Two New Foods: Produce and Protein

December 22, 2011

It’s been a big food day here in Michigan. You know how I love trying new foods, right? Well, I tried two new foods today! Did Christmas come early?

I blog about new types of produce regularly (just scroll down on the My Favorite Posts page for proof), and one of the new foods today was indeed a type of fruit. But the other was a new type of protein, which a very rarely blog about. So let’s save that for later and start with the produce, shall we?

New Produce. In November of 2010, I brought home something from the store that I had never heard of called a yali pear. Turns out it’s a type of Asian pear (which I also had never heard of), but my yali was a complete dud. When I cut it open, it was brown and disgusting. It was the first produce experiment on this blog that was a failure – and you can read all about it here.

I haven’t tried a yali pear since then – or any type of Asian pear, for that matter – partly because I was turned off, and partly because I don’t see them very frequently at stores. But when I arrived at my parents’ house the other day, a whole box of them that my dad had picked up at Costco were sitting on the counter. They weren’t exactly the same – instead of yali, they were an Asian pear variety called apple pears – but I decided to give one a go.

My apple pear:

There’s nothing in that picture to help suggest size, but they’re bigger than the average apple or pear – more like a large orange. Despite their name, apple pears are not a hybrid of apples and pears – they’re an Asian species of pear that look more apple-like than any other pear, hence the name.

The apple pear cut open (look, nothing brown or disgusting!):

I have high expectations for anything pear or pear-related, because I love pears. And the apple pear? Well, I don’t love it. It’s fine. It’s edible. I don’t wanna spit it into the trash and bust out the ipecac. But it’s not the best thing ever. The texture is different from other pears – it’s crispier and lighter, almost jicama-ish in texture. The flavor is more delicate, and the juice is more watery. I will say I liked the second apple pear I ate more than the first – and I don’t know if that’s because it was simply a better apple pear, or if I grew to like it more. There’s still a bunch of apple pears on the counter, so I’ll probably another one (or three), but I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to find them when I get back to California.

New Protein. Have you ever tried moose before? I tried it for the first time a few hours ago. The moose meat, strangely enough, showed up rather unexpectedly at our door. Here’s what happened:

My mom has a friend who lives in Maine. This guy is a hunter, and they were talking recently, and he told her that he bagged a moose (!) and had a butcher process it into all the different cuts and pieces. My mom joked that he should send her some, thinking that he wouldn’t actually do it, but when she got home today, there was a cooler of overnighted moose meat on the front porch! We thawed some of the moose steaks (from the hind quarters, according to his label). Raw moose steaks:

Those are all pretty small, as steaks go – I’d say the largest one was 6 ounces, tops. Look how lean they are! According to this chart, moose is lower in calories than USDA choice beef (130 calories per 100 grams vs. 180), and much leaner, too (.5% fat vs. 6.5%).

Sidebar: I just learned that the moose weighed 800 pounds and yielded 400 pounds of meat. WOWSA!

I was pretty excited to try moose. I don’t eat red meat very often nowadays, which meant this was an extra-special treat. I got out a 10-inch skillet, and started by sauteing 1/2 an onion and a bunch of baby portobello mushrooms. One those were cooked, I removed them, seasoned the steaks with a little pepper and Lawry’s seasoned salt, turned the heat the high, and tossed in the steaks so they’d get a nice sear. They only took a few minutes on each side (the hunter recommended not cooking them beyond medium-rare, or they lose their flavor), and at the end, I threw the onions and mushrooms back in:

I had a piece that was about 4 ounces:

I really enjoyed the moose, and my parents did, too. It was gamier and a little chewier than beef, and I thought it was delicious. And there’s a leftover steak in the fridge… maybe tomorrow I’ll make a moose sandwich!

Moose is the latest game meat that I’ve tried. A few months ago I blogged about eating alligator (read about it here), and I’ve also tried venison, bison, ostrich, and rabbit, and jerky pieces of elk and reindeer. I’ve always been interested in trying wild boar… maybe that’ll be next on the list?

