Tag Archives: Food

New Food Friday Flash – A Better Breakfast

17 Apr Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast for Breakfast

I’m a big fan of PBS. They have a program; actually, it’s more like a documentary, they call “Breakfast Special.” Apparently, it was so popular that they now have a Breakfast Special II. The narrator and cameraman (and crew) go around the country at various restaurants that serve breakfast. These breakfasts are special! The interviewed customers rave about them. The program is light and funny. The breakfasts are typically huge, sometimes unusual, and very delicious-looking. When they stopped at a restaurant that served buckwheat pancakes (at only a certain time of the year), my mouth watered so much that the next day I ran out and bought buckwheat flour and made my own! Since sadly, I am not a breakfast lover, I decided it was time to make my own “Breakfast Special.” That’s why I chose it for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

Breakfast has never been my favorite meal of the day. Sure, I love my recipe for Southern Rice Pancakes but it is time-consuming and the syrup and butter I put on them goes straight to my hips. A few times a year I’ll treat myself to bacon and eggs but I recently learned I’m allergic to sulfites. So, in an effort to eat a healthful breakfast and incorporate more beans in my diet, I created a recipe that I love and I want to share it with you. The following are the star players.

 

The Grits

Grits are similar to corn meal which is how you make polenta. Polenta is a southern Italian staple. I’m half southern Italian (and half northern Italian) so the chances of my liking grits, ironically popular in the south of the US, were good! Grits are white whereas corn meal is yellow. Grits are grittier and corn meal is creamier. I top the grits with a pat of butter.

 

The Beans

I’ve discovered refried beans. I don’t know why they’re called “refried” because they aren’t fried to begin with so how could they be “re” fried? In the supermarket, you can buy various types of refried beans, some with lard, some without, but I like the lardless Pinto refried beans. I doctor them up in a tablespoon of olive oil in which I fry half a chopped onion, one clove of garlic chopped, and about a teaspoon of Chipotle in Adobo Sauce (comes in a can) minced. I keep my Chipotle in Adobo Sauce in a container in the freezer and when I need it, I scrape it with a fork or whatever is handy and put it in the pan. This all gets sautéed until the onions are translucent. Then, in goes the can of beans. I mix it well, put it in a dish, and take as much as I want to go with my grits, saving the rest in the freezer.

 

The Egg

Any egg will do, but if you really want to spoil yourself, use Eggland’s Best eggs. The flavor and vitamin/mineral content is superior. I like mine well peppered with a little salt.

Beans, grits, & egg

A well-peppered egg on top of grits and refried beans

 

The Grapefruit

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Looking at the Red Texas Grapefruits I bought at Meijer, I can see it is no lie. They are wonderfully sweet! If you haven’t had a red Texas grapefruit, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Try some grapefruit

Texas Red Grapefruit

 

The Alternative

I made oatmeal instead of grits but put on too much cinnamon. Yet it turned out great and now I prefer it that way! Sprinkle on a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and it’s a nice alternative to grits and better for you. Buy old-fashioned oats, also better for you.

 

I coat my 6-inch cast iron pan with a little coconut oil and spread the bean mixture on one side and the grits or oatmeal on the other. Top this with an egg, salt, and pepper and it’s ready for the toaster oven for 7 minutes at 400° for a still jiggly egg. Experiment with the time to get your egg the way you like it.

 

While this is baking in the oven, I am eating my grapefruit. I also make myself a large hot cup of water with ¼ of a lemon squeezed in and a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger. Sometimes I add honey, sometimes Truvia, a natural sweetener. It’s better than tea or coffee. Actually, it tastes a lot like regular tea to me but doesn’t stain your teeth and ginger is good for you.

 

This breakfast is divine! The beans are a little spicy, the grits or oats a little sweet, and the egg, well the egg is an egg and if you like eggs, it’s good! The grapefruit is sweet and juicy! Sometimes I’ll have a slice of Irish Soda Bread too with butter or jellies depending on how hungry I am and how much time I have.

Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast for Breakfast

Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast

 

Now I can join the people who love breakfast as long as I’m having THIS breakfast! Try my breakfast special, you’ll like it!

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Cooking Tips and Other Tricks

10 Mar Apple Pie with a Cup of Tea

With over 50 years of cooking and baking, I have come up with a few cooking tips that I have not seen mentioned anywhere else. I’d like to share them with you.

 

LEMONS

Here is a tip for fresh lemons that I learned accidentally! You know how lemons turn to mush after you had cut them in half and only used one-half? This happened to me too frequently and I was annoyed at how many times I would have to throw out the remaining half lemon. One day, since I needed a lemon wedge for my tea, I decided that instead of cutting the lemon in half, I would cut a wedge out of the lemon. Guess what? The remaining lemon stayed fresh until I used up every wedge cut from the lemon – well over a week. It helps to twist your plastic wrap tightly around the remaining lemon. Also, if the plastic wrap gets wet, discard it, tear off a fresh piece of plastic wrap, and wrap the remaining lemon. You won’t be throwing out any more lemons! This works with limes too.  I love this tip!

 

I had a cup of tea with honey, a lemon wedge, and a nice slice of homemade apple pie.

Apple Pie with a Cup of Tea

A Slice of Homemade Apple Pie with a Cup of Tea with Honey and Lemon

 

MORE LEMONS

What do you do with the remaining lemon when a recipe calls for nothing but the zest of one whole lemon? You don’t want to throw out the lemon. The chances of saving the lemon without the protective outer layer are not good unless you have plans to use it within a day or two.

 

One lemon without the zest!

What to do with a lemon once you’ve removed the zest

Here is what I do: I get a sharp knife and cut the lemon into wedges, put them in a container and then put the container in the freezer.

Zested lemon wedges in container

A zested lemon cut into wedges ready for the freezer

I use the wedges for hot tea or thaw out a wedge or two and squeeze them over fish. Actually, you can use these wedges of lemon the same way you would use fresh lemon. Another benefit of saving lemon this way is that you can remove all the seeds at the same time you are cutting the wedges. Works great and helps cool off a too-hot cup of tea!

Hot cup of tea with frozen lemon wedge

Squeeze frozen lemon wedge into a hot cup of tea

 

BACON AND EGG(s)

I buy bacon infrequently, but when I do buy it, I cook it all up either in my toaster oven or in a fry pan. I drain it all on paper towels that I line in a glass bowl. I let the bacon cool and store it in the refrigerator or in the freezer depending on how soon I think I’ll use it.

 

Then, when I want bacon and egg (only one egg for me) for breakfast, I get a heatproof plate, cover it with parchment paper, and sprinkle bacon bits on it from my bowl of cooked, cooled bacon slices. I crack an egg on top of the bits. I place the dish in my toaster oven, select Toast, add a slice of bread alongside the dish, and select the highest Toast cycle, which for me is number 3. When the bell dings, I leave the toast and dish in the toaster oven to absorb the residual heat while I’m getting other items ready like tea or coffee, etc. This makes perfect toast and a sunny side up egg with crispy bacon. Clean up is a breeze!

 

Any runny yolk stays on the parchment paper, not on the plate. I get just enough taste of the bacon to satisfy me without overdoing it, limiting my salt intake for the day. You would be surprised at how eating a couple of slices of bacon can make you go over your salt intake! I love this tip!

 

COLD FEET

Is there a woman out there who doesn’t suffer from cold feet? There have been times when my feet were so cold that it would take me an hour to fall asleep because my feet were so cold and no amount of blankets were enough. I complained about it to my doctor and he told me to wear two pairs of socks. That didn’t help.

 

I finally got the idea to wear two pairs of jogging pants or “sweats” around the house. This solved my problem indoors.

 

When I go outdoors, I wear a pair of long johns under my jeans. If you don’t know what long johns are (also known as thermal underwear), they are insulated pants, typically white, and relatively seamless, with matching separate tops that are made of a very stretchy fabric. Mine are 50% cotton and 50% polyester and made in the USA. You can buy them at Meijer and probably Walmart. I’ve had mine a long time and bought them when I first decided to go skiing. They are snug around the ankles and the wrists to keep in your body heat. They don’t show under your jeans. They are comfortable; you won’t know you are wearing them.

