The New Factor

Quick update: I would like to inform you all that mission “eat food that I already purchased at the grocery store for at least a week without going grocery shopping again” is going well.   I need to work on renaming the mission.  A bit wordy, isn’t it?

I had my standard breakfast of Ezekial bread with peanut butter and Greek yogurt, followed by a lunch of leftover salad and tempeh from last night accompanied by 1/2 a pita, for snacks I had berries and TJ’s rice crisps and had my birthday leftovers for dinner.

So, yes.  Well done me.

Anyway, onwards we go.

After my adventures in tempeh last night, I started thinking about how over the years I’ve tried to incorporate new food items into my culinary repertoire.

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**Now, I’m going to preface this post by asking you not to click on the “source” links below the photos.  There’s going to be a quiz at the end.**

Sometimes I experience new ingredients when I go out to eat.  After all, why not leave my tastebuds up to the masters?

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But sometimes, sometimes my gastronomic ambitions get the best of me and I have to try my hand at a new ingredient.   Sometimes this turns out well, as was the case with last night’s tempeh, and sometimes not so well.   For the record, be gentle with your pizza dough and let it rest before you roll it out.   If you are not, it will rip and piss you off.  Not that that has ever happened to me…

As I’ve experimented with new foods, I’ve come to rely on these five tips:

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1.)  Start with a simple recipe. This is important for two reasons.   a) You’ll get to taste the flavor of the ingredient without covering it up with a bunch of different flavors.  b) It’s harder to mess up a recipe with a few ingredients and a simple cooking process than something more complicated.  Easy peasy.

2) Use a few different methods of preparation. Do what I did with the tempeh last night.  I pan fried half of it and baked the other half.  Not only did this give me the chance to see how two different preparations would taste, but it gave me a back up plan in case one of them went horribly, horribly wrong.   You could steam and sautée or roast and fry.  There’s always more than one way to skin a cat.  Or chicken.

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3.) Keep the rest of the meal familiar. Don’t try two new things at once.  Stick to sides that don’t require cooking, like a salad, or dishes that you could make with your eyes closed.  Although, I don’t really recommend cooking anything with your eyes closed.  That’s how we end up in the burn ward, kids.

4.) Be antisocial. Don’t invite people over the first time you make a dish with an unfamiliar ingredient.  Fight the urge to impress your guests with a new dish.  They won’t be impressed with your kombucha marinated beef if it tastes like feet.  You’ll also stress yourself out, and you don’t want to be the hostess who looks like she just extracted her fingertips from an electrical outlet.

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5.) Don’t quit after one attempt. The fact of the matter is your first effort might not be your strongest.  That’s ok- remember was it was like the first time you tried making chicken?  Or oatmeal?  If your meal doesn’t turn out perfectly, try it again another time.  And if you don’t think you like the ingredient, give it another try.  Sometimes food requires some patience and a second go-round before you start liking it.  Just think of all the things I wouldn’t have liked if I had quit after one bite…turnip, salmon, beets, chocolate peanut butter cups.  Wait, no.  I loved those before I even knew what they were.

You’ll be eating with the best of ’em in no time.

Ok, quiz time.

Can you name the foods in all 5 pictures above (without clinking on the “source” links)?

Happy guessing!

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4 thoughts on “The New Factor

  1. I had no idea what any of them were… fail…

    I really have no idea what you would do with durian. seriously… apparently the smell would keep me 50 feet away from that part of the store anyways, not sure how people would even want to buy it…

  2. Love #4. SO true. The only exception to this rule is the girlfriend who also wants to try/learn to cook with this food also. Otherwise, there’s no need to force others to suffer.

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