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Lick the Produce Section: Just peachy

It’s time for another edition of Lick the Produce Section, the adventures of a woman who once weighed 372 pounds but amazingly enough had not eaten every food on the planet. She’s going to change that, and she’s starting in the produce section.

Apricots

Apricots started showing up in the grocery bins this month, so I grabbed one. The cute, tiny, yellow fruit was sweet and juicy, but I couldn’t help thinking it resembled a plum or a peach in sweetness and delivery system. They are all roughly, spherical fruits with pits in the center that could chip a tooth if I bit into them incorrectly. It’s like comparing 80′s hair bands. You’ve got your Bon Jovi, your Poison, and your Def Leppard, but can you really tell that much of a difference between them through the haze of AquaNet hairspray? Perhaps if I were eating these fruits fresh off the tree I would notice more of a difference. Instead, I eat them after they’ve been shipped from some other state or nation. There certainly are differences in tastes and textures between all these fruits. But an apricot isn’t as shockingly different from a plum than it is from, say, an apple, if we’re comparing apples and apricots.

Donut Peach

It’s a donut! No, it’s a peach! No, it’s a peach that is shaped like a donut. Sorry, no sprinkles and icing included. The sticker says it is a white peach by Saturn. Wow, import taxes from Saturn must be astronomical. I don’t know if this peach naturally grows in this shape or it is some twisted feat of genetic engineering. If it’s the latter, I’m looking forward to the day when our fruit comes in a variety of shapes and even letters and we can spell out naughty words in the produce section. During Valentine’s Day they could sell heart-shaped peaches.

The donut shape of this peach was really handy. Typically when I eat a peach, juice starts running down my hand and past my wristwatch. Sometimes it sprays my shirt. I realize I could just cut it into pieces, but that would require a knife and pre-planning and I just like to grab a peach and go. I just ate this peach like a donut and the sticky hand factor was reduced to almost 0%. Thank you genetic engineers! It also tasted, well, just peachy!

Green onions

Don’t worry, I didn’t start snacking on these raw or try to steam them in the microwave. I used them as a garnish in my egg muffins. Strangely, I’d only used white onions and red onions, but Al Gore must have had an affect on my because I’ve now gone green. Not much else to say other than they added a nice zing of flavor, were easy to chop, and freeze well. Oh, and after the turnip they’re the other veggie that reminds me of Super Mario Brothers 2.

White Asparagus

Finally! A vegetable that includes instructions on the label! Thank you, white asparagus, for realizing I don’t know which end of you is up.

Asparagus is one of the foods that I was sure I hated, though I could not remember ever eating it. It was like knowing gravity would cause me to fall off a building. No one had to tell me, I just knew this. Asparagus = bad. Undoubtedly some childhood experience with the vegetable convinced me forever that it was nasty and the green sticks should never be stuck in my mouth. However, I’m starting to run out of vegetables in the market that I haven’t eaten, so I thought I’d give the white variety a try. And I’m glad I did.

The taste of the asparagus was a bit too bitter for me to truly like, but I loved the texture. So crunchy! Someone in the “weird stuff you’ve eaten” thread said they used to eat Styrofoam peanuts. The asparagus reminded me of that, but in a tasty, non-toxic way. I think part of the reason I love cereal so much is that I love crunching on it. I went to summer camp once with a girl who had grown up without a taste of smell, which also greatly reduced her sense of taste, so many of her favorite foods were determined by texture. When I met her, she’d recently had surgery that gave her back her sense of smell, which wrecked a bit of havoc on her life when she tasted cupcakes and chocolate for the first time. In her dorm room I saw a chocolate Hostess cupcake on the top shelf of the closet with a post-it note attached that said “Do not eat.” That seemed very odd to me because if I was going to buy a cupcake I was going to damn well eat it, probably fast enough that I wouldn’t have time to write any post-it notes. I later found out she was bulimic. I always wondered if her eating disorder was triggered by her newfound sense of taste. It must have been amazing to discover that sense, like suddenly being able to see in color after viewing the world in black and white all your life. You’d probably want to eat everything you’d eaten all over again. But sadly you might discover some of your favorite outfits don’t actually match and that asparagus, while crunchy, doesn’t taste as good as cupcakes.

