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10 Fruits You Never Heard Of – New Food Friday Flash

20 Jun Fill Your Cart With Fresh Fruits

We take for granted all the varieties of apples, pears, plums, oranges, and other fruits, that we find in our supermarkets everyday. Many of these fruits are shipped from across the nation and beyond so that they can be on our table, fresh, sweet, and ready to eat. But have you ever thought about what fruits are served at kitchen tables in France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Central America, India, or Africa?

 

The 10 fruits I’m covering today in this New Food Friday Flash are fresh fruits that turn up on kitchen tables more commonly in other countries. If you do find any of them at your local grocery store, let me know! But how can you try these fruits? Well, you could ask your grocer if he could order them for you or you could plan a trip to the country they come from, vacation there, and as part of your adventure, try the new fruit!

 

Here is the list of 10 fruits below. Do you recognize any of them?

 

Casseille

 

Sea Buckthorn

 

Riberry

 

Marula

 

Mazhanje

 

Mamoncillo

Mamoncillo Fruit

Mamoncillo

 

Griotte

 

Acerola

 

Davidson’s Plum

 

Jamun

 

For more information about them, the ways they are used, and which country each is from, read the article I’ve written here.

 

The next New Food Friday Flash will contain 10 more fruits you’ve never eaten and a link to more in-depth information about them.

 

Fruit is good for your health and travel is good for your mind!

 

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New Food Friday – Chicory and Pomegranate

20 Dec Pomegranate

Right around this time of year, I make a special salad with chicory, pomegranate, grapefruit and orange slices. It’s very pretty, festive, and good for you! It’s called a Sicilian Salad and it’s perfect for this New Food Friday.

A Sicilian salad is very simple to make. Just tear up washed chicory leaves and put in a pretty bowl. Then, section one pink grapefruit and place the slices around the top of the chicory.

sxc.hu-Grapefruit-86484

Grapefruit (sxc.hu-Jason Merrill)

Do the same with an orange.

oranges (sxc.hu-Neil Gould)

Oranges (sxc.hu-Neil Gould)

The hardest part of making this salad is separating the pomegranate seeds from their nesting pockets! Either wear old clothing or an apron that covers you well. Pomegranate seeds squirt!

sxc.hu-Pomegranate-430625

Pomegranate Seeds (sxc.hu-Rick Hawkins)

The health benefits of Pomegranate

According to the Harvard Medical School Health publication, two recent studies suggest that pomegranate juice may help fight prostate cancer. Pomegranates may also have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease. Results from two small clinical studies show that carotid artery thickness decreased and cardiac blood flow improved in pomegranate juice drinkers. However, preliminary research also suggests that pomegranate juice may interact with certain medications, much like grapefruit juice does. For further information click here.

A word about chicory.

Chicory tastes just like escarole. It’s a somewhat mildly bitter green. The difference between the two is that chicory has very curly leaves.

Chicory

Curly Chicory leaves torn into bite-sized pieces

Escarole has wavy leaves.

Escarole

Wavy Escarole leaves before being torn into bite-sized pieces

The Citrus

When you section the citrus, you have the option of slicing the sections so that there is no membrane on them. I wanted to keep them in their “skin” so that the dish would have the most fiber. I also didn’t want to lose any of the juices. But it’s up to you. It may be prettier if you section off the slices.

Sicilian Salad before Pomegranate Seeds

Sicilian Salad before Pomegranate Seeds

This is the finished dish before pouring on the dressing. 

Sicilian Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

Sicilian Salad with Pomegranate Seeds before salad dressing

You can add as much or as little pomegranate seeds as you like. I used about 1/3 of the pomegranate. You can prepare this the day before. It keeps very well as long as you don’t pour the dressing on.

The Salad Dressing

The dressing is made of freshly squeezed orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.Very simple! Use proportions that you like. I don’t measure, I just squeeze the juice on and then drizzle on the olive oil. I like it that way. In fact, that’s how I make all my salads. I like the separate taste of the oil on some bites and the separate taste of vinegar, or in this case, orange juice. It’s up to you.

Sicilian Salad is delicious! It’s good for you! It’s pretty! It’s Christmas-y! Try it on your guests this Christmas. And have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season!

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Update On My Weight Loss Using The CalorieCount Website

29 Jun Fashion Model Silhouette

In a recent post I wrote about the website called caloriecount.about.com. I mentioned that it wasn’t very easy to learn (it wasn’t). However, I stuck with it and so far have lost 4 lbs. I attribute this weight loss to cutting back on fats, sodium, and over-sized portions. I also increased my activity level.

My goal is to lose 10 lbs so that my BMI will be in the healthy range.

The caloriecount website notified me that I had a sedentary lifestyle. Boy, my feathers bristled at that one! If MY lifestyle was sedentary, what was the lifestyle of people who didn’t work out and were couch potatoes?

