30 Days of New Foods: Day 19: Sesame Ball Sushi

This looks like something I’ve had before under a different name…it’s a glutinous rice ball that tasted sort of fried, and contains red bean paste. It’s slightly sweet and quite chewy, especially if you aren’t used to gluten. I should point out that glutinous rice is fine to eat if you are “gluten-free” because it actually doesn’t contain any gluten grains. Glutinous in this case just refers to how much it sticks together. I thought it was ok.

30 Days of New Foods: Day 18: Mochi Coconut Cream Kikka Sushi

With a definite taste of coconut, these squooshy, slightly sweet mochi balls are hard to describe, flavor-wise. I couldn’t tell what flavor the pinkish one was supposed to be but the brown one was sorta chocolate and the yellow one sorta lemon. The orange, mango. Not really my thing.









You have to see how this thing acts when you cut into it…



Necco Wafer Reviews

This time, the whole family sat down and sorted the Necco wafers by color, and we each sampled some of each, then attempted to describe and rate what we were tasting. Here are the results.

I’ve included their misspellings, and emoticons, for your amusement.

Ravenna, age 11:

White: Tastes kinda like cinniomon

Pink: Good tastes like Black licorce and cinnimom.

Yellow: Tastes good, hard to discribe the flavors

Purple: Taste goodish. It’s weird

Orange: Tastes like orange

Brown: Taste like an impersonation of choclate. But kinda failing.

Black: Diffenly Black Licroce

Green: I though of floral when I tasted it but I don’t know why

Troy, age 44:

Yellow: crunchy, tastes like a urinal cake smells

Purple: anise + tart. Not purple. NOT PURPLE! It lies!

Green: OLD school 1920’s green. This or jellybean green.

Orange: 1978 version of orange subdued. Or did purple kill my palate?







Brown: much sweeter and lighter than expected. they should switch this with purple

Black: ANISE! I thought purple was anise BUT THIS IS ANISE

White: Sharp peppermint. A disappointing end to this experiment.


Alyssa, age 48:

Pink: hot cinnamon. not bad

Black: licorice. nice

Brown: ? ok, not offensive


Green: lime 

Yellow: lemon

Orange: orange

Purple – ? anise?



White: cinnamon







After seeing how we couldn’t identify or agree on all the flavors, I decided to google to find out which flavors these supposedly are, and found this on the Wikipedia page: “Each roll of Necco Wafers contains eight flavors: lemon (yellow), lime (green), orange (orange), clove (purple), cinnamon (white), wintergreen (pink), licorice (black), and chocolate (brown).”


Mint Patty (and Mint Thins) Reviews

You know how you get a screwy idea like “let’s review all the mint patty candies I can find” and some how it morphs into reviewing mint chocolate candies in general, and how after you’ve reviewed a half a dozen or so, the absurdity of trying to find different ways of describing similar things becomes palpable and you just have to laugh? OK, well that’s this post. If you are a true mint chocolate candy connoisseur however, you may enjoy this roundup, wherein my daughter Ravenna and I decided to taste and discuss each and every mint patty or mint thin like candy we could find in the Seattle area, and so here it goes.


Fran’s: Not exactly a mint patty, more like a mint flavored chocolate, this local Seattle company has been making fine chocolates for years. I purchased these overpriced delicacies at their store in U Village.

You know how some dark chocolate just has this sour taste? Well that’s the chocolate they used for these, and it is unfortunate for my taste buds. There’s is little mint, and mostly sour chocolate.

My daughter Ravenna had a different take on it. She said it’s, “the perfect balance of mint and chocolate. Starts with mint, then you really start to taste the dark chocolate a lot.”



Summerdown Mint: I got these at Lolli & Pops at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood. They are basically just a thin chocolate disk. I’m not sure what “black mitcham peppermint” is but these have it.

They are pretty minty and the chocolate seemed a little dry. It could be because the box is just a few months from the sell by date.

Ravenna says, “It tastes pretty close to the Divine [see below], but a little more minty.” She also thought she tasted honey, but there was none in the ingredients list.



Andes: These are the mints some restaurants (like Monkey Bridge) supply with the check. The box happens to be the Valentine’s Day edition, but these are no different from regular Andes mints.

I found it moist and creamy. Not too minty, but yet, not very chocolatey to me.

Ravenna said the mint and chocolate were well balanced, but with a mint aftertaste. She says this about a lot of the things we tried, so brace for it.


Heavenly Organics: Sugar free, uses only honey as a sweetener.

First ingredient is honey, and boy can you taste it. I found it a little much, but I suppose I could get used to it, if I went on a sugar free diet that somehow allowed honey, and was forced to eat these, which I honestly didn’t really like.

Ravenna said it “tastes kind of like the Trader Joe’s ones [see below] but more sweet from the honey. Definitely can taste the dark chocolate, but it’s still overpowered by the honey. Ends with dark chocolate. Need water after eating it.”


Divine: Dark chocolate “mint thins” which contain a thin layer of filling in the center.

Ravenna sums it up for both of us. “The best one yet! You can taste the mint and also the amazing chocolate.” We both agree this one is the best.



Judy’s: I found these at the checkout counter at PCC Natural Markets. I think they were 95 cents a piece, which I normally wouldn’t splurge on but this is, you know, science or something. This is the dark chocolate version. The milk chocolate ones have a red foil wrapper.

I found them very minty, balanced well with the sweetness.

Ravenna: Hint of coconut at first. Tastes kind of like See’s [see below]. Hint of honey/sweetness. Pretty balanced. Thinks it would be too minty if you had several.


Newman’s Own: “Organic Dark Chocolate”

I thought this one had sort of a waxy texture that seemed to interfere with my ability to taste the chocolate. Made me make a funny face, similar to the one I made with the Heavenly Organics patties.

