Freakin’ Chaos in the Kitchen

I know some people like to keep their cabinets neat, their dishes and foods sorted and stacked neatly. I would do that too except that I don’t have enough room, and have learned to enjoy the chaos not knowing whether things will fall out on floor me when I open a door. I think it’s good to be prepared for the unexpected in life: messy cabinets are good training for that.

30 Days of New Foods: Day 21: Sweeten Radish

It’s probably supposed to be “sweetened radish” but just roll with it. I was introduced to this one via a shared recipe for Pad Thai, and actually managed to find this product at Central Market. It’s chock full of scary ingredients like food coloring and preservatives, but I chose to ignore that. Even cooked, this tastes kind of rubbery. It was decent in pad thai, but I’m not sure I can come up with another use for it. You?

NaPoWriMo 2017, poem 1

Energy bars

are disgusting.

Why don’t we just come out

and admit it?

Is the need for convenience

so great

that we accept some

sticky, pasty, bittersweet slab of face-scrunching

food-like substance

in place of real food?

It’s not just energy-promising foul cake-bricks:

Easy Cheese, Velveeta, Moon Cheese

are part of this sick game.

The price we pay for “cheese”

that doesn’t need refrigeration

is a loss of true flavor

like when we try to preserve

ourselves for long life

by forgetting

how to really live.

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.

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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.”

 

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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

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.

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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.”

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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.

 

judys

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

 

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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.”

 

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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.”

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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.

 

 

30 Days of New Foods Blog Challenge: Day 1…Poke Bowl

If 9/11 was the day America learned that foreign terrorism had come to US soil, 11/9 was the day American learned that domestic terrorists — following the example of President Elect Donald Trump —  were coming out of the shadows and feeling justified in attacking people different from themselves. (If you don’t believe this, Google “trump’s america day 1”.) But this isn’t a depressing post about hate, or about denigrating people who fear-bully those different from them. It’s about celebrating the diversity of yum!

I’ve always been a somewhat adventurous eater, but yesterday I resolved to try…new foods! The majority of them will be “foreign” foods, at least to me. And I’m going to do this for at least thirty days, though I cannot guarantee all the days will be consecutive.

I’ll start the challenge with the food I ate yesterday, a Poke Bowl purchased at Central Market.

First I ate it:

pokebowl

 

 

I found this one to be very, very salty. Now, I know I can’t judge something like this from a supermarket grab and go, but if I had to describe it in a nutshell I’d call it a Korean-style Chirashi bowl. (Sorry cringing Hawai’ians).

Anyway, let’s learn more about it. Poke (pronounced “POH-keh”) is a dish from Hawai’i. It is usually a bed of rice with raw fish and veggies on top. There are a lot of different combinations you could come up with. The one I got seemed pretty classic, but what do I know?

If you’ve got more poke experience, or recommendations for where I can get some awesome good poke in Seattle-town, please comment.