Exceptional Summer Strawberry Lemonade

Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here: I’m not tooting my own horn, calling this exceptional. This time, all the credit goes to my husband, who made it - and the compliment was delivered not by me (although I was also quite appreciative), but by a good family friend. This time I’m just the happy messenger, slurping down glass after glass of this exceptional summer sipper.

New Pi Eats Strawberry Lemonade

If you can get your hands on local strawberries at the tail end of our local strawberry season - psst, I hear there are a few left at New Pi Coralville – they really put this over the top. Iowa’s strawberry season is frustratingly short, however, so we do appreciate California sharing their abundant supply. I can vouch for the current round of California organic strawberries being quite excellent as well. Whizz up a pitcher of this and you’re guaranteed a good summer!

Thomas’s Strawberry Lemonade

makes about 1½ quarts

3 c. water, divided
1 to 1½ c. sugar (use 1 c. if using very sweet local strawberries)
2 c. strawberries, trimmed and halved
1½ c. fresh lemon juice (from 5+ large lemons) – juice lemons when room temp
fresh mint or basil to garnish, if desired

Warm 1 c. water with sugar over medium heat until dissolved; remove from heat. Add strawberries, then purée with an immersion (hand) blender, or transfer to a blender, until smooth.

If strawberry seeds bother you (they don’t bother us enough to bother with this step), strain puree through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove seeds.

Stir together strawberry purée and remaining cold water in a large pitcher. Then stir in lemon juice. Taste, adding more sugar or water if desired. Serve over ice. Garnish with a mint sprig or muddle in some basil leaves if desired.

Delicately Addictive Marinated Mushrooms

[Enjoy New Pi Customer Service Coordinator Genie Maybanks's guest post on our beautiful local mushrooms, which you'll see more of - and a presentation of this recipe - in your May/June Catalyst! --Allison]

Jacques's Marinated Mushrooms New Pi Eats

Oyster and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Preparing to Marinate

I was doing researching for a story about morel mushrooms for a piece we did in the Catalyst a few years back, and I learned that someone claimed they had figured out how to domesticate the wild morel.  There is, apparently, such a thing as a morel mushroom growing kit! For a mushroom lover like me, that is amazing news.

Mushroom Mills Oyster Mushrooms New Pi Eats

Oyster Mushrooms growing at Mushroom Mills in Columbus Junction

My dad loves to garden, he loves to cook, and he too loves morels.  He also has a big aversion to special gizmos and prefers to stick to the basics—a sharp knife, a cutting board, a small shovel… Really, he already has just about everything garden-kitchen-gizmo that he wants. So, birthday gifts can be a real challenge.

I set out to buy him one of these new-fangled morel kits.  It seemed to me to be the perfect fit of gift, but it turns out that most of these morel mushroom kits are not actually guaranteed to produce.  It can take years for them to mature, and even more daunting, they are very complicated to site.  In learning about these morel kits, I learned that the world is full of other edible mushroom varieties, and there are numerous, much more fool-proof kits available!

I found kits that were so kid-friendly, that you were supposed to be able to take a toilet paper roll, dip it in water, sprinkle it with spores, and leave it on your table for a week or two before, voila, mushrooms!  (That didn’t seem appetizing to me.) Other kits required tree stumps be drilled with 1 inch holes, the spores needed to be inserted and the plugs replaced. (Pretty complicated.) There was absolutely every level of difficulty out there.  But, one variety, one kit, really caught my eye.  It was something called a “lion’s mane” or “hedgehog” mushroom, so named for the tooth-like, hair-like fringes that cascade out of the mushroom ball. I sent my dad a kit.

Mushroom Mills lion's mane mushrooms New Pi Eats

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms, which show promise in treating neurodegenerative diseases, Mushroom Mills

I’ll be darned if these beautiful white balls didn’t quickly begin to spring from the pre-inoculated sawdust-filled logs. They were soft, like a funny spongy ball covered in silky hairs. There really weren’t many recipes online, and no one I knew had ever seen one at that point, let alone cooked one.  So, we rolled with the tried-and-true morel-handling recipe: Lots of butter!  We sliced it thinly, dredged it in flour, and browned the slices on each side.  They are very delicate little creatures, so stirring was a no-no. Simple!

