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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, September 11, 2006

What to Do With Fifteen Pounds of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a family favourite. Since we use a lot of mushrooms, I like to buy them in bulk from the mushroom farm.

Mushrooms

The mushrooms come packaged in 5 lb cardboard boxes. They should be stored in the refrigerator in the boxes until ready to use. This is best done when at least one refrigerator shelf can be cleared for the boxes. I bought three boxes for this mushroom preserving session. From past experience I know some of the mushrooms will not be preserved as we like them fresh and sauteed. I like to sort the mushrooms first. I had a good idea of how was going to use the mushrooms this time, with one of the first ways being a large 20 quart batch of spaghetti meat sauce.

Partial Sauce Ingredients

Quality ingredients are extremely important when I make my spaghetti meat sauce. I like the ingredients to be as fresh as possible preferrably picked that day. The tomatoes and peppers are picked from the garden then prepared. I start by slipping the skins from the tomatoes. Other ingredients include lean ground beef, spanish onion, celery, fresh garlic, mushrooms, fresh and dried herbs and spices. This is a long cook sauce that simply cannot be rushed but the results are well worth the time.

Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce

The resulting aromatic sauce is a rich, full bodied meaty sauce with lots of sliced mushrooms. It is our favourite meat sauce for spaghetti and lasagne however certain family members have been known to eat it by itself. Since the sauce is long cook, the house gradually fills with the tantalizing aroma causing a multitude of taste tester volunteers. Finally the expert sauce maker, that would be me, declares the sauce finished based on taste but it still has to pass one final test. My husband, the official taste tester gives his seal of approval then the pasta water goes on for that night's meal. The remaining sauce and there is a lot is either sealed into containers and froze, canned or used as sauce for a lasagne session. During tomato season we will repeat this ritual several times.

Dried Mushrooms

Dried mushrooms are easy to do. They can be left whole or powdered once dried. To dry mushrooms clean then cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place on drying tray and dry on drying setting, covection oven 125 degrees farenheit until brittle or use a dehydrator. If mushrooms are to be left whole remove from tray when dry and vacuum seal in bags. If mushrooms are to be powdered remove from tray and grind in blender. Let the powder settle then pour into half pint mason jar. Vacuum seal the lid to keep the powder fresh. Store either type of dry mushrooms away from light. Use either in soups, stews, casseroles, sauces, and gravies.

Canned Mushrooms

I like to keep a few jars of canned mushrooms on hand. Home canned mushrooms are slightly less expensive than those bought in the stores but the big difference is in quality and taste. They are easy to process.  One and a half pounds of mushrooms are need for 2 pint jars. The mushrooms are trimmed then soaked in cold water for a period of time then they are washed. The mushrooms are quartered and cooked gently then hot packed. Processing is by pressure canning.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Some of the largest mushrooms were enjoyed stuffed. I used two types of stuffing, escargot and bread along with real mozzarella cheese made with buffalo milk. To make the escargot stuffed mushrooms, I lightly heated fresh crushed garlic in butter and set aside. Each mushroom was stuffed with three or four escargot. The garlic butter was drizzled over the mushrooms then each was topped with cheese. The bread stuffing consisted of finely chopped mushroom stems, onions, garlic and bread crumbs. Melted butter was drizzled over these mushrooms. Some were topped with cheese and a few were left plain. The mushrooms were baked at 325 degrees farenheit on convection setting until the cheese was bubbly and mushrooms cooked, about 20 minutes.


Inpromtu Entree

My husband decided to be creative. He browned lean ground beef and sauteed mushroom slices then stirred them together. Next he stirred in grated 6 yr old extra sharp cheddar cheese along with garlic pepper. Fresh garden beans and boiled new potatoes completed the meal.


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