Category: Food

No Durians

We stopped by CAM International Market on Saturday to see if they’ve got bat nuts, find fruit I don’t find at the local supermarket, and pick up a few expensive-elsewhere items (sesame oil!). Scott spotted a large, pokey looking fruit and asked if we should get one of those. Durian, the sign said … and I had to stop for a second because I don’t think I’ve had those before. And then I remembered where I’d heard the name …

The Singapore subway banned them because the odor was so offensive. And some people loved the things. We did not get the big durian fruit. Or the smaller vacuum sealed pack of durian flesh. He spotted durian-stuff a few more times and kept asking if we should try that. Finally, we happened across some mochi balls with durian ice cream. If you’re going to eat something with a stench awful enough that a subway system would bother banning it … a bit of it in ice cream is probably the way to go, so yeah … we’ll try it. There were four balls, just enough for each of us to have one.

I diced up a few persimmons — something that I knew was sweet and tasty — as a chaser. One ball out of the package in a bowl, and it smelled floral with a hint of not-so-good onions to me. But my nose doesn’t pick up a lot of chemicals and I figured, honestly, I’d be among those who don’t notice the smell. Scott tried a bite. He gave Anya a bite (and why didn’t we think to record this? She make an incredible YUCK face before and after trying it). I tried a bite. It was not good. The flavor was very onion-y with a sweetness like caramelized onions. But onion and ice cream isn’t really something that goes together in my mind. Maybe durian with roasted pork, but dessert? Nope. And then the half-a-ball sat in its dish. It got stinkier as it warmed up. Until it was voted off the island and into the city sewers (sorry gators!).

None of this prepared me for the horror of durian burps. A terrible combination of sewage and onions coming back to haunt me. Or sitting next to someone with a durian burp and thinking the stench has somehow lodged itself in my nasal passages. It was a good twelve hours before I wasn’t experiencing durian again.

Which makes me wonder … What in the world does a durian plantation smell like? I have fond memories of driving along the Nile at sunset and smelling sugar cane on the air. Even if the smell is significantly reduced in the whole fruit, a whole plantation of the things baking in the sun?!? And what does this stuff smell like if it’s gone bad? Does it rot and smell better? Or is it sewage and gym socks without the floral undertone?

But it was an entertaining experience. We’ve all had our lifetime supply of durian. And there are still three of these things in the freezer 🙂

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

Add enough water to fully cover seeds (2 cups, in my case)

Add a tablespoon of salt for each cup of water. Stir and let sit for a few hours (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Boil seeds in the saltwater for ten minutes, then spread across a baking tray.

Bake for 15 minutes, stir to flip seeds over, and make for 5-10 more minutes.

Pressure Cooked Oat Groats

Add equal parts groats and water (i.e. 2c water with 2c groats) to pressure cooker. Add a teaspoon of oil to reduce foaming (butter, olive oil)

Bring to high pressure and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to release pressure naturally.

To serve – shred an apple, mix into hot groats. Add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup of almond milk.

Birthday Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

  • flat iron steak
  • 4T butter
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • 16 oz mushrooms
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth (pressure cooker: beef bones, carrot trimmings, onion trimmings, celery trimmings, potato peels)
  • 1-2T mustard spice blend
  • 2-5T porcini mushroom powder
  • 2T corn starch
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • package wide egg noodles cooked for lowest time on package directions

Mustard spice blend: mortar together 1c brown mustard seed, 1T salt, 3 bay leaves, 1t rosemary needles, 1/2t sage

Method:

  1. Slice beef across the grain into strips. Season with salt & pepper. Divide meat into small batches so pieces can be placed in pan with an inch between them. Divide 2T of butter into same number of pieces. Put pan on medium heat (6), melt a piece of butter then sear a batch of meat. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining batches.
  2. Slice mushrooms. Divide into 4 batches and sprinkle with salt. Divide the remaining butter into four batches. Melt a piece of butter in pan, saute mushrooms until they become golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining batches.
  3. Slice onion into thin pieces about 1″ long. Sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Add flour to onions & stir to coat them in flour. Remove from pan.
  5. Deglaze pan with 1/2c of beef broth. Add mushroom powder and spice blend. Stir to remove any lumps.
  6. Mush garlic cloves and stir in.
  7. Lower heat to simmer. Add remaining beef broth. Return onions to pan and stir to distribute flour.
  8. Put corn starch in a bowl or glass. Add *just* enough water to turn it into oobleck. Drizzle into pan, while stiring, to form a thick gravy.
  9. Return beef and mushrooms to pan and simmer until beef is cooked.
  10. Stir in sour cream.
  11. Serve over egg noodles.

Peanut butter and carob hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup carob powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Method

Place everything in the bowl of a food processor and run until you’ve got a smooth paste.

To get really smooth hummus, I cook the garbanzo beans in a pressure cooker for about 35 minutes with at least 20 minute of natural depressurization.

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Anya says these taste like peanut butter / chocolate / oat cookies. And it’s great for dipping anything that goes well with chocolate (strawberries, apples).

Quick and Easy Carrot Slaw

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded carrots (about half a pound)
  • 2T Dijon mustard
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5T red wine vinegar
  • 1t fresh orange zest (or 1/2 t Penzey’s Mural of Flavor)

Method:

  1. Combine the Dijon and vinegar, whisk to combine
  2. Slowly drizzle olive oil into mixture, whisking constantly
  3. Stir in zest or spice blend
  4. Stir in carrot shreds, making sure to coat the shreds evenly
  5. Cover in clingfilm and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour
This recipe is a version of the Dijon carrot salad I ate during trips to Lyon and Geneva. It’s got a lot of Dijon, so you might want to start with half the amount and taste as you add more.

Cheddary Cheesy Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons Northwoods seasoning
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or put 1 tablespoon of vinegar in measuring cup & fill to 1 cup with milk)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional add-ins like diced scallions, sautéed onions, diced spicy peppers

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Combine buttermilk and melted butter, mix well.
  4. Pour milk/butter into dry ingredients and stir to form a sticky dough.
  5. Gently stir in cheddar cheese and any optional add-ins
  6. Divide into sixteen equal pieces, roll and flatten to form biscuit
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown and puffy.