I have always been interested in historical food. That is to say I love learning new food preparation (actually not new, but new to me) techniques and trying out different recipes, especially if they are actually very old recipes in the first place. I have always thought that our ancestors were more savvy than people gave them credit for and in trying out old recipes (combined with a thorough knowledge of basic cooking principles) I have discovered many firm favourites that now appear on our menus regularly.
One such ingredient is dried mushrooms. I bought the mushrooms last autumn when they were plentiful and cheap and I dried them strung up into loose bunches on our veranda. The autumn sun did a wonderful job and they were very soon like little pieces of leather. I jarred them up and put them in the cupboard.
Where I completely forgot about them. You need to be prepared in advance if you are using dried mushrooms. They need a good nights soaking prior to cooking and I always forgot to do it. So I decided to turn them into a much more convenient form.
I powdered them using the food processor's nut grinding attachment. The powder is a great flavourful addition to soup or stew and as it doesn't require soaking beforehand you can even sprinkle it onto toast, a cheese sauce or into breadcrumbs for coating meat or fish for frying. So much more convenient.
And talking of convenience. so is this....
This is my new drying cabinet. The sun is so fierce and the air so dry around here that it doesn't take very long to dry anything. But we also have flies, and ants and by necessity the veranda is shady when the sun is at its best for drying so I wanted a dedicated, bug free place to dry figs, tomatoes, herbs.... perhaps fruit slices too.
And obligingly, Steve made one for me. The sun is already out and I am itching to fill it up... now what should I dry first?