Do I ever have some interesting goodies to tell you about today!! No messing about, let’s cut straight to the chase.
1. Recipe of the Week: Last week I posted a few ideas for salads that travel well if you need to take them to work, to campus, or wherever. I made another one this weekend that I took to work for lunch on Monday, and it was a rather divine mix of white kidney beans, tuna, veggies, and homemade vinaigrette. Based on those ingredients, I thought White Bean and Tuna Salad with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette was a rather fitting title. It looked like this:
In case you’re looking for past Recipes of the Week, I’ve posted an archive link at the top of the Recipes page.
2. A new Thermos! About a month ago, I participated in an online Thermos party on Twitter. The company has some very cool new designs for their bottles that you can check out here if you’d like. The generous Thermos folk were giving out prizes for participation in the Twitter party, and to my amazement, I won one!
Very cool, don’t you think? The tag on the bottle claims that it will keep the contents cold for 12 hours. It also has a sports cap with a metal ring that closes the top so it won’t spill. The first thing I thought when this little prezzie arrived in the post was that it would make a superb receptacle for a green monster. I made the basic green monster with bananas, added a bit of instant coffee to the mix, and took it with me to work. (There was some major overspill, but I took care of that on the spot with another glass.)
Although I only needed it to be kept cold for about 2 hours, the Thermos still did a mighty fine job.
3 and 4. Wakame and Kelp. This requires a bit of background explanation first. Ages ago, one of my readers suggested that I try sea asparagus. As hard as I tried, I was never able to find it. However, I’ve been curious about sea vegetables ever since, and since I live in a city with a large Asian population, there are a lot of seaweed-like products available. These were my 2 picks:
The wakame was dried, whereas the kelp was raw and ready to use. I first read about the benefits of kelp on MSN.ca’s Practical Guide to Healthy Living site in the article “Kelp Yourself”. It is packed with iodine, calcium and vitamin K, and is believed to promote longevity, a healthy digestive system, healthy skin and shiny hair. I’m not sure how much of it I’d have to eat to reap those benefits, but it seemed like a good idea to give it a try.
As suggested by the wakame package, I searched for a soup recipe to use my slimy greens. Many of the ones I found were for miso soup, but I had trouble finding miso at the grocery stores. It’s a thick paste made from soybeans and it comes in 3 varieties ranging from dark to light. The dark kinds are much saltier and stronger-tasting than the light varieties. I read here and here that there isn’t really a good substitute for miso, but tahini, sesame paste, or soy sauce can create a similar flavour. Since I had soy sauce, that’s what I rolled with when I made Seaweed Soup with Shredded Chicken. Sounds delicious, right? Just kidding, I know, I was a little scared of it too being a first-time sea vegetable eater.
Since the wakame was dried, I had to let it soak for about 10 mins in water until it was soft enough to cut into smaller pieces.
The kelp was ready to use straight out of the packet, and reminded me of worms.
The finished product looked like this:
Although this was prepared at home, I didn’t actually try it when I was making it. (That would be cheating – after all, it’s called Try Something New Tuesday for a reason.) Therefore, I was taking quite a gamble by scooping it into a plastic container and taking it to work for lunch yesterday. In the event that it turned out to be revolting, I made sure that all of the ingredients required for Vanilla Pumpkin Oatmeal were on hand, just in case. However, there was absolutely no need because it was really tasty!! I’d definitely make it again, maybe with a little more chicken or even shrimp. The seaweed didn’t have a gross texture like I thought it would, nor did it have a strong seaweed-y taste. The bits sort of reminded me of noodles, and next time I’d throw more in just for fun.
5. A new type of squash: By the end of this winter, I’m making it my goal to have tried as many varieties of squash as I can. So far, I’ve crossed off butternut, spaghetti, acorn, white swan, and kabocha (see Try Something New Tuesday #6). This week’s choice was carnival squash.
For this squash trial, I peeled the skin off with a knife, scooped the guts out, and cut it into wedges (actually, they were more like C’s). After coating the wedges lightly in olive oil, I mixed them in a large bowl with equal parts turmeric, yellow curry powder, garam masala, and cinnamon. They roasted in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes and made my house smell divine.
Again, not wanting to cheat, I didn’t taste them when they came out of the oven. Patiently I waited until one of my many snack breaks at work to pop them in the microwave, then gobble them up.
I was expecting it to taste somewhat like a sweet potato or butternut squash, but this type was slightly less sweet. ‘Twas downright delicious.
6. A new root vegetable: Celery root/celeriac. I didn’t purposely hit the produce section in search of the ugliest vegetable ever, but that’s what came home with me.
This is exactly what it sounds like – the root of a celery plant. According to this source, celery root is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It’s also a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium and manganese, and a great source of vitamins C, K, phosphorus and potassium. It can be eaten raw or cooked in meals like soups, stews, and salads. Celeriac should be firm and its flesh should not be very dark.
My experience with the celery root was similar to the first time I ate an apple pear. I remember thinking to myself, “Why does this thing that tastes like a pear look like an apple?” My tastebuds were so confused. Similarly, when I bit off a piece of raw celery root (peeled of course), I thought, “Why does this white thing taste like celery, but without the crunch? It should be green!”
So what did I do with it? Well, after peeling the celery root and a sweet potato, I chopped the veggies up and steamed them until they were soft. (The celery root has a similar density and reminded me texture-wise of a potato.) Next, I mashed them up in a bowl with 1/2 tsp each of crumbled dried rosemary and thyme, and added a little sea salt and pepper.
And voila, I had sweet potato and celery root mash:
The combo of the two veggies was quite nice – the celery flavour wasn’t super strong, but it sort of neutralized the sweetness of the sweet potato and made it slightly more savoury. I could have easily eaten the whole thing on its own, but instead served it as a side for baked chicken and green beans. It tasted about a hundred times better than it looks in the photo below.
Well, that brings me to the end! But first, I want to know:
- Have you ever tried any of my new things for this week?
- What should I try next Tuesday?