How Mushrooms Are Keeping Me From Scratching Through The Walls

The other night I watched Louis Schwartzberg’s “Fantastic Fungi” and then dreamed I was living in a dense, surreal, Disneyish forest of mushrooms. Yep. Covid quarantine may be getting to me, but after that movie, I’ll never look at a mushroom––or tree, for that matter––in the same light.

Fascinating, educational and absolutely entertaining, the movie described the complex mycelium earthscape beneath our feet. As Jeannette Catsouis wrote for The New York Times, “Louie Schwartzberg’s lightly informative, delightfully kooky documentary, “Fantastic Fungi,” offers nothing less than a model for planetary survival.

Baked Turnips with Spinach, Blue Cheese, Walnuts

Baked Turnips with Spinach, Blue Cheese, Walnuts

Which got me craving, and thus including, a variety of mushrooms on my last masked trip to the grocery. Here are my three favorite vegetarian recipes featuring mushrooms that I’ve made time and time again.

Pictured above are Buckwheat Crepes stuffed with Wild Mushrooms, Watercress and Goat Cheese, and to the right, a heavenly recipe for Baked Turnips stuffed with Mushrooms, Spinach and Blue Cheese. And I can’t forget a lovely citrusy and thyme-scented recipe for Lemony Pasta with Mushrooms and Thyme, pictured below.

Lemony Pasta with Mushrooms and Thyme

Lemony Pasta with Mushrooms and Thyme

The movie also delved into the ancient rituals and hallucinatory properties of  Psilocybin mushrooms, which are intriguing.

Although I’ve never confessed this to any of my contemporary peers––much less in a  forever out there WordPress blog––I tried Psilocybin mushrooms back in the early seventies. I was an experimental eater even then.

It was back in high school, English class, 1973. We were studying Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, or some similar ode to the natural world, and my friend (I won’t disclose her name) passed me a note, which read: “Take a bite and wait ’till night. The mushrooms undo your mind, sometimes.

I shrugged, but accepted her gift of a ‘shroom after class.  Later that evening, after dinner, I ingested the mushroom in the confines of my bedroom. The rest of the night was spent under my bed, listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It was an experience I don’t ever wish to recreate, and I was lucky to survive–reality is enough of a mind-bender for me.

Ahem. Clearly, physical partitions erected during Covid solitude have obliterated boundaries while blogging.

Frivolity aside, be well, friends. With the nicer weather, I’m paying more attention than ever to safe behavior practices. Here’s a  non-food related article, “Scratching on the Walls” I wrote for “Women Writers, Women’s Books”, that was recently published on how I’m coping when not commandeering a sauté pan.

♥♥♥

By the way, I’m one of the authors in a lovely Facebook group, Blue Sky Book Chat, which I’ve mentioned before.

We’ve just begun a free monthly newsletter, which you might fancy receiving. It’s will be a glass-half-full bite including bookish news and other amusing tidbits. Sign-up for our newsletter and get a recipe book PDF with some of our favorite dishes (-:

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A Cardinal, Talisman and Spring.

Yesterday, while sipping tea and staring out my window, I was transfixed, mesmerized by a cardinal. Perched at a feeder, I’ve come to view this red-feathered guy as a pet of ours, of sorts.

Distant Memories.

For the past couple of years, he and his partner have made a home in our backyard pine tree.  Hubby and I are bird lovers and have made our backyard–with feeders and fresh-water baths–as inviting for them as possible.

This month Easter, Passover, and Ramadan are celebrated.  The season will be vastly different for those of us who embrace our cultural traditions.

Seeing as the Easter Bunny is an essential worker in our family, he will deliver eggs as expected but extended family will be absent. Richard and I will celebrate alone, which is, in fact, our job.

Asparagus, Mushroom, Gruyere Bread Pudding

Here’s a slideshow with a dozen recipes I’ve enjoyed making during the Easter season. This year I’ll grill a couple of lamb chops and serve it will this recipe for yummy Asparagus Bread Pudding. For once, there will be leftovers.

Back to the birds. Is it just me, or does their singing sound more melodic than in past Springs? Perhaps this year the world forced me to slow and appreciate them more.

A cardinal is symbolic of a loved one who has died. According to lore, their appearance means they visit you when you most need them. My father passed away in early April several years ago, and for once I feel his presence–not his absence.

I’ve also taken to afternoon tea out of my grandmother’s teacup, thinking of the vessel as a talisman, something to soothe my spirit and bring me hope.

My grandmother did, in fact, survive the Great Depression and World War 11, teacup in hand.

Polish-Stuffed Easter Eggs

Living in south-east Michigan, one of the hardest-hit areas in the country, almost everyone has a story of a friend or friends who died or is sick from this virus, as well as family members and neighbors who have filed for unemployment.

Today I read that more than seven-hundred health care workers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have tested positive for COVID-19. These are people who went to work to save the lives of those they didn’t know.

For me, the advent of Spring means birth and renewal. This year it brings me hope–hope that a more peaceful, wiser and compassionate world will emerge when the virus has met its antiviral match. In the meantime, a more pressing hope is that those of you hit hardest will find moments of peace, the best ways your souls can find it.

These days I’ve taken to roaming streets and city parks, of course keeping a healthy distance from those I pass along the way. The pianist Ludovico Einaudi is a delightful playlist companion, and I especially enjoy the compositions from Seven Days Walking. I’m preferring instrumentals these days. Because, when it comes right down to it, there are no words.

Here’s one entitled “Birdsong”.

 

 

 

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Those Marvelous Italians!

Life as I knew it changed over the weekend; last week, for me, is a fading dream. There’s a lot of noise, calamity and misinformation out there, but the smartest voices are saying the very same thing: STAY HOME. I saw a funny meme that put it best: If our parents and grandparents could go off and fight for humanity in WW11, we can hunker down on our sofas and watch Netflix.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Horseradish-Watercress Dressing

Putting on some Irish ballads and making Corned Beef and Cabbage was just the tonic I needed to shake away my fears.

Even with my thoughts on the thousands who’ve been affected by this virus, to be honest, a couple of weeks ago I felt that some of my friends were overreacting. Wishful thinking––I’m good at that. And I’m also a slow learner. But the rapidity of how fast this virus is spreading has kicked me in the gut. The hashtag, #flattenthecurve, is now my battle cry.

If you’re sad, depressed and lonely, well, every one of us is on this collective journey staring down the same enemy. All of us. At the very same time. (Maybe not those of us under the age of 3. But even they are picking up the vibes.) Weird, huh? When has this ever happened in our lives?

Spaghetti Carbonara

Tomorrow I’m making Spaghetti Carbonara, one of my favorite comfort foods! Thank you, Italy, for your food!

The Italians, under coronavirus lockdown, are keeping their spirits up singing from balconies and cooking elaborate meals. You may have seen the U tubes and pics on Instagram—their glorious spirit is reassuring. I don’t have a balcony, but I am updating my playlist and, of course, cooking up a storm.

As Linnea put it in The Ruby of the Sea, “….at least for me, when combining ingredients for a recipe, I can give shape to the mess. With life, it’s not so easy. When depressing thoughts set in, the hum of the refrigerator and thwack of my knife stares my sadness down.”

Times are strange and scary, but we need to do things that make us happy. Read, laugh, cook, dial-up your friends. Give yourself a hall pass to while the day away on social media, if that’s what it takes to cheer you up. We are humans; we need to connect.

We are in this for the long haul. But as my father (who served in WW11) was fond of saying, “This, too, shall pass.” And it will.

In the meantime, Here’s one of the many UTubes that I’ve enjoyed.

 

 

 

 

 

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