Being able to taste and experience different sides of life, even those that are of a more earthy or gritty nature, gives our existence a more well-rounded flavor. And when it comes to food, nothing says “earthy” better than savory Garlic Mushroom Toast topped generously with Herbed Ricotta Spread.
Life comes at us quick.
Childhood goes by in the blink of an eye, and we are thrust into young adulthood, and then just plain-old adulthood, where we will remain for the rest of our lives, and where we take on responsibility for what seems, at times, like the whole world.
And if we become parents, we watch our children grow up entirely too fast, and we're left, ultimately, with only our memories of how their baby bodies were so soft and squishy in our arms when we picked them up and held them; or of how they used to ask for the same bedtime story to be read over and over again; or of the times that knees were deeply skinned from falling off the bike; or how we finally left them at home by themselves for the first time in their early teens, when they no longer wanted to be seen in public with mom and dad.
There's a real earthiness, a deep, beautiful grittiness to life, isn't there?
It's both amazingly sweet and miraculous, yet also painful and a touch bitter, at times.
And I find that it's in between those two contrasting spaces where the most flavor is found, the most intense emotion, and the most amazing opportunity for experiencing and tasting both sides of things.
I find a lot of earthy flavor, a lot of rich, dark, savoriness, in the transitional times of life.
Like aromatic garlic mushrooms seared off and sauteed with a touch of white wine, and then carefully yet generously spooned over top of toast slathered in a creamy herbed ricotta spread, the times of life when we move from one place (or one role) into another, are intensely deep.
They stick with us, feed us, inform us, fill us, and allow us to grow stronger.
And if we choose to walk through them with our eyes wide open, looking for ways to grow and to be made more complex by them, then those times end up shaping and changing us in beautiful ways, ways that only add to our wholeness and our experience.
With our son having just graduated from high school, and having turned 18 just the day before, my husband and I are experiencing some of the earthy flavor of life in our transition from hands-on parents, to what's about to become more hands-off.
And it's surreal, to be completely honest.
For anyone who's already gone through this parental rite-of-passage when you hand your baby over to world, you know what it's like.
On the one hand, we're thrilled and very excited at what life will bring for our boy, in the experiences and in the opportunities for growth and for learning about himself; but on the other hand, we'll terribly miss the closeness, the innocence, and the opportunity to protect him.
But we both know that it's going to be his turn now to go out into the world, out into life, and explore his possibilities and find out about himself and his Creator.
So my hope is for as much deliciousness as possible along the way, for any of us going through transitional times; for openness in tasting the deep, earthy flavors that life brings to us, every now and again; and for courage and strength to walk into unknown territory and find God in it, in the challenge of it, and to be comfortable and at peace with the amazing and earthy flavor of what we encounter.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Buttery Garlic Mushroom Toast with Herbed Ricotta Spread
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes about 6 toasts
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 (8 ounce) packages sliced crimini mushrooms
• ¼ cup white wine
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press, plus 1 whole clove, peeled, divided use
• 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
• Black pepper
• 6 slices of your favorite rustic-style bread
• Herbed Ricotta Spread (recipe below)
• Thyme leaves, for garnish
-Place a cast iron or other heavy bottom skillet or pan over medium-high heat; add in the butter, and once it has melted, add in the mushrooms and saute for about 7-8 minutes, until they become a deep golden-brown, and begin to caramelize. (They will, at first, release a good bit of liquid; but then it evaporates, and the mushrooms become almost sticky, and caramelize.)
-Add in the wine, and once it has reduced (after about 30 seconds), add in the 4 cloves of pressed garlic and the thyme, and stir those in to incorporate; once the garlic becomes aromatic, add in a couple of pinches of salt and pepper; set aside and keep warm.
-Toast your slices of bread, and then rub the remaining whole clove of garlic over each slice.
-Spread the Herbed Ricotta Spread generously over each slice of the garlicky toast, then spoon generous amounts of the sauteed mushrooms onto each piece; garnish with a little addition thyme, and enjoy.
Herbed Ricotta Spread Ingredients:
• ½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
• ½ cup whipped cream cheese
• ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1 tablespoon minced chives
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, minced
• Pinch salt
• Pinch black pepper
-Add all of the ingredients into a medium-size bowl, and using a spatula, blend everything together until smooth and completely combined; use immediately, or keep in a covered container in fridge until ready to serve.