Other than calorie logging, the website also allows you to enter activities you do each day. They would include: showering, driving, sitting at a computer, weight lifting, gardening, throwing out the trash, preparing meals, grocery shopping, aerobics, stretching, circuit training – the list is almost endless. Yes, this is tedious and time-consuming until you get the hang of it. I now have a clearer picture of my daily activity level and although I still don’t agree with them about having a sedentary lifestyle, I have to admit that losing 4 lbs without starving myself does say something.

I began entering my foods and activities May 29.  Today is June 29.  That’s about a pound per week of weight loss.

The website (and you) calculate what you want your ultimate weight to be and that determines what your calorie count should be each day. Mine is 1600 calories per day.  

I had the hardest time reaching my minimum daily values for potassium (4,700 mg).  Once I began to realize that sweet potatoes and butternut squash (two of my favorite vegetables) were high in potassium, I incorporated them into more meals and now reach my potassium level more often. Other Potassium rich foods: prunes, bananas, spinach.) Potassium may neutralize the heart-damaging effects of too much salt.

I knew that processed foods contained salt but I wasn’t aware that natural foods like white potatoes, spinach (yes, spinach), and fish contained high amounts of sodium! By themselves, you probably won’t go over your daily limit. But when you salt your foods or forget to read food labels as I did when I bought some blueberry bagels, each one having over 700 mg of sodium, you can quickly go over your daily limit of 2300 mg or 1 teaspoon of salt.

I was also heavy handed with olive oil and butter. Now, I measure by tablespoon what I put over my salads or my roasted veggies. Lately, I skip olive oil altogether and sprinkle my own homemade chicken stock when making my roasted veggies. It tastes just as good, maybe better.

I expect to use the caloriecount website until I imprint in my mind what portion sizes I need so that I can eventually forego the use of measuring spoons and cups. Yes, I’ve been weighing my foods like walnuts, golden raisins (another good source of potassium), and edamame (also potassium rich).

About a week ago, I decided that I didn’t need to enter my activities into the website any longer. I have a good idea in my mind how active I have to be each day.  Today I worked out AND I did the laundry. Usually I save laundry day just by itself but my stamina has increased and now to do both in one day doesn’t phase me.

The caloriecount website allows you to have snacks and I juggle my food entries to allow me snacking pleasure in the evening when I watch tv. Usually I have edamame, or frozen tart cherries, or grapes for a snack. Sometimes 1/2 slice of rye bread spread with blue cheese if I’ve gone light on the sodium intake earlier in the day.

I only had one evening when I was still hungry and went over my daily 1600 calorie limit by about 300 calories. I still ate smart though: 1/2 can of tuna, 1 cup brown rice, 1/2 tablespoon peach preserves, 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard (My own concoction that tastes Asian to me). When this wasn’t enough, I cooked a cup of mixed vegetables. Finally, I was satisfied. I must have been very active that day to still be that hungry!

Some days I felt stuffed and I didn’t want to eat my evening snacks…..but I had to in order to meet my daily requirements.  For example, sometimes I saved my almond milk (calcium) for my evening snack along with 1/2 oz of walnuts and maybe some fruit. Well, a couple of times I had to force myself to eat the snack because I am determined to meet my calcium requirements everyday! One particular night this week, I was so stuffed that I couldn’t stand the thought of a snack and skipped it altogether, to heck with not meeting my DV! (It wasn’t a calcium snack though. I eventually decided to get my calcium for breakfast every morning – OJ and almond milk.) I don’t intend to skip my snacks often.

Once I lose the rest of the weight, I won’t be limited to 1600 calories a day. I don’t know that I will continue to use the caloriecount website because I should have a good idea in my mind what I need to watch: sodium, fats, sugars and portion size. On the other hand, I do like seeing their graph showing that I met my iron, calcium, fiber, sodium, fats, saturated fats, potassium, carbohydrates, protein, Vitamin A, and cholesterol limits. (I think I named them all.) The graph shows if you’ve gone over or are under or are good.

If you need to lose weight, I highly recommend this weight loss website. Also, I should mention that I previously checked out other weight loss websites and none of them compared to caloriecount. It’s more thorough and contains more helpful information. It is worth the time you have to spend learning it. And, who knows, you may find it easier to navigate than I did!

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New Food Friday – Ataulfo Mango Curd

21 Jun Mango Curd2

I’m a fan of chef Rachel Allen and recently she prepared a dish called Lemon Curd on her PBS show.  It looked delicious and as I tried to google the recipe, I came across someone else’s recipe for Mango curd. Since I already had a couple of mangoes in the house, I decided to make the mango curd instead. And that’s what led me to this Friday’s New Food Friday.