With this crazy, dangerous weather, you never know if your car is going to be stuck somewhere or you are going to be hit by a vehicle in a skid, so you want to be sure you are able to withstand the cold just in case you can’t stay in your car or your heater dies. These long johns also help to protect you from the high winds we’ve been having which make it seem even colder. I no longer have cold feet and in fact, I am as warm as toast!

 

Final words: double your pleasure by doubling your pants!

 

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New Food Friday Flash – Trottole

13 Feb Trottole with Gorgonzola and Artichoke Quarters

Once a week I get grocery flyers from Meijer, Kroger, Marsh, and Aldi. (Most recently, 1/8/15, a Save-a-Lot grocery store opened near me.) I’ve always avoided Aldi because you need to have a quarter (25¢) handy to use one of their carts. You can’t use credit cards and you have to bag your own groceries and bring your own bags! However, food prices are lower although that is getting harder and harder to tell because with fuel prices plummeting, all grocery stores are lowering prices! At least they are here in Indianapolis. Ever the adventuress, I decided it was time to give Aldi a try. On one of my trips there, I came across a gourmet pasta called Trottole. I thought this pasta was different enough to be a part of my New Food Friday Flash.

Trottole Front Label

Trottole Front Label

 Trottole is a tri-colored pasta in the colors of the Italian flag: green, white, and red. The red comes from tomato powder, the green from spinach powder. These Trottole are imported from Italy. The pasta shapes are big! They look like a salesman’s sampler for the Michelin man. (If that doesn’t make any sense to you, you need to watch the Antiques Roadshow more often.)

Trottole Back Label

Trottole Back Label

 Because these Trottole are so thick, they need a longer cooking time: 11-13 minutes for an “al dente” tenderness. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a long wait for pasta! Trottole have an interesting mouth feel. They’re fun to chase around the plate with your fork.

 

The first time I made them, I combined them with feta cheese, broccoli florets, chopped garlic, olive oil, walnut pieces, and pasta water. I covered the pan so the cheese would melt. It made a nice gravy-like consistency for a dish I enjoyed very much!

A nice salad to serve with these Trottole is a spinach and pear salad with sliced avocado, carrot slivers, and blue cheese dressing.

Spinach Pear Salad

Spinach Pear Salad

 

The second time I made them, I poured a sausage tomato sauce over them that I had made from ground turkey, crushed fennel seeds, and other ingredients that I had made weeks ago and stored in my freezer. I wish I had the patience to write down all my cooking experiments so that I could duplicate the successful ones. Alas, this sausage sauce was the best one I ever made and I don’t have a clue how to make it again.

 

The third and last time I cooked these pasta from its 17.6 oz package for $1.69, I cooked them my favorite way for pasta, mixing them with a jar of quartered artichokes, chopped garlic, olive oil, and gorgonzola cheese.

Trottole Blue Cheese Artichoke dish ingredients

Trottole Blue Cheese Artichoke dish ingredients

This is an easy, quick recipe worth noting for when you are rushed for time or too tired to cook. You get your calcium, fiber, protein, and carbs. There is no sodium in the Trottole. It’s a delicious, nutritious dish.

Trottole with Gorgonzola and Artichoke Quarters

Trottole with Gorgonzola and Artichokes

 The only negative comment I have for these pasta is the packaging. I ended up cutting my finger trying to remove the snap-like closures on the cardboard and plastic packaging. There are two of them as you can see in the photo. I was worried that one or both could end up in my pasta dish. Carelessness in this area could earn you a broken tooth. The edges of these snap-like buttons are sharp. Take my advice, get scissors!

Gourmet Pasta

Trottole Gourmet Pasta with Snap Seal

 

Otherwise, Trottole are fun to eat. They may be too fat to serve to young children who may choke on them. It’s better to stick with small pasta for them like stars, elbows, or baby shells. If you can find it, alphabet pasta is good for kids too! They are tasty and educational!

