New Food – Opol

I took a walk through a grocery store that promised food from all cuisines and cultures. Row upon row of food I had no idea how to cook. I would stand in the aisle and look up the food on my phone and see if anything jumped out at me as something fun to try.

And then I see this: Opol.

DSC_0048

When I looked it up, I didn’t find the multitude of sites telling me how to peel, cook and eat it. No, I just found one – from a lady who blogs about new foods she eats and how she saw an opol at a grocery store and couldn’t find any recipes for it.

But further research says that it might be called a calabash or a bottle gourd or a opo squash.

I have no idea what it is really called except the grocery store called it an opol and I guess I trust them.

So I finally figured out that it was fairly edible – whether raw or cooked and that the seeds weren’t a problem either.

DSC_0050

First I cut off a piece and ate it raw. To me, it tasted like cucumber and I have always liked cucumbers, so that was good.

I sautéed it in olive oil with potatoes and onions and added several spices.

DSC_0051

When it was cooked, I mixed in some ground beef.

DSC_0053

The crunch of the opol/bottle gourd/calabash/opo squash mixed well with the softer texture of the potatoes. My concoction was actually quite tasty and even though I’m not exactly sure what I was eating, it was a good dinner.

I will give it a 7 out of 10.

New Food – Zobrist Crunch

DSC_0048In honor of Ben Zobrist’s birthday, I decided to try some Zobrist Crunch.

No, I don’t have all the Cub birthdays memorized – I just know Ben’s because, well, this is a special birthday in our family so it stuck with me.

And I am a cereal eater, so I tried it.

Hmmm … first I thought it was grainy.

Then I just decided it didn’t have a taste.

So maybe a 3 – for the box, not the contents inside the box.DSC_0051

 

New Food – Finlandia Butter

DSC_0048Looking for my next new food – I found a package of Finlandia Butter at the local Jewel. And yes, I looked on the package and it is actually from Finland with a picture of some cute Finnish cows on the front.

The package said the butter was made from pure, fresh milk from family-owned farms and has no artificial anything added. So I bought a package, but I wasn’t really expecting much.

Once home, I looked it up on the internet and read posts from a lot of food bloggers who said just what I was thinking, This is butter,  I am sure I won’t be able to tell the difference! But then they would continue, saying that the butter was different!  I also read that it’s used by French chefs to make their incredibly delicious bake goods. Being that my only moments in France were spent in an enclosed room at the airport, I cannot vouch for their bake goods other than by reputation, but that sounded like a good recommendation.

 And then they went on to share recipes using the butter.

DSC_0058All good. First I made myself a bagel and spread the butter onto the bagel … and NO, this did NOT taste like the butter I usually buy.  Finlandia Butter is creamy smooth and it has a pleasant, mild taste that is different from regular butter. The best way I can think to describe it is a combination between cream cheese and butter.

Next I found a recipe for blueberry muffins which called for four tablespoons of Finlandia Butter. In spite of the fact that the muffin directions forgot the step where you actually add any berries, I was smart enough to figure out the importance of including blueberries in blueberry muffins. DSC_0055DSC_0057DSC_0060

Once I figure out the lack-of-berries-discrepancy … the muffins, too, were scrumptiously good and I could taste the difference made by the butter.

I wasn’t expecting much difference eating butter that came from a Finnish cow who grew up on a family-friendly farm, but I could!  This is one new food that just might become a regular on my grocery list.

I’d give it a 10 out of 10.

 

New Food – Ossobuco

Ossobuco is a Milanese speciality meaning bone with a hole. Most of the time it is a used to describe a veal dish, but other meats also can be cooked in the ossobuco style. The name refers to the cut of meat which comes from the shanks of the animal. The meat is braised in a variety of  vegetables and spices making it fall-off-the-bone tender. some recipes say cinnamon, bay leaf and gremolata, and others go to tomatoes, carrots, and onions.

I had lamb ossobuco. I have eaten lamb many times, most often probably in gyros and narrowing that down even further – most often at the Gyro restaurant in the Racine mall. Between their gyros and their spinach quiche – a favorite, favorite place.

Anyhow back to the lamb ossobuco – it was exceptionally good. So favorable and so very, very tender. Not sure what the glaze/sauce was – the high school server did not know.

 

IMG_7383

Of course, the dessert table didn’t hut.

IMG_7381.jpg

 

New Food – Kumquats

I saw this package of kumquats and they just screamed “inspiring new food experiences.”

Seriously.

DSC_0046

So maybe I’ve had kumquats before. Somewhere. But I don’t remember them and I know I haven’t actually purchased them.

Besides – these were adorable kumquats. And that’s a first, too, I don’t remember ever remember buying a food that was labeled adorable. Hard to resist adorable food.

DSC_0044

My research said you can eat them whole – peel and all.

DSC_0047

I also read that the outside is a little sweeter than the inside. So (as recommended by all kumquat-eating sites) – I cut the kumquat in half and squeezed out the pits and juice.

And ate the rest.

DSC_0050

The first one I ate was a little sour. The second one was a little sweeter.

Fun.

I’ll give the adorable kumquats a 6.

But I didn’t stop there. I had some of the adorable little fruit left, so I took them to work and offered them to my co-workers. Out of the 8 or so I gave out, no one could remember having them before, especially not adorable ones.

I wish I had videoed them taking their first bite. Most of them scrunched up their faces like babies eating lemons for the first time. Out of the 8 – I would say three liked them, one man even came back for seconds. Three others said that they were tart, but ok and they ate the whole thing. Two didn’t finish them and didn’t like them at all.

Adorable or not.

New Food – Quail Eggs

I will admit that I’m not an overly adventurous eater. I do ok trying fruit and vegetables, but in my quest for new foods, I have passed by some strange meat. Though I’ve eaten some weird meat at restaurants, fixing it myself???? Hmm …

The other day I was meandering through a grocery store when I saw a small package of quail eggs. I picked it up. I put it down. I looked quail eggs up on my phone. I picked them up. I put them down. I just didn’t know if I could do it. (Truly, though, how many times in my life can I say I’ve been wishy washy about quail eggs?)

Once home, I looked quail eggs up at the internet which assured me that they taste just like chicken eggs (and you can always trust the internet).

So I went back and got some. In my internet search, I also saw some pictures of quail eggs dyed for Easter – and they looked singularly unique.  But alas … not having Easter egg dye at my house … I moved along with the recipe I was going for.

DSC_0047

The recipe is simple – spread crescent roll dough in the cups of a mini-muffin/tart pan.

DSC_0054

Then break a quail egg into each one and sprinkle with basil.

DSC_0057

Bake and TaDa! Little quail egg tarts. (The lilacs have nothing to do with quail eggs, I just like lilacs.) Most of the recipes and descriptions of the eggs suggested using them for company or when you’re cooking a fancy meal – even miniature devil eggs.

Because they really do taste just like chicken eggs, but you can still impress your guests with where you found the tiny eggs.

DSC_0058

New Food – Chinese Long Beans

Wandering through the grocery store, I spotted some very, very, very long beans which is probably why they are called Chinese long beans. So I bought a bunch.DSC_0032

I cut the beans into smaller pieces (green bean size) and made the glaze (a recipe I found on the web)DSC_0034

The recipe included butter, garlic, chicken stock, sesame oil, honey and several other ingredients and looked rather gross in the pan.

DSC_0036

But when I had cooked it all according to instructions and tasted them, they reminded me of something I would get in a Chinese restaurant … and were very good. They tasted a lot like green beans, but were a little tougher.

I give them a 8 out of 10.

DSC_0038