Radishes, Redux

In my last edition of Lick the Produce Section, I steamed some radishes because that’s what AllRecipes.com told me to do. Unlike the asparagus, the radishes did not come with instructions. Many of you informed me I might like radishes better as a garnish on a salad or mixed in with cottage cheese with some salt and pepper. You were right. Radishes do make a tasty garnish. And they’ve been in the fridge for awhile now without hosting a mold party, which scores bonus points with me.

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30 Comments

AKS • July 3, 2007 at 10:03 am

Have you tried cooking asparagus in the oven or on the grill pan? the dry heat really brings out the nuttiness of the asparagus and I prefer the taste over the boiled kind.

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Kim • July 3, 2007 at 10:33 am

I always think asparagus tastes best in the early spring, when it is in season, and that the thinner stalks taste much better than the think ones. I’ve never tried the white asparagus because the stalks look to thick. I have always wanted to try the purple or orange cauliflower though.

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psychsarah • July 3, 2007 at 10:38 am

I second AKS’s suggestion-I love asparagus in all forms, but my absolute faves are roasted in the oven or grilled on the bbq. I just toss it in a bit of olive oil and vinegar and cook away. It’s much sweeter and tastier this way than boiled or steamed!

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bazu • July 3, 2007 at 10:45 am

Mmmmmm, asparagus! Forget boiling it- for even better texture and flavor, try roasting it and drizzling it with some balsamic vinegar, sea salt and olive oil. I could start composing odes to asparagus, so I better stop now!

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GroovyBabe • July 3, 2007 at 10:53 am

You’ve given me a taste for apricots. I might buy some when I go shopping tomorrow, thanks.

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marygrace • July 3, 2007 at 10:55 am

roasted asparagus is one of my absolute favorites! however, i have always had the same feelings towards stone fruits like apricots and peaches as you had about asparagus in the past – i am certain that i don’t like them, but i’m not sure i’ve ever even tried them. i think it is just the smell of anything peachy that makes me feel a little ill, even if it is artificial. but the way people rave about these summer fruits, i feel like i must really be missing out on something. perhaps its time to give peaches or apricots a try.

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Mary • July 3, 2007 at 10:57 am

Since moving to Japan I am hard-pressed to find decent produce. As it’s currently summer and way too hot and humid I have been craving more salty foods. I am in love with pickles but the sodium kills the numbers on the scale. My friend suggested fresh cucumber slices with rice vinegar over top. You’ve got to try it! Awesome snack that is way easy, healthy, and tastes great. I know it’s a random comment, but I recommend this to everyone out there.

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Wendy • July 3, 2007 at 11:28 am

Can you stand one more radish suggestion? Last week I made roasted radishes using this recipe and they were AWESOME. We got a bunch of radishes from our farmshare and I kind of hate them raw, so roasting them seasoned with a little peanut oil and soy sauce was a revelation, because the flavor is completely different. They rule!

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Miss Music • July 3, 2007 at 11:32 am

It is quite possible that your childhood experience was with canned asparagus…which tastes like bitter,stringy slime. Eating that would certainly turn anyone away from eating asparagus for the rest of their lives. Oh, and I agree about roasting it. At the restaurant where one of my sons is a chef, they roast it with a strip of bacon wrapped around it…very yummy, but should not be an every day indulgence, of course!

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Kate • July 3, 2007 at 11:57 am

I seen those Saturn Peaches’s at sam’s club and was wondering what the deal was…at least I’m not the only one who thought that they were…well…Odd.

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melsky • July 3, 2007 at 1:45 pm

I like asparagus stir fried in sesame seed oil with a little garlic. I microwave it for about 30 seconds first so it cooks more evenly.

