About a week after Christmas, I came home, and there was a package on the front step, in the snow.....marked "Open immediately - live". My wife thought maybe somebody sent you lobster. I thought, maybe poisonous snakes! There was no indication of origin on it, other than the name of the company that sent it, so I opened up VERY carefully.
It was filled with mostly moist straw, and some paperwork. About 5 gallons of moist straw, which was, according to the manual, impregnated with fungal spores. It was a "grow your own mushrooms" kit, mushrooms of the kind you find growing on dead, decaying logs. The manual showed pictures of what, with proper moisture and care, I could hope for.....the bag of straw, with holes in the plastic, would grow tumor-like bulges......
Possibly the most repulsive present I have ever received, but kind of fascinating nevertheless. I still have no idea who sent it...to the best of my knowledge, I have no serious enemies.
Believe it or not, I made the required "humidity tent" from clothes hangers and the enclosed plastic sheeting.....it is in my basement, only about 10 feet from where I blog. The bottom of the straw is in a bowl of water I boiled and cooled for the purpose (to remove any chlorine that might be in the tap water)....I have been using a spray bottle of the same stuff to periodically "mist" it inside the moisture tent.
Less than a week after I started the process, I had this (moisture bag removed to make picture):
By today, I had this:
With the moisture bag removed, and the wife giving the shroomie a kiss (for scale), this is what it looked like:
(Note: this was the wife making a sacrifice to please her husband. Don't get the idea she has some kind of mushroom smooching fetish)
To sample the goods, and to be able to get the moisture tent back on, I harvested the largest of my mushrooms and boiled it up. Subtle flavor, a bit like crab. Believe it or not, it looks beautiful to me now. My family, however, still finds it repulsive (although they did sample the simple soup).