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A New Year Begins [Jan. 3rd, 2003|01:30 pm]
Well, it's been an enjoyable holidays for me. I hope that everyone else had a good new year.

While up in Portland, we managed to hook up for lunch with windmist. That was cool since it's been a while since we got a chance to sit and talk. Glad to hear he's doing well.

Had a few rough days this week, what with a cluster of migraines for no good reason. But let's not dwell on that.

What I did want to write about was my New Years Resolution. I don't normally make them since, to be honest, I have trouble taking the whole tradition very seriously. But I had an interesting idea for this and it seemed appropriate.

This year, I will try to use a new ingredient in my cooking every other week. During the year, then, I'll cook with 26 ingredients I've never used before.

Some of these will be easy, since there are a lot of items that I know how to use but simply haven't yet. I've got a truffle sitting in my pantry that I should put into a Perigueux Sauce or savory stuffing. I'd like to try making a dessert sauce from berry jam. Lemongrass to enhance my Thai pepper soup. I've never stewed a rabbit. Long beans and sweet red bean paste for Chinese cooking...

It'll be tricky but also a fun challenge. But perhaps I'm just nutty that way. (Ooh, haven't used cashews...) Anyone want to nominate obscure ingredients?

[User Picture]From: chipuni
2003-01-03 03:20 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful New Year's resolution!

Be sure to try unusual types of squash (if you can find spahetti squash this summer, it's great), and unusual mushrooms. Or for somethig more unusual, make a dessert with agar.

But if you're really looking for the surreal...

...get 'natto' from a Japanese grocery.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2003-01-04 12:11 pm (UTC)
I've used fermented bean paste in some of my Chinese sauces and, well, can't say I'm really enamored of the fermented flavor. So I doubt natto will be used anytime soon.

I've used most of the mushroom varieties I've found at the store as I'm quite a mycophile. The squash, however, is a great suggestion.
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[User Picture]From: traveller_blues
2003-05-03 10:07 pm (UTC)
(Followed the New Years link back)

Couldn't resist, rat. Sorry...

*makes big pinchy Kaga hand motions*


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[User Picture]From: 3catsjackson
2003-01-03 04:17 pm (UTC)
Very nice resolution. I applaud it, and not only because I may occasionally stand to directly benefit.

You've heard me go on about this, but... a really dang good Thai soup can be had with the addition of Kaffir lime leaves, ginzaa (aka Thai ginger), and palm sugar.

There are also a bunch of different flours you could use for breading, etc... Rainbow and Bzerk Bowl both have rows of intriguing bins of stuff.

Ever tried rhubarb? I haven't. Might be interesting.

Edible gold leaf could be fun too.

Oh, and if you get Natto, the downstairs will respectfully decline that fortnight's adventurous dinner invitation. ;->
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2003-01-04 12:15 pm (UTC)
Kaffir lime leaves
If I can find them, definitely. Also, galanga.

I've tried it and cooked with it. Didn't really like it, either.

palm sugar
I would love to use this but, as you can attest, it's dang tricky to locate 'round here.

gold leaf
While I was really thinking about new flavors (gold being flavorless) for the Resolution, I nonetheless like this suggestion a lot. It might appear as a 27th. :)
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[User Picture]From: wabbitcalif
2003-01-03 04:59 pm (UTC)
Penut Sauce can be interesting if you're doing any Chineese cooking.

Pumpkin Squash is also fun, as is garlic salt.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2003-01-04 12:16 pm (UTC)
All suggestions in excellent taste, though I've also cooked with them before. Some new variety of squash is probably something I'll try to use, though.
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[User Picture]From: wabbitcalif
2003-01-04 01:57 pm (UTC)


Well, if you and your spouse like it a bit spicier, try tapatillo sauce; it's a mexican-style hot sauce.

Also: if you like peppers, my hubby recommennds pepperoncinis; the small-to-medium peppers. Mild, but flavorful.

Have you ever cooked artichokes or artichoke hearts? Good stuff there -- some artichoke hearts in a pasta dish (usually with a white sause as opposed to a red) is good!

Pardon me while I rattle a bit: I'm trying to recall several things that I've used sparingly but successfully.

Here's one that may be REALLY unusual: tuna-potato chip casserole. Mom and I used to make that when I was growing up. Use cans of cream of mushroom soup for the base, and bake the mixed ingredients for 30 minutes.

If you can find it, try guereye(sp? It's pronounced "goo-ree-aye") cheese; a soft, creamy cheese with herbs - wonderful for omlettes!
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2003-01-04 09:41 pm (UTC)

Some sort of pepper will probably get included. I don't often use peppers (beyond bell peppers) and would like to experiment more with them. The key is that I'm not a fan of really hot-spicy foods, but carefully using peppers (chilis, really) can add a great flavorful-spicy touch.

artichoke [hearts]

I've used them before.

gruyere cheese

C'mon, I'm a rat. Except for obscure regional cheeses, I think I've plumbed that category. :> Gruyere is a good cheese, though. Try some fontina if you want a stronger cheddar-ish smoky flavor; also goes great in omelettes.

tuna-chip casserole

Yes! I've had that a couple times, too, long ago. However, it was something my mom made. I've not made it... So it would be fair to say that I haven't cooked with potato chips. :)

Thanks for the good suggestions, WC.
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[User Picture]From: wabbitcalif
2003-01-05 01:16 pm (UTC)


Wow - I thought that I was the only person who'd had tuna/potato chip casserole!

If you've not tried it yet, I recomment Yjetost (YET-toast), a Norwegian brand of sweet cheese that is marvelous on Ritz Crackers. (I've got In-laws who are of Norwegian decent).

I'm glad that the suggestions have helped - anytime, Nicodemus!
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[User Picture]From: shockwave77598
2003-01-03 05:40 pm (UTC)
How about Betel Nut? Is that obscure enough? :)

I don't know if you can even buy that in the states. You may find some in the Korean food stores.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2003-01-04 12:18 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Don't think I've ever had betel nuts and certainly never cooked with them. If I can locate them and a recipe, I'm game.
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[User Picture]From: ysengrin
2003-01-03 08:25 pm (UTC)
Nopalitos - prickly pear cactus. Usually in thin strips, neat to use in stews or stir-fry ...
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2003-01-04 12:19 pm (UTC)
Awesome suggestion! I think I've seen these at a local market, too. That's on the list.
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[User Picture]From: shadowolf
2003-01-31 08:20 pm (UTC)
For no reason whatsoever, I'm thinking of grape leaves, and .. I can't recall the name of it, but the really paint-like yogurt that is used in Indian food.

Personally can't stand either one, but YMMV :-)
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[User Picture]From: traveller_blues
2003-05-03 10:14 pm (UTC)
Another thing you could try, perhaps, is pull up the Theme Ingredients list for Iron Chef and pick things you haven't heard of before, or go on a quest through one of the Asian food markets.

But one of my co-workers has been raving about 'quinoa', which is an Incan grain. You can get it at Trader Joes or Whole Earth Foods, I think.

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