WritersButt Wednesday – Why you should choose food you don’t recognize

Happy 4th of July to all my fellow Americans. And Happy Wednesday to everyone else! I know many of you are icing down your coolers of beer bottled water and are marinating your steaks, forming your burger patties, and stackin’ your dogs for the grill. So, I will keep this totally food-focused.

Briefly, though, I want to let you know that I have a very special post planned for next Wednesday. We will have a guest here and let me assure you, you will not want to miss it. It’s a start of a journey and we’re all going to be on it together, in love and support and encouragement for a person who has decided it’s time to take charge of her health. I know how much you all will lift her up with WritersButt awesomeness. So, come back next week!

Often when I’m making dinner, the kids and/or my husband will trail through the kitchen. Ok, I take that back, everyone is always traipsing through the kitchen at all times. It’s absolutely the hub of our home.  But when I’m making dinner, the question is always asked, “What’s for dinner?”  Many times, my answer goes something like this, “Well, I’m doing chicken with this veggie and I’m trying … well, it’s sort of an experiment.”  I do a lot of ‘experiments’. Thankfully, they usually turn out so this phrase does not send my house-natives running for take-out.

Something I want you to think about in your cooking is to not always choose what’s familiar. I encourage you to try to prepare stuff you are totally unfamiliar with. It’s an adventure and you can discover amazing things. I get a farm-fresh box of locally-grown vegetables delivered to my house every other week. Often there are things in my box that I’ve never seen before. I usually have to go to Google and look a veggie up to see what I’m supposed to do with it. Not only does this teach me about different vegetables, it often makes me prepare a dish I’d not have considered before. Also, and this is a biggie, it shows my children that it’s fun to try new things. My kids are great about seeing a new food and – as they are bringing it to their mouth to taste – asking, “what’s this?” So much better than the wrinkled nose, puckered lips expression that goes with, “I’m not eating that.”

During the summer, I get a lot of okra in my veggie-box. I had never cooked okra. And I heard it was slimy and that was a total turn off. But like last summer, here came the okra in my box and I was determined to cook it and like it. So I went to where I often go when I want quick and amazing advice. Facebook! I asked how to prepare okra and not to tell me breaded and fried because that was not happening. I got a lot of great suggestions, many I’m going to try throughout the summer because I’m sure I’ll be getting more okra, but in the end, I chopped it up and sautéed it just like I do any other veggie and it was delish! Who the heck knew??

This week, my challenge to you is to choose a food (veggie, fruit, or even a protein source) that you don’t recognize or have never tried and really don’t even know what to do with. Get it! Have an experiment! You never know, it may turn out to be your family’s next favorite thing!

Last week I promised you the recipe for the amazing lemon and paprika chicken dinner I made. So, here ya go!

What you see on this plate is the chicken dish nestled onto a bed of roasted garlic spaghetti squash with a healthy helping of roasted farm-fresh vegetables.

First you’ll need to get your squash in the oven. I got a HUGE tip this week to speed up this process because typically spaghetti squash can take between 30-50 minutes in the oven. For a faster version, poke it a bunch with a sharp knife and put it in the microwave for 10-12 minutes. (While that is going on, prepare your chicken and veggies for cooking) The squash will be hot so handle with oven mitts. Cut in half lengthwise, rub fresh garlic all over the flesh. Cut up a few cloves of garlic and sprinkle all over. Salt and pepper and to really go with this dish, I added some smoked sweet paprika powder. Into a 350 oven to finish cooking. You’ll know it’s done when you can make spaghetti with the flesh by scraping it with a fork.


Dice up your chicken into desired sized bites. Sauté in olive oil with garlic. Add in zest and juice of a couple of lemons and sprinkle with some of your smoked paprika powder. (Little kosher salt to taste and cracked pepper) Keep sautéing until cooked through and then turn to low until you’re ready to plate.


For this side dish I used veggies I had on hand from my local farm-fresh box. There are some lady peas, (never cooked these before) and some hardy greens. I didn’t know what the greens were. I’m still not 100% sure but I’m pretty sure they were swiss chard.  I also had a sweet potato that had been languishing in my veggie basket for a couple weeks. Chopped up the potato and rough chopped the greens. Heated up some olive oil, added in some garlic (are you seeing a theme in my cooking?) and put the sweet potato and peas in. Once the potato was soft enough, I put in the greens and, using tongs, kept folding it until it was wilted. I squeezed on some lemon, added some zest and paprika so that all my dinner components would marry well.

This is by far one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time!

I’ll leave you with some pictures of the other night when we had a yummy grilled dinner and decided to eat in our backyard, despite the fact that our grass is dead and well, let’s just say our backyard lacks any form of ambiance. It’s the fabulous company you keep, right? And we do have that!!

I once again grilled avocado. Probably the easiest thing in the world and so delicious. Here you see it pre-grill.  All I did from here was put it flesh side down for a couple minutes until it had those great grill marks.  You can fill with some fresh pico de gallo. I scooped half an avo onto my grilled chicken. Swoon!

Here’s our platter of yumminess. As you can see, I’m not very good at cooking steak. The boys didn’t complain and said it was ‘great’. Aren’t they sweet?  The chicken was perfect because, well, I’m good at that.  Haha

As per our usual, we had a fresh salad with our dinner.  In addition to field greens and romaine, I added in fresh strawberries, blueberries (from the box), grapes and cucumber (again from the box). Tossed with olive oil, vinegar, garlic crunchies, s/p. Behind the delicious salad you can see the sweet potato chips that I burned and the new ones that my husband had to buy (frozen) from the store when he went to get a new propane tank, since ours ran out ‘last’ time we grilled and we had forgotten. Ah–just go with the flow!!

