Friday, August 8, 2014

Kiwano AKA Horned Melon

Horned melons are native to Africa and are currently also cultivated in parts of the US, South America, and Australia. So why have you probably not heard of it?

Well, it's just not very popular, to be honest. This one was 2.99, which is a little bit pricey for its size and not so flattering reputation. The pulp is pretty much entirely edible seeds suspended in little packets of flesh, sort of like a pomegranate, which is not always what you want from your melons. It looks cool though.

It smells kind of like an under ripe banana crossed with a cucumber. It's not a very strong scent, but it's definitely distinct. It tastes like a combination thereof with a hint of citrus. It's very juicy and hydrating. Kiwano are one of very few sources of water in the Kalahari Desert during the dry season, and I can certainly see it being useful in that situation, but not so much in cooking. The texture is sort of like cucumber seeds suspended in aloe vera jelly. Overall, the effect inspires a resounding "meh". There's nothing really special about kiwano, aside from its appearance. Emi described it as the cousin Oliver to the pomegranate’s Brady Bunch. Same idea, no one really likes them. Stay queer!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ugli Fruit

It's pronounced “ugly”. Yes, that was intentional. Ugli fruit are Jamaican and are actually trademarked. You should see these things when they're not ripe. Blugh. They're this gross, uneven shade of green. They look like something you'd find in a giant's handkerchief. Apparently, this fruit is the product of hybridizing grapefruit, oranges, and tangerines. They're pretty big too.  

For the sake of scale (and adorability), here's an ugli fruit next to my flat mate's cat, who is slightly larger than average.

One fruit cost $1.99 and I'd never seen one before this Spring. I was looking for Korean melons and I found a big pile of these eyesores. The one pictured is easily the best looking one I could find. Still, looks are no reason to assume that it isn't tasty. The rind is thick and loosely attached to the fruit. It's very easy to peel, you can do it in one big piece pretty easily.

It has a pleasant and zesty citrus scent. Kind of like a cross between an orange and a lemon. The wedges are also quite easy to pull apart. What it lacks in looks, it makes up for in ease of use. It's got a light, tangerine-like sweetness with an undertone of grapefruit, which is quite nice. The flavor starts off sweet and ends tart, which is kind of cool. I don't really like grapefruit because it's just too tart, and I think this would be a nice alternative for people who feel similarly. It's actually tastes very similar to a cocktail that I'm fond of called Pang's Punch. I realize that only like 15 people who read this will know what the fuck that is, but that's probably 10 more people than will actually read it, and 4 of those five will have had one recently anyway. Stay queer!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pickled Pig's Feet

Remember those halcyon days of youth? Watching mother make pickled pig's feet for her next ladies luncheon? That anticipation you felt as she soaked them for 4 days prior to cooking? The wonderful scent of vinegar and pig's feet that overtook the entire house as she boiled them for 2 hours? The innocent pleasure of anticipating sharing your favorite snack with your beloved pet, Mr. Piggles, and wondering when he would be back from his trip to that farm upstate?

I know, I know. That was a long time ago. Now you have more important needs for them, such as taking the traditional brace of pickled pig's feet to a potential sweetheart. (Remember, this sign of affection knows no gender!) Perhaps even setting out a tray for your children and the other neighborhood kids, after they've spent a long Summer day practicing their twerking and photobombing.

I know, dear reader, you're wondering how you can find the time to make them anymore, what with all of those town hall meetings, chaperoned school trips, and long hours working at the soda fountain. Fear not! 

Modern technology has blessed us with jars of ready to eat, piggy goodness for a modest fee! Yes, grandma Kleinpfeffer would be just chagrined at the prospect of buying them instead of making your own, but that's why you put her in that home in the first place. Yes, that reason specifically. I know that you don't want to talk about it. We don't have to.

You need:

Whichever jar of pickled pig's feet seems to have the most fight in it.

Cost: $1 - $10

The scent of vinegar and pork is fucking weird. Have you ever gotten into a really old, really shitty jeep what belonged to some redneck that lived way up in the mountains? That's kind of what it smells like. I know that's a weird and specific description, but just trust me. It's extremely tender and you can easily rip it up with your hands. Still has hairs on it too. The texture is kind of similar to pork fat, only much more easy to chew through. It's extremely vinegary, so I'm having a little bit of trouble tasting the pig through it. If you like vinegar, they aren't bad, but that's really all it is. It just punches you in the face with vinegar. If vinegar-soaked fat appeals to you, I guess this might be a good thing for you. Granted, there are lots of ways to make pickled pig's feet. I'm sure this isn't the best or most nuanced one by a long shot. I give this product a solid "meh". Stay queer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Maison du Fou

This recipe was inspired by the constant misrepresentation, denial, deluded bragging, and outright lying that people do online. In addition to the concept of deception, this sandwich is based on two of the more famous French sandwiches: the croque-monsieur and the pan-bagnat. I invite the gourmands and gourmets among you to take a shot whenever you feel your soul hurt, which will be pretty often.

