Wild mushroom cream linguine

Crickets and shroom logs

Does the subject of this post make you think of camping? Good times in college? (NOT me, Mom, don’t worry). Good eatin? Ding ding!

SO many thing to share with you today. Just a few weeks ago, my husband’s cousin came to visit from Northern Ireland. She’s just retired from her job as the head of a bank there (no, really). So how better to entertain someone who dines with heads of state? Feed her crickets, of course!

Eating crickets

Eating crickets

Eating crickets

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Come on, Ann, there are limits to this dangerous food stuff.” But this time it wasn’t even my idea! My husband saw crickets as a topping for the guacamole on the menu at the Mexican restaurant El Catrin (huge patio, great vibe, tasty, creative food) in Toronto’s Distillery District and he was all over it. There was no stopping him from ordering them, and he was the first to gulp down a few. “Tastes like popcorn,” he said. I’ve created a monster! They tasted dried and/or fried with a bit of spice, so that they did crunch like spiced popcorn. After last week’s post about dandelion greens and this one about crickets, I am well on my way to building an “Armageddon” blog category. And how did Phil’s cousin like them? She couldn’t finish her margarita, but I didn’t see any leftover crickets lazing around. They were actually dead, FYI. The crickets, not Phil and his cousin after eating them. Love that I have to specify.

So that was dangerous foodie thing #1 that I had to tell you. Foodie thing #2 has to do with my pet. No, not this sweet little five-month-old baby of mine who rarely gets more than two feet away from me

Whippet

My other pet. My mushroom log.

Mushroom log

Don’t be jealous that I have two great pets. You don’t even have to feed or walk one of them.

Last year, my husband entered an adventure race with his friend Ken and they decided to bring wives and families to the conservation area where the race was going down for the weekend as a vacation of sorts; or because they needed someone to cook for them, but something along those lines. I’m kidding, really, the two families love hanging out, but we wives did find it slightly challenging finding activities to keep the kids busy while the husbands raced. 

But we kind of forgot that we had kids when we saw the logs.

For the low, low price of only $30, this conservation area sold logs impregnated with shiitake mushroom spores that promised buckets of mushrooms for anyone who gave TLC to their log pets. I wish I still had the handout to show you, but it did say to respect and talk to your log, while also submerging it in a rain barrel of icy water every six weeks and then smacking it with a hammer to simulate a thaw (whippet pets have completely different instructions for care, FYI). At that point, they said, mushrooms would be your oyster, even if they were shiitake and not oyster ones.

Hong and I definitely have food in common, so you can bet each of us dragged a big fat log (and a stroller and 5 kids, it was quite a picture) back to our cabins. She actually said the words “I’ve always wanted a mushroom log.” She treated her pet better than I did; I think there was a bathtub and non-chlorinated water involved at one point. I was going to drive mine for a dip in Lake Ontario, but never got around to it, so log-y sat in the corner of my teeny yard dormant while scores of BBQ guests wondered why I was giving a rogue dismembered tree semi-regular glances of parental disappointment. Winter and spring came and went. No shrooms.

And then, just two weeks ago, Hong texted me a single picture of her pet with a mushroom on it.

I replied appropriately, “You bitch.”

But then mine sprouted too.

Growing mushrooms IMG_8080 IMG_8086

Two mushrooms. Which do not a mushroom pasta make. So I supplemented with spongy, foraged morels (which I just learned typically grow in forests recovering from fire) from the market at the end of our street

Wild morels IMG_8090 IMG_8093 IMG_8094 IMG_8095

So, triumphantly, here is my low-effort recipe for wild mushroom pasta (adapted from Canadian Living) that actually took quite a bit of effort from various mushroom teams leading up to the 15 minutes it took to prep and serve. I changed out the white wine CL called for for a glug of sherry because my white wine pantry was dry.

Wild mushroom cream linguine

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • Few handfuls of wild mushrooms, bite-sized. I washed them — forager guy said not to because they absorb the water. I prefer clean and a bit spongy over dirty
  • 1/2C white wine or glug of sherry
  • 1/2C heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped

Directions: Melt butter in pan. Soften shallots and garlic, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook over med/high heat, about 5 minutes. Add wine/sherry and cook further until there is very little liquid left. Add cream, salt, and pepper, and stir until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley.