 

Speaking of education, my Italian translation software tells me that trottole means tops or whirligigs. “Hey honey, can you make some whirligigs for dinner tonight?” Wink, wink!

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Quinoa Makes a Good Cookie: Biscotti – New Food Friday Flash

17 Oct https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/biscotti-garden-tomatoes-nectarines.jpg

When everyone began talking about quinoa, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. So, I bought a package of Bob’s Red Mill quinoa flour. My mistake. Everyone was talking about the grain and I bought the flour. Undaunted, I found a recipe using the flour. It was terrible. I had to throw it out.

 

Month’s later, while riffling through cookbooks at my local library, I came across a recipe using quinoa flour that sounded good. It was for quinoa biscotti. I had never made biscotti before and it was on my bucket list to do. With those thoughts in mind, quinoa is the new food for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

The original recipe came from the book, Eating in Color. The one alert for this recipe is that it called for 1 3/4 cups quinoa flour. That was not enough flour. Either the author forgot to add another flour to the ingredient list or she got the measurements wrong. I knew right away because the directions said to shape the dough into a loaf and there was no way you could shape this blob of a batter into a loaf. I added some white flour and then some whole wheat flour to the tune of approximately 3/4 – 1 cup additional flour. I had to keep adding flour until I could shape the dough into a long loaf. The whole wheat made the recipe more nutritious. I wouldn’t add more quinoa flour because it has a strong flavor and needs another flour to mellow the flavor a bit in my opinion.

 

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups quinoa flour

3/4 – 1 cup white and whole wheat flours combined

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large eggs

1/4 cup canola oil (I used olive oil)

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup raw almonds toasted, chopped

1/2 cup dried currents (I used golden raisins)

1/2 cup dried cherries (I used frozen sweet cherries and dried them myself, it’s cheaper!)

1/4 cup dried cranberries – optional (I had them in the cupboard and thought, why not?)

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350. (I used my convection-toaster oven.) Place parchment paper on a baking sheet so the biscotti cookies don’t stick and for easier cleanup. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. Stir in almonds, cherries, raisins, and cranberries. Flour your hands and separate the dough into two halves to form each into an 8″ long loaf on the baking sheet. This is a little messy. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool for 20 minutes on the baking sheet then remove to a cutting board. Slice cookies 1/2″ wide on an angle. Using a spatula, carefully transfer biscotti back onto baking sheet, cut side down and bake again 14 minutes or until tops are dry to touch and hard nearly all the way through. They will further harden when cooling.

 

These cookies are hard and that’s the way biscotti are supposed to be. Biscotti cookies are for dunking in a beverage to soften them up. The usual dunking beverages are either coffee or wine. I tried dunking them in coffee but preferred them dunked in wine. I had a rather sweet wine that was a blend of red sweet wines by Barefoot. I like wines that are on the sweet side but this wine was even too sweet for me to drink with a meal. However, it was perfect for dunking the biscotti. So, I recommend a sweeter wine for dunking your biscotti. You could try dunking them in tea, milk, hot chocolate, etc. Experiment!

 

We’ve had a lot of rainy weather and the humidity has been high so after 2 days, my biscotti were not hard anymore and were edible without any dunking. This was when I enjoyed them even more.  I froze them after a few days and they keep well frozen. I have four left. They are a delicious cookie, nutritious and good for you! I hope you try them.

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10 Cheeses You Have Never Tasted or Heard Of – New Food Friday Flash

19 Sep Cheese-Eating Mouse

This New Food Friday Flash I am writing about cheeses that you most likely have never tasted or even heard of. As demand for new and interesting foods is growing in America, we have seen many new cheeses in the dairy case of our favorite supermarkets. As a cheese lover, and a person who watches her calcium intake daily, I am always on the lookout for a new cheese. The cheeses I mention below however, are not at my grocer yet…maybe in the future. Some have strange names as you will see! Some have interesting pairings. All are popular in their native countries. More cheese please!

