14 June 2010

Muffin Monday: Mushroom Dill Muffins From Louisiana Mushroom Farm

*** Check out a savory muffin using your favorite mushroom.

From Denny: Here in Louisiana most people never gave much thought to farming mushrooms. OK, I thought about it and people thought I was crazy. Well, turns out there are some other crazy people who thought it was a great idea too. After all, it doesn't take up a lot of room and it's a crop that grows in the dark. How cool is that? Yes, I also have a science blog. It really shows sometimes. :)

Well, Johnnie and Cheryl Santangelo of Independence, Louisiana, pressed ahead and now three years later they are the proud owners of the only mushroom farm in Louisiana. And do they have some yummy recipes too! After all, mushrooms are the ultimate brain food and what a delicious way to feed our brains.

"We started at zero," remembered Johnnie Santangelo. "Neither Cheryl nor I knew anything about mushrooms. Absolutely nothing! All we did know was that there was this old mushroom farm that has sat abandoned just down the road from our home. Years ago, it had been land my dad had leased for cattle. We were looking for investment property and this looked like it."

Johnnie and Cheryl both teach at Loranger High School. He is an agriculture teacher and she is the assistant principal.

"Yeah, like weeds and trees and vines that we had to hack away with machetes just to be able to open the doors of the buildings," said Cheryl. "Once inside, we found the only thing growing there were water moccasin snakes. I was terrified and not about to go in there.

Explaining the history of the previous owners of this mushroom farm, "The place had been run as a mushroom farm by a man from Pennsylvania as an investment for another man in New Orleans. At some point, the two men had a disagreement and the man who was running the farm, just walked away from it and left everything. The people who were left behind didn’t know anything about mushrooms so the place was just locked up. Just as it was.

"My husband, my son Johnnie III and some others went in and cleaned out the buildings. We found everything just as it had been left 18 years earlier. I even found the first dollar that the original owner had earned and left behind. He just walked away from it. I framed that dollar bill along with the first dollar we made. To say the place we found was a mess would be a gross understatement.

"To be honest, I don’t think anybody even knew those buildings were there. But once all was said and done, we knew that we were going to grow mushrooms … and that we would be successful."

These educators and their son grow three types of mushrooms from two species: the grocery store familiar white button and the portabella. When the portabella are picked at an early stage and small they are labeled as creminis. If you allow the portabellas to grow and mature they are the coffee brown large umbrellas that almost have the texture of steak and will win over most meat eaters to veggies.

The production level these days for this farm is 18,000–23,000 pounds of mushrooms. That many pounds of mushrooms are produced in each room and each week all year long. Their profit line went from zero to $200,000 and growing in only three years. Sounds like my crazy idea was not so crazy after all. :) Congrats to Johnnie and Cheryl Santangelo.

Red Hill Mushroom Farm
51237 Mushroom Lane
Independence, LA 70443

Business Phone: (985) 878-0172
Fax: (985) 878-0172

Mushroom Dill Muffins

From: Johnnie and Cheryl Santangelo of Independence, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, owners of Red Hill Mushroom Farm

Tender, earthy mushroom muffins enhanced with dill. Serve along side soup. Use a mini-muffin pan for perfect little “mushrooms.”


2 tsp. butter (or margarine)
2 cups chopped fresh white mushrooms
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. Baking powder
¾ tsp. dill weed
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. pepper
2 large eggs
10 oz. can of condensed cream of mushroom soup or your fresh mushroom soup
¼ cup melted butter (or hard margarine)
¼ cup milk
2 tsp. lemon juice


Melt first portion of butter in large frying pan on medium-high. Add mushrooms. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and liquid is evaporated. Let cool.

Measure next 5 ingredients into large bowl. Stir. Make a well in center.

Beat remaining 5 ingredients with whisk in medium bowl. Add to well. Add mushrooms. Stir until just moistened. Fill greased mini-muffin pan(s) 3/4 full. Bake in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Let stand in pan for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool. Makes approximately 4 dozen mini-muffins or 12 large muffins.

*** Check out how Muffin Monday started: American Revolt: How You Can Break Big Business, Big Banks, Big Insurance, Big Oil, Big Lobbyists

*** Check out more recipe posts: Recipes: Muffin Monday and Cake Tuesday

*** Mushroom on steroids by miss karen @ flickr

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