Cookin’ with My Chinese Gourd

November 21, 2013

I love trying new things, especially when those things are produce items. I recently picked up a couple new-to-me items at the farmers market, and one of them was a Chinese gourd.

chinese-gourd-calabash

The farmer that sold it to me gave me a little information about it: Read the rest of this entry »


Produce Haul. Pretty Dinner. Pepinos.

April 12, 2012

Day 1 of being back on track was a success! (See why I needed to get back on track here.) I took a killer class at my new new gym called Bodyweb Bootcamp with TRX, which was a ton of fun and completely brutal. TRX is a form of training with straps and handles that strengthens every muscle, with only your body weight as resistance. Kinda hard to explain, but easier to watch – so check out this video of a class at a different Crunch gym.

I also ate really well. My commitment to getting back on track came at a good time – a day after going to the grocery store. It’s easy to eat well when you have lots of healthy options around! Check out all this produce I have to choose from:

From left to right, top to bottom: heirloom cherry tomatoes, zucchini, pears, broccoli, bananas, carrots, an ataulfo mango, celery, kiwis, strawberries, cucumber, brussel sprouts.

I also picked up a bunch of baby eggplants – how could I resist these guys?

Plus, they were 15 for a dollar – the price is right!

I don’t buy eggplant all that often. I like it, but I prefer buying vegetables that I could eat raw if I wanted to. Plus, while eggplants are good for you (a nice source for potassium!), they also have the potential of sabotaging a healthy meal, since they soak up oil like a sponge, making it easier for me to use more oil than I was planning.

I used a bunch of them in my dinner last night, which was a really simple stir-fry. I chopped up a bunch of veggies (some of the eggplants, plus a red pepper, 2 small tomatoes, and broccoli):

For protein, I used vegetarian sausage. Gimme Lean ground sausage is fat- and cholesterol-free, and each serving has 60 calories and 310 mgs of sodium. You can find it at a lot of regular grocery stores, near the tofu (like tofu, it’s soy-based).

A serving is 1/7th of that package, but I wasn’t exact about portioning that out, so I probably ended up with a little more than a serving. I cut it into chunks and started it going with some garlic in a big skillet that I slicked with non-stick spray. After a few minutes, I added all the veggies. After a few more minutes, I added about 1/4 cup of low-cal, non-fat balsamic vinaigrette. After a few more minutes, dinner was served!

That’s half the finished product, and I ate the other half, too!

Earlier in the day, I tried a type of fruit that I’ve never eaten before. Have you ever eaten a pepino?

They’re sometimes called pepino melons or pepino dulce (‘pepino’ means cucumber in Spanish, so ‘pepino dulce’ means sweet cucumber). I got these at the farmers’ market over the weekend – all three cost me 80 cents. I had never even heard of them before, so of course I had to try them out!

Pepinos are native to the western side of South America, and despite sometimes being called pepino melons, they’re not related to either cucumbers or melon. Scientifically, they’re members of the nightshade family, alongside tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, and tobacco (the nightshade family is very diverse!).

I cut off the stem end, sliced the pepino in half, and scooped out the seeds:

I read after the fact that every part of the pepino is edible, including the skin and seeds. I actually tried the skin, and it was a tad bit tough and bitter, so I ended up using a spoon and scooping the flesh out from the skin, like you would an avocado:

My first pepino was tasty! It had the texture of a cantaloupe, but tasted more tropical, like mango or maybe even a little banana-ish. I ate all three, and the second two weren’t quite as good. I don’t think they were as ripe as the first one, and the flavor was less intense – more like a slightly sweet cucumber (maybe that’s how they got their name!).

All in all, something I’d probably pick up again if I saw them at the farmers’ market.

Now onto Day 2 of being back on track!

Keep it up, David!


Two New Foods in Two Days!

September 3, 2011

Enjoying your long weekend?  I am!  I’m writing from the west side of Michigan, a few hundred yards from gorgeous Lake Michigan, where I’m hanging out with the family.  I’m gonna enjoy my time with them, meaning that this is gonna be my only post until Tuesday.  Have a great Labor Day!

