Cooking With Magic Mushrooms: An Enjoyable (And Tasty) Experience
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Virginia Haze is not alone in enjoying the effects of psychedelic mushrooms more than the act of consuming them.
But where some people would turn to simplistic disguises offered in Erowid recipes – mix mushrooms into peanut butter or cover with melted chocolate chips – Haze is both a mushroom author and a hobbyist cook who wanted to do better.
Haze and her co-author K. Mandrake published their book, “The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms,” with Green Candy Press in November 2016. She said the reaction to their ginger lime chocolate truffle recipe in that book gave them the idea that people wanted better ways to consume magic mushrooms.
Haze and Mandrake’s “The Psilocybin Chef Cookbook,” published this month by Green Candy Press, aims to address multiple problems. It includes recipes that disguise the taste and consistency of mushrooms, for those who don’t enjoy that earthy funk. Many recipes are designed to soothe the nausea some users experience by including stomach-calming ginger. Among the eight different extraction methods are soaking in ethanol or honey, creating portable infusions with a long shelf life.
It’s also just about having fun. Haze said she and Mandrake are “real nerds” in the kitchen, brewing beer, making their own miso. They were inspired by the pleasure they take in creating delicious experiences.
“It was our love of food and our love of experimentation,” she said. Take for instance a blueberry risotto. They took the idea from Niki Segnit’s book “The Flavor Thesaurus” that mushrooms pair well with blueberries, and while you might also find blueberry mushroom risotto on Food 52, among others, portobellos will lead to a different outcome.
This is less Maria Sabina ceremony and more Martha Stewart hosting a fun and elegant dinner party … only instead of Snoop Dogg, the co-host is Paul Stamets.
I asked Haze what she would serve renowned mushroom expert Stamets, and she came to a perhaps surprising choice: a substantial veggie burger made with squash, oats, pumpkin seeds, bulgur and either dried or fresh mushrooms.
“I think we would take him out on the porch, serve him a cold drink and talk about the universe,” she said. Fortunately, the cookbook also includes a range of cocktails including Little Fluffy Clouds, a tiki concoction with pineapple juice and coconut cream blended with a mushroom-infused rum they call “shroomshine.”
The marketing copy for The Psilocybin Chef describes it as “the only psilocybin-focused cookbook on the market.” But David Connell, a United States Air Force veteran turned psychedelic medicine advocate, released his “Cooking with Magic: The Psilocybin Cookbook” in fall 2019, originally published by Storyhaus, now self published and distributed by Ingram.
Where Haze and Mandrake draw on their lengthy experience cooking and using psilocybin mushrooms, Connell’s is a more recent conversion story. After a decade of active military service, including tours in Afghanistan and Africa, he returned home battling PTSD, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. His partner, Branden Buck, suggested he try mushrooms about three years ago. Connell says he’s “made more progress in two and a half or three hours than I had in years.”
Connell draws on family inspiration for his recipes, many of which are dairy free, sugar free or gluten free. In his introduction to his Key lime pie, he writes, “Like so many of my recipes, this one can only be attributed to my grandmother, whose kitchen witchery is without compare.”
Though their cookbooks look very different – Psilocybin Chef is sleek and polished, with professional food photography, while Cooking With Magic features trippy Alice in Wonderland drawings and quotes – Haze and Connell share a philosophy that cooking builds a stronger connection with the mushrooms.
“I think developing a bit of a ritual around something as powerful as mushrooms is important,” Connell said. “It is a quintessentially human thing we do – we share food.”
Haze describes cooking as “my sacred space,” and that preparing a dish or a meal with mushrooms helps create “that mental space for yourself.” She especially likes a dish like risotto for that reason, because all the stirring can be meditative.
Michelle Janikian, author of “Your Psilocybin Companion,” concurs. She likes to make tea with ground mushrooms, ginger and honey because preparing the tea can be a ritual when she sets her intentions. Even though some people work to mask the taste of mushrooms, she wants to know they’re there. “I think tasting the mushrooms is maybe important to the experience,” Janikian said.
Jack Lloyd, editor at Green Candy Press, said they have published more cannabis cookbooks than any other publisher in the world, with at least eight titles out now. He sees a lot of similarities in the increased interest in mushrooms and expects to see people bringing the creativity to mushroom cooking that they have to cannabis.
If you’ve mastered pot brownies and you’re ready to move on to mushroom cheesecake, here are a few suggestions from the authors:
Know your stomach
Nausea is a common reaction to psilocybin mushrooms, so you might want to work up to a three-course meal. Maybe start with a cocktail or smoothie, or a light treat like Haze and Mandrake’s fruit juice gummies, before you find out if you’re up to Connell’s magically mushroomed pot pie.
“We want people to be safe and happy and we want people to have a delicious experience,” Haze said.
If you don’t want to taste the mushrooms, you don’t have to
Both books lean on ginger, citrus, honey and chocolate to soothe the stomach, which have the added benefit of big flavors that can disguise the intensity of the mushroom flavor. Both books include alcohol tinctures, and both also include Paul Stamets’ blue juice, a method of extracting psilocybin using ice cubes.
“If you’re new to it, I think it kind of takes away some of the intimidation factor,” Connell said of not having to munch on a handful of chewy, fibrous dried mushrooms.
Do the math and stir well
If you’re making that shroom and squash burger recipe in Psilocybin Chef, it calls for 2 grams of dried mushrooms for four burgers. If you’re making dinner for friends, that could either be a mild buzz for all of you, or three of you could be doing the dishes while the fourth enjoys the visuals. Stir well and portion carefully.
With many recipes including extractions and powders, both books aim to make it easy to get it right if you pay attention.
“It’s harder to do with the more delicious things,” Haze conceded. She went back for seconds, then thirds on blueberry cheesecake, and thankfully, they design their recipes to be mild. “It was a beautiful experience.”
Connell said all his food recipes aim for a microdose or minidose level, to allow for pairings. Haze said she likes to plan a three-course meal with a similar strategy, though noting depending on the timing and portions, dessert might wait until after the comedown.
Haze and Mandrake, who she calls “Dr. K,” live in the United Kingdom and many of their recipes include measurements by weight, in the British style – 500 grams of squash or 65 grams of crystallized ginger, for example. Americans might be more used to talking about their mushrooms in grams than the amount of chocolate in a recipe, so you might need to do some conversions.
Also keep in mind that different preparation methods could affect your experience. Haze said they like to use what’s called lemon tekking, extracting psilocybin in citrus juice, because it concentrates the experience, with a faster come on. So if you know what 3 grams feels like when you crumble dried mushrooms on top of a pizza slice, you might have a different experience if you lemon tek. Go slow, Haze advises, because you can always eat another piece of cheesecake.
Don’t be afraid to heat your mushrooms
“People have very strong opinions about heating but it’s not based on research,” Haze said. Through their own extensive research, she and Mandrake have not found that heat degrades the potency. Thus they aren’t afraid to suggest cheesecake or risotto.
Still, she gets that “people have been reticent to move away from what they know works.”
So if you prefer to avoid simmering or baking, you could make the chai tea in Psilocybin Chef and stir in some psilocybin-infused blue honey. It features intense ginger and spices, “all those things that for my body are like a little warm hug,” she said.
Since fall is right around the corner, Connell’s favorite hot chocolate is another option that doesn’t risk long heating time. “I have this mild obsession with Mexican hot chocolate,” he said, adding that he feels like the warmth of the spices warm him up for an enjoyable trip.