New Food – Chinese Long Beans

Wandering through the grocery store, I spotted some very, very, very long beans which is probably why they are called Chinese long beans. So I bought a bunch.DSC_0032

I cut the beans into smaller pieces (green bean size) and made the glaze (a recipe I found on the web)DSC_0034

The recipe included butter, garlic, chicken stock, sesame oil, honey and several other ingredients and looked rather gross in the pan.


But when I had cooked it all according to instructions and tasted them, they reminded me of something I would get in a Chinese restaurant … and were very good. They tasted a lot like green beans, but were a little tougher.

I give them a 8 out of 10.


New Food – Fried Macaroni

Us checking out the menu while waiting for our table. Cindy took this from across the street – see her reflection in the window? The boys are dressed all in black because their presentation was on Johnny Cash.

So yesterday I drove up to Madison to meet my son and daughter-in-law, their daughter and their son and his friend. We were there for the National History Day State competition for all those kids who had won in their regionals. This included the son and his friend. (Side note: They didn’t win, but they did super well. We were proud of them.)

Anyhow, my daughter-in-law had researched a restaurant called Dottie’s Dumplings Dowry which is supposed to be on a list of the 100 restaurants you should visit before IMG_7277you die. They are known for their burgers and their fried macaroni.

So after the competition, we hurried down the street to eat, because we had to be back at the U of W within an hour and a half. (Seemed like everyone was in Madison this weekend – some for a parade, others for a gigantic horse show … and a few thousand for the National History Day event. Six hundred kids participated – many with an entourage of relatives, plus there were more than 400 staff.)

We did have to wait for about 25 minutes because the restaurant isn’t that big – but the wait was worth it.

Another side note: The night before Elizabeth and I shared a motel room and we were watching a cooking show from Italy. Some men were showing the host how they hunt for truffles – they have a truffle-searching dog. (People think they use pigs, but the pigs eat the truffles where as the dogs are more concerned with the digging.) And we said to each other, “Someday, we’ll have to eat a truffle.”

Dottie’s Dumplings Dowry also had truffle fries. Picture was taken from an awkward angle with my phone – I apologize for the blurriness. IMG_7281

So for an appetizer, we had fried macaroni and truffle fries.

First – the truffle fries. We all liked them – a lot, but they were also covered with bacon and cheese, so not sure how much truffle we were actually eating. Still delicious.

Second – the fried macaroni. Oh, wow – this was so good! Seriously. They looked like chicken nuggets, but when you bit into one, it was all creamy cheese and noodles. We decided it was a good thing we didn’t live closer. That fried macaroni is definitely a 10.

IMG_7280We ordered different kinds of burgers and all enjoyed our choices. (I got the basil and mozzarella burger). They have signs all over saying their burgers are the best in the world. Maybe close … I’ll let you decide. Their walls are lined with award-winning “best-of” certificates.

So if you ever get to Madison and are just looking for a fun place to eat. I would suggest Dottie’s Dumplings Dowry.

And don’t forget the fried macaroni.


New Food – Zaat’ar/Hyssop

I first read about Zaat’ar in a Food Network magazine – how it was supposed to be the “new-everything-bagel seasoning.” I hadn’t heard of it before, so I looked it up and discovered that you can make your own out of spices such as thyme, sumac, sesame seeds. But other sites list other herbs and spices and say that there is actually a Zaat’ar plant.

(Another fact no one can agree on is where to put the apostrophe in the word zaatar.)

The fact that intrigued me the most is that Zaat’ar is considered to be the biblical hyssop.

Remember when Christ was on the cross?

A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. (John 19:29)

Other verses say: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7)

IMG_7250Some commentators say that hyssop is an external cleansing agent. However, I discovered something fascinating in my personal research (and I truly don’t know much about this) – hyssop is medicinal for internal parasites. I also see a correlation there.