So, along with Delaney and Duncan here, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful Independence day!







About Ginger Calem

I never met a notebook I didn't want to buy. Pens speak to me. Sticky notes are dear to my heart. Some of my best friends are those clambering in my head trying to get onto the page. And when they have their stories told, and I release them to the world, I hope they'll be your friends too.

Posted on July 4, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Happy 4th, Ginger! Man. That avocado looks scrumptious. And I love the fun foodie challenge. Some of my faves were totally foreign to me until adulthood–spaghetti squash included. (Yum!)

  2. Your kids are so lucky to be growing up in such a healthy environment! My new vitamix just came in so I’m excited to experiment with making new dips and sauces from fresh stuff. My boys love veggies when they can dip them in stuff, so trying to make healthy dip is challenging.

    Thanks for the speghetti squash tip and happy 4th to your and yours!!!

  3. I’ve never grilled avocado, but it’s never to late to start, right? Your lemon-paprika chicken sounds great. Thanks for the recipe. Oh, and I made your pulled chicken in the crockpot. Delish. Happy fourth, Ginger!

  4. Happy 4th! Ginger and Family! Roasted chicken and brussel sprouts, no grillin’ for me today! Love Cheryl, Michael and Megan! Our dog Lady and the kitty -Kiki! ❤

  5. Oh wow, this sounds great, Ginger. I’m so glad I stopped in today. I cook a lot of chicken and can always use some new ideas. Thanks!

    Happy July4th to you and your family!

  6. Elena Aitken

    Happy 4th!
    Great food ideas! We grilled up some salmon and served it over salad. YUM! Must try the grilled avocado.

  7. Happy belated 4th, Ginger! My intention to comment reported for duty yesterday. I have no one to blame but myself my imaginary friend, Bertha Higgenbotham. She’s also taking the hit for the funky-fun-clothes boutique we found yesterday.[I recommend everyone invent an imaginary friend to blame.]

    You raised my I remember antenna with your post. Mom served spaghetti squash to us eons ago. “It tastes just like spaghetti, doesn’t it?” she says. My four sisters and I gave each other the are-you-sure-we-aren’t-adopted (?) eye roll. Mom’s spice cabinet was small – – salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cinnamon, and cloves small.

    I haven’t cooked spaghetti squash since I took control of my own kitchen. Finally I meet cooks who agree garlic should be it’s own food group.

    My healthy-phobic* hubby may notwill not like the notion of trading this for his white belly-in-a-spaghetti-strand glutens. Fine. His taste buds. His choice. But, my search for a healthy, tasty alternative ends here.

    *The healthy-phobic is not a slam. It’s the truth. I once mistakenly picked up a pound of Starbucks medium roast coffee that had *gasp* Organic on the front. “Are you trying to kill me?” he asks. That lead down an illogical conversation path that ended with me assuring him cow pooh enhanced flavor, and bug guts gave him a morning jolt of protein.

    My pal, Ping, plans to get you back in a coming-soon-to-a-glob-near-you post. No. I will not say when or why.

    • Gloria, you had me cracking up with you comment, especially about your husband. Not even ‘organic’ coffee? WOW!!

      In terms of the spaghetti squash, what I do is not try to pass it off as spaghetti. The truth is, it’s WAY better and has tons more flavor. So I serve it as *spaghetti squash* haha!! 🙂 Really though, a lot of people will change their diet to get healthy so they try to use other foods to ‘exactly replace’ the foods they no longer are ‘allowed’ to eat. Because it simply will not taste the same, they feel cheated and the dietary changes won’t last.

      I try to encourage people by celebrating the changes for what they are, a change for the better, highlighting all the different options available to them now that they are willing to eat something green that’s not a skittle. *wink*

      Good luck with your husband, that’s a tough one. I’d like to Bertha to step in to my life so you can take me to a funky-fun clothes boutique. That sounds straight up my alley!

  8. YUM!! I can’t wait to try grilled avocado. Every time I buy them, I intend to grill them but then I just can’t help it and I slice them up and eat em’! LOL!
    Great grilling ideas.
    I gotta say, I love the idea of challenging myself to cooking new things but at the same time it scares me. I. Hate. Cooking. There…I said it. There is nothing I enjoy about it. I find it frustrating and exhausting and I can never seem to get it right. I know….I know…practice and an adventurous spirit but I am such a control freak in the kitchen, it’s insane. Hubby even hides. So we usually end up with the same stuff over and over again because it’s easy, stress-free, and straight forward.
    Oh Ginger…how can I ever tap into my kitchen Queen and kick the control-freak to the curb? I’ll keep trying…these tempting photos certainly do help inspire me to branch out!!!
    Thanks for your always fab posts!

  9. I’m definitely bookmarking this one, Ginger! Great stuff! I’m also a berry lover and add them to everything I can. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Thanks everyone for your comments. I’m sorry I didn’t reply to each one. I’m doing Fast Draft, so you writers know I just made my life insane. But I didn’t want you all to think I hadn’t seen, loved and appreciated all the comments. HUGS!!

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