Buy it on Amazon.
THE HEAD BUTLER HOLIDAY GIFT LIST: I’m not feeling holiday cheer. And that goes for everyone I know. We live under a darkening sky, ruled by men who take pleasure in cruelty. In our hearts, we have twinges of the old consumer spirit, but really… wouldn’t you rather buy the freedom of immigrant children who sleep in cages and feed the families about to be denied food stamps and fix up a building so the homeless could have decent shelter? That longing fuels this holiday list. It’s a smaller list than before: the best of the best. And very few expensive items. Because maybe there’s a charity that would welcome your help. Bless you for opening your hearts and letting some of your green energy go there. To go to the gift list, click here.
FREE ADVICE: I believe there is a partial cure for “democracy grief,” the increasingly popular belief that the American experiment is as doomed as a Boeing 737 Max. For one month — like January, if there’s an impeachment trial in the Senate — don’t watch MSNBC or CNN. Skim print media. Leave your home to volunteer: feed the poor, tutor, coach. Walk in the presence of trees. Cut everybody slack. Be consciously kind.
It was a fancy party, in a penthouse with significant art and a waiter carrying a tray of roasted fingerling potatoes with crème fraîche and caviar, so it seemed strange to me that a few people were clustered at the end of the dining room table. Another person joined them. And another. No one left.
I joined them. And saw what kept them there: a bowl of mushrooms. Shitake mushrooms. Cook to a crisp. Seasoned.
I sampled one.
“Don’t bite it,” someone said. “Let it melt in your mouth.”
That was a challenge, but I did it. As the mushroom softened, so did the flavoring. The sharpness of the sea salt faded, there was a smooth middle moment that was all about texture, and then there was a small explosion of spices. In that moment, I became a convert to the cult of Snak Yard Shiitake Mushrooms.
Yes, they cost more at Amazon than they do at Costco. But you usually can’t find them at Costco. And if you buy them at Costco.com, the shipping fee brings them closer to the Amazon price. [To buy a 7.5-ounce bag of Snak Yard Shiitake Mushrooms from Amazon for $12.65, click here.]
The facts: 120 calories a serving. The contents are shitake mushrooms, sea salt, maltose, sustainable palm oil, yeast extract, and spices. Fun fact: shitake mushrooms contain many of the same amino acids as meat.
Or… you can make a version. Let Martha show you how…
Or… this way…..
Make sure your mushrooms are clean — brush them off if you must, but don’t wash them or get them wet. Next, trim the stems from your shiitakes. You can do this with a paring knife or a pair of kitchen shears. Toss the stems into the bag of veggie scraps in your freezer that you save for stock.
Put your caps into a large bowl with a few big glugs of olive oil, then quickly toss them around to coat — the mushrooms will absorb that oil right away, so add another glug or two and repeat. Toss with a big pinch of salt, then spread the caps, gill-side-up, onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake them at 400 degrees, checking every 10 minutes or so. Your timing will vary depending on the size of your mushrooms and the temperament of your oven — most batches take about 30-35 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pan each time you check; you can also pull out the pan and flip each cap over with tongs.
As the mushrooms get closer to doneness, the smaller caps will start to curl and crisp up before the larger ones. The trick is to pull out the pan when the larger pieces are crispy as possible without burning the little guys.
Once your mushrooms are done, you can toss them with just a little more olive oil and any additional spices — like fresh-ground black pepper, smoked paprika, herbs, or toasted sesame seeds, for example — and let them sit until they’re cool enough to handle.
I’m thinking it’s a lot easier just to buy them.
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