Grow you own mushrooms – round 1

I grew my first bunch of mushrooms with my mushroom grow kit. I was pretty impressed at how large they grew! I probably shouldn’t have let them get as big as they did but I was fascinated at seeing how they changed everyday. Here’s the pictures showing the growth for ten days:

We started with just a block of stuff that looked like spent beer grains, covered it with a moisture tent, kept it moist, and two days later a mushroom started popping out!

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5, I was surprised to see the mushrooms growing together instead of a lot of individual stalks. There were several that grew up like conjoined twins. I really don’t know how that happened.

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Day 6

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Day 8, I am not sure why the mushrooms only grew out of the top of the block either. I imagined that they would grow out all over the place… that’s what it looked like in my head anyway…

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Day 9, The mushrooms were starting to get so big that they were starting to touch the moisture tent!

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Day 10, I decided it was time to stop watching them grow and actually harvest them.

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Here’s what the block looked like after I picked them all off. The instructions said to soak the block over night in water to “reactivate” it and more mushrooms will grow. I hope it works! The block feels a lot lighter and looks smaller than what I started with.

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Here we are, 4 (or 5) pretty large shiitake mushrooms!

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This one was bigger than my hand! It is also the one I ate first – I added it to some pho I ordered that night. It was yummy!

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Well my first try at growing my own mushrooms was kind of a success. I really thought I would have mushrooms popping out all over the block. I wasn’t expecting only 4-5 to grow at once. I hope that more grow during the 2nd round of the block.

If it seems like the block is not producing any more mushrooms, I am going to try to put it in the back yard with some logs and hope that the spores spread. I might have a mushrooms garden in my backyard next spring!

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Pizza on the Grilling Stone

I received a special grilling stone from our two chef friends (Gretchen and Aaron) for our wedding – thank you guys! This is the one that I am lucky enough to have. It is pretty versatile and you can cook a lot on it, I definitely recommend it.

We tried it out a few weeks ago and I am ready for another go at using it. It was fun but I definitely need some practice.

I made pizza dough using this recipe that I found. Pizza dough is yet another thing that I really need to practice making. This one came out ok, it didn’t rise as well as I would have liked. I need to get in to the habit of planning ahead and making my dough a little farther in advance. I often decide on a whim that I want pizza and then become a little impatient and end up not giving the dough enough time to rise because I am starving!

We heated the charcoal up and placed the stone on the grill. I had enough dough to make two pizzas. I got the dough ready by stretching and rolling it out and putting cornmeal on the bottom to keep it from sticking to the stone. I got all my ingredients ready and headed out to the grill.

We placed the dough for pizza #1 down on the stone and then tried to put all the toppings on. We covered it and waited about 10-15 minutes. That was too long! We definitely burnt our first attempt at grilled pizza. It tasted ok, but it was really burnt on the bottom…

So my next attempt was a little better. I got the dough ready for pizza #2. This time I put it right on the pizza peel so I could slide it off really fast onto the stone. I put all the toppings on it before I put it on the grill.

Here we go, pizza #2:

Roll out the dough

Fresh tomatoes


prosciutto and chopped up kalamata olives


Fresh basil


Topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and a little salt and pepper.

I carried the whole thing out to the grill and slid pizza #2 off pretty quickly, covered up the grill and waited another ten minutes.


Pizza #2 was pretty successful!

It got stuck a little bit on the stone because there were some burnt  spots from pizza #1 that I couldn’t get off. It was a great first attempt but I think next time I will do a much better job.

Improvements for next time:

  • Do not burn the first pizza or all other pizzas will get stuck.
  • Put the prosciutto on the top so it gets crispy instead of soggy.
  • Try putting the cheese under the toppings.
  • Less toppings, so they aren’t fighting against each other, the olives kind of took over this time.

I also really want to try to grill a pastry on the grill using the stone. I think I may attempt a peach tart!

For a Pretty Spring Kitchen

I love the newest kitchen accessories from Anthropologie! This winter has been unusually mild and I’m starting to feel like if it’s not going to snow (though I do love snow) then spring should just be on its way already!

These spring colored kitchen gadgets are perfect for baking some Easter time treats. If I had unlimited funds I would stock my kitchen with these pretty and functional items. Some of them are really affordable (like the whisks, $8 each) while others are a little out of my reach right now (colorblocked cutting board, $248)… All of them are gorgeous.

