Baked Shiitake Mushrooms

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I inoculated some oak logs with shiitake mushroom spawn. And finally, with all the recent rain, we found mushrooms growing on one of the logs! The inspiration for this recipe came from this one, which looks really good. I just made mine with a few ingredients that we had on hand.

Shiitake mushrooms

Dried thyme

Avocado oil and/or ghee

Salt and pepper

Add oil and seasonings to mushrooms on baking pan.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Stir on pan and bake another 10 minutes or until done. The texture was chewy in a meaty way and satisfying, unlike sauteed mushrooms. Kind of like a mushroom jerky. We just grabbed the mushrooms by the stalk and ate the caps.

Shiitakes growing on oak log (August 2020)
Shiitake mushrooms
Coat mushrooms in oil/ghee and seasonings
Baked mushrooms are meaty!

Roselle Drink

Roselle, or Hibiscus sabdariffa, is a tropical plant in the same family as okra and cacao. The leaves and flowers of roselle are edible with a tart flavor. They are great used in savory cooking to add tanginess, but this recipe is sweet. The recipe below was inspired by this one, but my recipe uses the leaves of the plant instead of the flower buds, since the plant doesn’t produce flowers outside tropical zones (the growing season is too short in Maryland). I also used whole orange chunks and different sweeteners in the drink.

1 cup fresh roselle leaves

5 cups water

1 cinnamon stick (add extra 1/2 stick if you really like cinnamon)

2 star anise

Half a small orange, cut in half

3 Tbsp turbinado sugar (or jaggery or sweetener of choice to taste)

Rinse roselle leaves.  Add all ingredients, except sweetener, to pot of water.  Simmer on stove 10 minutes.  Take off the stove, add jaggery or turbinado sugar, and let sit until cooled off.  Jaggery and tubinado are both less refined sugars. Jaggery is orange in color and often used in Indian cooking, while turbinado is light brown in color. Squeeze out the orange and strain out the solids and refrigerate. You can also squeeze the other half of uncooked orange into the drink if you like the added orange flavor.

If you would like to grow this easy plant for yourself, sometimes has seeds available.

Roselle leaves
Add all ingredients, except sugar, to pot of water
Simmer 10 minutes
Roselle drink

Sources: Plants for a Future

Simple Pesto

Here is a simple, less expensive recipe for pesto:

2 cups packed basil leaves

1-2 cloves garlic

¼ cup sunflower seeds 

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend sunflower seeds and garlic in food processor enough to break up garlic well.  Add basil and olive oil and blend to desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Eat fresh or freeze as pesto ice cubes or pesto logs. Frozen pesto is great for soups and pasta in the winter!

Basil leaves picked off stem
Main ingredients for pesto
Food processed garlic and sunflower seeds
Add basil leaves
Finished pesto
Scoop onto parchment paper or plastic wrap and wrap into log
Than wrap in aluminum foil and freeze in freezer bag

What do Mustard, Arugula, Kale, and Radish Have in Common?

They are all members of the Brassicaceae or mustard family of plants.  They are also known as cruciferous vegetables because their flowers have four petals that resemble a crucifix or cross (from the Latin, cruciferae).  These plants contain sulfur compounds, called glucosinolates, which when broken down (by your gut bacteria or plant enzymes) can have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects.  Mustard greens contain about twice as many glucosinolates as kale.

Fun fact: Did you know that the spicy chemicals in mustard that make your nose burn aren’t actually created in the plant until you take a bite out of it?  When you bite into or chop up the leaves of cruciferous plants the glucosinolates get converted to other spicy or bitter chemicals!  You’ve released enzymes in the plant cell that allowed this reaction to happen.

2 arugula leaves on left, 2 mustard leaves on right


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Oregon State University

Garden Foraging

In early spring, it can be difficult to find much to eat in the garden. However, often plants have more edible parts than we realize. Some plants, like kale, collards, bok choy, turnips, and Brussels sprouts are biennials, meaning they don’t produce flowers and seeds until their second year of life. This can be advantageous for the gardener who leaves these plants in the garden to overwinter, as they will be rewarded with new leaves in the spring, accompanied by tender flower stalks with a fresh, sweet flavor.

A simple dish can be made with an assortment of leaves and flower stalks from these plants, which when harvested early in the season, will remain tasty. However, with time and increasing temperatures, leaves will turn more bitter and flower stalks may get tougher.

Fresh, tender leaves and flower stalks can be steamed and prepared in any way you like. For an Asian influence, the addition of toasted sesame oil with some salt and garlic makes a simple, tasty side dish. Below, I also added some frozen vegetable dumplings. Store-bought, yes, but still yummy!

It’s amazing how limited our diets can be, given the wide variety of edible plants and plant parts. For instance, even the leaves of Brussels sprouts are edible and like a more tender version of collards. Who knew?

Kale leaves and flowering stalks, Brussels Sprout flowering stalks
Chopped and placed in steamer basket
Toasted sesame oil greens, served with vegetable dumplings

Snake Gourd Curry

In today’s share there will be an option to try snake gourd, which tastes kind of like green bean and squash.  Here’s an idea for a recipe to cook it, which we like!  This recipe is based off this Vahchef recipe.


  • 1-2 snake gourds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • chili powder to taste
  • 1 T ghee (or oil of choice)
  • salt to taste
  • yogurt (we used a non-dairy coconut-based yogurt)

Cut snake gourd into roughly 1/2” or smaller round slices.  Heat pan with ghee and add mustard and cumin seeds once pan is hot.  Saute seeds for about a minute and then add turmeric, chili powder, and salt.  Stir to mix and then add snake gourd.  Cook about 15-20 minutes on medium heat or until tender.  Turn off heat then add yogurt and mix.  Ready to eat!


They can grow over 5 feet long!



What’s New in the Garden?

This week was the first week for slicing tomatoes and there are many more ripening on the vine.  Eggplant and bottle gourd started coming in last week and ground cherries are producing more heavily now.  We’ve also been growing some other unique “Indian veggies” that are commonly found in Indian cooking.


Thai Bottle Gourd




Bitter Melon


Snake Bean or Snake Gourd.  This plant smells like peanut butter!


Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Snake Bean Flower


Today’s Share and Why Cucumbers are Good for You

Cucumbers are a great hydrating fruit (almost 95% water) that contains Vitamin K, antioxidants, and minerals.  Some research suggests they may also have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.  They can also be used topically to improve skin condition.

Source: Journal of Aging Research & Clinical Practice


Cukes climbing.


Sadie staying hydrated munching cukes in the shade!


Toad chillin’ in the squash.


Swallowtail caterpillar enjoying fennel.

  • Satina potato
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Hot Peppers
  • Beet
  • Carrot
  • Oregano
  • Green Bean
  • 2 Choice


This is the first week for potatoes and there are five different varieties we grew this year.  Purple Sun, Satina, Adirondack Red, Strawberry Paw, and German Butterball.  Potatoes aren’t just a delicious source of carbs; they contain Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B6, and some fiber and magnesium if eaten with the skins!  They also contain different antioxidants depending on the color of their skin.  Although not a common cooking method for potatoes, steaming may be one of the healthier ways to cook a potato because it helps retain more nutrients, while boiling and baking can cause more nutrient losses.

Source: Potato Nutrition Handbook, 2015


Potatoes 2019 CSA