Counting Our Veggies

Please join us as we focus on learning about and trying one vegetable each week.


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Week Four: Daikon Radish Cakes

On our Sunday radish shopping trip we purchased this:

Daikon Radish

As we left the grocery store, I wondered to myself, “What in the world am I going to do with a giant radish?”

I searched Pinterest. One of the recipes I found was for daikon radish cakes from Naturally Local. My kids love pancakes and potato pancakes, so this seemed like a reasonable thing to try.

Except that they were made from a giant radish… I had my doubts. Serious doubts.

Late this morning, I could put it off no longer. I prepared to shred the giant radish. I considered using my Cuisinart food processor, but instead decided on the Pampered Chef Ultimate Mandoline. After scrubbing the giant radish, I cut the top off and cut it into sections that would fit on the shredder. Shred, shred, shred….

Shredding Daikon Radish

And we ended up with an odd smelling pile of shredded daikon radish.

Shredded Daikon

It was a whole lot watery, so we decided to squeeze out the liquid using a mesh strainer.

Straining Daikon Radish

I would say that we ended up with one and a half to two cups of shredded radish.  We added one beaten egg, 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 1/8 tsp. chili pepper, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper to the shredded radish and mixed it well with a fork.

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I’m not going to lie. It looked a little weird and smelled even weirder.

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After brushing the grilling surface with a bit of peanut oil, we scooped the mixture into small piles on our Cuisinart Griddler, using the grill-panini setting on high heat and then closed the griddler lid for about five minutes, which gave us crispy, golden-brown radish cakes. They started to smell much better as they cooked. Instead of using a griddler or panini-press, you could also cook these in a skillet or on a pancake griddle, turning them with a spatula to make both sides crispy.

Crispy Radish Cakes

The Naturally Local recipe suggested topping these cakes with sour cream and chives. I have a “no-sour-cream-on-anything-ever” policy, so we mixed some chopped chives into some softened butter and topped the cakes with that instead. They looked pretty appetizing.

Daikon Radish Cakes with Chive Butter

But how would they taste?

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Initial reports were quite negative…

Two Thumbs Up for Radish Cakes

Lucie loved them. She ate three! I had to talk her into saving two for Dave to try. He also liked them.

I thought they were pretty good. My guess is that they would taste better fried in some bacon grease, but I would definitely make them again. They were similar to potato pancakes, with a slightly different flavor.

Here is a more organized version of what we did:

Daikon Radish Cakes:

Ingredients:

1 large daikon radish, thoroughly scrubbed (1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded)

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/8 tsp. chili pepper

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. peanut oil

1/2 cup butter, softened

handful of fresh chives, chopped

Shred the daikon radish with a food processor or mandoline. Remove excess water from shredded radish with a mesh strainer or by squeezing through cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel. Add egg, panko bread crumbs, chili pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and spoon mixture onto peanut oil coated griddler or skillet on high heat. Cook until both sides are crispy and golden-brown. 

Mix chives into softened butter. Use chive-butter mixture to top radish cakes. Makes 8-10 small cakes.

Lucie and Dave also tried a few bites of the raw daikon radish. They said it had a mild initial taste with a peppery aftertaste.

This recipe and cooking experience really goes along with the purpose of our blog. We tried a vegetable that we normally would never have tried. We had our doubts, but ended up finding a recipe that three of the five of us would like to make again. And, although Josie and Theo did not like this recipe, they willingly took one bite in order to give it a try. I think that is also a victory. (I know that Josie is making unhappy faces in many of her tasting pictures. However, she has never been “made” to try any of the vegetables in our blog and always has the option to opt out of tasting. She just tends to approach the veggies with skepticism as well as curiosity.)

We have plans for at least one more radish recipe and a fun project or two before radish week is over. Stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

Today I used the index in my veggie book to find information about radishes and daikon radish sprouts. I read a little bit about them while we were cooking. I enjoyed helping Mama in the kitchen today. I want to take cooking classes when I get older. I give the radish pancakes two thumbs up and I would like to try them again.

Lucie Using the Index

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Week Four: Radishes

And our week four veggie is ……radishes!!! Lucie and I just returned from an afternoon of radish shopping. I think letting kids shop for veggies is an important way to get them interested in eating veggies. Lucie loves looking at all the unusual produce and planning what she would like to try in the future. Here she is admiring the variety of beets at Whole Foods.