 

Smetana

Made by Russian dairy workers, this cheese is more of a sour cream and essential as a topping for soups, an accompaniment to blinis and caviar, and mixed hors d’oeuvres called zakuski that are eaten with shots of vodka. (We drink wine with our cheeses, they drink vodka.) Some Smetana are sweeter, some are more sour. Some have a butterfat content of 20%; some 40%. Not surprisingly, the best smetana is artisanal smetana. Skoal!

 

Skyr

We never hear much about Icelandic cooking if ever, but this cheese was introduced to Iceland by the Vikings. Icelanders consider skyr a national specialty. Skyr is similar to yogurt but it is not a yogurt. Skyr is a low-fat cheese made from milk that has been curdled using rennet then drained. It has added bacteria to it similar to what is found in yogurt. It is digested more quickly and easily than milk and considered to be a healthy food as it doesn’t contain stabilizers nor skim milk powder often used in the manufacture of yogurts. Icelanders traditionally eat skyr at breakfast or with dessert. Flavored versions are also made in Iceland. Try some on your next trip to Iceland, the country with no army.

 

Sakura Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I love award-winning cheeses and wines. Sakura is a handmade cheese created by a farmer from a country not known for its cheesemaking: Japan. It is made in Hokkaido, Japan from Swiss Brown cows’ milk and has been winning prizes since 1998, including a gold medal at the Mountain Cheese Olympics. (There’s an Olympics for cheeses? Who knew?) One of the methods of creating this cheese is that it is placed on salted leaves of the Sakura cherry tree and left for eight days to ferment so that the cheese absorbs the fragrance of the leaves. A salted pink cherry blossom flower is placed on top of each cheese before they are packed into boxes. I’ve experimented making my own yogurts but this farmer makes me want to try my hand at making my own cheese!

 

Stinking Bishop

The story behind the name of this cheese is far more interesting than the cheese itself! Apparently, there was a farmer called Bishop with a bad temper who once shot a kettle containing hot water because it didn’t boil! This cheese was developed in the 1990s. The creator, a conservationist, hails from Gloucestershire and is a collector of the Worcestershire pear trees and the main force behind saving the heritage breed of Gloucester cattle. (At least he put his anger to good use.) As you might imagine, the aroma of the cheese lives up to its name. Closepins anyone?

 

Serra da Estrela

This cheese is a sheep’s milk cheese from sheep that may well be on the endangered species list. If it wasn’t for making this cheese, they might have already become extinct! The sheep and the cheese come from the highest region of Portugal called Serra da Estrela. The sheep are predominantly black coated and are known as Bordeleira sheep. How sad if they were to become extinct because this cheese is known as the “king of Portuguese cheeses.”  The milk is curdled with rennet from the cardoon thistle. The Portuguese spoon it onto their traditional cornmeal bread called broa. It has a sweet taste with undertones of burnt toffee. Because these sheep are so rare, milk from other species is increasingly used.

 

Taleggio

Wasn’t there a character named Taleggio in the Godfather? But I digress. This is a cheese from Lombardy, Italy and until 1918 had been known as stracchino (not to be confused with the word stacchino which means toothpick) a dialect word (the last I heard, Italy had 42 dialects) that relates to milk from cattle that were tired after their  seasonal droves from the alpine pastures into the valleys. Taleggio is a full-fat cheese with a powerful aroma for which it is famous. Its ripening process lasts more than a month and its surface is smeared with a brine solution and inoculated with a mold and bacteria. Taleggios from Valtellina, Valsassina, and Valtaleggio (Val meaning valley) have a distinctive taste that can be meaty, beefy, mushroomy, fruity, nutty, and salty, all at once. No wonder it is protected by a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin). Call me biased, but the Italians sure know how to eat!

