Once upon a time, long before the two little ones came into my life, I would silently wish: if one day I do have children (an idea I wasn’t 100% confident about back then…no, I wasn’t one of those girls that just knew she was meant to be a mother) I hope they will be just like me.
Now, I didn’t think that because I was in any way perfect. Far from it! But I was an easy to manage child, preferring most of the time to stay indoors and read books or play with my dolls (in silence) that to run around outside (although I did have my share of outdoor, albeit very safe and not too strenuous, adventures). I wasn’t too active (I loathed sports and physical activity…to this day) so I needed no chasing around. I could remain quiet and uncomplaining for long stretches of time – with only my imagination for company. Patience was (and still is) definitely my virtue. I was also very, very obedient. If I had a child like that then I could surely handle her or him right?
As nature and fate would have it though, both my children are nothing like me in that respect. They are both as wildly active as their father. They love to run around, climb any surface, and throw any object. And despite living in a little city flat they still manage to be, at the end of the day, sticky and sweaty, with a few bumps or scrapes, with their feet black as if with soot. They can also be quite impatient, skipping through pages as I desperately try to read them books. I’ve actually gotten quite good at making up stories to the pace of their hands whizzing the pages past.
And in food…oh in food! We are reaching that time in a family’s life when serious gastronomic contention is arising. My little girl, as you know if you’ve read here, won’t have nuts in cookies (gasp) – nuts in cookies are a must in my book! She also doesn’t like eggplant or mushrooms…another two things that I love. Especially mushrooms. I’ve attempted to sneak them into food, in the hopes that she will eat them unawares and then I can jump up and declare: “You’ve just eaten mushrooms AHAH!!!” But she can find them even in their minutest, most hidden form, and ferret them out to the side of her plate.
Fortunately the little boy seems to like them…a fact I like to trumpet to whomever in the household will listen. The girl remains unimpressed and unaffected – giving me a look that clearly says, “You and your sweaty little boy can eat fungi all you want and it won’t make a difference to me”. Ok, maybe the look doesn’t quite say all that. But something close.
So yes, little girl, I will be eating all the fungi I want! And if any of you are likewise inclined, here’s my favorite basic recipe.
- Olive oil
- 5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 400 grams or 2 200-gram tubs of mushrooms (I use one tub Swiss Brown and 1 tub Baby Portobello, you can use any mix you like)
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2-3 sprigs of parsley, leaves picked and chopped
– Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. You want a pan that can ideally fit all the mushrooms in one layer.
– Add a couple of generous glugs of olive oil to the hot pan. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant, just a touch golden, but not browned nor toasted. Immediately add the mushrooms and toss in the garlic-infused oil.
– Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper and toss. Cook, tossing and turning occasionally, until the mushrooms start to give off their liquid. And they will don’t worry. They may seem dry at first but just keep sautéing, stirring so they don’t scorch, and their liquid will seep out. At this point, taste and adjust seasoning – the mushrooms will suck up their liquid again and you want to make sure it is perfectly seasoned when they do.
– Keep sautéing until the mushrooms absorb all their liquid once again. Be patient, it won’t be long. They will start to look deeply brown and caramelized and exactly the way you want mushrooms to look.
– When there is no more liquid in the pan, add the butter. Toss until all the mushrooms are coated and glossy. Add the parsley, stir to distribute well, then take off the heat.
This is a base dish to either have as is, or take in many different directions (as the name implies). It’s a good side dish for roast meats, chicken, or a nice steak. It’s also good stuffed into an omelet or to top a hearty salad or a baked potato. You can add cream to this towards the end of cooking and you will have a basic mushroom cream sauce that you can have with pasta or stuff into puff pastry for mini mushroom pies. I also like to dump this whole lot into a beef stew as it finishes cooking (great in a beef bourguignon!). Or, if you’ve got any leftover beef stew, this is a good way to breath new life into it and extend it.
Another reason I like this is, if you have a little anti-mushroom activist in your home, you have delicious already-cooked mushrooms to add to the rest of the family’s portion, while leaving hers mushroom-free.
So…I didn’t exactly get the little, well-behaved carbon copies I wanted. But I do believe I got something even better. I got pixie dust and pirates and neck-breaking hugs. I got wild adventures and learning to go-with-the-flow. I got raggedy toes that I like to stare at while they sleep. I got beautiful reminders to set the agenda aside and take the time to stop and smell little baby kili-kilis (that’s armpits…smell them while you still can!). I got everything I didn’t know I really wanted. And then some.
And as for common ground, we all love chocolate, there’s that. And I suppose we can’t all like mushrooms.