You need:

A small baguette or similar roll
Miracle Whip
imitation crab
turkey bologna
swiss cheese
cocktail onions
imitation bacon bits
egg beaters

Total cost: $ 10- $ 20

Slice a small baguette or whatever similarly proportioned roll you could find at the local bodega in half. Lay both sides flat. Preheat an oven to 350.

Spread Miracle Whip lightly on both sides. Note that the croque-monsieur is made with a white sauce and Miracle Whip is white; ergo fuck it, same thing.

Cut three slices of precut swiss cheese and three slices of turkey bologna in half and distribute them evenly across both halves of the bread, with the cheese on top of the bologna. Swiss is just gruyere’s less pretentious cousin and turkey bologna is like the ham of the proletariat, so really we’re just taking sandwich-making back from the fat cats.

Place about 2.5 oz of imitation crab on top of the cheese on the bottom slice. Imitation crab is pollock dressed up all fancy-like, making it superior to the lowly tuna, which is only ever used to imitate dirty vaginas. Put that in the oven for 10 minutes on a baking sheet lined with tin foil because fucked if you’re doing dishes today, what with all of the tv there is.

Scramble up one serving of egg beaters, adding whatever spices you prefer. Note that hardboiling eggs must not be all that great since you can’t hardboil eggs from a carton and cartons are the only type of packaging that the government nanobots can’t penetrate. Add some cocktail onions. They will add a touch of class and surely signal to your beloved that you will both be sipping martinis on the beach just as soon as that hapless Nigerian prince is able to recover his inheritance. True, they do not come in cartons (Cocktail onions, that is. You’ve never seen a Nigerian prince, so you can’t be certain.), but it’s good to diversify. It keeps your mind open, unlike all of those heckling bastards online who were too narrow-minded to understand that your PhDs in homeopathy and faith healing make you an expert on oncology.

When the sandwich has finished cooking, carefully place the scrambled egg beaters atop the pollock and give the whole mess a generous sprinkle of imitation bacon bits. Chipotle sauce is also recommended.

Cut the sandwich in half, give half to your girlfriend, put Lars and The Real Girl on yet again, and wonder why your lover hasn’t said anything in the three years it’s been since you assembled her. Enjoy it with a nice, lukewarm glass of wine product.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Huitlacocha AKA Cuitlacocha AKA Smut Corn Breakfast Burrito

It's pretty amazing what humans can eat. It's even more amazing that we can take so many seemingly gross things and make them tasty. More amazing still is our ability to take a gross thing, which is objectively rotten, infected, or otherwise spoiled and sell it for an inflated price. Welcome, friends, to the world of smut corn!

Smut corn starts out its life like any other ear of corn until, one day, it's infected with a charming little fungal disease called "ustilago maydis", which enters the ovaries of the corn and replaces the kernels with big, mushroomy tumors. The name "huitlacocha" roughly translates to "sleeping shit". So, these are sleeping shit corn ovarian tumors. Nom nom nom! It's important to harvest smut corn before the fungus runs its course because, near the end of it's life cycle, the tumors are filled with spores, which hurts the texture and flavor of the tumors, and sanity of everyone within a 20 foot radius, unless they pass a DC 25 will check. Of course, as an avid consumer of hot dogs, my disgust is purely playful. There's also no way that this could be grosser than raisins. BTW, you'll have left over smut corn since this recipe is too big for one burrito so either refrigerate the excess or have some friends (or enemies) over and a make a day of it. Depending on tortilla size and how full they are, you could probably make somewhere between 4 and 8 burritos.

You need:
A can of smut corn
A small onion, 2 cloves of garlic and some serrano chilies. 

Cost: $10 - $20 because a can of smut corn cost me $7.99. This (sleeping) shit is EXPENSIVE unless you live right near where they cultivate it or you have your own little plot of diseased corn. Oh, by the way, smut corn does occur (I was gonna say "grow" but "occur" seems more appropriate) in the US but it's almost always thrown away; there have been targeted efforts here to eradicate ustilago maydis. What don't Big Pharma and the corn magnates want us to know??

Chop up your veggies and heat a few tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sautee the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, which should take about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the diced chilies and sautee them for another minute or two. 

Doesn't that look nice?

Now add your smut corn.

Huh, I see where the name comes from now.

