Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms

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I decided to attempt cooking something new today. I recently tried some pre-made Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms and they were amazing, so I thought I’d try making my own. In the spirit of experimentation, I did something I never do: I went without a recipe! I feel like these could have been infinitely better had I followed a professional’s carefully planned and tested recipe, but this was not about making the best stuffed mushrooms on the face of the earth, this was about diving in, and trying, and learning through trial and error.

Here is what I used based off what I happened to already have in my kitchen:

  • 11 button mushrooms
  • 1/2 tomato, diced in small cubes
  • Sun-dried tomato, chopped in small pieces
  • Feta cheese
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Garlic powder
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea salt

First, I preheat the oven to 375° F. Next, I washed the mushrooms, popped out the stems, and placed them in a pan. I went ahead and put the stems in the pan too, as I love mushrooms and enjoy munching on even the non-stuffed parts.

If I had not been trying to take a healthy approach, I would have immersed the mushrooms in melted butter at this point. Instead, I poured a little olive oil in the pan and made sure that each mushroom was coated.

I then combined the fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, a small handful of Feta cheese, a dash of parsley, a dash of thyme, and a sprinkle of garlic powder in a bowl and mixed them all together. I much prefer the taste of fresh herbs over dried, but I unfortunately had none available, so it was all dry spices this time.

Next, I spooned the mixture into the mushrooms and sprinkled them all with a bit of sea salt and parmesan.

Then it was into the oven. While they were cooking, I found myself in a homemaker mood (something about cooking), so I did the dishes, took the dog out, folded the laundry, and ate the juiciest plum, which stained my fingers red. I lost track of time in the midst of all that, so I am not sure how long the mushrooms baked, but when they had turned brown and tender I pulled them out for a taste.

I have to say, for using only ingredients already in the house, and one of my very first attempts at cooking without a recipe, these came out quite well. If I make them again, I would tweak the ratio a bit so that there would be more fresh tomato and a little less Feta, but other than that, I think recipe #1 was a success!

Je veux aller à Paris!

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I was never the girl who dreamed of Paris. I was more the girl who dreamed of making an unsung martyr of myself in some remote, uncivilized village deep in the center of Africa – fighting boldly for justice in a male dominant society with an orphan on my back and a ledger in my hand. I thought girls who wanted to learn French were frivolous and silly, wanting nothing more out of life than to spend just one night behind a dark, handsome Frenchman on a polished motorbike, flying through Paris in the cool nighttime air, watching the Eiffel Tower glisten in the moon. I told myself I’d never be that silly.

Enter Ima Sourpot (name changed for my own protection). Possibly the most crotchety woman on the face of the earth. Life circumstances were such that I ended up having to spend a lot of time with Ms. Sourpot, and we became friends of our own right, but let me tell you, this woman is infamous for being a grouch. She can find the negative in any situation.

Then one day Ima told me she was going to Paris. She started learning French. She started planning what sights she absolutely had to see while she was there. She started dreaming of the pastries, and the cheeses, and the wines. Every time she talked about it, her eyes would light up. And she couldn’t stop talking about it. I started dreaming with her, imagining the bistros and cafés she’d enjoy, envisioning the lovely, narrow streets she’d get to stroll.

Paris changed Ima. It brought her something she had been missing. She came home with stories of Versailles and the Louvre, of the art and the food. She pridefully pronounced the foreign names of where she’d been. I loved to hear her talk about it. I loved to see the fervor that became her when she did. Through Ima, Paris became an ideal for me. It became the symbol of experiencing life in all of its richness. A place where tired souls can learn to find their joy again.

It is now a mini goal of mine to someday go to Paris. I do not foresee a trip happening any time in the near future, so I have decided to do the only logical thing I can at this time to prepare, and to keep the dream alive:

I have begun to learn French.

Welcome to my blog!

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When I was in high school I would stay up till all hours of the night immersed in whatever book happened to be my current captivation. I would daydream of trekking alone through the jungles of Rwanda, studying gorillas in the wild unknown. I would mimic the prose of Robert Frost and Matthew Arnold, admiring the beauty in their art of painted words. I would wander barefoot through the parks near my house, savoring the feel of living earth beneath my feet, excited by the simple finds of different birds and bugs.

Fast forward ten years and I find myself here – caught in the revolving door of day-to-day. Putting in the hours at a job that brings me great pay and benefits, but no feeling of fulfillment. Hardened by the heartbreak of a world that’s full of pain. I find myself numbed by years of simply surviving. What happened to that girl who found the joy in every day? What happened to the girl who felt the beating of her heart in words, and sounds, and tastes, and sights?

I don’t want to be the girl who only stops to smell the roses. I want to be the girl who feels their petals in her hands and cuts her finger on their thorns. I want to be the girl who sketches them from every angle, till she knows them as the most intimate of friends. I want to be the girl who takes them home to taste in cake, and tea, and bread. I want to be the girl who keeps them only till they’re nearly dead, then sets them free to crumble back to earth.

This blog is me rediscovering my sense of wonder and enjoyment. Through a journey of reading and eating, experimenting and exploring, I hope to find again that girl, refined.

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