Snacky Picnic At The Hollywood Bowl With The Muppets!

September 11, 2017

Last night I went with friends to “The Muppets Take The Bowl” – the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational concert event I’ve ever been to.

Maggie, Mat, me, Jen, and little Callie before the show started.

It was at the Hollywood Bowl – the huge, 18,000-seat outdoor amphitheater in the Hollywood hills – a venue where Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Not A Cantaloupe

July 12, 2011

This post is basically an extension of yesterday’s post, which was about a giant killer sandwich (‘killer’ as in ‘amazing’, not ‘killer’ as in ‘one who murders’) that I made for a weekend picnic.  In addition to the sandwich, I also showed the other food I brought along for the picnic – vegetables and hummus, and two containers of fruit: one of which contained strawberries and blackberries, and one of which contained…

…well, that’s the focus of today’s post.

Here’s the fruit photo I ran yesterday:

Then I teased that the item on the right isn’t cantaloupe, which is information I didn’t even tell the other picnic attendees (well, I told Heather and John hours and hours later, but Jen and Dave are still in the dark).

So what is it, you ask?

It’s CRENSHAW MELON.

I had never heard of crenshaw melon before, and had certainly never tried it.  But there it was, in the melon section at Whole Foods on Saturday, waiting for me.  I knew I wanted to bring melon on the picnic, and the cantaloupes at Whole Foods weren’t anywhere as ripe as I needed them to be, and I knew one of the picnic attendees doesn’t care for watermelon, so… conveniently right next to the watermelons and cantaloupes were the crenshaws.

Here’s the entire crenshaw I ended up buying:

It was about the same size as a honeydew, but the stem end tapered and has more of a teardrop shape, as you can see in the picture above.  I assumed I could tell if a crenshaw is ripe by using the same trick I use on cantaloupes and honeydews, and I found one that seemed pretty ripe.  How I learned to tell if a melon is ripe or not is to press the flower end of the melon – which is the end opposite the stem end, where the melon was attached to the vine.  If the melon ‘gives’ a little bit when you press the flower end, it’s ripe.  If it doesn’t give, and it’s just as hard as the rest of the melon, then either pick another melon, or buy it and leave it on your counter for a couple days before you dig in.

After finding a ripe crenshaw, what I noticed next was how heavy it was.  It seemed much denser than either a cantaloupe or a honeydew, and the scale at the register weighed that sucker at 5.8 pounds.  I haven’t been paying attention to the weight of the cantaloupes I’ve been buying recently, but I don’t think I’ve bought a cantaloupe that weighed more than 3 or 4 pounds, tops.  This crenshaw was a heavy mofo!  In the spirit of my fun weight loss comparison posts, I’ve lost 28 crenshaws!

I had no idea what to expect when I cut the crenshaw open, and I didn’t bother looking around online first, as that would take all the surprise out of it, but I treated the crenshaw like a cantaloupe, and first cut both ends off of it, and cut down the sides, removing all of the rind:

Looks like a cantaloupe, huh?

It still looked like a cantaloupe when I cut it in half and scooped out the seeds:

And it still looked like a cantaloupe when I chopped it up further:

As for the taste, well, the crenshaw is not all that different from a cantaloupe in flavor and texture.  If anything, the taste is a little milder, and the flesh of the melon is a little lighter (which seemed strange to me, as the melon as a whole was so heavy).  Some folks on the interweb say that the crenshaw is a little spicier than a cantaloupe, but I don’t really know what spice means in regards to fruit, and I don’t think that’s true.  Or, at least it’s not true with the particular crenshaw that I ate.

If you have the opportunity to try a crenshaw, I hope you take it, and let me know what you think!  They’re a great source of Vitamins A & C (3.5 ounces of crenshaw provides 100% of your Vitamin A for the day, and 80% of your Vitamin C), and you can impress your friends by stating that the crenshaw is a hybrid between a casaba melon and a persian melon – both of which I’ve never tried, but will be on the lookout for at the store.

The crenshaw is the third new melon that I’ve tried in recent months – the others being orange flesh and gaya melons – and since I’m a melon fan, I’ll keep looking for other new melons to try, and when I do, I’ll share it all with you!

Keep it up, David!


Sandwich For Five

July 11, 2011

How was your weekend?

Mine was quite nice, indeed.  On Saturday, we celebrated Richard Simmons’ 63rd birthday with a Broadway-themed morning at Slimmons.  Richard was dressed as a present, and sure enough, he looked like Candy Spelling’s gift-wrapping room exploded all over him.  You can get an idea of his outfit in this short little video:

Then, on Sunday, I went to a picnic with some friends.  We didn’t head to the beach, or a park, or up into the mountains – it was an urban picnic, in downtown Los Angeles.  My friends Heather and John are still in town – they’re the ones who are traversing the country on the Les Miserables tour (you can read about our restaurant adventures here and here – the second link also has great bef0re-and-current pics of both Heather and me).  Last night, I had tickets with my aunt and uncle to see the show.   There was also a matinee performance earlier in the day, and since Heather and John have a dinner break between the two shows, we had the great idea last week to have a little picnic.  My friend Jen (who threw the BBQ last week where I brought my cactus salad) came along, as did my friend Dave, who’s been working behind-the-scenes at Les Mis for the past few weeks (Dave’s name briefly popped up in this blog waaaay back in the fall in a hiking post).