The rest of my dinner, by the way, was a big salad and a bowl of vegetable barley soup.

Keep it up, David!


Yali Pear FAIL

November 17, 2010

Last week at Super King Market, I continued my quest to purchase fruits and vegetables I’ve never purchased before, and came home with a Yali Pear.

I had high hopes for my little Yali, because pears (specifically Bartlett and Anjou) are perhaps my favorite of all fruits.  Some internet research yielded very little information – Yalis are a variety of Asian pears that originated in China, are high in Vitamin C, and have very white, sweet, juicy flesh.

Not this Yali.

I cut mine open and found this:

It was brown.  Let’s take a look from a slightly different angle:

Yep – still brown.

I cut a very small piece off and tried it – it was mealy and bitter.  Like so many at-risk youths, this pear had gone bad.

I tried to look up information on why or how a pear ends up like this, and, again, didn’t find much – except for a brief mention of ‘brown core’ being “an internal disorder sometimes seen in pears under controlled atmosphere storage.”  That’s courtesy of Volume 17 Issue 8 of the academic journal Food Control, which featured an article on Yali pears in August 2006.  Some researchers at the College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering at China Agricultural University in Beijing devised a way to determine if Yalis have a brown core without cutting into the fruit – apparently brown core is common enough to warrant academic papers and studies!  I don’t quite understand what the test entails – as I have no idea what ‘transmission visible–NIR spectroscopy’ is (sounds like magic to me), but my Yali failed.  It made it all the way from China to North Hollywood, CA, with a brown core.

So my brown core Yali ended up someplace where very little of my uneaten produce ends up – in the trash can.  I had a plum instead.  Its core was succulent and delicious, thank you very much.

Will I try another Yali?  Maybe.  If I do, you’ll be sure to hear about it.

Keep it up, David!

Pre-Workout Produce Run

November 11, 2010

I made it to Super King Market before my Latin Jam class this evening, and stocked up on fruits and veggies.  Their spelling seems to have improved since the last time I was there, when about 25% of their signs had typos (I took photos and turned it into a game, which you can play here), and they still had great prices.  I checked out their dairy section for the first time, too, and they seemed to have good prices there as well, and I actually put a carton of skim milk and some nonfat yogurts into my cart before remembering that I was headed to my gym class, so they went back on the shelf because I didn’t want them sitting in my car for a couple hours.

Here’s my bounty from the produce section:

That’s 1 bag of romaine hearts, a mini seedless watermelon, 1 pound of carrots, celery, 3 bananas, 2 cucumbers, 2 broccoli crowns, 1 yam, 3 red plums, 4 bartlett pears, 1 lemon, a carton of grape tomatoes, 1 mango, 1 orange bell pepper, and 1 yellow bell pepper.  Oh – and the item on the far right is called a Yali Pear.  Here’s a close-up:

I’ve never bought a Yali Pear before, but pears are one of my favorite types of fruit, so I’m excited to give this one a whirl.  The interweb says it’s a type of Asian pear that originated in China, although I don’t remember if the sign said these particular pears were grown in China or someplace closer to home.  Since it only cost me 34 cents, I’m guessing it didn’t get shipped from overseas, but you never know.  Actually, you do know, because the supermarket posts the country of origin, I just wasn’t paying attention.

So how much did I spend on my international pile of produce?  Any guesses?

$10.81 – fantastic!

Some highlights include 2 cucumbers for 30 cents, 1 pound of carrots for 33 cents, 1 lemon for 20 cents, 1 grapefruit for 33 cents, and 1 yam for 13 cents.  Good news for all you fans of my salads out there – I feel a salad coming on!  Maybe for lunch or dinner tomorrow.

Latin Jam class was a sweaty good time.  I hadn’t been in 4 weeks, and I felt a little rusty at the beginning, but it all came back to me.  Now, after hitting the “Publish” button, I’m settling in for tonight’s episode of “30 Rock” and going to bed!

Keep it up, David!