Ravenna rated this one similar to many others: “At first more chocolate than mint, then mint over takes the chocolate.”


Seely’s: Found at Whole Foods and made with agave nectar, which reminds me of this Reggie Watts song.

The white center is large especially compared to the chocolate coating which doesn’t even cover the edges of the patty. This leads to an overwhelming amount of Center, which has an unexpected flavor and texture, but I can’t quite describe it. Perhaps it is the agave nectar that makes this one seem distinct.

Ravenna’s take: Good balance at the beginning but then the mint overtakes the chocolate. It would be better if there was more chocolate.


York: This is what most people in our culture think of when they think mint patty, because this brand has been around a long time.

Very sticky on the outside, tiny bit of chocolate, mostly mint flavor, like, seriously tuned to the mint channel. We both agreed York is kinda yuck.



Trader Joe’s: Here’s another one that uses honey.

I love these. Not too mint or too sweet. The dark chocolatey goodness kicks in right at the end. I’d put these on par with the Divine mints, though maybe at number two.

Ravenna: “It’s good. It has a good amount of honey, chocolate and mint, all combined. The honey is actually overtaking the mint. It’s sweeter than I want, but still pretty good. And then the dark chocolate kicks in with a tanginess.”



See’s: They sell these in dark chocolate, milk chocolate and assorted packages.

Lots of filling compared to others. Pretty minty but also very sweet which helps balance it. Milk chocolate version has a hint of caramel (milk chocolate always tastes like caramel to me). Third best.

“Pretty good but minty. Less minty than York, which is a good thing.” Ravenna rated the dark chocolate See’s patty second worst. Milk chocolate one: “lots of chocolate on the first bite, then the mint hits you. Slight hint of caramel and not as minty as the dark chocolate version.”


Ritter Sport: Like all their bars, it’s a square made up of squares you can break off. Contains sorbitol.

I thought it was pretty decent but maybe a little too minty, and with an odd sweetness that might be the sorbitol.

Ravenna: “Starts off with amazing balance but over time the mint overtakes the chocolate. You want to keep eating more,” she says, as she breaks off another square.


Pearson’s: You can get these by the bag at a grocery store like Fred Meyer.

Smooth and creamy, but I’m not tasting much chocolate and there’s kind of an “off” taste.

Ravenna says: Balanced at the beginning, but the aftertaste is more minty. Could only have one at a time. Ugh.



Twisting the Facts

A lot has been written about Fake News, but honestly, what I mostly see is Twisted News. It’s not that the facts are wrong, just distorted. Here’s a real life example that just came in to my Inbox (click on it to make it bigger):

Here we have news alert emails, one from “People’s Action” (ourfuture.org) and the other from Seattle Times. Seattle Times says, “Fourteen million Americans would lose coverage next year under House Republican legislation remaking the nation’s health care system, and that figure would grow to 24 million by 2026, Congress’ nonpartisan budget analysts projected Monday.”

So even though they contradict each other, neither email subject is actually outright lying, but these two different sources have chosen to put the spotlight on a different number. These sorts of differences say a lot about the outlook of the news source, and who they are trying to reach and influence.

What do you think?

The Folly of Bathroom Bills

“Bathroom bills” (such as this new one in Texas) try to make people use the bathroom of whatever sex is listed on their birth certificate). Some people think that a transgender person can easily be caught using the “wrong” bathroom. They assume a Male-to-Female (MTF) transexual, for example, will look like a man dressed up as a woman. Actually, when male-bodied individuals take estrogen, they grow breasts and could actually look as female as any cisgender woman. Conversely, a FTM person on testosterone could grow a beard and totally pass for a man. Sure not all do, but that’s usually the goal: to “pass” as the gender they are in their heart/mind, which is not necessarily the one on their birth certificate.

If you support these bills, ask yourself: do you want people who look like men to use women’s bathrooms, and people who look like women to use men’s bathrooms?

How about this guy, Buck Angel, who was born female. Would you want him waltzing into your bathroom, ladies?

If that’s a problem for you, then why support these bills, which would require him to use the women’s restroom?

These bathroom bills do not help anyone, and fall into the category of mean-spirited harassment of a category of people you probably haven’t taken the time to truly know and understand.

Can you tell who is male and who is female in this screenshot?

Hint: It’s the opposite of what our culture’s gender stereotypes suggest. Here’s the video the shot is taken from.

Under all this is a certain underlying assumption, the one that says, “people with penises sneak into women’s restrooms to sexually molest women.” It assumes that people with penises have no control over themselves. If I had a penis, I think I’d be incensed at that.

This article goes a little more deeply into these issues, if you are interested. And if you live in Washington state, you should know that there’s an initiative, I-1552, that is aiming to try to force transgender folks into using the bathroom of their birth gender.

30 Days of New Foods: Day 17: Golden Berries


I was excited to see these at PCC Natural Markets because I’ve had dried Golden Berries, but never the fresh ones. The dry ones taste like little shriveled grapefruits. The flavor of the fresh ones is more subtle. I’m getting a hint of persimmon, which these resemble, as well as a slight grapefruit tang. The outside is kind of waxy and slippery, which reminded me of the importance of washing produce.

30 Days of New Foods: Day 16: Plantains


Sure, I’ve eaten tostones at La Isla, but I’ve never actually cooked plantains myself.

It was interesting taking the skin off. I had to cut it at the beginning until I could find a good place to pull it off. The plantain is firmer than a banana and holds together much better, so it could handle my rough and clumsy preparation.


I decided to pan fry these in butter, then sprinkle coconut sugar on top, then add lime juice in the end. This was inspired by a Thai recipe I had for dessert bananas.


These plantains had the texture of potatoes. Not bad.