Mango Trees

Mango Trees (sxc.hu/asifthebes)

I think the more popular mangos are the pretty red and green ones but my local Meijer also stocks the smaller, yellow Ataulfo mangoes. Don’t overlook these because they are small. In actuality, there is more meat to pit ratio. In my experience there is no taste difference and they ripen better.

Mango Branch sxc.hu sonnyleon 482816

Mango Branch (sxc.hu sonnyleon )

This is what the finished curd looks like. It’s a pretty yellow color and creamy. To me, the curd tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a lemon cream.

Mango Curd3

Mango Curd

It keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks, maybe more.

Mango Curd Closeup

Mango Curd Closeup

I like mango curd on blueberry bagels for breakfast but you can spread it on toast, English muffins, scones, the possibilities are endless.

Mango Curd on Blueberry Bagel

Mango Curd on Blueberry Bagel

Store bought lemon or mango curd is expensive and they don’t always have the best ingredients in them. I’ve seen some jars go for over $7.00.  Some jar ingredients don’t even contain egg yolks, a key ingredient in mango curd or most curds. The egg yolk is what helps to make the curd a good, nutritious breakfast food.

As with most recipes, the ingredients can vary. Some people add lime juice. I made mine with lemon juice.

2 ripe Ataulfo mangoes

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

4 tablespoons butter cut into pieces

pinch salt (if you are using salted butter, omit salt)

Wash then peel the mangoes  cut into pieces and scrape all the fruit off the pit using every last drop. Add the lemon juice, the sugar, the salt if you are using it, and blend in a food processor. I used my immersion blender and the carafe it came with. Puree. 

Now add the egg yolks and purée 15 seconds longer. The recipe I used (from Epicurious) said to strain the ingredients through a sieve. I didn’t see any need for this but it’s up to you.

Pour pureed ingredients into a bowl and place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. DON’T LET THE WATER TOUCH THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL. Wisk or stir (I stirred) until thickened, about 10 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 170 F degrees. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in butter, one piece at a time.

You can cover the curd with plastic wrap so a “skin” doesn’t form on top. I let mine cool and then poured it into a jar, let it cool some more, then screwed a lid on and put in the fridge. When it cooled, some water had formed on the lid and I wiped the water off. 

I saved my egg whites in canning jars and froze them. I will use them for baking breads to give them a nice shine. If you do this, allow the egg whites to defrost completely in the fridge. You could also make a white omelet with the egg whites.

I hope you try this.  You use fresh fruit, fresh egg yolks, and fresh butter. It’s delicious, nutritious, and avoids all the preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients in store-bought curd. 

Once you try this, you will want to make other curds. I know I do!

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New Food Friday – Meyer Lemons

19 Apr Meyer Lemon Sliced

Although I was sad to have to postpone New Food Friday, in hindsight, it turned out for the best. Preparing for my talk on blogtalkradio took more effort than I realized when I agreed to be a guest on the show. I thought I wouldn’t have enough to say. It turned out that I ran out of time and couldn’t finish what I had to say! Who knew? It was an interesting experience and fun to talk to Marilyn and Tatiana. I wish we could have chatted more.

Just to catch up, I’ve gotten a lot done in the short time I skipped New Food Friday. I dug up my garden in preparation for my new plants. What I usually do is collect all the leaves that huddle in a corner of my house and bury them in holes I dig in the garden once the weather turns warmer. This aerates the soil, feeds the plants as the leaves decompose, and eliminates the need to bag them, having to use plastic bags in the process. It’s a win-win.

I also got a car repair taken care of which included getting reimbursed and having to go to another repair shop to diagnose and fix the things that were botched up. I may be writing a post about it soon.

Since my lawn mower died and I tried fixing it myself to no avail,(it’s an electric push mower), I tried to get someone to fix it. Two repair places declined!  I had no alternative than to buy a new one. This is another story that deserves its own post because a police officer was involved! I kid you not. So much for my boring life! NOT!

So, without further ado, let’s discuss my experience with Meyer Lemons which is what brings me to this New Food Friday. One of my favorite drinks is lemonade, especially during the summer when I’ve just finished mowing the lawn. I’ve always used regular lemons for this drink until I spotted some Meyer Lemons on a visit to Wal-Mart while I was looking for lactose-free yogurt which they were supposed to have but didn’t. 

Meyer Lemons are different from regular lemons. As you can see from the packaging in the photo, Meyer lemons are sweet and tart.

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

But are they really? I sliced one in half and tasted it. It didn’t taste sweet at all. In fact, it had an odd taste but I reserved my judgment until it was time for me to use the second lemon from the package. It tasted exactly the same as the first one.

English: Cross sections of Eureka, Meyer, Yuzu...