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We did browse a few other veggies and, of course, the toy and electronics section at Target. We checked out the radish supplies and prices at Whole Foods, Hy-Vee and Super Target. We were hoping to find the standard red radish that we know so well, as well as a few other varieties. Although we have seen the small white radishes at Whole Foods before, they did not have any today. We found a very large, white radish variety called the daikon radish at Hy-Vee. We only purchased one, because we really did not know what we would do with it. When we got home, a quick search of Pinterest gave us lots of ideas.

Did you know that there are varieties of the daikon radish that are planted for the purpose of drilling through the soil with their giant roots? These tillage radishes are planted in the late summer and allowed to grow until they are killed by cold weather. Their growing roots diminish soil compaction. They are killed by cold weather and then decompose over the winter, enhancing the nutrient content of the soil. One of the varieties I read about was called “Groundhog“, apparently for its excellent digging ability. One downside to this technique seems to be that the radishes get a bit stinky as they decompose in the field. I had never heard of tillage radishes before today. You can read more about it at TillageRadish.com. Does anyone have any experience with radishes used in this way? I’m curious about just how smelly this really is.

Tillage radish update: I have spoken with someone who has experienced tillage radish decomposition first hand. Apparently, the process is very stinky, lasts several weeks and is reminiscent of sewage. I think I will skip tillage radishes as a means of soil amendment in my garden. I have read that turnips can be used in a similar way and are not stinky. I am interested in any more information you may have on this topic. Please erase any thought you may have of sewage aroma before moving on to the recipe section of this blog post…

Our radish recipes for today are as simple as can be.

Recipe #1: Sliced radishes with salt.

Ingredients:

  • radishes
  • salt

Slice radishes. Sprinkle salt on top of radish slices. Feed to three year old. Tell him they are chips. Watch them disappear.

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Theo gives this recipe two enthusiastic thumbs up. He ate a whole pile of them and asked for seconds.

Recipe #2: Sliced Radishes on Buttered Crackers

Ingredients:

  • crackers
  • butter
  • sliced radishes
  • salt

If you can, try to keep the three year old from eating a few of the sliced radishes from Recipe #1, so you can use them in this recipe. Butter some crackers. Place radish slices on top of butter. Sprinkle salt on top of radish slices. Delicious!

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This is a favorite snack of Lucie’s. She ate the whole plate full.

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This snack gets an easy two thumbs up rating from Lucie. Dave and I love radishes. Josie is not a fan and was not feeling up to trying any radishes today. We eat radishes like this at our house all the time. I think they are a great substitute for potato chips – crunchy and salty, without all the fat and calories. (A half of a cup of sliced radishes only has about ten calories.)

We are planning to try one of the recipes where you roast the radish chips later this week.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

We ate radishes today. I like them best with crackers and butter. I am looking forward to cooking the big white radish that we got at the store today. We will show you a picture of it in our next post. Happy Groundhog Day!


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Week Three: Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Have I mentioned that my kids love eating bell peppers? I got these peppers out of the fridge to use in the soup and the little pepper-munchers wanted me to cut them up so they could eat them right away. Red Pepper_33

This past summer, when garden fresh tomatoes, red peppers and herbs were plentiful, I tried a recipe for garden fresh tomato basil soup from Will Cook for Friends. It was wonderful! I made it several times and made a few changes, adding more red pepper and using chicken broth in place of water. With garden fresh tomatoes months away, I wanted to try a winter version of this favorite soup of ours. Instead of fresh tomatoes, I tried canned fire roasted tomatoes from Costco.

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I cut up two really big red peppers, drizzled a bit of olive oil on them and roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

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I added them to three minced cloves of garlic and half of a chopped up white onion that I had sauteed in olive oil. Then, I added two cans of the tomatoes, one and a half tablespoons of dried oregano, three tablespoons of dried basil, a pinch of sugar, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a cup of chicken broth. I blended it all with my handy immersion blender and added some salt and pepper to taste. Theo was curious about the noise from the blender and was the first to come try some soup. He wanted a few croutons in his.

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He loves tomato soup and croutons and was quick to give it two thumbs up. (You can see his day and a half old water park wrist band, still on his arm. He refuses to let us remove it. He is just sure that he will need it when he goes back to the water park “tomorrow”. It has got to go tonight at bath time!)

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I called in the girls, who were busy pretending to be super-hero-best-friend-sisters. Super hero #1 was not happy to have her super hero activities interrupted. She gave two thumbs down, but did offer to eat the rest of the soup in her bowl in exchange for croutons.

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Super hero #2 was happier to taste the soup. She requested goat cheese and crouton topping and happily ate it, giving a two thumbs up rating.

