Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cedar Point and Chayote Squash

The hot weather deflated kitchen productivity. When the heat index hit its peak, our new microwave became a real workhorse. Only discomfort and desperation could lead to meals like this:

(That would be a veggie dog pseudoburger.)

Despite this, we tried for a Cedar Point trip. The boy had never been and he's been making a fuss about it for months. It was just soul-crushingly hot. After a test run on the Troika that went rather well, I took him on Disaster Transport. This was not entirely because the line for this particular roller coaster is in an air conditioned building. Of course, I did not take into account that the boy is highly afraid of the dark. He refused to so much as open his eyes for the duration of the ride. I think I only succeeded in getting him on any other roller coaster because one of them had the word "dragon" in its title.

I failed to remember to photograph the necessary Cedar Point Potato Hut cheese fries, but I assure you, I ate them and they were as delicious as ever, faux cheese-like substance and all. After three go-rounds through Thunder Canyon that left me drenched through my cut-off capris, we ventured on to a few of the kiddie rides and then the trip culminated in a trip through Dinosaurs Alive!, which costs even more money that the entry fee to the park (fortunately, we had a discount).

I admit, however, that it did get rather impressive near the end, with a life-sized T-Rex and long neck (sadly, I'm not sure which species) and a big sand pit that the boy spent a substantial amount of time digging up a plastic fossilized dinosaur skeleton with a sand shovel and a wide paintbrush.

Eventually, the heat got the better of us and because the boy refused to ride any more rides, we left around 6 p.m. Sandusky has a Meijer and much more reasonable food prices, so we stopped on the way to the cleveland-bound highway. While there, I found this:

It's called Chayote Squash. This Mexican native vegetable looks like a pear and tastes a lot like a mild potato. It was a buck per squash. I plopped one in the cart just because I was intrigued. Back at home, I googled information on my hispanic find. One site said that it made a great side dish stir fried with apple cedar vinegar. An idea for a recipe began to creep into my head, as I wondered: I bet that would taste great if I swapped the apple cedar vinegar out for balsamic. I grabbed an eggplant fresh from the garden out of my fridge and got to work.

Balsamic Chayote and Rice
What you need:
1 chayote squash
1 large japanese eggplant
2 cups brown rice, cooked
1 can black beans
balsamic vinegar

1. Peel and slice the eggplant into thin slices width-wise. Then cut the squash into 1/4 in slices length-wise. They will resemble apple slices for pie.

2. Stir fry the eggplant and squash in a large skillet for 9 minutes. Add a good splash or two of balsamic vinegar. Top with thyme, oregano, and salt. Cook another minute or two. Add black beans and enough balsamic to just fill the bottom of the pan. Cook until beans are heated through, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the rice (it should be hot still from the cooker or the pan, whichever) and stir thoroughly, cooking an additional minute or two. Add balsamic to taste and serve.

It's a simple light dish with very few ingredients, but those ingredients pack a real punch. The chayote squash retains a very slight crispness to it that adds texture to the meal. Because it's so mild, it takes on all the flavors of what you cook it with, which really works well for balsamic vinegar.

Even the cat was intrigued.

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