Cross sections of Eureka, Meyer, Yuzu, and Pink Lemons, and 1 sweet Lime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These Meyer lemons looked like tangerines. They are a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange.  To me, they taste like the juice squeezed from the skin of a tangerine. That is how I would describe it. Is that how they should to taste?  I have a hunch they should taste better than that! Maybe it depends on what orchard produced these lemons or maybe these lemons had been sitting around Wal-Mart for too long. Or perhaps they were left on the tree too long. It’s anyone’s guess.

The flavor didn’t stop me from adding the juice to my tea and honey

sxc.hu aga_wrr Tea with Lemon

Tea with Honey and Lemon  sxc.hu aga_wrr

or to make a glass of lemonade.

sxc.hu suzula  Glass of Lemonade

Glass of Lemonade sxc.hu suzula

Neither tasted as good as a regular lemon in these drinks.

These Meyer lemons look good, they just don’t taste that good I’m sorry to say.

I’d be willing to try them again. Next time I’ll buy them from Meijer and maybe I’ll have more luck. If it turns out that they are better, I will amend this post. 

But for now, these Meyer lemons are getting a thumbs down from me! Booooo! Have you used Meyer lemons? If so, what has your experience been like?

UPDATE 4/23/13: I found Meyer lemons at my local Meijer yesterday and made myself a glass of lemonade. So far, these Meyer lemons are an improvement over the ones I bought at Wal-Mart. 

Meyer Lemons2

Meyer Lemons2

I don’t know if you can see the difference from the photos, but the Meijer Meyer  lemons (hehehe) are more yellow where the Wal-Mart Meyer lemons were more orange.

I paid $2.69 at Meijer for Sunkist, a well-respected brand, of Meyer lemons. There were 5 to a package. The Wal-Mart Meyer lemons contained only 4 lemons even though they weighed the same. They cost $1.98.  But you’re not saving anything if you have to throw the produce out and if it doesn’t taste good. Also, I’d rather have 5 lemons instead of 4 even if the overall weight is the same. For one thing, there would be more skin and therefore more zest for recipes with 5 lemons. 

Speaking of zest and skin, when I squeezed the Meijer Meyer lemon for my lemonade, the skin cracked very easily which made it difficult to squeeze. That’s not such a big deal because I’ve had regular lemons do that on occasion. You can see from the photo that the skin was rather thick. It’s actually very edible. I can see making preserves out of these lemons!

The packaging of the Sunkist Meyer lemons didn’t say anything about them being sweet as the Wal-Mart lemons claimed.  These Sunkist Meyer lemons are much less “puckery” than regular lemons. I didn’t get a strong “tangerine” taste that I got with the Wal-Mart lemons, these had a much milder, more pleasant tangerine-lemon taste.

Meyer Lemon Sliced

Meyer Lemon Sliced

I’ve recently seen regular lemons sell for $.63 each at Meijer. So, the Meijer Meyer lemons would be cheaper! 

By sheer luck, I found the castelvetrano olives today at Kroger; the ones that Gerard mentioned in the comment section below. I combined an olive with the Meyer lemon and enjoyed the combination! 

I will be having thin slices of these lemons with salmon for dinner along with a side of brown rice and a stuffed artichoke. Yum!

OK, so Meyer lemons now get a thumbs up!

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New Food Friday – Kumato Tomato

8 Mar Sliced Kumato Tomatoes

No matter how you slice it, tomatoes are one of the most versatile fruits/vegetables known. My local Meijer was advertising the award winning Kumato Tomato and I was looking forward to giving it a try.

Packaged Award Winning Kumato

Packaged Award Winning Kumato

Welcome Kumato Tomato to New Food Friday.

The Kumato tomato is a brownish red tomato. It is very similar to a Black Russian tomato I grew a few years ago in my garden. My Russian tomato was not pleasing to the eye. The Kumato however, is pleasing to the eye and the taste buds.  It is mild flavored and not very acidic. It’s juicy and small in shape. They hold up well on the kitchen table and are firm enough in a sandwich. But other than that, I didn’t think they were worthy of the hype! Maybe I’ve eaten too many tomatoes in my life. To me, these were just another tomato. My Russian tomatoes probably spoiled the color “surprise” for me, but unless you’ve also had brown tomatoes, you may want to give these tomatoes a try. 

sxc.hu JohnMason Multi-colored Tomatoes

Multi-colored Tomatoes      sxc.hu JohnMason

As long as I’m writing about tomatoes today, let’s see what we can do with them.

Sandwiches

Tomatoes are great in a BLT (Bacon, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich. When was the last time you had one, slathered with mayonnaise?

sxc.hu winjohn BLT

BLT   sxc.hu winjohn

It’s that combination of the salt in the bacon and the sweetness of the tomato that makes it one of the most popular sandwiches in America!

Pizza

Tomatoes can hold their own in a pizza. Whether sliced or in a tomato sauce, Italians and Americans alike love their pizzas!

sxc.hu ATunska Tomato Pizza

Tomato Pizza   sxc.hu ATunska

Other countries have their versions too!