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Dave and I were both pleasantly surprised with how much we liked this version of the soup. We were afraid that using canned tomatoes and dried herbs would ruin it, but we found that using the canned fire roasted tomatoes gave it a nice flavor. I love the roasted red pepper in this soup. If the peppers I used hadn’t been huge, I might have even added one more. We also love our tomato soup with goat cheese and croutons.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup:

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2  cans (14.5 oz. each) of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a large white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (you could use vegetable broth or water instead)
  • 1.5 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp. dried basil
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar to taste
  • goat cheese
  • croutons

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Quarter and remove seeds from bell peppers. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil and bake in a baking dish at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes to roast. Saute onion and garlic in 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium soup pot. Add the tomatoes and roasted red peppers to the garlic and onions. Add the chicken broth, basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Simmer for a few minutes before using the immersion blender. Make it as chunky or smooth as you like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add more chicken broth if you think it is too thick. Garnish with plenty of goat cheese and croutons. Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting, Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

I love this soup, especially with goat cheese. I thought it was even better than the soup we made this summer and I would have eaten even more if I had been hungrier.


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Week Three: Pick a Pepper Color

“Red peppers are good. Yellow peppers are good. Orange peppers are the best!”

We tested the kids’ bell pepper theory today.

The kids have always said they like the orange bell peppers the best. We usually buy a pack of six peppers containing two of each color. We slice them all up and keep them in the same container. At meal time, they keep track to make sure that they are not being shortchanged on orange pepper distribution.

We decided to do a taste test to see if they really could tell the difference. Everyone wore a blindfold for the test and there was no peeking.

Josie went first. She was correct on the orange and the yellow, but thought that the red was orange.

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Theo went second. He guessed orange for all three, getting one right.

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Lucie went third. She got them all wrong, but had fun guessing.

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Finally, the kids insisted that I give it a try. I got them all right!

Although there is not a huge difference, I think the red peppers are the sweetest and the yellow peppers are the least sweet, tasting more like a green bell pepper than the red or orange.

We had a fun game and the kids decided that they now think the red, orange and yellow bell peppers all taste about the same. Our left over test peppers were soon devoured! I think playing games with veggies is a great way to encourage kids to eat them.  In the future, a “guess the vegetable” game could be fun.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

The pepper game was very fun today. I found out that all the peppers tasted about the same.


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Week Three: Red, Orange & Yellow Bell Peppers

After two weeks of rather challenging vegetables, we decided to go with something we know and love. My kids love red, orange and yellow bell peppers. I keep a container of sliced bell pepper strips in the refrigerator for them to snack on. Sometimes they eat them plain, sometimes with salad dressing or hummus. We frequently eat them for lunch and pack them in lunch boxes. The kids think the orange ones taste the best. I think we should do a blind taste test to check that theory sometime. Anyway, we definitely have two thumbs up ratings from everyone in our family about raw bell peppers. So, this week we decided to try cooking with them.

Since we all love bell peppers, I figured we could manage a dairy-free recipe to start the week, so that Theo could try it. No need to smother the peppers with cheese in order to make them tolerable! We chose stir-fried honey ginger chicken with peppers from marthastewart.com. I had the bell peppers already sliced and the chicken prepared. I decided to add baby portabello mushrooms to the recipe and I had those ready, too. I had ginger and garlic minced and waiting to add to the skillet.

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I felt so organized as I began to prepare this recipe. Then, my printer quit working, so I had to go back and forth from the kitchen to the computer to read the recipe. Then, I found out that I did not have the rice vinegar. How can the right kind of vinegar not be in this ridiculous vinegar assortment?

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I went with the white wine vinegar.

Soon, I found out that I had forgotten to take the chicken out of the skillet before cooking the veggies, like the recipe says. Oops… I figured I would make Minute-Rice while the chicken and veggies were cooking. Um. Where was the Minute-Rice? I was just sure I saw a red box in the pantry. Arg. That box was a cake mix. Here were our rice choices:

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I chose the black rice. But, it didn’t exactly take 5 minutes to make. It took 35 minutes. So, the rice was ready long after the chicken and veggies. In the end, it all ended up cooked. It smelled great and the kids came running to the table.

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Upon seeing their lunch, some of my tasters were in a great mood.

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And some were not.

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“Mama, why did you ruin the peppers by cooking them? And MUSHROOMS? I HATE mushrooms! They are slimy!”

Here is a summary of ratings for this recipe:

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I really liked this dish. If I could make any changes, it would be to use less honey. I thought it was a bit on the sweet side. The kids all liked the chicken, but Josie did not like the cooked peppers or mushrooms. Theo and Lucie asked for seconds and thirds! We ended up without any leftovers.

