Maybe it’s just the mushrooms talking, but that’s a lot of mushrooms!
I harvested nearly a pound of shiitakes from one of my logs last week. There was a little bit of slug damage, but they were remarkably bug-free. Because the weather has been so dry lately, I had to trick my logs into thinking it was the rainy season by giving them a 24-hour soak in the kiddie pool (after the kids were done using it, of course). Only one of the logs fell for the ruse with any enthusiasm. Meanwhile, one of the other logs seems to have developed some kind of green mold on one side. Which isn’t a good thing unless I’m planning on growing my own penicillin. Apparently there’s a fine line between fungus and mold, and I’ll keep you posted on where exactly that line is.
Isn’t it weird how mushrooms grow out of logs like that? They just grow right out of the logs!!
As I was slicing the shiitakes from the log, I accidentally dropped one of them into a pile of rotting leaves. I quickly picked it up, fretting and wiping it off like an overprotective parent, until I realized my ridiculousness. Protecting my precious fungal outgrowth, the fruit of boreal decomposition, from a little dirt and detritus? There were slugs crawling all over it a minute ago! It’ll be okay.
Speaking of slugs, I’ve never considered myself to be particularly fleet of foot, but I always fancied myself faster than a slug. Apparently not. I had to break up a mid-morning, slow-motion feeding frenzy by nudging a group of them off the logs with a stick and slingshotting them across the yard. They may not be particularly fast, but they’re very determined. As a secondary line of defense, I tried sprinkling a ring of salt around the log on the paver it was resting on. That seemed to solve the problem, but maybe there's a more humane way to deal with slugs?
Anyway, these shiitakes went into a nice mushroom barley soup over the weekend. I chopped shallots, carrots, and garlic from Waltham Fields (as well as some limp celery I found) and sautéed them in a few tablespoons of Cabot butter until soft. Then I added a bit more butter and my sliced shiitake caps, and cooked for five more minutes. In went 6 cups of beef stock made from bones from Chestnut Farms last winter along with a few extra cups of water (but you could easily substitute vegetable broth and/or the tea left over from soaking dried mushrooms). When it all came to a boil, I added ½ cup barley from Moraine Farm and let it simmer for about an hour. I finished it off with a couple of tablespoons of cognac and a tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme. Not exactly summer food, but think about it for the fall!