Friday, November 19, 2010


Travel is a passion of mine probably because my parents always took us with them on their adventures. We spent summers in Europe and all over the United States. We would usually spend a good amount of time traveling because my mom had summers off. In Europe we spent most of the time in France or Spain. When I was probably around 10 we spent the summer in the Loire Valley exploring the country side. One of my favorite memories was all the cave tours that we did. Not just hieroglyphic tours, which we did in Spain, but wine, cheese and mushroom caves. The wine caves were fun, even at 10 I was allowed to try the wines and I even tried to convince my slightly drunk Mom to buy a bottle for me. (It didn't work because my Dad intervened reminding my mom that I was only 10. Shucks!) The cheese caves were my least favorite because usually it was blue cheese caves that we visited and that has never been my favorite type of cheese. Those caves usually smelled really strong. To my parents it was like heaven. To me, well let's just say I breathed through my mouth and probably exaggerated a bit about how much I disliked the smell. My most favorite types of caves on that trip were the mushroom caves. These caves were amazing. You entered the deep darkness and with the flashlights the guides had they illuminated crate after crate of exotic mushroom. Yellow, orange, brown and white. Funny shaped and button shaped. The caves did not smell, other than the normal damp cave smell but they were pretty amazing. Want to know what I loved best about those tours? Once you left the cave and went to the store they also had a restaurant where you could order the mushrooms in a dish. YUMMY! I know I say that I love a lot of things on this blog, and I guess I really do, but I love mushrooms. When Patrick and I got married he quickly learned that mushrooms and broccoli were my two favorite vegetables. (Well mushrooms are a fungus to be exact.) They are a staple in my refrigerator and I try to always include them in dishes.

Mushrooms, despite popular belief, do have nutritive value. They have potassium, fiber and B vitamins. They are quite versatile and I find them delicious. I love them prepared pretty much anyway, from raw to grilled. Last night I made them as a side dish. This side dish is so easy to make you will find yourself making them all the time.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound mushrooms, I like to use crimini, or baby bellas
splash of balsamic vinegar

Heat your pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then the mushrooms, quickly saute them to spread the oil around. Season with some pepper.

This dish takes a while because you want the mushrooms to sweat out their moisture and then become a little crispy by the time they are done. So take it slow and if they start to burn or stick to the pan lower the heat a touch. When they are about half way reduced in size add a splash or two of balsamic vinegar. This will make the mushrooms wetter again. Check on the mushrooms every few minutes so that they evenly brown. When they start to brown and some are a little crispy they are ready to enjoy as a side.

You need a lot of mushrooms because they do reduce in size when they are cooked. A pound is usually good for the three of us. We like the balsamic vinegar so I usually put a couple splashes but you be the judge and play around with it until you get the flavor you desire. You don't need to add salt because the vinegar flavor does that for you.



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