Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In the moment (with mushrooms)

I used to be a girl who bought vegetables* with good intentions.

Taking my time at the grocery store, I would feel touched by a particular zucchini, lovingly pick it up, place it in my cart, to take it home and learn how to cook it (I've watched Mom do it, I've eaten it, now it's time to make it myself, would be/is still my line of thinking).

Later I would/will find a shriveled zucchini in the fridge and throw it away.

Good intentions.

Over time I've become (something) of a produce-forward person, actually snacking on apples, steaming broccoli in my 700 watt microwave after work instead of necessarily reheating pizza.

I try to be more realistic in my produce purchases, intricately calculating how much I can potentially consume over a certain amount of days, how much I will actually consume, and how much will rot in that time period if I'm not careful.

Usually something rots, I'm going to let you know that.

But the point, I guess, is that I don't do quite as much overbuying as I used to, and I don't eat quite as much pizza as I used to.

Some mushrooms in my fridge were probably a day or two short of a trip to the garbage disposal, but I decided to save them last night, after my first dinner course of peanut butter, chocolate chips and Coors Light.

They came in a cardboard box covered in plastic wrap, the top corners of the box opening wider than those of the base. I excitedly set it aside after emptying it, envisioning craft ideas to later employ it as a drawer organizer.

Then I learned my first lesson of mushroom cooking: don't overfill the skillet with mushrooms.

Later I guess I learned a second lesson: it actually is OK to overfill the skillet. But at first it felt a little crowded to me.

I sliced up all of the mushrooms, even though I was feeling crowded, adding them to freshly melted butter.

I sliced, added, put more butter in the pan when things were feeling dry. (I take on the feelings of my veggies and their environment; it's that sensitive nature in me).

I enjoyed the whimsical shape of the 'shrooms, and thought that with such character it makes sense how these items make their way into several art forms. However I think there are other characteristics of some 'shrooms that earn them an honored space on certain rainbow canvases.

Sometimes a piece of the feathered brown section of a mushroom would flip out of place as I sliced it, onto the white backdrop of the mushroom, and it looked like it was flirtatiously winking at me with its eyelashes, or raising an eyebrow.

Though I was nervous about the pan being crowded, the 'shrooms being too dry, I rallied forward, slicing, adding, cutting off more chunks of butter.

I flipped them with a red spatula, pushed them around, flip, push, flip...

Then I realized something: they were kind of cool on their own. Perhaps this should have been obvious to me, with the flirty eyebrows/eyelashes; I should have suspected coy independence.

They didn't need a lot of flipping. They tenderized and tanned their hides on their own.

And the butter -- the butter! No splattering!

Let's just say I've been splattered and injured by hot oil a few too many times lately, so I was not expecting the butter to behave too differently than the offending oil I'm used to.

It was maybe the most calm skillet I've ever seen. Muted ssss's as opposed to snapping bubbles. Mushrooms just sitting, no big deal, like they were old friends in a hot tub together having some beers. Even scrambled eggs get more rowdy than this. Well, they at least stick to the pan a little more, and need more supervising.

I just finished this (great) book about the Amish, and the author mentions how she learned after living with the Amish to enjoy the activity you're in, not to rush ahead to the next.

I was feeling a little antsy -- in part because I was hungry -- and wanting to get away from the stove and the 'shrooms, but when I noticed the calm sizzling I tried to focus on it.

After several minutes I decided the mushrooms were ready to eat. I didn't sample one, I just guessed.

I transferred several to a red plastic bowl, poured myself a glass of water, and went to my patio to sit in the fading daylight.

I noticed the cool breeze as I sat, and decided I should sit out there more often, like every day.

I still buy vegetables with good intentions. I'm a little better than I used to be, but there is a potato, watermelon, pineapple, and blackberries (OK, so I buy fruit with good intentions too) that may not see the dark of my stomach. But I rescued the mushrooms.

And I was right about them when I decided to turn off the heat and took them for a date outside -- they were ready.

*Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mushrooms are fungi.

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