It hasn’t stopped raining for two days.
My soul is waking up a little bit, and in some ways, it’s an uncomfortable transition. I think a lot of Busy People Who Don’t Like Being Busy can probably relate… but when I’ve got too much on my plate, I sort of turn down the volume on my emotions, relationships, and the things I tend to enjoy. Which, go figure, makes the work I’m so flooded with, a bit boring despite its creative nature. I’m glad it’s changing. I’m glad I’m slowing down and coming back.
And pink mushrooms instigated that change.
I’d gone to the market for some pretty heirloom tomatoes. I had a shoot in mind that utilized the last bits of my garden’s produce, but I wasn’t necessarily excited about it. Then I saw the The Woman.
She had purely silver hair, a slight hunch, and a face lined with kindness. In her hands, there was a small paper box, overflowing with something pink and indistinguishable. She called over to me, “I think this last bunch is meant for you! Half off!” I mean, I’m not going to say no to the mushroom lady, nor to a discount. With the slight anxiety of spending money on something I don’t need in the back of my mind, I arrived at her stall to discover the most lovely fungi I’d ever laid eyes on. I forgot all about tomatoes. Suddenly, I didn’t care if they were expensive. Mushroom lady could take my whole wallet if I could take these home. Thankfully, she only wanted $3, and I waddled back to my car, grinning, like a child who convinced their parents to buy ice cream at the grocery store.
When I got home, I immediately threw together an impromptu shoot, unplanned, and 100% enjoyable. The risotto recipe itself was one that I’d been working on for a few weeks, balancing the earthiness of, originally, regular oyster mushrooms with a bite of cinnamon. It’s based on my basic risotto recipe from last year’s Valentine’s Day dinner, just a bit more adventurous in flavor. In it’s unfinished simplicity, it turned out beautifully in every way. A perfect symbiosis of flavors and aesthetic. And that’s how my soul starting waking up.
Risotto with Pink Oyster Mushrooms and Cinnamon
For the Risotto:
2 T olive oil
1 cinnamon stick, broken and cracked (for more flavor)
1.5 c. arborio rice
5-6 c. chicken stock
1/2 white onion
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
8 oz fresh oyster mushrooms
2 T butter
Finely dice white onion. Wash and slice mushrooms into approx. 1 inch pieces. Set aside. Add chicken stock to a small pot, and bring to a simmer. Take a skillet with tall sides and bring it to medium heat on a large burner.
Add olive oil to heated skillet and swirl. It should shimmer just slightly. Add onions and thyme, then stir until translucent. Next, add mushrooms and let cook over medium heat until soft and shiny. Add uncooked arborio rice and let toast lightly, stirring constantly. Once rice is slightly translucent on the edges, add the cinnamon stick and let toast about one minute or until fragrant. Add one ladle-full of chicken stock (about a cup), then allow it to absorb into the rice, stirring intermittently. Once stock is absorbed, add another ladle-full, then stir until absorbed.
Taste rice for doneness, it should have a slight chewiness in the middle, but no crunch or hardness. Also test for the strength of the cinnamon flavor and remove the cinnamon stick once you are satisfied with the infusion. This process should continue until all stock is used and risotto is creamy and cooked through. Remove from heat. Add butter to finish and serve immediately while hot, or mist with water and cover.
It can be stored but will become increasingly starchy or gummy since the rice will continue to absorb the liquid.