So…  there would be five of us.  What to make?  Truth be told, I’m getting a little sick of making salads – I’ve been making a lot of them lately for entertaining purposes, and I’m ready for something different.  I wanted it to be easy to transport and easy to eat… I’ve got it!  GIANT SANDWICH!  Way back in college, I saw Martha Stewart make giant sandwiches on her TV show (the pre-prison one, without the studio audience), and I used to make them every once in a while.  It’s been years since I’ve made one, but who doesn’t love a good sandwich?

I thought of some things to make it special, and at the top of the list was caramelized onions.  Have you ever made caramelized onions?  They take a long time, but they’re good.  For the sandwich, I used two medium red onions, which I thinly sliced, and put in a big skillet over medium-low heat with 1 teaspoon olive oil:

Then you play the waiting game, giving it an occasional stir with a wooden spoon.  You want the onions to cook low and slow, bringing out the natural sugars, which get sweet and rich and delicious.  This skillet o’ onions took about 45 minutes to caramelize, but it was well worth the wait:

I’ve seen recipes (and folks on the Food Network) that speed up the process by adding a few teaspoons of brown sugar to the onions, but I don’t like to add unnecessary sugar to anything if I can avoid it.  Plus, it’s not like I was standing over the stove for the better part of an hour agonizing over the process – I got a lot of other stuff done during that time!

Time to assemble my giant sandwich.

First step: Bread.  I picked up a ciabatta loaf at the store, which is perfect for a sandwich like this:

It’s a pretty uniform thickness, so every slice of sandwich will have a similar contents-to-bread ratio, and it’s crusty on the outside, and very light and airy on the inside.

I cut it in half, laid it open, and put on my first ingredient – baby spinach.  Every sandwich needs some greens!

For protein, I went with turkey.  Whole Foods had a tasty lemon rosemary turkey breast in their deli case (I knew it was tasty because I asked for a sample), and I had the guy cut it thick – 1/4″- because a big sandwich needs big cuts of meat.  Here what 1 piece of it looked like:

I trimmed off that piece of fat running along the bottom.  I coarsely tore up 4-5 pieces (about 12 ounces in total, roughly) and that went on top of the spinach:

Next up: the aforementioned caramelized onions:

Now for some cheese.  Since cheese, generally speaking, adds a lot of fat and calories, I went for a cheese that, even if used sparingly, could add a big punch of flavor: blue cheese.  Here’s about 1/3 cup, spread across the entire sandwich:

So far, there’s nothing unconventional about this sandwich, right?  Well, get ready for the next ingredient:  apple!  You heard me.  I thought it’d add a nice crunch and texture to the sandwich, and a little sweetness would be a nice touch, don’t you think?  So I took one Pink Lady apple, cut it up into slices, dunked them in lemon juice so they wouldn’t turn brown, and lined them up on the sandwich:

Final sandwich ingredient?  Sprouts.  I wanted a little more greenery.

Sandwich complete!  Almost.  I didn’t want the insides spilling out when I cut this thing into pieces, so I decided to press the sandwich.  Plus, it would help the flavors mingle a little more.  I didn’t press it in a pan, like you would a panini – I just pressed it on the counter, by placing a baking sheet on top of it, and then putting a few of my heaviest books on top:

It stayed like this for about 20 minutes, while I jumped in the shower and dressed.

Then it was time to pack my cooler bag!

That’s right, I have a Passions cooler bag.  I watched that soap every day for about 5 years, and it was terrible, and I loved it.  I only use this cooler bag a few times a year, but every time I bring it out, and look at that Passions logo, all sorts of fun soap opera memories come flooding back.  Remember when Spike made Jessica prostitute herself, and then he started drugging her with roofies and framing her for the murders of her johns?  And then Spike knocked her up, and then he buried her alive, and she and her unborn baby died, but then Kay used the power of prayer to bring them back to life?  Remember that?  No?  Am I the only one that remembers Passions storylines?  You all missed out.

Anyway.  In addition to the sandwich, the cooler bag also held…

…assorted vegetables and hummus…

…and fruit!  That’s strawberries and blackberries on the left, and on the right is… I’m not going to tell you.  I’ll give you a hint: it’s not cantaloupe.  It’s a different type of melon that I had never bought before, and yes, I will blog about it later this week (so stay tuned for that).

The sandwich got cut up into 8 pieces, and wrapped in foil for the trip downtown.  Here’s the loaded bag:

Wanna see the finished sandwich?  Check this out:

It looks good, but it tastes even better.  It was a hit!  And what’s that on the right?  Heather and John made a delicious couscous salad.  It had tri-colored couscous, grilled chicken that had a great spice rub on it, some corn, some chives… Heather, if I’m forgetting anything, pipe up in the comments section!

It was a great picnic with lovely company, and since Heather and John are in town through the end of the month, we may do it again!

Keep it up, David!