Friday, August 30, 2013

And the Winner Is...

One food has officially moved from the "Do Not Eat" to the "Totally Eat" list.  I have had this particular food both very cooked down and, as of tonight, pretty much raw.  Tonight, I realized that I officially like green pepper.

I adventured again tonight, sadly without photographic evidence.  You'll just have to trust me.  I made a Hawaiian Quesadilla.  The recipe can be found in a collection of recipes called "Fresh & Delicious Meals for 2."  (Or apparently online!)  It was pretty straight-forward.  Basically add ham, pineapple, and green pepper to a quesadilla.

It was indeed delicious.  Well categorized, Ms. Crocker.

I think I've nailed down a process to making myself like new foods.  The trick is to find a recipe that has just one or two ingredients on the "Do Not Eat" list.  Preferably, have those ingredients covered up by something else.  With the sloppy joes, the ketchup and green pepper were wonderfully masked by brown sugar.  Eat this recipe a couple times to really get used to the ingredient.  Now try the ingredient with progressively less and less to mask their taste.  Voila! Suddenly something as gross as green peppers suddenly becomes quite yummy!

So the adventure continues!  Perhaps next will be a very mild curry.  What's milder than yellow?  If you find it let me know, because that's really where I should start.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Something a Little Fishy

So my mom bought tilapia a couple months ago.  It came in variety pack with chicken breast, burgers, and pork chops from Market Day.  The fish has been sitting in our freezer ever since it came into the house.  My dad, sister, and I don't like fish.  My mother mostly eats meals she cooks for the family.  My housemate and boyfriend eat fish but don't cook it themselves.

Two fillets of tilapia sitting cold and lonely in the freezer?  A recipe for Roasted Almond Tilapia in The Gluten-Free Bible?  Challenge accepted.

Roasted Almond Tilapia combines fish with Dijon mustard, two ultra-gross ingredients.  Then there's the paprika on top.  Not the end of the world, but certainly not ideal.  On the (only) plus side, there are almonds!

Before I go on, I have a confession.  The recipe asked for 6 ounce fillets.  We had a 4.5 ounce and 4.1 ounce fillet.  Turns out those extra couple ounces are really important.

Joey, once again, joined me on this adventure.  We cooked the fish beautifully, especially for our first time.  Other than that, we didn't get much right.

Yeah.  That would be the rice flour....

I think it's the texture of fish that I dislike.  Once I focused on the taste (after scraping off a bunch of flour), it's pretty palatable.  The texture just feels vaguely slimy.

Somewhat ironically, the flavor combination of the tilapia and the mustard was the best part of the dish.  The fish cut the spiciness of the mustard.  I quite like the combination, actually.

The worst part was undoubtedly the thick layer of flour on top of it all.  I can only assume that the flour and almond concoction was meant to be a crunchy exterior.  My theory is that because our fillets were smaller, we should not have used the amount of flour that the recipe originally called for.

We tried to brush the flour off, but it was no use.  The meal was pretty much ruined.  I could only force about a third of it down my throat.  It'll have to be a long time before we try this recipe again.  The feeling of flour drying out my mouth is still too fresh in my mind.  Maybe some other seafood dish?  Joey really wants me to start liking shrimp....

But flour certainly is not something you'd ever want to eat unbaked or uncooked.  Trust me.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Perhaps the Most Appropriate Name for a Food

Last night Joey and I were adventuring again.  Well, I was adventuring.  He was just eating dinner.  (He's not a picky eater, so new food isn't as stressful for him.)

We wanted to use the crock pot because it looked so fun!  I have a booklet of recipes for the crock pot so that's where we found our recipe.  We chose Maple-Sage Pork Roast.  Any recipe that involves multiple pounds of pork can't be that bad, right?  Well, as long as it's not so spicy that it feels like it's trying to chain smoke it's final pack of cigarettes on it's way down my throat.

Two items in the recipe were on my "Do Not Eat" list: onions and butternut squash.  Fun fact: when I was a baby, I ate so much squash and carrots that I turned vaguely orange.  Like a fake tan from beta-carotene.  I loved squash.  I think my body decided to turn me against squash to avoid the inevitable Oompa Loompa jokes.

Back to the cooking.  So the recipe called for maple syrup, pork, beef bouillon, and carrots.  All of which are definitely at the top of my "Do Eat" list.  It also involved garlic and sage.  We put all of the ingredients into the crock pot and let them cook for 8 hours.  So easy!  I'm definitely sold on crock pots!

8 hours later, we put the pork shoulder on a platter and all the veggies in a bowl.

Behold the yummy-ness!

Behold the....  Well, at least there are carrots!

The recipe also suggested making a gravy from the juice left over in the crock pot.  This is where the maple flavoring was most concentrated.  This was also one of the most disgusting things I had ever seen.  I'm sure you'll agree.