Stir it constantly for about 6 minutes. If you over cook these things, they get slimy. The only thing worse than tumors in your burrito is slimy tumors in your burrito, amirite? Take that off the heat and set it aside.

Here's what an individual tumor looks like.Fans of Final Fantasy X might find this vaguely familiar.

Beer bottle is for scale.

Just for a quick break from the unrelenting horror, here is a picture of my room mate's cat, chilling in a box which we have dubbed The Dread Fort, along with his second in command, Moose Bolton:

The sign reads "No Girls Allowed". It's his man cave, you see.
Anyway, in another pan, melt some butter. In a bowl, beat two eggs and add seasoning to your taste. Transfer the eggs to the skillet, add a few large spoonfuls of the smut corn mixture, and quickly scramble the eggs.

Transfer that to a tortilla, add a nice big dollop of salsa and wrap that bitch up.

Huh, not bad by itself. Kinda like spicy, mushroomy, black beans. It's awesome as a burrito filling! The texture is very soft, the closest comparison I can give is refried beans, but it's not as thick and sticky. When you bite into a tumor, it's kind of like a sauteed onion filled with a mushroomy and almost kinda cheesey thick cream inside of it. It's better than black beans actually and it's delicious with the eggs. Wow, if you get the chance to have smut corn in a burrito or quesedilla, fucking go for it. I devoured this thing. I just wish it were cheaper here. Lesson learned I guess: maybe if someone compares someone or something to shit, they only mean aesthetically. Stay queer!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Finding Uses For Everyone's Least Favorite Candy, Round 3: Sweet Heart and Anchovies Pizza

Yeah, you heard me. Time to get back to making these things edible. Why anchovies? Because so many people don't like them, maybe they'll work well together, like those two weird kids at school that no one else liked. Also, the salty and sweet might contrast nicely. In defense of the poor, maligned, anchovy, they're only gross if you don't cook them properly or if you just really don't like salt. For those of you just joining us, I've established that baking sweet hearts in cheese makes them taste much less chalky. Science! 

Just to be safe, the pizza will be half crazy bullshit and half cheese. No sense potentially wasting an entire pizza.

You need:
Sweet Hearts
Pizza crust: I'd advise using premade dough or making your own since it's cheaper and better than a premade crust.

Cost: $1 - $10

It's pretty simple, just put your toppings on and follow the directions on the crust to see how to cook it. In my case, 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown at 450 on a lightly oiled pan.

Huh, that came out prettier than I expected.

Good lord, I actually had it pegged right. The buttery, salty flavor of the anchovies DOES blend well with the sweetness of the candy. I mean, it's weird, but it's not bad. They're still a bit firm but not nearly as hard as they normally are. If you don't like the taste of sweet tarts or anchovies to begin with, the combination isn't going to magically make itself appealing to your pallet. This is really only for people who already like both of those things. Still, I'm 2 for 3 on these so far. My world view is collapsing. Stay queer...

Friday, February 7, 2014

Scorpion Lollipop

For Christmas, Emi got me a scorpion lollipop. 

Mixed messages there, but whatever. The "Bugs" label has been pathetically underused on this blog anyway. Best ingredients list ever by the way.

I hope they didn't bullshit on the lollipop bit and expect the scorpion to carry the whole deal. That'd be lame. That's the problem with novelty foods, they don't expect people to actually eat them so they usually blow. I do like that name though. It sounds like an insult that Yosemite Sam might aim at a no good varmint of some kind. 

I'm happy to report that it smells like cotton candy and it's actually okay. It's got that "we can't decide if it's supposed to be strawberry or watermelon" thing going on. Tastes a little like cotton candy too. It's not all that sweet but you don't want to drown out the complexities of the scorpion (of which I assume there are many), right?

They way it's positioned in there, the head sticks out a bit before the rest of it, as if to say "HEY, BUDDY! NORMALLY I'D BE KINDA MIFFED THAT YOU'RE EATING MY HOUSE, BUT YOU SEEM CHILL" (scorpions are known for their lack of an indoor voice). Scorpion has a surprisingly coarse texture, at least compared to the lollipop. The claws and legs are a bit pointy so watch yourself. It doesn't really feel edible, but yanno, exoskeleton and all.

The friendly little corpse is very crunchy, but has no distinct flavor. Maybe it's just because the sweet drowns it out, but I don't think anyone is melting the candy off to savor the sweet, sweet taste of scorpion by itself, so I guess it doesn't really matter. The organs are slightly chewer and that last big bite is kinda gross tasting, but only because the flavor is suddenly cut with a lot of crunchy nothing.

So, scorpion will not put me off food, but it also won't sell it to me. You're welcome. Stay queer!