothing to do with my aversion for mushrooms. You know that old situational question? If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Your answer doesn’t even matter because if you choose your favourite food – it will soon become everything but your favourite food. You’re screwed no matter what. This was almost like that. Mushrooms, mushrooms, and more mushrooms.

However, by resigning myself to my fate it allowed me to bring down my barriers and gave me the chance to overcome the hatred. There is definitely something to be said for facing your fears head on. This might seem like a goofy little challenge trying to eat something I hate, but the implications are much more widespread than that. I really want to stress that what I went through can be applied to a lot of other situations where it’s not just about fear, but perspective. That’s the big thing. Perspective. My family would never think that I would ever do this. They’re the ones who know just how innate my issue with mushrooms is, but I tried it and my perspective has changed. It doesn’t matter who you are or what kind of perspective we’re talking about – that’s an impressive thing.

It does make you think you are capable of anything. You might have specific situational restrictions, but nothing is harder to overcome than the way you think about something. If you can do that, can’t you do anything?

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Roasted Mushrooms: chanterelles, white mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, portobello mushroom, garlic, smoke, salt, and pepper

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 24: Mushroom Roulette

I’ve learned a few things over the past few mush meals and that has caused me to do the old switcheroo for the remaining two feasts. Initially this was supposed to be the grande finale of the challenge, but now it’s the penultimate meal.

While perusing mushroom-based dishes, I saw a picture for a ragu. Now, it’s already been established that I’m not proficient in the kitchen so it should come as no surprise that I had no idea what a ragu was. Based on the picture it just looked disgusting to me and earned top spot as my hypothesized worst meal. I didn’t look too much further into it than that. It looked gross and like it was maybe a soupy tapas type thing. It’s not.

I cooked it according to the recipe, but then had no idea how I was supposed to eat it so I turned on the internet and looked it up. Supposedly it’s some sort of sauce that goes on pasta. My cupboard’s are bare (I mean, really, I’m spending all my dough on mushrooms… I open the fridge door and it just smells like Toadstools den…) so I didn’t have pasta. Luckily I didn’t try to eat it like soup. That would have been bad. Instead, I whipped up some rice and did a little improvising.

Also important to note (a lesson I learned in the nick of time) is that marsala is wine. Not masala. Who knew one letter could make such a world of difference?

Now, where things get tricky is with the sheer variety of mushrooms that I loaded this second-to-last meal with. When it came down to the eating, it was some pretty shady business. One mouthful might be full of shiitake mushrooms, another might be chanterelle, and yet another might be shimeji.Shimeji Mushroom

[Side note: That last mushroom (the shimeji) really creeped me out. All the stems huddled together into one clump and it felt like there were a million tiny little mushroom cap heads poking out. I couldn’t even look at it – a strange, inexplicable fear that it was some Medusa-like reincarnation nagged at the corner of my mind and as I brought the knife below the mushroom caps, I almost felt that a single cut would cause the network of mushrooms to squeal or hiss like a hundred snake heads ready to attack.]

Mushroom RaguBy putting so many different varieties together, it made it very clear that there really are some mushrooms that are better than others. But I’ll never know which ones. They were all diced up and looked the same to me so every fork-full was full of trepidation. Will I get lucky? Will it be a good one? An okay one? A bad one? Which ones are the bad ones? I can’t tell. What’s this? Is this even a mushroom? It must be. It has to be. Oh, wait, no. It’s just rice and parmesan. My hands start to sweat. I fidget, eyeing up the plate of mushrooms from the corner of my eye. This is ridiculous. The meal isn’t even bad. But you don’t know what you’re putting in your mouth! Oh hell, just pull the trigger already.

Mushroom roulette is not for me.

The meal was better than I had expected, although serving it with rice was really a saving grace. However, I will now forever be perplexed by which mushrooms are okay… because I distinctly remember one precise fork-fullwhere the mushroom that was in it was maybe the best mushroom ever. We all know that my saying that isn’t really an honour. Not when it comes from me.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Ragu – chanterelles, white mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, onion, garlic, chicken broth, cream, parsley, and parmesan

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 22: Death Skulls & The One-Bite Heartbreak

I’m a little furious over today’s recipe. Aside from MushBurg One, I’ve finished every meal until this catastrophe.

When I chose what recipes I would take on at the beginning, I stumbled across “Mushroom Skulls” and it just seemed so perfect. The name was accurate given that mushrooms have historically made me feel like death, the recipe had just two ingredients, and there was a bit of artistic work involved in making them look like skulls. Unfortunately, I only glanced over the instructions. It seemed simple so I thought it was a slam dunk of a recipe. Wrong.

Mushroom Skulls

 

You cook the mushrooms and then you let them get cold. Again, I didn’t think too much of this until they were getting cold and when I touched them the wrongness of the situation came rushing at me like an avalanche of dawning horror. This was not supposed to be the worst meal. However, today I tumbled and fell and crashed and burned. I’m talking half a mushroom here. I ate half a mushroom. One bite.

This is incredibly disappointing. I was doing so well. I didn’t even see it coming. Blind-sided by a death skull… Half a stinkin’ mushroom!

This recipe is ridiculous. A fresh whole, uncooked mushroom – I got it. Even a cooked mushroom – I stand a decent chance. But a cooked mushroom that sits on the counter until it gets cold? Why? Why would someone do that? It’s not good. It’s not okay. It’s every sort of awful.

I bit into it and the texture wasn’t like a fresh mushroom; it was like a cooked mushroom because, obviously, it was cooked once upon a time. And it was cold so it was like the equivalent of drinking cold coffee. Not iced coffee, mind you, but your piping hot, brewed up exactly right cup of coffee that you absent-mindedly let sit on the counter until you pick it up three-quarters of an hour later, take a big gulp and realize how much time has passed because it feels like the cold kiss of death on your lips.

I looked at the other half of the mushroom that I still held in my hand while trying to swallow the first bite. It was gray and gelatin looking – like something that wasn’t cooked, but should have been – almost like a cross-section of fat that had sat on the counter until it started to go bad and turned gray. I could feel that cold, decaying fat slab in my mouth. There was no escape. It had to go down. I swallowed… and I was done.

One bite. Heartbreaking.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Mushroom Skulls – white button mushrooms and balsamic vinegar

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 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