 

Ardrahan

Foods from Ireland are beginning to make a mark in America, witness by the cooking shows from Ireland and their native popular chefs. Andrahan cheese belongs to the family of modern Irish cheeses pioneered during the 1980s. This cheese appeared in a farmhouse in County Cork from the family’s herd of pedigree Friesians. It is a pasteurized, semisoft, washed-rind cheese using vegetarian rennet (as opposed to animal rennet). Bacteria is inoculated into the brine with which they are wiped during early ripening. Low in fat and cholesterol, it is a popular cooking cheese in its native Eire. It is regularly served at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Olomoucke Tvaruzky

If you can pronounce it, you can eat it! OT is one of the Czech Republic’s best-known traditional cheeses. It was first documented in the late fifteenth century, when it was reputed to be a favorite of Czech king Rudolf II and was awarded a prize at the first Austrian Dairy Exhibition held in Vienna in 1872. It even has a museum dedicated to it in the town of Lotice. This cheese is either one of the best tasting cheeses ever or it has one heck of a public relations agent behind it because it was also included in a Czech-Chinese banquet when Olomouc cheese dumplings in ginger sauce were served as a dessert. It is commonly eaten with bread and is a staple ingredient of Czech cuisine. As you might have guessed, it found its way to the bar scene and is a popular bar snack that can also be fried in batter.

 

Churpi

Churpi comes from the shaggy-haired yak found in Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan. However, farmers also have made churpi from buffalo or cow’s milk. It is also unusual in the sense that like most cheeses which are cut with a knife, churpi is broken into pieces using a hammer. (Make an appointment with your dentist now!) It is then sucked on or chewed over a long period of time from 10 minutes up to an hour to get the distinctive flavor. For this reason, it is a portable, nutritious, and energy-giving cheese. It is very popular in Nepal where it is chewed like chewing gum. Tibetans fry churpi with young tendrils of a local fiddlehead fern called ningro. You may find this cheese in your dairy case eventually thanks to the Chinese government putting its weight behind yak dairy initiatives.

 

And last but not least…

 

Moose Cheese

That’s Moose Cheese, not Mouse Cheese. Two Swedes in the sleepy community of Bjurholm adopted a couple of abandoned moose. Long story short, they now own more than a dozen moose on their dairy farm. Would you believe it is the only moose dairy farm in Europe. I believe it. Maybe somebody should tell Amy Poehler’s brother (Greg) who stars in the new sit-com “Welcome to Sweden.” Funny show. Greg (Bruce Evans) is unemployed and looking for a job. Working on a moose farm would fit just perfectly into that show. But maybe they’ve already thought of it. Stay tuned! Anyway, this story just gets stranger….People travel to the Algens hus (Moose House) to pat the domesticated moose and to try the unique moose cheese. I have seen a moose up close and personal at a drive through zoo many years ago. The one I saw was a male that was ugly, big, and mean looking! The females, on the other hand, while still no beauty contestant winners, produce about a gallon of milk a day which is similar to cow’s milk but higher in protein and fat. The cheese is extremely expensive and is sold in upscale restaurants and a few exclusive outlets in Sweden. There are three different types of moose cheese, one of which is best described as a feta type and stored in rape oil. How do you get people to eat cheese from a moose? You raise the price to an outrageous level.

 

I don’t know how I’m going to top this in next month’s New Food Friday Flash. I may have to retire while I’m at the top of my game!

 

Happy traveling and if you get the opportunity to travel to the countries mentioned above and try any of these cheeses, please drop me a line in the comment section! Variety is the spice of life. It keeps life interesting and your mind alert. It’s good for your health!

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8 Vegetables You Have Never Eaten (and May Never Want to Try) – New Food Friday Flash

15 Aug Farm in Minnesota

I’ve covered some of the fruits you’ve never tried or even heard of in the last two New Food Friday Flashes and I could do more. Maybe I’ll come back to fruits in the future. Today I’m covering vegetables that you’ve never tried or heard of.  It’s good for your health to eat your vegetables but in some of the vegetables listed below, it might be better for your health if you avoided these vegetables!

Also, I couldn’t find a photo of any of these vegetables but I found a nice photo of what is a “forgotten farm in Minnesota” according to the photographer and selected it for my featured image.

