This has been a brilliant growing year, and it’s not over yet. There are heaps of silage bales everywhere and the lawnmower has barely had time to cool down. We have pumpkins the size of… well, pumpkins. But big ones. I feel very privileged to have been born in a part of the world where food grows so enthusiastically.

One of the things I most enjoy about this time of year is picking mushrooms, and this year there have been hundreds. Every morning when I go to talk to my cows before my trip to market, I pick half a dozen good ones and take them home for Fran’s breakfast.

Photo courtesy of http://loughbishophouse.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/field-mushrooms.html

Field mushrooms are amazing things, they pop into existence overnight, shining by moonlight, perfectly formed and pearly white but modestly hidden in the grass like lots of little virgins, and then some clumsy great oaf of a farmer in size ten wellies comes clumping over the field and picks them all. This could be a metaphor for human life, but not a very good one. It is a pretty good metaphor for Creation though, because mushrooms appear each morning, new and perfect, out of nowhere or nothing, as far as we can see.

 If you add up the mass-energy of all the particles and antimatter in the universe, the sum comes to exactly zero, which means that the whole universe really is created out of exactly nothing. Talk about a free lunch! This is even more amazing than mushrooms!

 At least, I think so. But I couldn’t make a mushroom, let alone a universe, so who am I to judge?

Anyway, Rob-the-Venison and Becky-The-Beef were both at market last week so here is a good mushroom recipe to go with red meat steaks:

Fry a few shallots in rapeseed oil* and add a crumbled cinnamon stick. De-glaze the pan with port. Throw in a couple of chopped mushrooms, but not just any  mushrooms. You don’t need pale, glistening, pink-gilled virgins for this recipe, you want some mature, black-gilled old festerers that have spent the last two nights forcing their way up into the moonlight through a cowpat. You will know them by their aroma. Cook your steaks to your satisfaction, meanwhile thickening the sauce if necessary by stirring in flour paste with mustard powder mixed in it.

 Pour over the steaks and serve with roast pumpkin slices and kale.

 At Taunton Farmers’ Market you can get your mushrooms from Ray-the-Mushroom, your pumpkins from Charlton Orchards and your Kale from Helen-the-veg.

 *Since being diagnosed with excessive, galloping, runaway cholesterol, I have found rapeseed oil very useful. It is as low in cholesterol as olive oil but doesn’t burn so readily, doesn’t keep setting the smoke alarm off, and is produced in England. See you on Thursday in Taunton High Street and may God be with you.
Toby-the-Dish.
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