Bruschetta

Is there anyone who doesn’t know what bruschetta is? It’s become as popular as pizza in this country! Tomatoes are the basis of bruschetta. I like mine with chopped garlic, chopped Italian parsley, salt, pepper, and a good olive oil.  All the ingredients have to be at room temperature.

sxc.hu spiridus Bruschetta

Bruschetta   sxc.hu spiridus

I don’t bother toasting Italian bread, slicing it, and putting a mound of bruschetta on top. I like my own small bowl of bruschetta and a good loaf of crispy Italian bread to dunk. It is often a meal for me in the summer with my garden tomatoes. Variations call for chopped basil or oregano.  I think I even saw one with balsamic vinegar. No thank you. The simpler the better for me!

Salads

The photo of this salad was as close as I could find of a salad that looked like one of my salads.

sxc.hu artvisions Salad

Salad   sxc.hu/artvisions

My salads are a meal in themselves. As you can see in the photo, there is meat, cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded carrots, etc. Tonight I had one of my salads similar to this one.

I like to layer my salads. The first layer was romaine lettuce. Romaine because the escarole looked wilted at Meijer so I bought romaine lettuce instead but otherwise, escarole always goes into my salads. The next layer was the Kumato tomato slices. Then, a specialty cheese called Bella Vitano by Sartori.  Sartori makes award winning cheeses. If you ever come across their cheeses in the supermarket, pick one up. They make a wide variety that will make your mouth water. I highly, highly recommend them. Make note; that was TWO highly’s.

Back to my salad, I had leftover rapini (broccoli rabe) and I put spoons-full of that in strategic places around my salad bowl. I had leftover green string beans, they went in. I like to roughly shred a carrot on top of my salads for color and a bit of sweetness so that went in. I remembered I had walnut halves that I had sprinkled some Garam Masala on, they went in too. I baked a piece of wild salmon while I was creating my masterpiece. Salt and pepper went over the salad as did Chianti vinegar and a good quality olive oil. When my salmon was done, I placed it on top of the salad. Then I dolloped some thousand island dressing on the salmon. If I make anything consistently good, it’s my salads.

This was fabulous if I do say so myself: the bitter rapini with the sweet Kumato tomatoes and the creamy, nutty, sharp cheese with the green beans, not to mention the salmon with the thousand island dressing and the crunch of the walnuts, the sweetness of the carrots…..what can I say. I am a well-fed happy foodie! I suppose I should have taken a photo but the photo wouldn’t do it justice!

My salads are kitchen sink salads. If you haven’t tried leftovers in a salad, you should. Leftovers like: roasted medium rare sliced leg of lamb, broiled or roasted chicken, broccoli, asparagus, beans, they all shine in a fresh salad. In the summer, I often add fruit like, fresh peach slices or fresh mango chunks. But you don’t have to wait until summer to make a good salad! Now is a good time for a salad!

sxc.hu merala Clock with Tomatoes

Clock with Tomatoes sxc.hu merala

Salad anyone?

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New Food Friday – Tangelos

22 Feb Orchard sxc.hu/winterdove

Have you tried a tangelo? They look like an orange but are much less acidic. They are very juicy and very sweet. I am hooked on tangelos and so this post for New Food Friday is about tangelos!

Tangelos are grown specifically in Florida.

 I am on my third 5-lb bag of tangelos and I have one tangelo for breakfast everyday.

Bag of Oranges sxc.hu/JR3

Bag of Oranges sxc.hu/ JR3

I used to eat an orange everyday but they are too acidic for me. Once I tasted a tangelo, I was a convert.

Here are the Nutrition Facts.  

Nutrition Facts-Tangelo

Nutrition Facts-Tangelo Click to enlarge

 

When you take into account the smaller size of the tangelo compared to an orange, note that the average size orange is 180 grams and the average tangelo is 109 grams so don’t let the difference in calcium throw you (or the other differences either).

For myself, I prefer the smaller fruit. Oranges have morphed into a fruit that is so big that when I ate them, I eventually decided to just eat half. I wish they would stop growing fruit to such an enormous size! Even apples are ridiculously large these days. I wonder why this super-sized fruit growth hasn’t been addressed by health experts as they have addressed portion sizes for everything else, haven’t they!

Orange Branches sxc.hu pepo

Orange Branches sxc.hu pepo

Tangelos make a good snack during the day because they are low in calories and you can’t scarf them down in a hurry.

Tangelo Waiting to be Peeled

Tangelo Waiting to be Peeled

Tangelos are a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. This is surprising to me because they don’t look or taste anything like a grapefruit.   They are very sweet. There are several varieties and the ones I’ve had so far vary in the amount of seeds.