Funky Whisks – Safe for non-stick pans!

Milk bottle measuring cups

Minty butter dish

Farmer’s egg crate (I got this one, love it!)

Muffin pan

Owl cookie jar

And for the cheese in your life…

Fancy pants cheese knives (I am kind of drooling over these, I will get them soon!)

and a beautiful cheese board to match…

Colorblocked cutting board

Happy warm winter… Here’s to an early spring!

Marisa Cheese!

A new specialty foods shop opened in Lancaster on the 300 block of North Queen Street. Bon Appetit serves coffee, breakfast and lunch. There are plenty of food items to bring home with you as well.

Cheese and cheese items are abundant in the shop, along with spices, specialty cookware, and there is a section near the back with candies and chocolates.

Here’s the first item I purchased:

MARISA CHEESE!

I had to try it of course. I served it thinly shaved on wheat crackers with fresh fig slices. It made a great late night snack one night and I would absolutely get it again to make a nice after dinner cheese plate. It has nutty, salty, sharp flavors that go with all different kinds of crackers and accompaniments.

I have been back to the shop recently for a coffee break. They have good coffee and excellent Chai. The only slight disappointment I encountered was that they were out of soy milk. I’m not holding it against them though, I’ll be back again.

Global Gardens Meyer Lemon Balsamic Bliss

I spent one day of my vacation in California wine tasting in Los Olivos. I was also really excited that day because we did an olive oil tasting at a place called Global Gardens. I loved it so much that I decided to join their quarterly olive oil club… so four times a year I get a package in the mail containing 3 bottles of Global Gardens products.

My next olive oil package is coming in November. I’m not sure what I am going to get next month but I hope it’s as good as the one I purchased in August. This one included Mediterranean Finishing Glaze, Peach Cinnamon Balsamic Vinegar, and 10th Anniversary Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I added the Meyer Lemon balsamic Bliss to my package because I tried it at the shop and it was amazing on a piece of bread so I had to try it on some other food!

I decided to share one of the recipes I made with the Meyer Lemon balsamic Bliss. Global Gardens has several fruit infused vinegars – some of which I got to try while I was in their tasting room – and all of them were outstanding! I have used the Meyer Lemon blend to marinate steak and several times as a salad dressing so far.

Here’s my sliced Bliss marinated steak with heirloom tomato and feta salad.

I rubbed salt and pepper to two small steaks and placed them into a zip top bag. I added about 2 tbsp. of the Bliss vinegar and 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil. I’ll be honest… I can’t remember what cut of steak I used because I made this dish in August. I would recommend using a skirt or flank steak. They are some of my favorites to marinate.

I let the steaks hang out in the refrigerator for most of the day. I grilled them over a medium high charcoal fire only for a few minutes until they were medium rare. If you use flank steak make sure you cut it at an angle against the grain so that it is tender, otherwise you’ll end up with some tough-to-chew pieces.

I mixed spring mix and some home-grown romaine lettuce together with heirloom tomatoes cut into quarters, parsley, cucumber, and feta cheese. I used the Meyer Lemon Bliss for the dressing as well and drizzled the salad with extra virgin olive oil.

The whole meal was a really nice light and bright summer dinner.

The 10th Anniversary Extra Virgin Olive oil is a blend of organic Mission and Manzanilla olives. It is fruity and crisp and it finishes with a peppery flavor. It’s a great dipping oil for bread. It goes really well with aged balsamic vinegar.

I haven’t tried to create anything with the Peach Cinnamon Vinegar but it is good on a simple salad of butter lettuce and strawberry slices…

The Mediterranean Finishing Glaze makes a great bread dipping sauce. I’ve also had it over pasta and it was pretty good. I think it would be best used in a cold pasta salad if you are going to put it on pasta. It is the perfect accompaniment to a nice Antipasto appetizer plate. I do love finger foods, tapas, and snacking.

If you are debating ordering something from Global Gardens, I would support you! It can get a little pricey, I would get some kind of package or gift set instead of buying individual items. I am trying it out for now because the Olive Oil Club is a pretty good deal. I really enjoy that they use good quality ingredients to make everything they sell. I definitely recommend a stop in Los Olivos and a stop at Global Gardens if you are going to California and you are going to be wine tasting.