It does taste reminiscent of lobster or crab. A taste all its own! Vegetarian crab meat, golden brown, dripping in butter…

Todd Mills of Mushroom Mills New Pi Eats

Todd Mills of Mushroom Mills prepares straw for oyster mushroom innoculation

Turns out, lion’s mane mushrooms are being studied for their rumored abilities to boost the immune system, ease arthritis, lessen inflammation, improve digestion, and even increase memory potential by stimulating nerve growth in the brain!  Some studies even demonstrate positive signs for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who consume the mushroom.

So, whether you’re brave enough to dive in and try growing your own or not, give this unique fungus a try.  Your Co-op now carries them in our produce department, from Todd Mills of Mushroom Mills, who harvests them at his farm in Columbus Junction. He brings them to us fresh weekly, and will also have a stand at the Downtown Iowa City and Cedar Rapids Farmer’s Markets, where he’ll have kits available!


Marinated Mushrooms

Delicate, refined, and addictive! – Allison

Recipe from Jacques Pepin’s Essential Pepin

“These will keep for a couple of weeks in a jar in the refrigerator. In fact, the flavor improves after a few days.” – Jacques Pepin

serves 8 as an hors d’oeuvre

1 ½ lbs. mixed unusual mushrooms (wiped with a damp cloth if needed – do not wash)
3 med. onions (about 12 oz.), quartered, layers separated
3 bay leaves
½ t. crushed thyme leaves (fresh preferred)
1 t. salt
2 t. black peppercorns
½ t. coriander seeds, crushed
1 c. dry white wine
1/3 c. olive oil
3 T. fresh lemon juice

serve on toasts or in small lettuce, endive, or radicchio leaves

Quarter large mushrooms and halve medium mushrooms (easy bite size). Combine with all the ingredients in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and boil, covered, 6-8 min. Transfer to an earthenware or glass container and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.

Extra Extra… Eggs!

They’re, quite likely, hanging out in your fridge right now. Their limelight’s passed, but they’re still full of protein and deliciousness, if you can get past the (quite possibly) hints of colorful dyes alluding to the fun they’ve been party to!

Jen's Deviled Eggs New Pi Eats

This recipe from New Pi Marketing Manager Jen Angerer – her take on her mother’s deviled eggs – gets a special zing from green or kalamata olives, setting them apart from the usual deviled egg crowd.

To dress these eggs up for their next party, pipe the yolk filling into the whites with a pastry bag, or simply a ziploc plastic bag with a corner snipped off.


TIP: If you’d like your deviled eggs to stay sunny-side-up, trim a sliver from each round bottom-to-be of the white halves to make a flat surface.


Finally – full of tips today – if you’re not starting with already boiled eggs, try this Alton Brown baking method I just learned about from Midwest Living Magazine‘s food editor, Hannah Agran!

Deviled Eggs with Olives

Recipe by Jen Angerer, New Pi Marketing Manager

If your party is outdoors, place your plate of eggs on a bed of ice just in case, but they probably won’t last long enough to spoil!

1 dozen eggs
7-10 olives, chopped (kalamata or green are Jen’s favorites)
2 t. olive juice or vinegar
1 t. spicy brown mustard
½ c. mayonnaise
to taste: dash of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper
optional: parsley, green onion, and/or paprika to garnish

Boil eggs (or try this Alton Brown baking method!) and cool. Peel, slice in half lengthwise, and remove yolks. Set whites aside.

In a mixing bowl, mash egg yolks, and add all ingredients but olives. Mix until smooth, then mix in olives. If too dry, add mayo and olive juice or vinegar.

With a pastry bag (for slick-looking eggs), fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture.

Garnish with parsley, green onion, or paprika.

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