 

Ackee

The alternate name for Ackee is vegetable brains. Is that because if you eat it you will get smarter? Unfortunately not. It’s because it looks like brains. Does it taste like brains? No. How do I know? I’ve eaten a brain sandwich at a country fair once. It was fried pork brains. It had a mild flavor and was served on a bun with either mustard or ketchup. I asked for one side mustard and the other ketchup. But I digress. Vegetable brains, (Ackee) tastes like scrambled eggs according to some. Looking at a photo of Ackee as it is ripening on an evergreen tree, totally creeps me out. It can only be picked when it has turned completely red, has been split open showing it’s “smile” revealing two black seeds that look like eyes. Anything other than the creamy yellow pulp cannot be eaten nor can the unripened fruit because it is fatal! Yipes! You can find this vegetable in the forests of the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of West Africa. Served with salt cod, it is Jamaica’s national dish! Canned Ackee is available around the world and completely safe. Don’t forget to eat your veggies!

 

Celtuce

You would think that Celtuce is a cross between celery and lettuce but it isn’t. It is sometimes called Chinese lettuce as it originated in China. It is grown mainly for its thick, tender stem, but its leaves can also be eaten. In China, the stems are broiled or boiled, added to soups, and used in stir-fries with meat, poultry, or fish. It is grown mostly in home gardens and is not widely known. When cooked, the stem tastes like a cross between squash and artichoke which means that I would like it a lot!

 

Marsh Samphire

This vegetable is shaped like miniature Arizona cacti but flourishes in the mud of salt marshes around the coastlines of England and France. Collecting and cleaning it is messy and time-consuming. Marsh Samphire is also known as glasswort and was once used in glassmaking! Today, however, it and its relatives are seen as plants of the future because they will grow in salty conditions. To cook, blanch without salt (because it is salty) and add butter. It is served in salads and on trout. Cultivated varieties can be imported from Israel and the Gulf. Its nickname is sea asparagus.

 

Angelica

The healing powers of Angelica, according to the people in France’s marshy Poitou-Charente region where Angelica has grown for centuries, have used it as an antidote to poisons. Hmmm, possibly good to eat after you eat Ackee (above)? Angelica is a member of the parsley family and also grown in Italy, Scotland, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, and parts of North America. It can withstand the temperatures of Iceland and Greenland. The leaves can be shredded in salads and used in omelets and fish dishes. The stems are often stewed with rhubarb or made into preserves and jams. Today, it is most commonly used as a candied confection for cakes, sweet breads, and cheesecakes. The leaves and stems taste like licorice.

 

Golden Needle

One of the least familiar ingredients to the Western world is golden needles also known as tiger buds. That is, unless you’ve heard of the folk song, “Silver threads, golden needles can’t unbend this heart of mine….” Sound familiar? These buds range in color from pale gold or orange to dark amber in its dried version. They are often added to noodles and meats prepared over high heat. Their sweet, musky flavors complement woodears, enokitake, and misos and appear together in recipes across China and Japan.

 

Ratte Potato

Unlike other vegetables or fruits with names that mislead you to believe their taste, shape, or lineage is why they were so named, this particular vegetable actually was named Ratte Potato because it, alas, looks like a rat!  Eeeeks! Leave it to the French to take care of that problem: they called it Quenelles de Lyon. Ratte’s texture is dense, firm, resistant to breaking down, and yet smooth. They have a nutty taste similar to chestnuts.

 

Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche is also known as corn smut. Part of its name is the Aztec word for dung. I’m not making this up folks. Truth is stranger than fiction. It is a naturally occurring fungus that disfigures growing corn. I’m surprised I never heard of it, considering that Indiana is a corn-growing state. We (we?) must call it something else. The corn kernels swell and mutate into distorted silvery blue lumps with black interiors. How divine. It has a mushroom-like flavor with hints of corn and licorice. It is usually sautéed with garlic and onion and used to flavor traditional Mexican dishes. It can be difficult to find fresh huitlacoche outside of Mexico, but specialty food stores in the US and Canada often stock flash-frozen or canned versions in the event you are dying to try this.