The tangelo in my photo had no seeds. The last bag of tangelos I bought had more seeds than the other two bags but for the most part, there are few seeds.

Peeled Tangelo

Peeled Tangelo

Also, the type that I bought was not that easy to peel which makes it a challenge to avoid breaking the membranes and losing a drop of that delicious juice!

On the other hand, juice is going everywhere in the little Italian town of Ivrea. As you can see in the photo, the Italians have other uses for oranges besides eating them and cross-breeding them.

Annual Carnival in the Italian city of Ivrea sxc.hu JosipBroz

Annual Carnival in the Italian city of Ivrea sxc.hu JosipBroz

In this photo they are celebrating the Annual Carnival in the Italian city of Ivrea where they throw oranges at each other.

In the Valencia region of Spain, they hold a tomato-throwing festival. (Ironic isn’t it that they are throwing tomatoes and not oranges in Valencia!)

La_Tomatina Wikipedia - flydime

La_Tomatina Wikipedia – flydime

Fruit throwing is one way to get out your aggression. It’s also good exercise and apparently fun, therefore good for your health, although you could be hurt by getting hit. But at least it isn’t a bullet, some would say. Maybe we need to throw more fruit in America.

Would you stand under an orange tree? I wouldn’t, not even if the trees were on a patio with a fountain!

A fountain in the Patio of Oranges within the grounds of the Cathedral of Sevilla sxc.hu sueanna

A fountain in the Patio of Oranges within the grounds of the Cathedral of Sevilla Click to see the oranges. sxc.hu sueanna

It’s a good way to get unexpectedly clunked on the head.

Once I sat under an almond tree and an almond fell on me. It was like a missile and it hurt like heck! That’s right, a little old almond. They’re not so little when they are unhusked!

So,  for the time being, I’d rather eat than throw oranges or tomatoes or tangelos. Then again, maybe I’m just comparing apples to oranges.

Apples and Oranges sxc.hu cherrycoke.jpg

Apples and Oranges sxc.hu cherrycoke.jpg

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New Food Friday – Chestnuts

11 Jan Chestnut Burr
American Chestnut

American Chestnut                     flickr: hickmanwoods

You’ve all heard the song, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”  But have you tasted a chestnut? Better yet, have you tasted a roasted chestnut? It’s time to investigate chestnuts on New Food Friday.

Whereas most nuts are hard, chestnuts are relatively soft and moist.  They’re firm and they’re also a bit sweet! Does that sound like a nut to you? Well, it might interest you to know that the botanical definition of a nut is a dry fruit!

Roasted chestnuts are a common street food. You can find them in many countries. I remember them fondly on the streets of New York City many years ago. You could smell them roasting for blocks. They’re great to eat in the wintertime because they are hot and if you wear your mittens, you can hold a few in your hands, warming your cold fingers while you wait for the chestnuts to cool off.

Chestnuts Hot!

Chestnuts Hot!

Chestnuts are low in fat and calories compared to a walnut which has 3 times the amount of calories. I bought a container of chestnuts at Meijer and they were originally $4.49 reduced to $1.49.  The package stated “Italian Chestnuts” so I’m assuming they were imported from Italy. I’m lucky I found them reduced. They were the best chestnuts I’ve ever eaten! At least to my memory. 

Almost all fresh chestnuts sold in your local markets are imported. These imported chestnuts come from all over the world–Italy, Spain, Korea, China, and sometimes even Portugal, according to http://www.buychestnuts.com/

Chestnut Unshelled with Bowl

Chestnut Unshelled with Bowl

When you roast them, you want to be sure to puncture them with the point of a sharp knife. In fact, make an “x” because just one puncture might not do. I had one explode in my toaster oven when I only gave it one puncture. They are like baking potatoes in that sense. If you don’t puncture a potato well and bake it in the oven, it will explode! I have experience with both unfortunately! They are a mess to clean up. 

Speaking of messes, when I work with flour, which is often because I like to bake, I manage to get flour everywhere. Although I’ve never used Chestnut flour, I imagine it wouldn’t be any different. Chestnut flour is favored in many Tuscany recipes. Chestnuts are found in some recipes in America on Thanksgiving. Some folks like to make their turkey stuffing with chestnuts. I would love to try that. It sounds delicious!

I used to see many of these chestnut burrs 

Chestnut Burr

Chestnut Burr sxc.hu – mordoc-(France)

on the ground on my way home from school when I was growing up. Whether they were the true American Chestnuts, I don’t know but I’m inclined to think so. The trees on this one particular block were very old and not just Chestnut trees. I remember Oak leaves in the mix. Their roots caused a major upheaval on the sidewalks over the years, causing permanent “ocean waves” that were a challenge to navigate, especially when Fall came and colorful slippery leaves covered the ground. When I went back, six years ago, all the old trees were gone, cut down, and in place of the shady canopy, sunshine and new sidewalks. To me it looked bare and ugly. I preferred the undulating sidewalks!

