Shiitake mushroom harvest and scallions

Day 8… harvest time! Yay!

Chris cooked some of them with the chicken thighs…. delicious! I think I’ll saute the rest tomorrow night. They are so flavorful and soft.

shiitakes on day 8 after harvest

shiitakes on day 8 after harvest

I forgot to mention that the scallion reboot that I found on pinterest really works! Cut organic scallions down to 2-3″ above the roots and you can stick them in water to regrow them!

Here is mine after 2 days… the tall one is after 5 days (I tested that one first)… the shorter ones, only started 2 days ago were older and staring to wither but this still works! So cool…

tall scallion after 5 days, others after 2 days

tall scallion after 5 days, others after 2 days


Shiitake Mushrooms

7 days after receiving and soaking the mushroom kit, lots of mushrooms are growing! They might have started earlier but I had to buy a spray bottle to mist it daily.


close up

sideview longview

I found a website that explained when to harvest:

Harvest when white, cottony veil beneath the cap has fully broken away from the stem or, if you want really large mushrooms just let them grow….

that sounds easy enough.  🙂


Pickled Asparagus and Sprouting Things

Tonight I made pickled asparagus with 4 bunches of organic asparagus.

Chris and I recently went to New Hope and I found a book called Food in Jars in a local book shop. I can’t resist books with titles like that, so I picked it up, and it has great recipes. There are so many that I want to try this summer.

Since spring is here and the asparagus is starting to pour in I thought I’d make a pickled version. The author recommended using Penzey’s pickling spice, which is a mail-order company. It’s amazing. It arrived today and their herbs and spices are so fresh… they smell incredible! I can’t wait to use it again. I also ordered ground anise (so that I can bake anisette toast) and they sent us a free lemon pepper spice blend. Yum. That will be great on the fish that I plan to make more often.

Penzeys pickling spice - it smells so good! Pretty too.

Penzeys pickling spice – it smells so good! Pretty too.

As far as this recipe is concerned, next time I have to but the asparagus shorter, the tips bent over because I didn’t factor in the thickness of the slice of lemon on the bottom of the jar when I trimmed the asparagus. I also had to leave out the dried chili because I forgot to buy it. Hope it still comes out ok. I’ll know in 24 hours… I might let it sit a little longer to let it get more pickly.

waiting for spices and pickling juice

waiting for spices and pickling juice – they’re too tall!

4 bunches made 4 pint jars. Adapted from Food in Jars, by Marisa McClellan


  • 4 pounds asparagus, trimmed to fit your pint jars and blanched in boiling water for approximately 10 seconds
  • 3 cups vinegar (half apple cider vinegar, half white vinegar) – I only had white
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons Penzeys pickling spice
  • 1 tablespoon red hot chili flakes I forgot this
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 slices of lemon
  • 4 pint jars (it would have been better if I had the taller jars so I didn’t have to cut them short)


  1. Put a lemon slice in the bottom and pack the trimmed and blanched asparagus into the jars. Tuck a garlic clove down into the asparagus spears.
  2. Bring the vinegar, water and spices to a boil. Pour into jars on top of asparagus, leaving at least 1/2 inch of head space.
  3. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (skip this step if you plan on just putting your pickles in the fridge).
  4. Wait at least 24 hours before eating, to give the asparagus spears a chance to get sufficiently pickly.

UPDATE: These were delicious, but I would cut the amount of pickling spice. The herbs were so fresh in the pickling spice mix that they were super strong. The flavors are amazing… next time I’ll cut the spice down to 2 tsp per pint jar.


Notice the slice of lemon in the bottom? Great idea!

To get to the sprouting things I mentioned in the title, the arugula and chard seeds are sprouting! I peeked under the greenhouse cover of my vegtrug, and there they were! Yay spring!


arugula – itty bitty sprouts!


swiss chard has sprouted too!


the chives are just shooting up so fast!


A rogue daffodil… I only planted tulips!… so I thought. 🙂


The only remaining tulip with a head… Scruffy bit off all the others!

Modernist cuisine in 15 minutes… black cod with bok choy and aromatic mushroom jasmine rice

I’m pretty much the last person that would dive into modernist cuisine as I have no confidence in my cooking and my goal is simply not to ruin the meal. The only thing I know about it is that sous vide and nano-anything in the kitchen seems a bit too Brave New World to me.

Having said that, I saw some videos for the Lekue platinum silicone cooking bag and steam case on Sur la Table (videos also on YouTube, hooray!), the latest gadgets from Spain, home of modernist cuisine, and I knew that even I could use this to make delicious fish and veggies!

The stuff I bought

The stuff I bought… 1.5 qt steam case and cooking bag

The appeal of being able to steam food and make it taste good, and do it in the microwave, no less, is pretty amazing. I’m not a fish person, partly because I don’t like the way it makes the house smell, and partly because I can never seem to cook it properly, but Chris and I want to make better food choices, and this is a good start.

Most important of all: this was so easy!

First I made the aromatic rice from the little cook book that came with the cooking bag. Cooking power depends on your microwave… you can check your microwave’s power output by opening the door and looking for the wattage on the label inside.