Anyhow back to the Zaat’ar. Rather than choosing one of the combination of spices and herbs to make my own, I ordered a bottle off Amazon. (Not sure the people in the Bible did that.) I have been looking for it in some of the unique grocery stories I’ve been in lately and haven’t seen it.IMG_7251

I ordered it from an Israeli company, so the jar took some time to get to my house. Total cost: $14.40 (that’s with shipping), which is high, but it has quite a bit in the jar and I’ll be able to use it for other recipes (maybe even as a visual in a lesson).

IMG_7252You will notice on the label that the jar actually says “holy hyssop.” The jar’s list of ingredients includes: hyssop, sesame, elm-leaved sumac, lemon acid and salt.

So I mixed a little of the zaat’ar with cream cheese and spread it on a toasted bagel. (One of the recipes also suggests tomato and onion in the mixture, which sounds good, but which I didn’t do.)

Could I just say – delicious? This is one of the few foods I have tried so far that I would go out of my way to eat again.

I give it a 10.


New Food – Ugli Fruit

Once again I picked up a fruit – an ugli fruit. The ugly fruit is a Jamaican tropical fruit in the citrus family and it is kind of ugli, (Spell check is determined that I am spelling ugli incorrectly which I am if I were attempting to spell ugly, but not wrong since I’m spelling ugli.) Imagine a grapefruit, an orange and a tangerine all mixed together and you have this unappealing fruit.DSC_0031

The fruit was first found growing wild in Jamaica and most ugli fruit are still grown there. At first the skin is light green, but as it ripens, the skin turns orange.

I cut it open and took a bite – very good.



But I didn’t stop there. I found a recipe for an ugli smoothie.  (Doesn’t sound too appetizing, does it?) The smoothie included the ugli fruit, a banana, pineapple juice and milk.

And this is what happened – the smoothie was good … the only thing I didn’t like about it was the strong banana taste which has nothing to do with the ugli fruit. (I’m ok with bananas, but they aren’t my favorite.) So I’ll give the fruit a 10 and the smoothie a 9 and next time simply make an ugli julius. (I can see a new franchise in the making, taking the place of orange julius – can you imagine Ugli Julius shops?)


New Food – Vietnamese Pho

Last Monday, on the way to the C.S. Lewis lecture in Wheaton, we went out to dinner at Pho Le, at Vietnamese restaurant. (This was a first – an evening at a Vietnamese restaurant and listening to C.S. Lewis’ stepson – don’t think that combination will ever happen again in my life.)

Pho, is a Vietnamese noodle soup with rice noodles, herbs and meat. We ordered spring rolls. The rolls (made of rice paper) were stuffed with vegetables and shrimp. They were good – I probably wouldn’t order again, but I would eat them again if they were offered to me. Basically it was the texture of the rice paper that I liked the least, not the taste. Again, is I was served the rolls again, I would eat them.

I had the beef meatball pho and that was good and so MUCH!. Didn’t even look like I had dented the bowl when I was done eating and ended up bringing most of it home with me.

The server was very informative, polite and helpful, explaining the choices and the ingredients.

Overall, I would give the experience a 7.



New Food – Guavas

Ah, I planned this to be a great new food entry.

I found a recipe for guava cake that had fantastic reviews and sounded rather straightforward to make.

They do come in different colors (varieties – like apples) and are rich in Vitamin C and are also supposed to make your teeth whiter.

So I bought my guavas.


The cake called for guava puree, so I read up on making it and learned that you can eat guava seeds, so you don’t have to worry about removing them. Which I didn’t.

I think taking the seeds out would be extremely difficult.


I made my cake. I baked my cake.

Everything looked very cake-like.


And then I took a bite and crunched down on something hard! At first I thought maybe it was an egg-shell, though I thought my eggs had broken fairly cleanly.

And I took another bite and crunched down on another something hard.

About then I realized I was crunching on the guava seeds. I went back to the web and read more about guavas and saw some sites where it said that the seeds are hard and you should just swallow them whole. Which makes sense if you’re taking a bit out of an actual guava because you can SEE where the seeds are. You can’t see the tiny seeds in a cake.

The flavor was good, but the seeds put me off and I decided this was not a cake I would share with anyone.

So, I don’t really feel like I can honestly rate it. Kitchen fail.