101 in 1001 {II}: 038 cook with 12 ingredients I’ve never used before [completed 06.29.11]

01-03: jicama, honewort, kale
04-06: key limes, sunchokes, mochiko
07: dahlia tuber
08: cream of tartar
09: saffron
10: lavender
11: okra

12: nutritional yeast. our extremely eco-capable friend melissa (who composts, occasionally tends large boxes of worms,* and makes her own seitan) has been telling me for years that nutritional yeast plus tofu adds up to a transcendent breakfast scramble; i keep forgetting about it, which explains both my misery circa the vegan experiment of '06 and, perhaps, the fact that i've been flunking out of blood and platelet donations left and right for the past year (nutritional yeast, as the name implies, is full of b-complex vitamins and protein). what might have been!

the earnest yeast finally made it to our table when i inherited a grow your own mushroom kit; i perked up at the idea of cultivating something exotic (i can't keep, like, mint alive, but i can grow the hell out of rainforesty stuff like tillandsia and staghorn ferns), and joe made appreciative noises at the oyster mushroom pasta in pink sauce recipe (featuring nutritional yeast) that came with the fungus farm.

the shrooms, they grew and grew heartily; everyone deserves the right to save images like that for moments of peak psychological fortitude, but click away if you so choose. the first several days were, i'll not lie, kind of off-putting, but after a week or so we had some fine forest friends. and then we had super-homemade pasta.

pasta with pink sauce and home-grown oyster mushrooms

the recipe needs a bit of tweaking, i think - not enough tomato paste, perhaps, and i had to reduce the sauce for ten minutes or so, as it was initially pretty thin - but it's quite satisfying. the yeast isn't quite a cheesy flavor (as some say), but as an almost brutally nutritious seasoning, it's pretty unimpeachable. i'd hide it in other pasta sauces and even chilis without batting an eye (and probably will, in fact, since the container i bought is kind of a monster), and melissa's mythical tofu scramble will finally make it to the plate this weekend. the sleeper hit of this mystery-ingredient round is, of course, the home-grown mushrooms; i'll be re-soaking my eco-kit and summoning a second batch of them over the next few weeks, and i might order a more exotic kit (reishi mushroom patch!**) in the fall. you guys are getting some freaky holiday gifts this year.

*i really want a box of worms, but it has been explained to me several times that we are not to invite invertebrates into the house.

**this is probably last night's acupuncture talking. more on that soon.


jacob said...

for some reason i always think we're running out of nutritional yeast. megan discovered the other day we have four separate bags of it. veganomicon has a "cheezy sauce" recipe using nutritional yeast that gets it a little closer to some kind of cheese-like flavor (it's probably the mustard). 

we have an overgrown area to the side of and behind our garage, where various types of (i'm guessing inedible) mushrooms like to grow. i'm guessing growing mushrooms is more difficult than just throwing spawn into a wooded area? how much attention do they need?

kidchamp said...

for some reason i always think we're running out of nutritional yeast. megan discovered the other day we have four separate bags of it.

i'm that way with light brown sugar, which probably explains our respective BMIs. 

i thought growing mushrooms was going to be difficult - after the first few days, they hadn't done anything - but then they FREAKED OUT (amanda and i checked them out at the beginning and end of a night at our house, and they'd grown visibly in those hours). those six pictures were taken 12 hours apart (oyster mushrooms need a few spritzes of water every 12 hours or so; otherwise you just put them on a shelf in the kitchen out of direct light and let 'em go).

i think that the learning curve is pretty steep with non-kit mushrooms (which are what you want to graduate into if you're thinking cost-effectiveness over personal amusement; this kit i found would have cost about $20, and it yields about a pound of mushrooms tops), but once you get going they seem like a good, low-effort deal; if you compost, you can combine projects for voltron-like eco-efficiency. all of the stuff at fungi perfecti looks pretty cool to me, and i say that without irony. 

Amid Privilege said...