 

Stinky Tofu

Known as ch’ou doufu in Mandarin, it has a mild, faintly sour, beany flavor which is far surpassed by its gargantuan aroma. As you might have guessed, it is a fermented concoction made with vegetables, herbs, shrimp and sometimes other seafood items. There are many, many fermented vegetables served around the world but I chose this one because it is often eaten as street food in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong where you might encounter it in your travels. It is deep-fried until crusty then dressed with spicy sauces, and topped with chili oil and garlic in Hunan. How will you know it? Your nose knows.

 

Based on some of the description of these vegetables, is it any wonder kids don’t eat their vegetables? Poison? Used in glassmaking? Rats? Dung, and Stinky? Those are hardly enticing descriptions. Consider yourself lucky. You didn’t have to look at the photos of these vegetables as I did when doing the research! On the other hand, don’t little boys love gross things? The grosser the better? Maybe you can tempt your non-veggie eater with a plate of Ratte Potato or Ackee!

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Bean Relief Tip-Puree Them!

14 Jul Beans (sxc.hu - adyna)

Lot’s of people have intestinal gas from eating beans and lentils. These legumes can cause problems in their whole form.

According to a mini-magazine I received in the mail, you can avoid this issue by eating puréed chickpeas (beans) and lentils. Puréed chickpeas are also known as Hummus. You can also make lentil soup and purée the soup.

These puréed legumes are less likely to trigger symptoms! Now there is no excuse not to eat your beans! I don’t know if this works with all beans, but if you try it out, let me know!

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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 Flash – Dandelion

16 May dandelion-sxc-hu-theartistg

Wait! Wait, you exclaim! dandelion is a food? You want us to try a new food called dandelion? Yes, fellow foodies. As I have been known to say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”  Or, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Or, “Variety is the spice of life!”

While I wouldn’t want to see you grazing on your lawn masticating the stuff, you could try the supermarket version of dandelion. It’s nutritious and delicious. Why else would I post it here if it wasn’t?

Naysayers halt your protests because this New Food Friday Flash is about the controversial weed called dandelion.

It’s controversial because we hate seeing it in our lawns but we (some of us anyway) love seeing it on our dinner plates.

Did you know that dandelion is a relative of endive? That doesn’t sound so bad does it? It’s low in calories, high in potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. If you want to know more about the dandelion, how it got its name, who gave their child the name, and other amusing and interesting facts about dandelion, click here.

Otherwise, I’ll let the thought about eating dandelion percolate in your brain for a while and when you’re ready, you can click on the above link. Far be it from me to force you to eat something that you perceive as negative. 

More for me I always say!

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Men’s Health – Their Greatest Threats

25 Apr Wheel-chaired Man (sxc.hu ba1969)

Today’s post is devoted just for men but women should read it too.  I’ve noticed recently that my male readership has increased steadily and so I want to address health issues that men specifically find challenging.

It’s no secret that men don’t live as long as women. I think part of the reason for that is that men don’t take care of themselves as well as women do. I’ve been witness to this countless times with my own father, my son, my husband (ex), men I’ve dated, through social networking, and just in general.

I remember my dad saying that when he finally went to see a doctor, the doctor was shocked that my dad hadn’t had a physical in 20 years!

A past boyfriend of mine told me that he fell over the balcony of his two-story house, landed on his back, and never went to the doctor!

Another past boyfriend had symptoms of depression but never followed up with a health professional. He was a counselor prior to his current job.

My son told me he had growths on his hands that he let go for too long. He doesn’t believe they are warts.  He still hasn’t seen a doctor.

My ex-husband quit smoking countless times. He IS a doctor!

So men, you can see you are not alone in not seeking out help for your health issues. We women would like to see you live as long as we do. The way to do that is to pay more attention to your body. Seek medical help when you need it and even when you don’t, in the form of a preventative checkup or procedure.

I’ve written more here. Start now to take better care of yourself.

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