When I was little I was the kind of kid that was happiest taking things apart.
I wasn’t destructive per se, though that was the end result of what I did, I was simply curious to see how things worked.
So it surprises no one that my first memory of mushrooms involved me tearing them into little pieces in a vain effort to understand what it was that made them so good.
I must have been about 5 or 6 at the time. And as per our usual pass time, my parents had taken the boat up the river to our favorite camp site.
Being experienced mushroom hunters, they had found a small amount of edible wild mushrooms and had placed them on a shelf to be made into dinner.
Unfortunately they did not account for my determined ingenuity in getting into trouble.
I don’t even remember how I managed to get at those mushrooms who’s perch was so high up the side of a tree that my dad had trouble reaching it. But by the time my parents came back from gathering wood, I was surrounded my little mushroomy bits. I had even managed to separate out some of the gills in my quest to understand the humble fungus.
My mother, needless to say was furious. Edible mushrooms were hard to find and what she had been looking forward to cooking up for dinner was now in gravel sized pieces scattered over a 6 food circle with me as the epicenter.
Since then neither my obsession for taking things apart nor my deep love of mushrooms has diminished. Only now I get paid for taking things apart and I limit my mushroom destruction to slicing or chopping for recipes.
Mushrooms have an inimitable flavor that deepens with cooking adding a subtle earthiness to anything they are paired with. Even white button mushrooms, which, lets face it, are totally lacking in flavor, seems to transform simple dishes.
As I cannot eat onions unless they are cooked to the point of disintegration, I rely heavily on mushrooms to even out the flavor and moisture content of dishes, substituting them for the onions on a one for one basis. I think it works very well, especially when the mushrooms, sliced thin and caramelized slowly with a bit of oil and garlic develop a rich flavor that adds a wonderful dimension to otherwise ordinary foods.
So when I found a recipe for mushroom pate, I was delighted. While I love the real thing, pate is a wee bit on the fatty side to serve as a regular part of a meal. This mushroom pate however is healthy, quick and delicious.
It makes a regular appearance on our table, though the original recipe came from a feature article in the Orange Country Register food section on healthy Jewish Cooking (is there really such a thing?). It is also completely vegan. Another one of those wonderful dishes that people always want the recipe for and are always surprised it is so simple.
This pate is great served on cracker and topped with a little garlic or herb infused sour cream. (Or coconut cream for a vegan alternative.)
Adapted from “No Cholesterol Passover Recipes”
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed 
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoons water or stock
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1-2 tablespoons cognac or sherry (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
In a skillet sauté mushrooms, cognac, and garlic till they are lightly caramelized, about 10-12 minutes. Season lightly wish salt and pepper. Add the fresh thyme and sauté for another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer to a food processor. Add the nuts and blend until smooth. Use a little water or stock to thin the mixture if necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
 I love garlic but it can be a little overwhelming; so if you are not a huge can reduce the amount of cloves to 1 or 2. I use about 5 or 6. But I like to eat garlic raw.