I’ve hidden different things at different times in my life, Christmas presents from eager little eyes months before the big day, making mental notes as to where I stash things only to find that I’m scrambling to remember what it is that I’d hidden in the first place just before Christmas Eve. I would wander around after the kids had gone to bed and feel like I was missing something, but alas I wasn’t. They would and they wouldn’t even be aware. Then I would find these gifts in the middle of summer and debate for a moment what to do with them. Clearly nobody was missing these items. And unable to convince myself that I could stash the items away again to actually find them the next year I would just hand them over and my girls would get a little surprise. Thank God I didn’t stash any perishable items. Over the years I stopped hiding things away. I now hide things in the same spot, put my glasses in the same spot, my watch, rings and phone. If I didn’t I would most certainly spend most of my time running around the house like a freak constantly looking for things.
I’ve hidden money for a rainy day, though this happened most often when I’d go into a winter coat at the beginning of a cold snap, plunge my hands into my pockets and feel a crumpled bill shoved to the bottom. Clearly I had been in a rush the last time I wore the coat, probably getting gas with a line up behind me or running out of somewhere and just shoving the five or ten in my pocket, too hurried to open my purse, open my wallet and place it where it should be. Then the bill would resurface once the weather was again too cold for sweaters, almost as payment for the horrendous weather I was about to have to endure for the next three months. The five or ten or, less often — twenty would rustle as I put my hands in my pocket for the first time that season to find a small and hardly sufficient but still welcome gift.
I’ve also been known to hide feelings from people especially when I’ve been so frustrated I’ve wanted to strangle them, though I don’t actually hide that very well. I’ve never had a good poker face as they say and even less so as I get older. I suppose I’m tired of hiding how I feel, it’s too much work and the weight of it is something I’m not interested in carrying for anyone else’s self esteem anymore. And though I tend to be more honest I also tend to be a bit more forgiving and so frustrations don’t have the same hold on me as they used to at one time.
I’ve unintentionally hidden things even when I just wanted to simply put them away, to keep them safe, for a while, then I would desperately look for them for days until I gave up and that’s when they would surface. Maybe having done this once too often is what has exhausted me from hiding things.
Of all the things I’ve hidden I think the food I’ve hidden in other food has been my favourite thing to hide. I remember hiding all sorts of vegetables in beet soup so that my kids would get the benefit and I wouldn’t have to hear the complaints about not liking peas or spinach. A round thing a square thing a flat thing a fat thing… they are all the same when cooked long enough in beet soup and you can’t hardly pick them out if MOM cuts them small enough. I remember sitting and watching them devour a bowl of bright red vegetable filled soup and smile because they didn’t know to put up a fight and I won… and so did they.
These days I live with two people who hate mushrooms. I’ve realized that they don’t hate the flavour of mushrooms when I started hiding ground dried mushrooms in gravy and no one complained. It was the texture that they don’t like and even though I don’t understand that I’d rather resort to hiding mushrooms and still getting to eat them, enjoy the flavour of them, rather than fight with two of the people I love. Life is just too short.
Ground dried mushrooms have become one of my favourite ingredients to use since I’ve started stealthily incorporating them into soups and sauces. Not only do they give a nice layer of flavour to dishes they also serve to thicken things, often without having to make a roux or using cornstarch. And though I haven’t seen this ingredient in stores anywhere it’s certainly easy enough to buy dried mushrooms and grind them yourself though admittedly they are not cheap, but then you don’t really need much.
Hidden Mushroom Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff
- 2 lbs of stewing beef
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 cup ground dried mushrooms ( about 1 1/2 cups of dried mushrooms run through a bullet or coffee grinder)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 litre of beef stock (unsalted)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
- splash of oil to coat the pot
Mix all dry ingredients including the ground mushrooms in a large bowl and then add your beef pieces. Mix well to ensure all meat is covered in the mixture then set aside while your set a pot on the stove to medium heat with a little splash of oil and wait until it gets nice and hot.
Add the coated beef and brown on all sides. Add the beef stock and water and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the meat is nice and fork tender. Take the pot off the stove and stir in the sour cream until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over a nice bed of noodles. I used wild rice noodles but I’ve also served this over broad egg noodles.
Eat immediately… enjoy.