Rice in fridge to absorb flavors overnight

Rice in fridge to absorb flavors overnight

Aromatic Rice:

1 cup Thai jasmine rice, rinsed and drained as necessary

5 grams chopped dried porcini mushrooms

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, whole and peeled

1 cinnamon stick

2 cups water

Directions: Toss all ingredients in the cooking bag and seal it. Put in fridge overnight. When you’re ready to eat, remove the bag seal, add 2 cups warm water. Microwave open bag  for 10 minutes at 600 watts (60% in my micro). Remove bag from micro, reseal, and let sit for 5 minutes to absorb liquid (now is a good time to add raisins if you like that). ‘Nuke’ your fish or other food while you wait. Done! Hooray!  Chris would add butter before serving. Be sure to remove the bay leaf, garlic cloves, and cinnamon stick before eating.

Steaming bag of rice closed and sitting for 5 minutes after cooking

Steaming bag of rice closed and sitting for 5 minutes after cooking

While that was cooking I prepped the fish. So simple! One mistake that I made (because I almost never cook fish) was that I didn’t check it for pin bones, of which it had many! Luckily we were easily able to remove them before we ate (after cooking).

I followed the video recipe but there were no exact amounts for anything. Here’s what I did, and it was delicious. The black cod really did taste buttery and mild and delicious! I loved it, and I don’t love most fish dishes. I’m converted!

Raw ingredients in steam case, ready to microwave (just close the lid)

Raw ingredients in steam case, ready to microwave (just close the lid)

Steamed Black Cod with Baby Bok Choy
(serves 2 – I have the larger 1.5 qt steam case… if you have the 22 oz case then make half of this to serve 1)

two 8-oz pieces of black cod (skin on bottom)

2 baby bok choy (these were large-ish), trimmed and washed, leaves separated

1 scallion, julienned

one 2″ piece of ginger root, peeled and julienned

kosher salt and pepper

sauce for steaming: (my approximations, use your own judgment)

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp honey


Remove bones from fish and season with salt and pepper. Whisk oil, soy sauce and honey in small pyrex measuring glass. Set aside. Place bok choy leaves on inner tray of steam case (spread them out, can be 2 layers deep). Lay fish on top of greens, put scallion and ginger on top of fish. Pour sauce over everything. Close the steam case and microwave for 5-7 minutes at 800 watts (80% power for me). It took my fish exactly 7 minutes to come to 140 F, which is the ideal temperature. The fish will turn opaque and the bok choy will be steamed perfectly. If you’re cooking half the reipce, for one serving, the directions say to cook it for 3.5 to 5 minutes.

After cooking, fish should be 140 F and opaque when it is done.
After cooking, fish should be 140 F and opaque when it is done.

 This was just delicious. The fish was cooked perfectly, didn’t smell fishy, and tasted so buttery. The soy and sesame mix really lent great flavor to the fish and bok choy.P.S. My shiitake mushroom growing kit arrived in the mail today. Hooray! I soaked it for an hour in cold water and now I just have to mist it well every 2 days and watch them grow! They need indirect normal house light, so no hiding in the dark, but they like 55-65 F temps best. Luckily it will be getting cool again tonight (only 2 hot days and already I’m wishing for a reprieve).

On my plate... after I had started eating it (I always forget to take a picture before we start eating!)

On my plate… after I had started eating it (I always forget to take a picture before we start eating!)

P.S.  My new shiitake mushroom kit arrived today! I soaked the log in cold water for 1 hour and now it’s sitting on my file cabinet (covered in a mini greenhouse bag), ready to roll! Now all I have to do is mist it once every 2 days and harvest! Can’t wait. I bet Chris will think it looks gross.  🙂


Veggie seed planting and the VegTrug

I put together the new veg trug tonight after work and planted the first early spring veggie seeds!

It took 200 quarts of soil! I’ve started the arugula (35 days to harvest), swiss chard (60 days), and leeks (75 days).


Arugula, Swiss Chard and Leeks




Rosemary and Chives springing back!

sweet peas bed

Still waiting for sweet pea flowers to sprout… the squirrels chewed the heads off of all of the tulips but one!


Spring is here! Time for herbs and veggies!

It’s finally here!

I planted my first seeds and cleared away the beds and cut down the perennials.

We had two survivors in pots, chives and rosemary (2 pots of rosemary):

pots chive lavender

The tulips are coming up and I planted Eckford’s Finest Sweet Peas in that bed, ready to climb on the trellises near the lavender. What you see sprouting up at the center and right are tulips and purple day lilies:


sweet pea seeds

We moved all of the patio furniture out into the sun to dry off (and so that we could clean them… they had dryer lint all over them from sitting in front of the vent– reminds me to clean the dryer vent tube!)


Now I have to figure out what to do with these pots… which kind of flowers?


I ordered three calibrachoa flower plants… they are vibrant and beautiful, like tiny petunias that cascade:

Callibrachoa, Callie Painted Coral

Calibrachoa ‘Callie’

I did get one exciting new addition, a compact veg trug, which I’m really excited about! I’m going to use it for veggie planting (other than the tomatoes, which will be in my favorite old tomato planters).


Notice how it’s deeper in the center? Good for deeper crops… I’ll have beets and leeks in center and herbs and beans all around.

This year I am going to plant:



‘TastiLee’, ‘Mighty Sweet’ (grape tomato), ‘Black Krim’, ‘Tye-Dye’



‘Detroit Dark Red Med’ Beets, ‘Tenderpick’ Green Beans, ‘Hannibal’ Leeks, ‘Salvatica’ Arugula, ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard



Chamomile ‘Flore Pleno’, Common Thyme, Basil ‘Genovese’, Cilantro ‘Calypso’, Greek Oregano