Starting with shiitake: Sisters host garden ed at Botanic Garden

Madeline Tallman, special to WTOP

WASHINGTON – Shiitake mushrooms have had a great season this year, and the Cook sisters, Danielle and Adrienne, were eager to demonstrate mushroom recipes at the United States Botanic Garden on Thursday.

Danielle, an author and nutritionist, accompanied Adrienne, an avid gardener, in a program showcasing the fall fungus. About 25 people watched as the two made a vegan shiitake bisque and a mushroom rice pilaf in the atrium of the Conservatory Garden Court.

The duo have been giving programs and demonstrations on local and seasonal foods throughout the Washington D.C. Metro area throughout the last decade. Thursday’s event was a informal and interactive display. More like a conversation, audience members jumped in with questions about preparation and cooking techniques and ingredient choices.

After the demonstration was over, audience members got to enjoy trying the two dishes.

“Our whole thing is doing local produce,” Adrienne says. “Buy local, eat local.”

The sisters’ demonstrations were designed to educate audiences about gardening and then what to do with the foods they’d grown.

“We like to keep it open and informal and educate and really get good feedback from the audience,” Danielle says. “To me that’s the funnest part.”

What started out as Danielle’s small class at the Botanic Garden has turned into a frequent, larger event with Adrienne, combining healthy cooking with seasonal gardening. The Botanic Garden contacted Danielle about a year ago after learning about her nutritional demonstrations in Montgomery County’s Brookside Gardens, and the program has grown since then.

“It just really opened a great conversation about people’s gardens where they’re from and what grows differently in different regions across the country,” Danielle says.

Now, the sisters appear at the Botanic Garden frequently showcasing different produce. This September, the two focused on figs, and in January they will give a presentation on beans.

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