Joey described it best: "Troll bogies."

So how were the "Do Not Eat" foods?  I confess I did not eat the onions.  Joey had some and said they tasted pretty much like raw onions.  I definitely haven't reached that level of adventure yet.  I did, however, eat the squash.

The butternut squash tasted legitimately like butter and nuts.  What a straight-forward, honest name!  The texture is a bit mushier than I like, but the flavor was above adequate.  It was the most time-consuming part of the prep, so that might have factored in to my feelings.  I could definitely eat it if someone else was making a dinner, although I don't think I would order it at a restaurant or prepare and cook it myself.  But I would totally make this roast again (I even blanched the remaining squash in case I liked it!).  If I'm not up to prepping squash, there's always potatoes!

Squash and I are not going to rekindle our love affair any time soon, but maybe we can hang out sometime.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Dinner I Could Actually Eat!

Despite my rather unpleasant experience with the Spicy Pork Casserole, I adventure on.  I decided to pace my adventure a bit better from now on.  The casserole was a truly humbling experience.

Tonight, Joey and I tried Oven-Barbecued Chicken from a booklet of recipes called "Healthy Homestyle Meals in Minutes."  The recipe calls for ketchup (still gross) and obviously chicken (ultra gross).  The recipe has you make your own barbecue sauce.  Pour it on the chicken, top with onion and lemon, and bake!

About to go in the oven!  It's almost like the chicken isn't there!

So, moment of truth.  How was it?

Well, it was so-so.

I'll be honest, I didn't eat the onions.  They were so big and intimidating!  I don't like the texture of chicken.  If you like chicken, it was cooked very well and worked very well with the barbecue sauce.  More sauce might help cover the fact that the dish is centered around chicken.  But the sauce was not the sloppy-joe-esque creation I had anticipated.  The ketchup flavor was more pronounced in this dish than in the sloppy joes.  Not cool.  The lemon-ketchup combo was the worst aspect of the dish.  Perhaps the dish would be improved by removing the lemons.

Someday, I might enjoy eating birds.  Today is not that day.  Fowl remain foul.

But I managed to eat the entire half of the chicken breast that I was served!  That's more than I can say for that pork chop....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Little Too Ambitious

I have two new foods to talk about in this post.  One was a success and one.... Well, one was a little too ambitious.

Two days ago, my sister (Miriah), a friend, and I went to Trader Joe's.  I was hoping to buy fresh cooking lavender, but they didn't have any.  What they did have were free samples!

Free samples are one of the best ways to try new, potentially gross foods for the following reasons:
  • They're usually small.  It's easier to shortly suffer through if it's too gross.
  • They're not your whole meal.  So you don't think "Well, I guess dinner didn't work..." (More on that later.)
  • They're free!  You have literally lost no money discovering that it's disgusting!
Tuesday's free sample was smoked trout on a cream cheese topped cracker.  I love cream cheese, and I'm a huge fan of crackers.  Fish is pretty gross, though.  But Miriah reminded me that adults don't make faces when someone asks them to try a new food.  They put on a polite face (or even a happy one), take the free sample, and try it.  Kids make faces when someone asks them to try a new food.

Time to decide.  Was I a kid or an adult?

Look at all the fishy bits on top of this tiny cracker!  That's a huge gross to yum ratio!

Well, I ate it.  And was so pleased I did because it was really good!  I don't pretend to be an icthyologist or even someone familiar with eating fish, but I think it was the smokiness of the trout that made it so appealing.  It tasted a bit maple-y, like bacon or smoked ham.   Add in my beloved cream cheese and you have a snack I can really get behind.

Riding on this wave of culinary success, I let my boyfriend, Joey, pick our next adventure meal.  We were looking through the Gluten-Free Bible and found a recipe for Spicy Pork Casserole.  The recipe involved all sorts of things I don't eat.  The casserole involved tomatoes, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and black pepper.  These are all safely on the "Foods I Don't Eat" list.  It also had oregano, which I'm mostly indifferent toward.

I thought, "If I can conquer trout, I can conquer peppers!"

Finished product is quite pretty, but looks can be deceiving.

We had our friend, affectionately called Chavo, over to help us eat it.  So Miriah, Chavo, Joey, and I all sit down at the dining room table for a nice grown up meal.  And it quickly becomes apparent that I am the only one second guessing the food.

My portion before I attempted to eat it.

The three of them dug right in and I sampled the corn, potato, and tomato concoction beneath the pork chop.  Not as spicy as I had feared, but we had reduced the amount of chili pepper by half.  The red pepper flakes were only bad if I actually ate one.  I did learn, however, I still hate tomatoes.  They are mushy and disgusting.