I love trying new foods, whether I’m cooking them myself, or the cooking is done for me.  On Thursday and Friday, all the planets aligned just so, and, as a result, I got to try two new foods in two days.  Be still my beating heart!

You know what my friend Debbie is saying right now, after reading that last paragraph?  “That’s fucking bullshit. David is a fucking liar.”  And she’d be saying it in Japanese, because she’s a Japanese teacher.  Ok, she wouldn’t be saying it like that (Debbie does not cuss like a sailor), but she would have every reason to be annoyed at me, because it wasn’t the alignment of the planets that brought two new foods into my life, it was her.  Debbie was directly responsible for both of them.  And I thank her for it.

New Food #1:

Debbie (a friend from high school) and I met up for lunch, and we decided on a Korean restaurant.  I’ve eaten Korean a few times before in my life, but not enough to be very familiar with a Korean menu.  Debbie thought I might enjoy bibimbap, a Korean dish that is loaded with vegetables and rice.  Sure! I’m in!

We met at New Seoul Garden in Southfield, Michigan – a place I’ve driven by hundreds of times but have never been to.

Can’t read that sign?  I can’t either.  Try this one (I presume they say the same thing):

Bibimbap literally means, in Korean, “mixed meal” – and it’s a combination of beef (usually, although you can get it with chicken or seafood), vegetables, rice, and an egg (either raw or fried).  And it’s served in a stone bowl that’s heated, so the rice on the very bottom gets a little crispy – that may have been my favorite part.

Careful, don’t touch!  The bowl is hot!

The egg is covering most of the vegetables, but there’s piles of cucumber, carrots, bean sprouts, spinach, and a little seaweed, too – in addition to pieces of beef.

A bowl of hot sauce is served on the side, and you mix some in, and stir everything all up:

Then you dig in!  It was very good.  Lots of different textures and flavors, and very light and filling.

Oh!  A really cool thing about Korean cuisine is that your entrees come with all sorts of sides!  Check out our table:

The aforementioned hot sauce is in the smallest bowl on the very left, and next to it is a broth that also came with my dish.  The big bowl in the back is what Debbie ordered (similar to mine, but with fish, and without the heated stone bowl) and pretty much everything else are sides:  lots of pickled vegetables, like cabbage, radish, and cauliflower,  as well as black beans and sauteed bok choi – all of it delicious.

There’s lots of Korean restaurants in Los Angeles – in fact, there’s a whole neighborhood called Koreatown – and I’m looking forward to eating bibimbap again.

It as great catching up with Debbie, and she gave me a little present in the parking lot as we parted ways, and it was…

New Food #2:

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about any oddly-colored vegetables, but they are definitely a recurring theme on this blog, whether they’re black radishes or orange cauliflowerCheck out My Favorite Posts for links to the unique and new produce items I’ve experimented with.

Debbie gave me something she picked up at the farmers’ market earlier that day, and it definitely qualifies as an oddly-colored vegetable.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

…White Eggplant!

Yeah, I know, it’s actually more of a pale green than it is white, but it’s much closer to white than a regular purple eggplant!  And, yep, it looks like a penis, so stop giggling.  Can we move on?

On Friday, after I got home from the my morning workout at the gym, I decided to make a veggie stir-fry, and include the white eggplant.  I started with some red bell pepper and onion in a skillet with a little Pam:

Then I chopped up the white eggplant.  The inside looks similar to the inside of a purple eggplant, although with less seeds:

I also chopped up half a zucchini and the white eggplant and zucchini got added to the skillet:

For flavor, I added a few teaspoons of this low-sodium teriyaki sauce that I found in my parents’ fridge:

The end result:

I cut a few of the eggplant pieces too thick – they weren’t quite done in the middle – but apart from that, it was a tasty lunch.  The white eggplant tasted like purple eggplant.  Surprise, surprise!  I also ate 3 hard-boiled egg whites immediately when I got home, as I was figuring out what else to make for lunch, and after I finished the veggie medley, I grabbed a few handfuls of blueberries for something sweet.

Keep it up, David!


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