So I gave the other half a tasty gift this Christmas:
According to the instructions, what we were supposed to be getting was a sawdust like substance which needed to be soaked in a bucket of water, misted daily and generally carefully tended until the shiitake mushrooms appeared. I think on the whole, this would have been a bit less alarming than opening the box and being confronted with something that looked quite so, well, fungal – the last time we had mushrooms that looked like that in our kitchen, they were growing out of the ceiling joists and it cost a fair bit to get rid of them.
However, the other half is made of stern stuff and resisted the temptation to just shoot the lot into the compost heap. After ten days of cultivation they began to look a bit more like food and less like wet rot and were duly harvested.
At this point, I should remind readers that I don’t really like mushrooms, and it seems I last ate any in (checks notes) 2012, when I got a sticker for being brave about it. There was no sticker this time but I did overcome my extreme dubiousness about the whole thing and have successfully stir fried our first harvest. This was, we agreed, pretty tasty although the recipe had enough going on that the mushrooms didn’t exactly stand out. There’s still half the harvest left so perhaps I’ll have to be even braver and try something more mushroomy.
Meanwhile the kit has gone to the garage for a fortnight’s rest, and then the soaking and misting process will resume. Supposedly we can get half a dozen crops out of it, something I’m not sure whether I’m looking forward to or dreading … but just in case, suggestions for tasty shiitake recipes in the comments would be appreciated.