The pork chop.  Dear Lord, the pork chop.  There was so much black pepper, it caused me mild physical pain to eat it.  Joey went to get me a glass of milk.  Chavo laughed, clearing his plate as I attempted my second bite.  My throat felt like I had smoked a cigarette not eaten a pork chop.  Eventually, I conceded defeat.  I need to build my spice tolerance up before I attempt this meal again.

I had never had an unfinished pork chop on my plate before that night.

Miriah and Joey congratulated me on trying to eat it and actually managing three bites of pork.  Chavo told me that last weekend he ate a whole, raw jalapeño pepper for fun.

We'll try it again some time in the future.  Tonight, it's sloppy joes again!  Yum!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Practically on the Kids' Menu

Today I had two meals that I would normally politely turn down.  Both these meals usually go over pretty well with kids.  Both were definitely meals I would not have eaten two weeks ago.  Lunch was an unexpected dish made by my wonderful sister.  For dinner, my boyfriend and I made in a conscious effort to choose one of the many dishes that exist on my "Won't Eat" list.

Let's start with lunch.  My sister asks me if I want some Annie's Shells and White Cheddar.  Of course I reply, "Yes!"  I love shells!  After she drains the water, she asks if I'm okay with peas in my shells.  My first instinct is to say, "Never," but I'm trying to broaden my culinary horizons.

More peas than I've ever eaten without my mother watching.

The resulting Shells and White Cheddar were definitely more healthy than I'm used to.  I'm still not sold.  You could taste too much of the peas and too little of the cheddar.  Maybe if I ever start to like peas I'll try it again.  Until then, my shells will be pea-free!

On to dinner.  My boyfriend and I decided to eat off the kids' menu.  We were going to make a gluten-free pork dinner.  But then I sang the sloppy joe bit from Adam Sandler's "Lunch Lady" song.  So we decided to make sloppy joes.

We used this recipe.  I was a little nervous about the green pepper, because I think they taste bad.  I also don't like ketchup.  And I hate mustard.  But part of being adventurous is trying to move past the initial ick-factor.

By the time it was simmering in the pan, my boyfriend thought it looked delicious.  I thought it looked gross.

I still think I'm right.

 Nonetheless, I put it on a bun, took a deep breath, and bit into this mess.

I guess there's a reason why they're not called "tidy joes...."

The peppers apparently cook down so they're not crunchy.  This was a big concern of mine when we started making dinner.  And when peppers cook down, they taste a lot better.  The ketchup and mustard are outweighed by the brown sugar.  Sloppy joes are both sweet and savory, my favorite flavor combination!

I learned tonight that I totally enjoy sloppy joes!  They're delicious (if not aesthetically pleasing)!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Well, I like eggs and bacon. How bad can this be?

The point of this adventure is not necessarily to discover new favorite foods.  It's to find out that foods I don't eat right now are actually palatable if not pleasant.

With this in mind, I had another adventure off the kids' menu.

I went to a small family gathering the other day.  We were going to order Chinese food and catch up on each others' lives.  Nothing special.  So imagine my surprise when my great-aunt breaks out some sort of deviled eggs.  I assumed those were only for fancy people!  So either we are suddenly fancy people or deviled eggs aren't that fancy.

I looked at them for a bit.  I'm not going to lie, they've always looked kind gross to me.

Look at how chunky it is!  That can't be right!

Now I know the base is hard-boiled egg (which I'm totally a fan of).  I asked what my great-aunt put in eggs. Apparently the yolk-y bits (not at all a fan) are mixed with mayonnaise (definite fan) and bacon (huge fan).  But there's no adventure if you're certain it's going to be tasty!

So I ate one of those devils.

And it wasn't bad.  I'm not saying they're a new staple in my diet, but they were pretty good.  If they were passed around at a dinner party, I would partake.

I guess I'm fancier than I thought.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

And so the adventure begins...

I am a picky eater.  Most of the foods I like can be found on the kids' menu.  I am trying to change that.
Let me break down some of the foods I eat:
  • Potatoes
  • Hot dogs
  • Eggs
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Broccoli
  • Cottage cheese
  • Most fruit
  • Carrots
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pastries
Surprisingly, the list could go on.  But not much longer.

The list of things I don't eat is longer than most epic poems.  Here's a small selection:
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Salami
  • Pepperoni
  • Fish
  • Pepper
  • Curry
  • Mustard
  • Chili
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Pickles
  • Oranges
  • Cauliflower
  • Olives
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Cheesecake
 I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

A few days ago, I began actively trying to shorten this list.  Already, it is hard and at times unpleasant.  But I am trying!  To start things off, I ate about a tablespoon of baked beans earlier this week.  I did not relish the slightly mushy texture, but the taste was not as horrific as I remember it being 7 or so years ago.

I am tired of having the most complicated order at the table!  I am tired of being told that 24 is too old to order off the kids' menu!  It's finally time for me to start eating like a grown-up!  So let's adventure off the kids' menu and see what we find....