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BB • July 3, 2007 at 3:33 pm

It’s true what everyone says about roasted green asparagus, it is so great you must try it. My father-in law *hated* asparagus and refused to eat it. Ever. But it made him try it, just once, roasted. He eats it about once a week now when it is in season.

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Michelle • July 3, 2007 at 4:34 pm

“You’ve got your Bon Jovi, your Poison, and your Def Leppard, but can you really tell that much of a difference between them through the haze of AquaNet hairspray?”

Hey now! Sounds like while your produce education is coming along great, you need an education in music, too! (So says a life long veggie hater – but learning to like some! and a life long Def Leppard fan!!) :-)

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SB • July 3, 2007 at 5:33 pm

Don’t boil asparagus but steam it. In order to do this, take all the stems and peels and put them in the bottom of the kettle, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, fill water not high enough to cover the stems and peels, and place stalks on top. Cook until tender (al dente), not until slimy. Will taste best with a bit of freshly ground pepper and a touch of butter on top.

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SB • July 3, 2007 at 5:34 pm

forgot to say: if you strain the fluid after doing this, you will have an excellent basis for an asparagus soup the next day. Yum!

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laurie • July 3, 2007 at 6:03 pm

Oh good lord I am in love with you — you managed to get a reference to hair bands in here! woohoo!

Also, I have to say there is nothing better in this world with a baked potato than some of those green onions you mentioned. It’s like they were literally intended by the universe to go together then go in my mouth.

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emily • July 3, 2007 at 8:29 pm

While all supermarket stone fruit may taste the same, a good plum, good apricot, and good peach/nectarine are very different. Peaches and nectarines, not so much – though I don’t really like white peaches and nectarines, and love yellow ones – especially nectarines.

Get yourself to a farmer’s market, find some local, picked-when-ripe produce, and try it out! Santa Rosa plums and yellow nectarines are my favorites, but apricots and other plum varieties can be good too. In fact, different species of plums (or different species of peach) can taste pretty different from each other.

I think you’d really appreciate farmer’s market produce. If you’ve never had really good tomatoes or cucumbers, it can be a revelation.

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Cindy • July 3, 2007 at 9:30 pm

Emily is spot-on. Get thee to a farmer’s market and try the fruits as they come in season. The flavors will burst in your mouth and blow your mind. I’m a New Englander, so it is strawberry season—and these strawberries taste nothing like the grocery store variety. The same goes for veggies and greens. Eating as much local and seasonal (and organic, if possible) as you can will do as much for your taste buds as it will for the environment. By the way, did you know that white asparagus is simply green asparagus that is grown in the dark (so it doesn’t have a chance to do the chlorophyll thing…). So eat it green—it’s cheaper and has more nutrients. And thin or thick doesn’t matter or effect quality. But how you cook it does—roasting is delicious and steaming is okay, too, as long as you do it just until the green brightens (before it turns olive colored and gets slimy!). Best wishes!

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Zanitta • July 3, 2007 at 10:33 pm

This may ruin the whole texture extravaganza for you but asparagus is really nice when you griddle them with just a tiny bit of oil until they’re soft.

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kathryn • July 4, 2007 at 3:18 am

Oh what a great project – well done you. I find there are so few people willing to try out new fruit and vegie experiences.

It’s something I have to negotiate every day with clients. My enthusiastic encouragement of new vegetables is so often met with distrust!

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hoosiermeeshee • July 4, 2007 at 10:02 am

I agree with going to Farmer’s Markets whenever possible. (Though I don’t get there as often as intended.) As a fellow Indy citizen, I thought I’d share what knowledge I have of Indy FM’s.

Broad Ripple: Saturday mornings, last I knew it was behind the High School. If it’s moved, there will be signs, or locals will know.

38th St & Meridian (at the church): Thursday approx. 4-6 p.m.

38th St & Fall Creek: Last I knew there was an FM at the barn, across 38th from the Fairgrounds, on Saturday mornings. I have to double check this.

Downtown: Every Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the City Market (during the summer/fall)

I wish I knew more, and had better info on some of them, but I can’t seem to find the info online to confirm. I hope this helps.