If you ever see the black rice in the grocery store, give it a try. It turns dark purple when you cook it and tastes pretty much like regular rice, but contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins, which are also found in blueberries, eggplant and other red and purple fruits and vegetables, have antioxidant properties.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

Today we ate red, orange and yellow peppers. We tried a new recipe with them. I give it two thumbs up. This was my favorite recipe so far and I want to make it again. I am especially glad that Theo liked it. I think Josie would have liked it better if she was in a better mood.


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Week Two: Belgian Endive with Red Bell Pepper and Prosciutto

Monday’s attempt at Belgian endive got two thumbs down from Lucie and Josie and Theo missed out on trying it. We had planned to try again with a recipe involving cooking this veggie, but then we saw a recipe for Belgian endive with red bell pepper and prosciutto from FOOD52. The recipe calls for sauteing the red bell pepper strips with garlic and olive oil, but since my kids love raw red bell pepper, we decided to use them raw.

The way we made this was very simple. First, cut the red pepper into strips. Then, cut the end off the endive and separate the leaves, so that they look like little boats. (California Endive Farms has a nice video about Belgian endive which includes a demonstration of how we prepared our endive leaves.) Next, put a few strips of pepper into the endive boat and then wrap the whole thing with a piece of prosciutto. That’s it!

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I said, “Theo, would you like to try a red pepper boat for a snack?” Theo ran to the kitchen and took possession of ALL the red pepper boats.

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Poor Josie! She thought he would eat them all before she could try one.

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It turns out, he didn’t really care for them. He left them to his sisters after trying just one bite.

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Lucie and Josie carefully tasted  our new Belgian endive snack.

Josie decided that one bite was enough, but did offer to eat more plain prosciutto.

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Lucie gave this combination two thumbs up and insisted that I make her another plate full. She succeeded in eating all the Belgian endive that we had left, so we may not have another recipe this week. I think the sweetness of the red bell pepper and the saltiness of the prosciutto were a great combination with the Belgian endive’s slightly bitter flavor. These would be great to pack in lunch boxes and I definitely plan to make them again.

Did you know that Belgian endive is part of the chicory family? It is related to radicchio, curly endive, frisee and escarole, as well as those blue flowers that grow along the side of the road. Be sure to read about the interesting practice of growing Belgian endive at California Endive Farms’ website.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

We tried Belgian endive and pepper wrapped in prosciutto. I give it two thumbs up. I might like to try more endive recipes someday.


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Week Two: Belgian Endive

Today we went to Hy-Vee. Their produce section is really spectacular. To me, it’s kind of like the Von Maur of produce sections. Even my kids get really excited to see all the beautiful fruits and vegetables. They always want to buy one of everything. Today, they wanted more fennel. I told them maybe next week…

Our mission today was to see if they had Belgian endive. My goal with this week’s vegetable selection is to recreate my favorite salad from Timpone’s in Urbana, IL. Their menu lists it as “Warm Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad”, but a good part of the actual salad is Belgian endive, which I have never noticed in a store, let alone purchased or prepared. This salad consists of arugula, Belgian endive and a spicy tomato vinaigrette dressing, topped with a warm piece of goat cheese and served with yummy garlic toast. We were lucky that Hy-Vee had a nice little pile of Belgain endive. Now, the challenging part of this endeavor was to come up with some version of their spicy tomato vinaigrette.

After some thought and some Googling, I found this dressing recipe, from Simply Scratch, and decided to give it a try. I added a clove of garlic for good measure. Lucie and I thought that the dressing tasted pretty good on its own.

Lucie was all smiles when it came time to prepare the endive. She though it was a cute little vegetable.

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She is also a big fan of goat cheese and garlic bread, so I thought she would love this recipe.

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The moment of truth: Lucie said, “Whoa! Mama, this is bitter! I do not like endive!”

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At least, she was happy eating the goat cheese and garlic toast.

Overall, I thought our experiment today was a pretty good substitute for my favorite salad at Timpone’s. The salad dressing isn’t quite right, but I would definitely eat it again.

I am hopeful that another attempt at Belgian endive might win Lucie over. Maybe cooking it in some way will be helpful, as it was with fennel. Take a look at our Pinterest board for Belgian endive to see what we are considering for later this week.

I will leave you with this picture because it makes me laugh. It shows Lucie reading to Theo from, “The Veggie Book“, as she calls it. Theo is having quite a reaction to whatever Lucie is describing to him. Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants is the book they are reading from. She just loves reading it!

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Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

We tried Belgian endive today. I give it two thumbs down. I didn’t like it because it was bitter. I might like it if we cook it, or fry it or try it in another way. I am still excited about trying many other vegetables.