Counting Our Veggies

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


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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 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.


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Week One: Learning About Fennel

In addition to tasting new vegetables, we also want to learn more about the vegetables we are consuming. While reading about fennel online, I discovered a book that I thought would be a good reference tool for our vegetable project Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants by National Geographic has pictures and descriptions of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, herbs and spices. The kids have been in love with it since it arrived from amazon.com. I am very surprised at just how exciting they find it. They especially enjoy looking the pictures and asking me if I have ever tasted this fruit or that vegetable. Inspired by its colorful pictures of exotic fruits, Lucie and Josie are already making plans for a fruit tasting project in 2015.

We were surprised to find fennel in the herb section, instead of the vegetable section, of our new book. We learned that fennel is part of the parsley family and has the botanical name Foeniculum vulgare. (I can see where they get the “vulgare” part…) The bulb, stalks, leaves and seeds are all edible and different parts of fennel are used in different recipes. The distinctive flavor of fennel comes from the aromatic compound anethole.  Anethole is also found in anise and is used to flavor many licorice-type candies.

Pinterest is a great place to organize our veggie recipes. We are collecting recipes and information about fennel and the other vegetables we will be exploring in our Pinterest account. You can see what we have collected at http://www.pinterest.com/countingveggies/. We pinned a nice tip from Nosh On It explaining how to clean and cut fennel. This would have been helpful to read before we made our first recipe.

Lucie is still deciding on another fennel recipe to try. She is considering a fennel and onion pizza or some kind of fennel salad. Maybe I will have a better opinion of fennel after our next tasting.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

I’m going to go find someplace quiet to read my new veggie book. I can’t wait for next week’s new vegetable!


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Week One: Fennel

Lucie and I picked up a bulb of fennel at Whole Foods today. I had seen a recipe for baked fennel on Pinterest and had pinned it for some reason. I must have forgotten that fennel tastes and smells like licorice. I hate licorice.

Luckily, Lucie is very open-minded and has no opinion of licorice. I followed the recipe, except I only used one half of the fennel bulb and I forgot to add the thyme. It did start smelling better while it was baking. I’m sure the addition of butter and cheese didn’t hurt.

Lucie thought it smelled delicious.

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She was very excited to try it.

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She tasted it very carefully

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And then she gobbled it up!

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She gives it two thumbs up and wants to make this recipe again.

Other family member reviews of Baked Fennel with Parmesan and Thyme:

  • Josie took one bite. She said it was good and she thinks she would eat it again.
  • Dave, who likes licorice, thought it was very tasty.
  • I thought it was just ok. The baked fennel was definitely milder and more pleasant tasting than the tiny bite of raw fennel that I tried.
  • We could not offer any to Theo since this recipe contained dairy.

We saved the fennel tops and the other half of the bulb and hope to try another recipe or two later in the week. We also plan to learn more about the fennel plant and why it tastes like licorice.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen


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Learning and Trying New Things in 2014

Well, 2014 has arrived. We don’t have any plans for moving to a different state or having any new babies this year. Whatever will we do with ourselves?

Lucie and I have two things we have talked about doing together in 2014. One is eating more vegetables and the other is learning more about blogs and computers. We decided that we could combine these learning experiences in a blog about vegetables.  Yes. I said blog about vegetables. That sounds so boring, now that I actually read what I just typed. I doubt that this will be as exciting as an episode of NCIS, but you might learn something fun about vegetables, find a new recipe or even chuckle a little.

We have invited Josie to join us. She has agreed to only take one bite of each vegetable. Theo is just saying no, but we hope to convince him to try a few bites.

Our Goals

  • We will focus on learning about and eating one vegetable each week for the whole year. The vegetable does not have to be new to us, but with 50 weeks left this year, many of them will be.
  • We will learn how to publish a coherent and not too embarrassing blog.
  • We will have fun doing these things together and improve our vegetable consumption.

And now, Lucie would like to say a few words…

“I am going to have fun! I am excited to learn about new vegetables. I want to learn new recipes. I might write some vegetable jokes if I can think of any.”

Thanks for visiting,

Jen