I don’t actually feel that bad about struggling with mushrooms more than squash since mushrooms aren’t really a vegetable. This is total practice, scrimmage, powder puff.
Tuesday night I got off the portabella crazy train and tried regular ole white mushrooms. With meat. Actual meat. Not pretend portabellas-taste-like-steak meat, actual meat. I saw my friend Sarah F.–who has had a lot of success getting her husband to eat vegetables by covering them with meat and cheese but not onions, so I love her a lot–over the weekend in Portland. She suggested I try stuffed mushrooms with Italian sausage, and when I asked her how she makes hers, she recited her own recipe from memory. Not only was Sarah’s from-memory recipe recitation amazing, it included this gem: Add cheese. When you think it looks like enough, add more. Sarah. Wonderful.
The stuffed mushrooms were the easiest meal to make yet since I was pretty familiar with preparing the majority of the ingredients (after a lifetime of Hamburger Helper, I have at least learned how to brown meat, which was the most labor-intensive part of putting together this mushie meal….well, that and grating cheese, which tired my arm out a little). They were also the prettiest. Even though I made them as our main dish/dinner, I got very excited about how lovely they were and started planning our next party just so I can serve stuffed mushrooms hors d’oeuvres .
And they weren’t bad! They were kind of good! I considered them for a long time and whether what I was enjoying was the meat and cheese or the mushrooms (obviously it was the meat and cheese), but I really tried to pay attention to the mushrooms and I finally decided I didn’t hate them. The texture is still weird, but maybe it’s just because it’s a new taste, a new feel, and I’m just not used to it, but if I didn’t hate it, then it’s something I can work with. White mushrooms, in.
Then I shared them with Melissa R., whose husband is staunchly anti-vegetable (see? other people like me are definitely out there, they’re just mostly dudes), and tried to convince her to convince him to try them, but he’s feeling betrayed by my little project and isn’t really speaking to me right now (OK, he wasn’t home), but she loved them. Success!
Even though a large part of this project is learning how to cook, if I’m screwing up half the shit because my learning curve is steep, it won’t bode well for my battle with the vegetables. So I’m treating myself to a night out every now and then to let an expert cook for me. Last night, David and I and some friends had dinner at Parker’s on Ponce, a little fancy pants independent steakhouse in Decatur, because once upon a time Melissa force fed me a mushroom there and I didn’t vomit in her face. The mushrooms at Parker’s are served as a side, and even though everyone keeps encouraging me to try them in smaller bits, like cut up and sautéed as part of a marsala (I don’t even know what that is) or soup, I think I can only beat these monsters if I fight them with a fury.
I asked our server a bunch of questions about the mushrooms–what kind they were (button), how they were prepared (marinated in red wine and sautéed)–before briefly faltering when I saw they had grilled portabella something or other on the menu. I mean, I really didn’t love my portabella and the idea was to come here to have an expert cook mushrooms for me….but for fuck’s sake, I really wanted an actual steak. Meat, meat, meat. I ordered the 8-ounce filet with a side of mashed potatoes and merlot mushrooms. And. They. Were. De-licious.
Note to Bethany: Julie—2. Vegetables/Fungi—0.