Chestnut Avenue

                          Chestnut Avenue, reminds me of my walk home from school                                                    sxc.hu – stockcharl(Germany)

When I was in school, I learned the poem, “Under the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands.” Some of you might recognize that poem.

sxc.hu - all81-Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree

                                    Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree                                                                            sxc.hu – all81(Netherlands)

The story of the American Chestnut Tree is a sad one. You may have heard it from your parents or grandparents. It’s been said that the East Coast American Chestnut Tree was the equivalent of the West Coast Redwood Tree.  Imagine how devastating it would be if we lost our Redwoods.

“The story is that the chestnut supported from cradle to grave,” says Bill Alexander, landscape curator of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. “You were rocked to sleep as a baby in a chestnut cradle and you were buried in a chestnut casket.” (Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/1998-08-01/Chestnut-Revival.aspx#ixzz2HEhNgEbe)

Here are excerpts from The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) website.

“The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range.

Scary or Scared Chestnut Trees? sxc.hu algiamil

                                     Scary or Scared Chestnut Trees?                                                                                    sxc.hu algiamil(Italy)

The American chestnut tree was an essential component of the entire eastern US ecosystem. A late-flowering, reliable, and productive tree, unaffected by seasonal frosts, it was the single most important food source for a wide variety of wildlife from bears to birds. Rural communities depended upon the annual nut harvest as a cash crop to feed livestock. The chestnut lumber industry was a major sector of rural economies. Chestnut wood is straight-grained and easily worked, lightweight and highly rot-resistant, making it ideal for fence posts, railroad ties, barn beams and home construction, as well as for fine furniture and musical instruments.

The blight, imported to the US on Asian chestnut trees, is a fungus dispersed via spores in the air, raindrops or animals. It eventually kills the tree.

In 1989 TACF established the Wagner Research Farm, a breeding station in Meadowview, Virginia, to execute the backcross breeding program developed by Philip Rutter, Dr. David French and the late Dr. Charles Burnham, three of TACF’s founding scientists. Two independent reviews of TACF’s scientific mission, methods, and results, were conducted in 1999 and in 2006 by prominent scientists from around the world. They concluded that the vision of The American Chestnut Foundation to restore the American chestnut to its native habitat in the United States is being accomplished through the breeding program & other TACF activities, and that regional adaptability is key to a successful reintroduction of the American chestnut tree.

Today, TACF’s Meadowview Research Farms have over 30,000 trees at various stages of breeding, planted on more than 160 acres of land.”

Chestnut blight. Experimental trials of resist...

Experimental trials of resistant Castanea dentata by the American Chestnut Foundation at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, Massachusetts, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The comeback of the American Chestnut tree sounds promising.

For more information, to learn how you can participate,  and to hear Dolly Parton’s new song about the American Chestnut, click here.

In the meantime, while you are waiting for the American Chestnut to make its comeback, try the European chestnut sold in your supermarket. Although it is the end of the season for chestnuts, you might get lucky and still be able to find some at your supermarket. They were out of them at Meijer when I went back for more, but they were still selling them at my local K-Mart. Otherwise, you may find chestnuts sold in Michigan and a few other states where chestnut hybrids are planted.                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Food Friday – Ugli Fruit

28 Dec Ugli Fruit in Bowl

The song goes like this: “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife. So, from my personal point of view, get an ugly girl to marry you!” That was just a little musical intro to today’s New Food Friday which is: Ugli Fruit.

Ugli Fruit

Ugli Fruit

Ugli Fruit comes in a few colors: green, greenish-yellow, yellow, and orange. They range in size from 4 inches in diameter to 6 inches. This fruit is a tangelo that is a variety of citrus fruit grown exclusively in Jamaica where it was discovered over 80 years ago growing wild. Ugli is believed to be a hybrid of the Seville orange, the grapefruit and the tangerine. To me it tastes like a cross between a grapefruit and a pineapple.

I had a heck of a time peeling this thing. I began using a knife to get it started but the skin is very thick and rather tough. At least this one was.

Ugli Fruit Top Cut

Ugli Fruit Top Cut

It reminds me of alligator skin! Here’s what it looks like partially peeled.

Ugli Fruit Partially Peeled

Ugli Fruit Partially Peeled

You can see that the bowl is filled with all the thick skin peelings once it is completely peeled!

Ugli Fruit Peelings

Ugli Fruit Peelings

Once I removed all the skin, I separated the slices of half the Ugli Fruit and had them for breakfast.

Ugli Fruit Slices

Ugli Fruit Slices

The membrane of the segments was tough too but it was fairly easy to remove the pulp from the membrane. It was juicy and I barely lost a drop!

I bought my Ugli Fruit at Meijer for $1.69. 

