My first experience with dark, leafy greens was mixed. I didn't feel the kale had much flavor of its own when cooked, but I couldn't stop eating it for the lovely onions and garlic that were mixed in. But I did eat it! And I am not unwilling to try it again sometime!
- Swiss Chard
I had some chard for the first time in a dish that I intended to post here, but didn't work out so well (sometimes cookbooks don't give the complete instructions that one might want). My impression of chard is that it tastes earthy, like beets (and as you might remember from this post, I think "earthy" is a euphemism for "tastes like dirt). Mixed in with the various other vegetables in the dish, it was fine. I think it's growing on me.
Ever since I first heard about ramps in a cooking magazine early this spring, I've been looking for them obsessively. When I finally had some pickled ramps at a restaurant in Kalamazoo, I was not disappointed. They are like a green onion with a garlicky twist. I wish I could have them all the time. If only the season were longer!
As a meat eater, I stick to chicken, turkey, beef and pork. I have not really tried anything gamier (I've even only tasted duck once, a few months ago). So when my sister-in-law Jennifer ordered some pheasant in the UK, I mooched a taste. To my surprise, I enjoyed it. It tasted like chicken (it's not just a cliche, people) and the savory sauce was delicious. I might even order it myself some time if the preparation piqued my interest.
- Butter Beans
I'm not much of a bean person (except for very sweet canned baked beans). I'm not really a fan of that beany texture. But since they're healthy, I've been trying to find some that are palatable. While we were in the UK, I ordered a sweet potato dish that came with butter beans. I was expecting something string bean-like, but they're actually like large, flat, yellow lima beans. They did have the beany taste and texture, but there was a bit of a bite at the end too. These are definitely not a favorite, but I'd eat them again if they came with something tasty.
I don't like seafood. I don't like the texture or the fishy flavor. I have been trying to taste various kinds of fish, in hopes I might find one I can handle, but the answer is generally no. While we were in the UK, I tried some prawns that my sister-in-law Andrea had ordered. I sometimes will eat shrimp, if the flavor is masked by a tasty sauce, so I thought that tiny prawns might be ok. But despite being drowned in a garlic and butter sauce, I still got some fishy flavor. I think I'll pass.
- Garlic Scapes
Ah, the alium family. I keep finding new ways to love thee! As this is my first year with a CSA, it is also my first encounter with garlic scapes (the stalk of the garlic blossom). They have a light garlicky flavor and are great sauteed. I'm looking forward to more of this goodness next week!
- Beet Greens
So my CSA is inundating me with beets, which I'm not a fan of. I did figure out a way to cook the beet greens which I enjoy, though. I can't say I like the taste of the greens on their own, but with bacon and onions and cider vinegar, they're great!
- Collard Greens
I can't say much about the flavor of collard greens. All I know is that I never ate them before, but since I've found that beet greens recipe (noted above), I'll eat anything that goes in it (except radicchio). I do appreciate how pretty a fresh bunch of these is, though. And they have a meaty texture that's nice in a green.
- Goat Cheese
I find this almost embarrassing to admit, but I never had goat cheese before a few weeks ago. Something about it scared me off (the fact that it comes from a goat and not a cow? the fact that I don't like many kinds of cheese?). When I did try it, I was shocked to find that it's like a tangy cream cheese. I think I expected it to be dry or mealy, not smooth and creamy. Now it has a permanent place in my fridge.
- Pattypan Squash
I love winter squash, but I've never been a fan of the summer varieties. I've always disliked that zucchini tang. However, I've been getting tons of squash from my CSA, and I've been forced to find ways of eating it. Grilled squash, for example, is amazing. So when a variety of squash I'd never had before appeared in the bins last week, I jumped on it. I enjoyed my light green pattypan squash grilled on skewers with red onion and rubbed with coriander, cumin and fresh ginger. Delish!
It's probably weird that I've never eaten a plum before this summer. I guess I just stuck to fruits I was familiar with. But after seeing them at the farmers market for a few weeks, I dove in and bought some sugar plums. I can't say I was impressed - they were super tart and sweet, but not particularly flavorful. Texture-wise, they're the same as any stone fruit. Since I know I like plum-flavored things (ok, I like Chinese plum sauce), I will have to keep testing different varieties. I'm sure I'll find one I like eventually . . .
