Fact: Minnesota was named the “most hipster state in America” last year by Buzzfeed, which came as a surprise to most Minnesotans, who have pretty much been doing for years what most try-hards in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood have only recently picked up: hunting and gathering, pioneering lumberjack chic (because, you know, people actually chop wood out there in them woods); knitting; craft beer brewing; DIY everything; shopping at farmers markets; woodworking; beard-growing…the list goes on.
Of course, the honor is a dubious one, since the very term “hipster” conveys a lack of authenticity and an overabundance of pretentiousness, and I can tell you, lots of Minnesotans are anything but fake and snooty. They may not wear skinny jeans, TOMS or oversize horn-rimmed glasses, and they may live out in seriously rural areas, but they sure know how to make and grow a lot of things that most of us urbanites take for granted.
Like mushrooms. As a lifelong suburbanite, I was so impressed when I heard from Dr. J that his mom and dad grew shiitake mushrooms on a log outside their house in bucolic Mazeppa, Minnesota, a small town with just over 800 residents. I’d never really thought about growing mushrooms on my own, and I’d always say that once Dr. J and I had a house, I’d love to try starting a patch in the backyard.
For Christmas, my generous in-laws made that pipe dream a reality (thanks, guys!) by sending me a shiitake mushroom growing kit from Fungi Perfecti. All you do is refrigerate the patch for a few days, soak it in spring water, set it in a bowl with a plastic tent covering it, and mist it daily. In just a couple of weeks, my little patch, pictured above, will look like this, with any luck:
Which, of course, will lead to some toothsome dishes like this leek, shiitake and truffle risotto:
Is growing mushrooms in my basement “hipster?” Perhaps a little. But who cares? It doesn’t matter whether you’re growing them in the backwoods of rural Minnesota or in the suburban jungle, as long as you get some delicious little fungi to eat along the way. Stay tuned.