Ugli Fruit is harvested and sent to market after they have ripened on the tree so when you purchase it at the store, it is already ripe even if it is green.

Nutritional Facts

Serving size: 1/2 Ugli Fruit

Calories: 45

Fiber: 2g

Total Carb: 11g

Protein: 1g

Sugars: 8g

Calcium: 2%

Vitamin C: 70%

Ugli Fruit is ugly, but it will not interact with medicines the way grapefruits do!

Some people make ice cream out of the juice or put the segments into a salad (like a Sicilian salad which is very good). You can squeeze the juice of the Ugli Fruit and combine it with rum to make an Ugli Hot Toddy. What a way to welcome in the New Year!

Or, you can mix the juice of the Ugli with Cointreau and pour it over roasted duckling.

Duck-roasted

Duck-roasted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At which time you will have: Ugli Duckling! Get it? 

Happy New Year Everyone! (I haven’t even started drinking yet.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Food Friday – White Dragon Fruit

23 Nov Red-tongued Dragon

Last week, instead of me surprising you with a new food for New Food Friday, you surprised me when many of you let me know that you’ve been eating sardines all along. Some were lucky enough to have the fresh sardines! I am envious but I am happy to know that you are eating food that is good for you! My hat’s off to you fellow sardinians!

OK, so that upped the ante for me to find something more exotic to introduce you to on New Food Friday. I think I found it: White Dragon Fruit.

Fire-breathing DragonNo, no, no, there is no fire-breathing dragon involved and the taste is not fire-y hot either. Some say it is a mildly sweet taste; a cross between a kiwi and a watermelon.

No, White Dragon Fruit has nothing to do with a water-breathing dragon either.Water-breathing dragon

Or a lighted dragon either for that matter.Lighted Dragon

And no, I’m not talking about a Drag Queen. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.Drag Queen

I’m talking about a Dragon Fruit. The outside skin is a beautiful color. It is described as red but I wouldn’t call it red. It may be more of a cranberry color. The texture of the skin is waxy, like a candle.White Dragon Fruit      You can see how it gets it’s name because of the way the leaves simulate scales like a dragon’s scales. Yes, you’re correct, fish also have scales but we did fish last week. This week we’re doing dragons. What has gotten into you?  Was it too much turkey yesterday?

The inside of a Dragon Fruit can be either white (with little seeds that are crunchy like kiwi seeds)White Dragon Fruit Sliced or red like the outside skin, or even yellow. There are no quills, spines, or needles to worry about on this fruit even though the tree from which it grows is considered a cactus.

The Dragon Fruit flower is gorgeous. Dragon Fruit FlowerNote the fire-y red stamen coming out of the flower. Again, mimicking a dragon’s breath. According to Wikipedia, the flowers bloom overnight and are pollinated by bats. All we need now is a vampire to round out the image of this fruit! The image below  is what the Dragon Fruit tree looks like. Dragon Fruit TreeAccording to the photographer, this is the largest Dragon Fruit tree in the world and is located in Icod de Los Vinos, in northern Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain). Estimates of its age vary between 500 and 3,000 years old!

Nowadays these fruits are grown in Florida and California and it is said that they are catching on the way kiwi have caught on. Dragon Fruits are also known as Pitahaya.

Nutritional facts vary and may depend on which type of Dragon Fruit you purchase. The fruit I bought was manufactured by the Melissa brand which showed little beneficial vitamins or nutrients on her website for this fruit. Other websites said they are high in vitamin C, rich in phosphorus and calcium with free radical fighters known to contain phytoalbumin antioxidants. However, nobody would argue that they are low in calories and high in fiber. They are native to Mexico, Central and South America, East Asia, and Southeast Asian countries, among others.

How to Serve

Dragon Fruit tastes best eaten raw and chilled. You can sprinkle lemon or lime juice over a slice.  It is sometimes made into a sorbet or drink. I sprinkled lemon juice on my slices otherwise this fruit would hardly have any flavor at all in my opinion. I wouldn’t recommend serving the fruit at a dinner party because the black seeds stick in your teeth like crazy and everyone eating it would look like they had rotten teeth! It’s a fun fruit to try but unless I got a bad one, I would not be tempted to try it again. You might have a good laugh eating it with your kids due to all the seeds.

And Finally

When you’re draggin’ after eating all that turkey, eat a piece of Dragon Fruit to perk you up – it’s refreshing! That’s it folks. I’m all out of dragon jokes today. Have a good one.

UPDATE 12/8/12 :  Kenley, of Green Door Hospitality told me that she thought she saw Dragon Fruit being used as a beauty treatment in the movie, “Mirror, Mirror” with Julia Roberts. I watched the movie last night. Sure enough, they were slicing a Dragon Fruit and placing the slices over Julia’s  (who played the queen) eyes! Good catch Kenley! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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