Remember when I wrote last week about being so inspired by recipes in magazines? It happened again, all because of the glorious picture I’ve posted above. The recipe, once you look at it closely, is nothing fancy or complicated at all. Polenta, made a little richer with milk rather than all water. Mushrooms, both fresh and dried, sautéed with an extra hit of butter, soy sauce, and cream — just a tablespoon of each, but that makes all the difference between a meager sauté and something a bit more special to cook for your family.

Unless, of course, your family includes people who cry at the sight of sautéed mushrooms, don’t like anything mushy, and shy away from salt.

My first step was biding my time, waiting until the mushroom-loathing eight-year-old was out (at a basketball game with his dad and grandfather, who would have loved the dinner, but tough; I had a recipe to try and I was getting impatient). Step two was selling the no-mush twelve-year-old on the idea of broadening his palate to consider new textures, not just the new flavors I am usually peddling. As for the salt, to which my mother is acutely sensitive; well, I hoped the single tablespoon of soy sauce wouldn’t be too much, but it concentrates so much as it cooks down, I needed to thin the sauce with extra mushroom-soaking water. It’s a little less decadent that way, but she liked it. The twelve-year-old liked it. And I, sitting at the table with them, talking and eating, I didn’t really care what it tasted like…but I liked it, too.

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