Thursday, December 18, 2003

Today, I am annoyed.

Is it because Foodgoat has been using the computer every night to work on his new Firmary website, just at the time of day when my blogging powers are at their peak? Is it because of a recent bout of insomnia and a rapidly accumulating sleep debt? Is it because the LotR has ended (and ended and ended again)?

No, it's because Blogger is pitching a fit every time I try to post. It only pretends to save any changes I make, the template spontaneously devolves to a previous version, and the post date is random and utterly incorrect. It's a toss-up whether this will see the light of day. Grrrrr (that's me knashing my teeth). I'm this close to defecting to Typepad.

Best of 2003: That was just a detour, a shortcut ... A shortcut to what? ... Mushrooms!
Who among us can whip up a gourmet dinner from scratch every night of the week? Not Foodgoat. And if it was me who had to cook every night we'd be eating a lot more microwave popcorn. So we stock up on the jarred sauce and dry pasta. But who can excited about the Plan B of worknight meals?

And then we discovered dried porcini mushrooms. Also known as cepes or boletes (and distinguished from other mushrooms by dense pores, instead of gills, on the underside of the caps), these kings of wild mushrooms take the lowly store-bought sauce to another plane of existence (with an extra dimension of flavor!). After growing in oak, chestnut and beech forests, they can usually be found in small packets in Italian shops ("porcini," by the way, means little piglets in Italian), or big plastic cylinders at Costco. A couple of them rehydrate in the time it takes to boil the water for pasta and all you have to do is toss them all into the warmed up pasta sauce with olive oil and a sprinkling of spices to create a quick yet complex, rich yet earthy, meaty yet vegetarian, Italian-peasant dish.

Of course they can be used in plenty of other ways and dishes, too, and the (strained) water used to rehydrate them can also be used in stock, soup, or grain dishes. They also keep forever, making them quite the useful pantry item.

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