Our oyster mushroom experiment success!
After more than a month with no mushrooms in our crate–and a few other projects absorbing our attention–we’d begun to despair about our experiment. But then, a few weeks ago, a couple of tiny little mushrooms began to poke their way out of the straw, and in just a week they’d blossomed into the gorgeous fungus you see below. We harvested them in two batches, and made three meals: homemade pasta with fiddleheads, mushrooms, and cream; simple sauteed mushrooms in butter with lemon and garlic; and omelets with mushrooms and the last of the spinach we over-wintered in the hoop house. Delicious! Even Karl, who’s not normally a fungus fan, loved them.
Next step: soaking the crate of straw in cold water for a few hours to get another round. Our mushroom guru, who gave us the spores, says if all goes well we can expect another harvest (maybe even two), even larger than the first. Check back–we’ll keep you posted!
Margaret harvests the mushrooms
Beautiful and delicious
Homesteading & Farming
We had a few dreary days in a row this week, and by Thursday afternoon the girls and I were looking for an antidote. It came in the form of chocolate cake. We set aside the whole afternoon to work as a team–the girls measured, dumped, and mixed (with help), while I did the grown-up jobs: separating eggs, putting things in the oven, setting the timer. Part way through, I went down to the cellar to bring up some milk and found an exciting surprise. After months of waiting, we have mushrooms!
This Devil’s Food Cake is one of my favorites from my days at Magnolia–but these days I make one slight change. Can you guess what it is?
Makes 1 three-layer 9-inch cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (see Note)
2 cups goat milk (or cow, if that’s what’s on hand)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Note: To melt chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for approximately 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and lightly flour three 9×2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, about 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the beaten egg yolks, beating until well combined. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating after each addition until smooth and scraping down the sides as you go. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on the high speed of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold beaten egg whites into the batter. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Removes from pans and cool completely on wire racks. When cake layers have cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top and sides of cake.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Makes enough to ice 1 two- or three-layer 9-inch cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk or cream (for this, I don’t use goat milk!)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm (see Note above)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
In a medium-size bowl, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy and of desired consistency (the longer you beat it, the fluffier and lighter in color it will be).
Little tiny oyster mushrooms starting to grow on our mushroom crate