makin' good use of CSA produce

This is what happens when you have an overabundance of produce from your local CSA. We've had to think of a great many new uses for root veggies and cabbage.

Our CSA, West Haven Farm, invited shareholders to harvest corn smut this year from the fields. Corn smut aka Mexican truffles aka corn disease aka huitlacoche are apparently a delicacy in parts of Mexico and fancy restaurants in the U.S. The outsides have these nice shades of purple, but when you bite into them, they pop open and the smut kernel's powdery black guts come spilling out. Strange tasting; they turn any dish dingy and leave a dry taste in the mouth. Kind of mushroomy yet slightly corn flavored. We tried them in burritos and with a sausage spaghetti sauce. I have a feeling we harvested too late and suffered the penalty of overly dry, spore-filled galls. Next year I'll be the first in line to pick and eat fresh smut. I guess one can buy them canned in international supermarkets.


Rastafarian and Burmese...bizarre combo

Last week's lab: Rastafarian and Burmese food. Burmese is incendiary, while food of the Rasta is woefully bland (unless you add cannabis oil, the traditional condiment for the culture!)

Burmese (or Myanmar-ese?) basil-pumpkin soup. The "pumpkin" is really butternut squash, since the traditional orange veggie we use for Halloween is indigenous to North America. I don't think it transferred over to Southeast Asia, but I could be wrong...
Prawn salad. Self-explanatory. I'm thrilled we get to requisition all these great ingredients - the shrimp were massive!

My lab is set for the second week of November, and I'll be featuring Filipino food. I'm thinking about procuring the infamous (and terrifying) balut egg. For those unfamilar with the snack, it's a fertilized duck egg best eaten after 7-14 days. Check out deep end dining's detailed blog entry. Warning: brace yourself for small, sickly, bloody baby ducks. Mwa ha ha ha! Actually, given the chance, I might take a small nibble, but I wouldn't dare unwrap the thing., but this means that I'll have to probably take the first bite.

Rastafarian cuisine, is, to put it bluntly, terrible. At least the small sampling we were subjected to. The culture doesn't believe in salt since it's processed, and its people subsist mainly on nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables. No fauna or fish, despite the fact that most constituents of Rasta beliefs live on the ISLAND of Jamaica. Surrounded by fruits of the sea, but not even able to eat a single crab. How sad! Apparently frequent droughts also leave Jamaicans and Rastafarians in dire environments. It must take incredible restraint to not dip into those waters and pull up a briny feast.

This here is groundnut stew, which is essentially peanuts, condensed milk and paprika. No salt, and no flavor. Not exactly mouthwatering. Again, the cannabis oil might help.


grasshoppers, scrapple and other culinary delights

So I'm taking a class in Cornell's Hotel School titled "Seminar in Culture and Cuisine". It's wild - we discuss communality and eating habits around the world, and then actually go into lab and cook all the food. We've had American Southern, Rastafarian and Burmese cuisine in the past two weeks. I've also eaten a number of new comestibles - grasshoppers, scrapple, and tobacco & betel breath freshener mixes. Check out the grub from the first week:

Dandelion salad. Still more of a fan of these leaves when they're cooked. I suppose I haven't developed that acquired taste for really bitter foods yet. The salad made in class was slightly wilted with lots of savory additions (i.e., bacon bits & fat).

Behold my second try at fried chicken! Turned out relatively well, although it could have used more salt and spice. Luckily the recipe requires hot sauce as a condiment, so all other possible rank flavors are masked. My first shot was pathetic - the oil wasn't hot enough and I removed the chicken before it was thoroughly cooked. The result? Slick, greasy, and very raw bird pieces. In a last desperate attempt, I put the mangled chicken in the oven to cook. No miracle ensued, and Tony had to gag down a few token pieces as to not insult me. These, fortunately, were edible and didn't make the class sick.

Frog legs had a yeast batter which left them nice and fluffy but not exactly pleasant when re-heated. I heart amphibians! They're especially delicious eaten with red chili sauce and ketchup. More food and knitting to come soon. The instructor promises we'll cook a turducken at the end of the semester. Exciting!