- Poblano Peppers
I have been exploring hot peppers lately. I've come to like a little bit of heat, but not so much that my whole mouth burns. I'd read something about poblanos and thought they might be a more acceptable, moderately hot pepper. Turns out that they're hotter than advertised! Jeff and I both burned our fingers and our tongues on some roasted poblanos. They're ok, but they need to be mixed in with sufficient other ingredients to mute them a bit. I'll have to be creative with the rest of the roasted poblanos languishing in my freezer . . .
- Salad Turnips (and Turnip Greens)
I've had turnips before, but not this kind (I find I'm having to stretch a bit to find new foods to try right now!). These little white turnips have an interesting bite that settles in your nose almost like horseradish (but not so strong). They were ok - I would eat them again, but I can't say I enjoy them yet. The greens were ok, too - a little rough in texture, but I didn't notice any particular flavor.
I actually enjoyed eating some seafood! For a while now I've been making a point to try seafood whenever Jeff orders it, but my reaction is always the same. Yesterday, though, I tried some of his crab soup and was surprised to find that I liked the flavor - enough, even, to ask for a few more spoonfuls, and feel jealous when I had to give the bowl back. Crab has a more chickeny texture, not the flaky or rubbery kind that I associate with seafood. While it does taste like a fish, it doesn't taste fishy or like the ocean. It reminded me more of canned tuna. I will totally try this again. Perhaps we'll make crab cakes . . .
The last CSA pick-up of the season, I got some baby purple kohlrabi. Now, I'm familiar with the vegetable, as my grandfather used to grow it in his backyard garden. I had been pretty sure that I did not eat it back then. But when I tasted it a few minutes ago, the flavor was so familiar that I must have tried it. More than once, even. Not only did it taste familiar, but delicious, too! My Rolling Prairie Cookbook tells me that "kohlrabi" is German for cabbage-turnip, which reflects its flavor perfectly. It definitely tastes cabbage-y, but the texture is very much like those salad turnips that I have been growing familiar with the past several weeks. I have yet to see how this kohlrabi cooks up, but I can already say that I will be seeking it out in the future. Perhaps I'll even plant some next year!
I also got daikon radish at the CSA yesterday. Since I'm growing to like radishes, I thought I would enjoy this as well. I tried some, and it tasted like a radish on acid. The peppery flavor lingered in my mouth for several minutes, then traveled down my throat, and then gave me terrible heartburn that I just can't shake. I don't think daikon is going to be a favorite, given the current delicate condition of my stomach. Maybe once I'm healed, if that ever happens?
Polenta is creamy and delicious. I first had it with a delicious braised short rib at Enoterra for Jeff's birthday. After Christmas we tried making some of our own. Still tasty, but a bit lumpy. My technique needs work, but I'm going to keep at it!
It's about time that I added wild game to my repertoire. Since I had enjoyed my bite of pheasant in May, I thought quail might go over well. As I discussed here, it did, though it's disconcerting to dismember a tiny bird while eating it (even moreso than a chicken, I think). Overall, I thought it was rather like turkey. I'd totally have some again - perhaps even make it myself, since Griggstown Quail Farm is nearby . . .
As I mentioned in the post about it, I'm not sure I really got the flavor of elk, since I had it as meatballs, but the texture and leanness were great. I'd try it again without a doubt!
- Wild Boar
Like the elk above, my taste of wild boar was snagged off of Jeff's plate, so I didn't get much. In texture, I thought it had more in common with beef than with pork. I didn't taste any strong flavor (other than the awesome pomegranate-red wine reduction!). It was definitely a tough meat, though, and one I didn't really enjoy chewing.
- Hubbard Squash
I spent a lot of the fall eyeing those crazy-looking Hubbard squashes at the farmers market. I mean, what is there to lose? They can serve as decorations for several weeks, then feed you for several more. But, since it is a lot of squash, I never got up the gumption to try one. As I mentioned in this post, though, Terhune Orchards made things easy for me by selling pre-cut squash cubes, so I got a chance to try a little without much investment. It had the earthiness of spaghetti squash with the texture of butternut or acorn. I think it's a keeper. Next fall, expect to see an enormous one gracing my table!
