edibleflowers

I confess that I’ve never known what edible flowers actually are. As if they’re some exotic species of flower grown just for eating. I’ve bought and consumed them, leaving it up to the flower Gods to keep producing them in order to make my salads prettier, my soups more colorful. It just so happens that I was at the farmers’ market last week when some tattooed expert looking she-chef walked up and confidently stated that she’ll take a box of pansies. Mystery revealed, they’re nothing special, we’re just eating flowers from our gardens, but I’ll pretend that I never knew that.

ME: Ok, you’ve never seen anything like it. What are these?

LAUREN: What?  Isn’t that just flowers?  Are we eating flowers?

SAM: Cabbage.

ME: Yes, they’re flowers. But they’re a special kind. They’re edible flowers.

SAM: I’m not going to eat flowers.

ME: You’re not going to eat flowers? I actually ate them on my soup last night.

LAUREN:  Um, can you take this off?

SAM: No, thank you.

LAUREN: Do you eat that?  Do you eat this?

ME: Smell it.  Yeah, you can eat the whole thing.

SAM: I want to smell it.

ME: Does it smell like anything?

LAUREN: It smells like petals.

ME: It smells like petals?  Yeah, well it actually doesn’t have a strong floral smell which is probably why they’re edible flowers. You can eat that whole thing.

LAUREN: I don’t want to eat this. OK, maybe I’ll try the yellow one.

ME: Sam, you’re going to miss out.  Here, do you want to try the yellow one or the purple one?

LAUREN: I tried the yellow one.

ME: Lauren tried the yellow first.  You’re gonna try yellow first too, Sam?

SAM: I want to try purple.
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Cherimoya squash

I love it when our challenge brings us a food that’s new to all of us. It’s happened a few times in the past year, such as rambutan and mangosteen. Cherimoya squash is a little less exotic, and although I’ve heard of it (and have likely eaten it unknowingly) this was my first time preparing it at home. Cherimoya squash is like kohlrabi, beets, and other vegetables that tend to be cooked but are equally wonderful in their raw state. Thinly sliced, they’ll add a crispness to any salad. But figuring that my kids would probably prefer it cooked, I gave the squash a toss in the sautee pan, which led to all kinds of unhappiness. But we’ll get this vegetable again – it’s a winner, at least for me. 

ME: Ok, guys.  We’re going to eat something called —

LAUREN: That’s a no-no.

ME: — cherimoya squash.  Can you sit on your stool, please?  I don’t want you falling off the table.  You’re going to fall down.

ME:  Look at what it looks like.  What kind of fruit or vegetable does it look like?

LAUREN: A splash of no-no.

ME: I think it looks like a green apple.

SAM: Wooooooooooooooooo.

ME: Who’s going to smell it first?

SAM:  Me, me, me.

LAUREN: Me, me, me.

ME: No, Sam wanted to smell it first.

SAM: It smells like a cucumber.

ME: Yes it does.  That is true.  It smells just like a cucumber.  What do you think Lauren?

SAM: Is it salad?

LAUREN: I think it smells like cucumber and lettuce.

ME: It smells a bit like lettuce, too.  So I had to look online for instructions on how to cook it because I’ve actually never had this squash before; people online said that you’ve got to chop it into pieces and then you sauté it.  So that’s what I did.

LAUREN:  Could I have a bite of it?

ME: Yeah.

EMMA: Hot.

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Napa cabbage

We had such great success with red cabbage earlier this year that I thought Napa cabbage would be a shoe in. Aside from the Michael Jackson situation that we’ll all forget together, it was a great experiment. Napa cabbage, happening again, soon. And feel free to use the squiggly little friend line, it worked like a charm. 

ME: Look guys. What is this silly vegetable?

LAUREN: It looks like salad greens.

ME: Yeah?  Sam, look at it.  Want to reach in and grab one?  It’s squiggly. You can hold them in your hand.

SAM: No.

ME: It’s like a little friend. You guys have actually tried something similar to this already this year.  It was one of the first —

EMMA: Let’s eat it.

ME:  — foods that you tried.

LAUREN: Cabbage. Oh my god, so good.

ME: Yeah!  Stop shoveling it into your mouth like that, you’ll choke.

EMMA: Yeah.

ME: So do you remember when we tried red cabbage?  You guys all liked red cabbage.  So maybe you will like this kind of cabbage, which is called… Napa cabbage. 

SAM: It’s like a little friend. [giggling]

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leeks

It was like Dr. Seuss characters invaded our home this week and stood in place for the kids during our mystery food challenge. Even sautéing the leeks in a little butter and olive oil didn’t help our cause. Leeks were not a hit food. They’ll get there. Leeks cooking in butter is one of the all time best cooking smells. One day they’ll realize the error of their ways…

ME: Ok.  Smell it.

LAUREN: Oh my God.

ME: Why?  Why oh my God?  What does it smell like?

LAUREN: Wine.

ME: Wine?

LAUREN: It smells like wine.

ME: Does it smell like wine?  There’s no wine in there.  You think I’d feed you wine? What do you think it smells like Sam?

SAM: A strong smell. It has a strong smell of wine.

ME: Ok.  It’s not wine.

LAUREN: And beer.

ME: No, that’s my beer that you’re smelling!  

EMMA: Yummy!

ME: Yeah, yummy, right?  Smells good.

LAUREN: Actually, it’s not.

SAM: It smells like a trash can.

ME: Ok. It’s not a trash can.

[kids laughing]

ME: What are these called, because you guessed last week.

EMMA: Collard greens.

ME: Nope, it’s not that.  What vegetable rhymes with weeks?

LAUREN: Cheeks.

EMMA: Sausage.

SAM: Keeks.

ME: Nope.

LAUREN: Leeks.

EMMA:  Sausage.

LAUREN: Leeks.

EMMA: Yeah.

LAUREN: Leeks.

ME: Ok. Sausage?

SAM: Cheeks.

EMMA: Yeah, sausage.

LAUREN: Leeks.

SAM: Queeks.

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Collard greens

I have a confession: I’ve never cooked collard greens at home. I’ve eaten them plenty of times, but for some reason, whenever I’ve got greens in mind I go for kale or chard. Collards have to be cooked a little longer than other greens to soften them, but otherwise, they are delicious eaten with a touch of olive oil and salt. A splash of vinegar works too, but since we’re being purists in our challenge I try to keep the flavors as close to their natural state as possible.

Verdict on collard greens? Our conversation was long and confusing and I still don’t have an answer. Apologies.

ME: Ok.  Mystery food right now is….

EMMA: I want purple.

ME: Who can tell me what this is?

LAUREN: Greens, greens, greens.

ME: Yeah.  It’s greens.  What kind of greens.

LAUREN: Uh salad greens?

ME: Uh Nope.  It’s not salad greens.  What kind of greens.

EMMA: Collard.

ME: What?

EMMA: Collard.

ME: Yeah!

LAUREN: Cabbage?

ME: She got it!  Collards.  Did you say Collards?

EMMA: [Nods yes].

ME: Yeah!!!!  How’d you know?

SAM: She went to Jamaica.

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