Thursday, August 16, 2012

When helping out a friend becomes...

... the best big problem you have ever had.

I have not posted much about the mushroom business.  We have been working away at it slowly and methodically.  We have gotten to a point where our harvests are abundant, continuous and predictable.  This makes marketing easier and when we fill our customers needs, sell at the local farmers market and still have a bit left over to share with friends, I feel like we have done a good job.

Last Sunday a friend of a friend took a picture of me and posted it on Facebook.  The FOAF tagged my friend (also a mushroom cultivator in Iowa)  and asked if he knew who I was.  The response was an enthusiastic "Yes!" 

Later in the morning I got a call from the friend in Iowa.  He was heading to Telluride for the annual mushroom conference and asked if I had any mushrooms that I would be willing to sell/donate or whatever to the cause.  He was assisting the coordination of a cooking demonstration.  I gave him 7 lbs and the use of the cooler to transport.

Honestly I am hoping that he is able to spread my business card around and everyone can enjoy the fungus.  If he comes back with some dried culinary fungus to share that would make my day.

Last night I get a call my Iowa friend...  "Fred, do you have a business logo on a website that we can use?"

"We are in the process of creating one that will reflect our organic certification.  Why, what happened?"

"The chef putting on the demonstration wants to put it on a banner for the cooking demonstration." 

"Oh, sweet!  Let me see what I can dig up."

"You may want to hurry up on this."


"Because the cooking demonstration is going to be showcased on Food Network in a month or so!"

There is a saying that "What goes around, comes around."  That seems to work for the good as well as the bad.

A helluva problem to have.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

White Bean Hummus

... or a disaster of epic proportions!

I like hummus.  Generally the chick pea (aka: garbanzo beans) variety but I get tired of the same texture and flavor combinations in the traditional varieties.

By my thinking you can make a hummus from any type of bean (except for green beans.)  With that in mind I decided that I needed to investigate what my possibilities might be.

My experience with beans is a bit limited.  I like all kinds but each has a specific use in my mind.  For example, navy beans are Boston Baked beans, pinto beans are refried beans, chick peas are hummus, etc.  So the idea of using a different bean for a different purpose requires a bit of mold breaking in my head.

One way this happened was quite by accident.  QUARTER/quarter is a small but elegant restaurant in Harmony, Minnesota.  The chef, Stephen Larson, is quite talented and will create something outside the box that is quite delicious, playful and unique.

A standard item on his Summer menu is the White Bean and Pork Pate'.   It is served with a sliced baguette, brown mustard/mayo and pickles.  It has become a favorite of mine and cracked the idea that I don't need to color within the culinary lines. 

So I went to a Bill's Imported Foods and grabbed a bag of white beans.  Bill's is the worst kept secret in Minneapolis.  They have a fairly good variety of food stuffs, mostly Mediterranean in nature.  There are several varieties of Feta cheese available and gallons of olive oil.  I source my olive pomace oil there for making soap.  It is cheap and I don't feel bad dropping $13 on a gallon of it.  They also have olives.  The best thing at Bill's is the spices.  Big packages, small price.  Go there and you will be surprised.

Next thing, get a recipe.  This was the one that I based my process on.  Since I was going for quantity I needed to eyeball the amounts of everything to try to come close.

I found several that would suffice but the gist that I got was you need beans, lemon, tahini, garlic, salt and cumin.  Actually the cumin seems optional for many of the recipes that I found but I like cumin so in it goes.  Tahini, on the other hand, is some expensive shit.  I decided that any nut butter would suffice and I happen to have cashew nut butter on hand so I used that.  Garlic appeared to be limited to the taste of the preparer.  In my world, there is never enough garlic.  I also like to add parsley. 

Now, consider that a one pound bag of white beans needs to be soaked then cooked.  What I ended up with was about 4 lbs of  beans.  Fortunately I purchased more than I would ever need of the other ingredients so as not to worry.

What I ended up with was a lovely soft and creamy white bean hummus that tasted awesome.

I also smoked the blender in the process and pretty much trashed the kitchen.

So much for trying to cram cooking into an afternoon/evening of being late for work, grocery shopping, getting the kidlet from her program, riding bikes to get dinner and riding back and making a smoothie for the kidlet before venturing into this little disaster.  I would like to say it was worth it but only time will tell.