I don't find those mushrooms scary unless they were growing out of old garlic bread.

megan said...

I gave fungi perfecti kits as gifts to both my dad and brother one year. They didn't go over so well, but yours looks perfect.

Re: nutritional yeast- many people have rec-ed it to me on popcorn- haven't tried that combo myself.

kidchamp said...

the kit i actually have isn't fungi perfecti - this is stage I, low-dexterity mushroom growing (these are sold at whole foods, i believe). which is in no way a bad thing, for me; i need some confidence-boosting, grow-it-with-your-kids type mushroom action before graduating to anything difficult.

i've seen the popcorn rec, too. how would one get it to stick? (vaguely related: i've been using the mushroom kit's little spray bottle to mist water on my popcorn in order to get ghost pepper salt to stick. spooky texture, but o so spicy.) 

anonymous said...

i thought nutritional yeast went out of style in the 70's. is it really actually good for you??

off to do some reading. (it is very good on popcorn.)

anonymous said...

whoops. meant to sign that last one. it's esb.

anonymous said...

ahhhhhhhhh. it was brewer's yeast my parents used to put on popcorn.

carry on.

kidchamp said...

flavorwise i'm guessing it's pretty similar? that is one left-wing taste test.

naurnie said...

Ok, I am now in front of a proper computer and can comment on this post, which I have been daydreaming about since I read it while sitting at the hairdresser's yesterday with dye in my hair. For some reason in the last year, I have become more "earthy" in a way. I got obsessed with our compost bin, throwing everything in there I could come across that was compostable. When we were gardening, I would dig up worms and throw them in there. I got a rain barrel. I shop exclusively at the Farmer's Market and organic grocery stores. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?

But I am truly fascinated by this mushroom growing process. (Granted, I am quite fascinated by gross things and was REALLY overly excited to look at those pictures). I mean, I had no idea you could even GROW mushrooms in your own home. Now if only I liked mushrooms...

kidchamp said...

i would be all over that if i had space. maybe you could sell the mushrooms, or give them away? 

vaguely related, in the jaron lanier profile in this week's new yorker, the following passage:

At seventeen, [Lanier] transferred to Bard College, in New York. To cover the down payment on his tuition, he sold fresh milk and cheese from a herd of goats that he bred. But the transition from goat herding to freshman civilization proved harsh, and he soon hitchhiked back to New Mexico. 

reaction 1: herd of goats that he bred? hard CORE.
reaction 2: in all seriousness, i'd think goat herding would be maybe the perfect prep for freshman civilization.

Amanda said...

Freaky mushrooms.

jacob said...

"Cross the line if you have ever herded goats."

kidchamp said...

my boyfriend's roommate came out of the closet when we played crossing the line freshman year. oh, res ed. 

naurnie said...

OH MY. Also, I think the husband is going to veto my "mushroom growing" experiment, just like he put his foot down on the urban chickens. Joe says "No worms in the house". William says "No chickens in the backyard. Did you forget you were afraid of birds?"

bigBANGstudio said...

1. You had me at nutritional yeast.
2. What about Marmite. 
3. My grandparents gave us kids a shitake mushroom-growing kit for Christmas one year and we four girls snickered about the word "SHIT-ake" for like, months. My mom made us start the mushrooms to be nice to grandma and then we all forgot about them. Grandma found a whole ecosystem of fungi (and opportunist fauna) in our basement when they came to visit us for Easter and busted us for being laissez-faire mushroom growers and unappreciative gift-receivers. Lesson: be discerning in your mushroom kit giving, people. 

kidchamp said...

2. marmite on a cracker is pretty hot, lily, i won't lie to you. throw a little branston pickle over the top and i'm pretty much set for a week. 
3. my sisters and i were cruising down the preserved beef aisle of our local grocery store years ago and decided that our code names would be TERI, YAKI, and JERKY. baby jo just straight-up laid claim to JERKY before i could tell her she was stuck with it. unexpected!