Oh, there’s also a daily fruit/veggie stand at 62nd & Allisonville. I believe they have lots of local produce.

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hoosiermeeshee • July 4, 2007 at 10:10 am

Success! I found it. Here’s a link where you can find Marion County Farmer’s Market’s open this summer. You have to open the PDF (which has all the counties).

http://www.in.gov/isda/market/index.html

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Kim • July 4, 2007 at 10:33 am

I always see instructions to peel asparagus – I have never peeled asparagus – I snap off the tough ends and then grill, roast or steam them, and if steaming or boiling, only a few minutes – don’t kill them!

I haven’t yet tried the white ones. And have never heard of cooking radishes other than in one lowcarb recipe where you were supposed to sub them for potatoes in hash browns – didn’t thrill me.

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blest • July 4, 2007 at 2:59 pm

I am also in love with the roasted radishes from Kalyn’s Kitchen. They ROCK. I’m making them tonight, as a matter of fact!

Roasted asparagus is awesome. It’s also great steamed in the microwave and tossed with a little extra-virgin olive oil and some parmesan.

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beth • July 4, 2007 at 3:22 pm

In the course of your produce adventures, do not be tempted by the bitter melon. “People eat it, I’ve seen recipes for it on the web… it can’t be that bitter” I thought to myself when I saw some of these melons gleaming greenly in the sun at the local farmer’s market. Yes, they are that bitter. Poison flavored (and no, not the band)

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MizAngie • July 4, 2007 at 4:20 pm

I love asparagus but it doesn’t like me very much. Everytime I eat it my pee takes on a rancid smell that always makes me think something is wrong with my urinary tract. I’m in hog-heaven right now because I love tomatos and they’re in season. I’m a regular at the Farmer’s Market. I was probably the last to know these things, but here ya go if you didn’t:

Tomatos always taste better unrefrigerated. They get more flavorful as they ripen and refrigeration stops the ripening process.

Cucumbers won’t give you gas until after they’re refrigerated. (Some sort of chemical thing.)

To peel tomatos and peaches, put them in boiling water for a few seconds, then into an ice-water bath. The peeling practically falls off.

Peach fuzz gives me the shivers! Can’t stand it!! {shiver} I love peaches, though. Nectarines rule.

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lens • July 6, 2007 at 5:58 am

First time commenting although i LOVE this blog. I’m sure your site-meter must tell you that, as am not sure there are many other readers from where i’m from… anyway, am writing because i was inspired to offer you a suggestion for a delicious way to consume green onions. This recipe also makes for a great appetizer or side-dish.

Take a non-stick skillet, heat it some and then put in a teeny drop of olive oil. (am sure you can make this with the olive oil spray as well but the recipe requires so little oil and it really does add glorious flavor, especially if you have good olive oil).

Next, throw on a few stalks of green onion, which you’ve washed and prepped by cutting off both the hairy heads and excess tails (that is, keep a good chunk of green on so long as it’s nice and crisp). Throw on as many as your skillet can handle – they shrink a lot when you cook them, so you can crowd it a little. They should sizzle when you throw them on. When they start turning black on one side, flip them over and do the same to the other. The point is not to burn them, but to roast/pan grill them. When they’re done, take them off the heat, drizzle them with some freshly squeezed lime and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. They’re meaty and full of flavor and go really well as a side dish with meat, beans and poultry.

Mmmm. Think I’ll make some tonight.

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Mymsie • July 7, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Mmmm, I love “sparrow-grass” – steamed (in the microwave) in a bit of water and topped with spray butter and a few turns of the pepper mill. Canned asparagus is so, so hideous! Never tried the white stuff.

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pussreboots • July 7, 2007 at 7:05 pm

Raw green onions actually make a great snack. A plate of green onions, radishes, baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, slice avocado and cherry tomatoes is such a good way to get your veggies in summer.

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SB • July 11, 2007 at 5:04 pm

You can’t eat the peel on white asparagus. Too bitter. It must be peeled.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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