Swoonworthy ‘Shrooms

DIY oyster mushrooms

When we were children, my mum used to take us foraging for mushrooms in the woods, which we’d then bring home and fry in butter to eat on toast for tea (often with clods of earth still attached; we had a rather reckless regard for hygiene).  In those pre-internet days, my mother relied heavily on a rather hazy and abstract recollection of which mushrooms were safe to eat and which might be deadly;  meals were thus always charged with a certain frisson of danger, and we watched each other attentively for signs of imminent poisoning.

Despite this cavalier approach, most of us made it to adulthood and we all still enjoy eating mushrooms; so much so in fact that I’ve always quite fancied the idea of growing my own.  The internet abounds with handy instructions on how to grow a forest of fungi from the pages of an old book, old coffee grounds, tree logs – you name it, there’s a tutorial.

I was fleetingly obsessed with the idea of using books, perhaps some of my book-folded sculptures, to grow beautiful, sculptural fields of oyster mushrooms.  Then I looked more closely at the instructions for this, which seem to involve lots of soaking in bathtubs (the books, not oneself, sadly), freezing, spore-scattering and alternating between pitch black and sunlight, all whilst maintaining a steady temperature.  Really, it wasn’t for me.  I needed something that thrived rather more on neglect and distraction.

And then I found it…

I bought one of these ready-made kits which promised a bloom of mushrooms within a couple of weeks of activation (kits are widely available online and in garden centres from lots of suppliers).  With this one, you simply take the packet out of the box, soak it overnight, drain and stand it upright again and wait for the mushrooms to appear.  Like so:

Msuhroom growing from a pack

You are supposed to spritz the pack lightly with water twice a day, but – confession time – I began mine the day before I left for a work trip to the US and returned after 6 days to find, magically ….this!

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The box had been roundly ignored by all remaining household members, and had quietly produced a magnificent bloom of hot pink oyster mushrooms, which apparently arrived overnight on day 4.  Once grown, you simply twist the mushrooms off and they’re ready to be rinsed and cooked. Don’t they look beautiful?

Pink oyster mushrooms

They’re currently sitting on a chopping board on the kitchen counter, looking gorgeous and awaiting recipe inspiration.  In the meantime, the pack promises a second yield so I am hoping another week of neglect might provide a second Saturday-night feast.  Let’s see.

Have you tried growing mushrooms?  Any luck with a more green-fingered, spore-based approach?  Having tried this easy option, I’m inspired to experiment a bit more…

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Sun-dried* tomato bruschetta (*no sun needed!)

Homemade sun dried tomatoes

Have you ever tried making sun-dried tomatoes at home?  These beauties don’t require days of drying in radiant sunshine; instead, you can while away an afternoon reducing them in the oven to a delicious confit intensity.

Yesterday we had a long, lazy day planned so in the morning I bought a couple of punnets of mixed tomatoes and decided to give slow-roasting a …
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Another Place

Neither From Nor Towards

We had an extraordinary adventure last weekend, venturing north to Chester, Liverpool and Yorkshire to visit a couple of places I’ve always wanted to see.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park covers 500 acres and promises ‘art without walls’; hundreds of astonishing, permanent and rotating works by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

Housed in the Chapel amidst the grounds …
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Happy Easter!

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Happy Easter weekend!

I hope that you’re having a lovely one…

Harry’s been cutting out pictures from junk-shop books to decorate Easter bags;

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…Whilst I’ve been harvesting a couple of branches of magnolia to place in a vase in the kitchen, strung with egg decorations (Spring and Easter have collided deliciously in the garden this year; the lawn is …
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Eggshell mini-nests for an Easter table

Mini nests

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Lost Arts: Collage!

Easter Collage

When I was small, I LOVED scissors.

Perhaps it was the frisson of danger and responsibility of being in charge of a pair of scissors; perhaps it was the clean swoosh of snipping, but whatever it was, I spent a good few years of my childhood just simply Cutting Things Out.  All around the house you could find the evidence of my hobby; newspapers missing …
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Simple projects: tonal painted spoons

DIY Painted Kitchen Spoons

Until last week, we had just one wooden spoon in our kitchen.

Possibly the oldest kitchen item I own, it is a warped and aged thing, of a variety that you find lurking deep in the ‘Kitchenalia’ section of dubious antique stores.  Scarred by age and immune to the vigorous attentions of the dishwasher, it is also so short that every time I …
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The Odd Egg

The Odd Egg

With Easter fast approaching, Harry and I have been busy making an enormous egg.  Heaven knows what bird might have laid this egg, which is just short of 3 foot in length; it is certainly not a bird I would want to stumble across accidentally or whose nest I would want to unwittingly disturb.  Come Easter Sunday, it will hang from a tree …
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