Mushrooms, books and cookery

It was a day for firsts yesterday (yes, I’ve slipped another day – fell asleep writing and decided to take the hint). It was the first time I’ve “planted” mushrooms, first time I’ve used chive flowers in a quiche, maybe even the first time I’ve admitted cooking quiche (I’ll have to look back and check that). And it was the first time I was able to be really critical in a book review.

The quiche thing sort of crept up on me, as I’m definitely of the Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche school of cookery.

Anyway – first the mushrooms. I bought two sorts of mushroom spawn – one for grey oyster mushrooms because they are supposed to be easy to grow and one for blewits  because they are a local delicacy. We will see.

I’m growing them on paperback books. The Art of Captaincy by Mike Brearley. I bought it on the basis that it was supposed to be about the psychology of leadership but it turned out to be about making decisions based on the amount of grass on a wicket. I’m sure it’s a great book for a cricket captain, but overall I was disappointed. I bought it cheap in a sale because it had a damaged cover so it seemed a good way to recycle it.

Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell was a mistake. I’ve given up reading her novels because I want puzzles and whodunnits not super-successful wooden characters and… Well if you like them you won’t read further and if you don’t like them you will know what I mean.  Growing mushrooms seemed a more fitting end than passing it on and perpetuating the series.

You soak the books in water, spread the spawn on pages about 50 pages apart and hold them together with elastic bands, Easier said than done with wet books and escaping mushroom spawn, I can tell you. They suggest 400 pages, so The Art of Captaincy was a bit short, though it hadn’t seemed like it when I read it. They are now bagged up and incubating in my desk drawer and will be refrigerated later. Ironic when you think about the way Scarpetta’s clients end up.  I will keep you in touch.


The quiche was more of an immediate project – done in about 45 minutes from picking the herbs. We had smoked salmon left over from the weekend sandwich making so I bought two pastry cases, added torn up chive blossom, chopped fennel leaves and a splash of nutmeg and that was basically it. Four eggs and 300 ml of milk wasn’t quite enough for the filling but it was adequate. I will make a note next time. cook for 30 minutes at about 180 C in a fan oven.

I wanted to see if there was a way of ensuring a good decorative effect so I tried two methods of filling – one laying the chive blossom and fennel on the salmon and pouring  the egg mix on top.  In the second I mixed them in the egg and milk and poured it all in.

Results? No real difference. The salmon and fennel showed up OK but the chive flowers seemed to disappear.

Taste. Three tasters in total – two were happy and I thought the smoked salmon made it just a bit too salty. Seems to be a success, and as the salmon, chives and fennel were free it was quite economical. Picture below is a guide to quantities – I never remember to weigh and make notes.



4 thoughts on “Mushrooms, books and cookery

  1. beatingthebounds

    A very funny way to deal with ‘lousy books’. Chive flowers is another thing we have lots of – I shall have to try putting them to use. Would an omelette work do you think?

    1. quercuscommunity

      I’ve seen recipes for chive flowers broken up in omlettes though not tried it yet. My omlettes tend to be of the “rustic” variety so may not suit the delicate chive.


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