Sunday Photo Essay: Mushrooms Are Good and Other Truths

fresh button mushroom
a good mushroom

When I was growing up you could not have paid me enough money to eat a mushroom; this never dissuaded my mom from trying. She made beef stroganoff as part of the dinner entrée rotation, and evidently the recipe called for slimy little canned mushrooms. The sensorial outrage going on inside my mouth first time I tried one was more than enough to override the benefits of any flavor they might once have possessed. Nope. On beef stroganoff nights I sat at the dinner table and carefully fished every little mushroomy miscreant out of the sauce before I deigned to eat a single bite. It’s a kid thing, as anybody who’s a parent knows all too well.

But we all grow up, and with any luck at all grow more adventuresome in our eating habits. Now I can’t get enough mushrooms (never the canned ones, thanks), and wish more varieties were available locally. This weekend I decided to remake my favorite mushroom barley soup for the week ahead. The Chef and I had a little discussion about the meaning of ‘button mushroom.’ There are never any button mushrooms to be found at the supermarket where we shop, if you go by my definition, which is ‘minuscule mushroom.’ No, insists The Chef, a button mushroom really describes any of the garden-variety mushrooms you see in the produce section with a rounded cap. Which is a good thing, I suppose, because that’s what the store has, and not much else.

every good soup recipe seems to start with onion and garlic
the kitchen was hot as blazes and the ceiling fan made the gas flames go all bockety while I cooked
I learned this mushroom slicing hack from Chef David’s mama
kitchen dawg
I love that the local stores have restocked fresh flowers, earlier considered ‘non-essential’
mushroom soup accomplished

Practicing Yoga Restores Body, Mind, and Soul

Beyond soup making, my Sunday morning included yoga, remote-style, as it has been for months now. The swelling from my torn meniscus has settled down enough for me to do yoga again, a thing I’ve missed so much while I convalesce from this silly running-related injury. Yoga teacher Nancy is exquisite, and in the years since David and I moved to Bennington, has also become a friend.

But like everything else we’re all traversing right now, weekly yoga looks different than it did four months ago. This class in particular has moved from the groovy old industrial building where it’s normally held and into the living rooms of attendees, at least for now. My setup at home is a tad more confined and requires a bit of creativity on my part if I’m to see and hear the instruction, but after a few missteps I’ve figured out the best way to do it, and so class goes on; this arrangement actually works surprisingly well.

pandemic yoga

Today Is My Great-Grandmother Gracie’s 121st Birth Anniversary

And so I polished this tray that belonged to her, and then to my mom, who gave it to me a few years ago. GSS, AEC, 1943 – 1969, goes the engraving: Grace Stephenson Sullivan, Atomic Energy Commission. The tray was given to her on her retirement after decades of service to the AEC as a librarian, during the war years and beyond, back in the day when retirement gifts were elegant. Polishing it today seems a nice homage to this woman with a constitution of steel, who would look at the landscape we’re all navigating right now, shrug her shoulders, take a long drag off her cigarette, and then commence to arguing with the anchors on the nightly news.

Postscript: I’m moving onward and upward with my pandemic-inspired pastime of playing classical guitar. Most days this past week, I spent an hour or so practicing after work, mainly scales and arpeggios. My left-hand fingertips have advanced from sore to callused to now completely numb; would that my playing could advance so quickly. I’m working on a sweet little piece by Fernando Sor, and when I’ve achieved a measure of polish, will play it for you. ‘Til soon.

2 thoughts on “Sunday Photo Essay: Mushrooms Are Good and Other Truths

  1. I never had a fresh mushroom until I was in college and went on a date with Sparky. Up to that point my only experience had been with canned mushrooms. Those rubbery inedible chunks were awful! Once I discovered that fresh mushrooms taste completely different (and good), I vowed to never subject my children to the canned type. Not surprisingly, they loved mushrooms!

    • Sure wish I possessed the knowledge to gather mushrooms in the woods. The Chef and I once came across what we were pretty sure was a chanterelle, but where mushrooms are concerned, ‘pretty sure’ simply won’t cut it. ~D

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