I had my first Ethiopian meal at the end of January at Makeda in New Brunswick. I ordered the atakilt wat, a vegetarian dish with potatoes, carrots and green beans in a rich, spicy sauce. It came with generous sides of lentils and beans, and a big portion of injera, the special, spongy Ethiopian flatbread used as a utensil for the meal. I absolutely loved the injera. While it's not something I would like to eat as bread, because of its spongy texture, it was an excellent utensil, and I adored the sour fermented tang it lent everything. I think more Ethiopian food is in my future!
I've been scanning the supermarket shelves for sunchokes for a while - I've heard people rave about them and figured I'd give them a try. When I found them at Whole Foods this morning, I trotted home to roast them in some walnut oil for lunch, with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Turns out I'm not such a fan. They have a bit of an artichokey flavor and I really don't like artichokes. I thought the creaminess and nuttiness would counteract it, but it was the first flavor to hit my tongue when I tried one. However, I still managed to eat my whole serving and, upon entering it into my food diary, I learned that the cup of sunchokes I ate accounts for a quarter of my daily iron. Since I don't eat much red meat, they could be useful. I think I'll keep these in my repertoire, but don't expect me to jump up and down when they're on the menu.
- Blood Oranges
I saw blood oranges at Whole Foods today so I grabbed one to try. I'd seen pictures, so I knew what I was in for, but even so it was a bit disturbing to peel something that oozed dark red liquid. It really did look like it was bleeding. The flavor is a combination of orange juice and cheap fruit punch. I definitely liked it, but it still seems weird to have a flavor that I associate with fakeness coming out of a genuine fruit. The next time I acquire some, I think I'm going to try juicing them!
Harissa is a Middle Eastern chili sauce. I used it in a stew, but tried it on its own as well. The heat is quite pleasant - it sticks to the front of the mouth, rather than searing the tongue and taste buds (which I find much harder to tolerate). But overall I found it lacking in dimension, despite a promising list of ingredients (tomato, onion and vinegar, besides the chilis). I'll find ways to finish up my jar, but not on its own. It will require some experimenting to figure out what spices round out the flavor.
I served my Middle Eastern stew (that included the above harissa) over couscous. I have to admit, I expected something more exotic, not just another pasta shape. I suppose it's a little more starchy than regular pasta, but nothing to write home about. And to be honest, I prefer my starch to come in larger packages. It was so small that it was difficult to chew. For that reason alone, couscous is not a favorite.
I made a delicious, simple broccolini recipe today, which will hopefully make it to the blog soon. (Why do I always neglect to photograph the great ones?!?!) Broccolini tastes, predictably, like broccoli, though a little more subdued. The florets were tender, but the stalks, though thin, were quite fibrous. Lots of chewing was involved. That's fine by me, though - fiber is great for lowering cholesterol! I'll be going back for seconds on this new food, if only because this recipe was amazing!
- Beech Mushrooms
Mushrooms are near the top of the list of things I don't like, primarily because of their texture. Knowing that I have mere days left in my 30 by 30 project, I consented to try this one today and get it over with. It was, as I had anticipated, an icky mushroom. It felt like a slimy worm in my mouth. Now, if I can get over the texture, I actually find the flavor of mushrooms quite nice. This one was part of a fried rice dish, so it had a bit of soy sauce on it, but I still felt I got the flavor of the mushroom, which was rich and deeply savory, meshing really well with that soy sauce. Unfortunately, chewing and swallowing the thing was like a punishment. I'm pretty sure I made the face that toddlers make when forced to take medicine. Perhaps, if they were chopped up into teeny tiny bits, I would really enjoy eating these, but not otherwise.
- Mahi Mahi
I find it somewhat triumphant that I conclude this list with fish. I've always disliked seafood, for both its briney, fishy flavor and rubbery texture. Yet by being unafraid to steal bites from Jeff's plate, I've discovered that not all fishes are created equal. When Jeff ordered a grilled mahi mahi steak the other day, he suggested that I might like it. He was right. Texturally, it was almost exactly like chicken, and had a meaty rather than a fishy flavor (maybe just a bit of a fishy flavor at the end, but only a bit). After years of thinking I would never eat seafood, I've found one fish that I could actually enjoy. What a great ending to my gustatory journey!
30 by 30
My challenge: to try 30 new foods before I turn 30. Watch my progress here!