Results: 

Wild mushroom cream linguine

Pretty darn proud I caught that steam in the pic. If you like mushrooms, you should make this pasta. I threw it together before soccer, and it was stellar. Nothing easier, but quite decadent — I had all ingredients in my pantry (after having hired a forager and grown the crazy mushrooms, of course, but if you’re a lightweight you could buy those). The morels had a wonderfully chewy texture, and the shiitakes were the firmest mushrooms I’ve ever had. You could do this big scale for a party if you were willing to shell out on the mushrooms. Rating: 5 Yums

Question: And because this post is so short and sweet (ahem) I have one final Foodie thing to mention. My husband’s work colleagues were arguing about something food related, so they want to know your opinion. Is it okay to taste small berry-ish produce items in the grocery store to see if they’re worth buying? I say no, but I do often feed my kids fruit/buns while shopping and pay for them on the way out. Inquiring minds want to know.

Question #2: Wash your mushrooms or no?

Question #3: Would you pay $9 for a handful of delicious bugs? And as a follow-up question, where do you think they get them from?

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Aly
    June 23, 2015

    Yum! I am jealous of your log! That’s so cool. As for your questions, no (unless you’re buying it), yes and drain well, and nah 😉

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      June 24, 2015

      One of my husband’s colleagues’ arguments is this: “I believe that small in season fruits (cherries, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries) are incredibly finicky and quite expensive. In addition, with all of the genetic seed modification going on; it can be hard to tell the difference based on color and feel alone. As such, if I am seriously entertaining a purchase and am unsure as to the quality – taste test time! P.S – I have confirmed this with my local produce manager and he confirmed he was fine with it.” Another said that Out West (this is an official location in Canada if you live in Toronto) there is a grocery chain that gives free cookies to kids while you’re shopping, so they’ve kind of set a precedent. But another colleague said that people will still look at you funny if they see you doing it. Thanks for stopping by and weighing in!

  2. Leave a Reply

    Trish
    June 25, 2015

    What beautiful pics! And I had no idea there was such a thing as mushroom logs!

  3. Leave a Reply

    Trevor aka The Burger Nerd
    June 25, 2015

    I’m so so so impressed right now (and not so-so as in meh). Not only do you have your very own mushroom log, but you are helping rid the planet of the most annoying insect in the world by eating them. Yes, I said it. Crickets, specifically the invisible, never see, never catch ones that are mysteriously located somewhere within the confines of your favorite relax chill-out take a load off room, are the most annoying insect in the world. Eat away Ann, eat away!

    This is one of my favorite posts this year. Well done!

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      June 26, 2015

      Thanks! Cockroaches and bed bugs are far more annoying than crickets IMHO, but I they’re also too disgusting to eat. Crickets — just the right level of disgusting to chow down on

      • Leave a Reply

        Trevor aka The Burger Nerd
        June 26, 2015

        Gotta agree with you about roaches and bed bugs being more annoying than crickets….forgot about them little bastards! I never experienced bed bugs thankfully but heard they are horrible and hard to get rid of. Speaking of roaches, ever think you’d eat one? I could do crickets no problem, especially the way you had them, but roaches….I dunno….I think I’d wuss out doubly so if they were those big flying Asian cockroaches the size of an Oreo cookie. Seen people eat those and it gave me the hebbie gebbies. But most likely I’ll reserve my bug bib for Armageddon. So unless pigs and cows suddenly become reclassified as insects, I’ll leave the bug eating to braver folks like you. 🙂

        • Leave a Reply

          Ann Allchin
          June 30, 2015

          I think I could only go for roaches if they were a side dish for a bottle of JD (which I’m not really into, so…)

  4. Leave a Reply

    Aly
    July 24, 2015

    I can understand wanting to taste the berries. Like how last year blackberries were really tart here, but this year are super sweet! A tasting could have confirmed it. We have a grocery chain that gives kids a free piece of fruit to eat while shopping….it is a super organic/hipster/local/etc place 😉

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