Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Small Dose of Things I Learned

-We get NESN!

-Fingernails grow about three times faster as toenails

-The places where bats hibernate are called “hibernacula”

-Sugoi means incredible in Japanese

-SPF 15 blocks 95% of the sun’s rays and SPF 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s rays

-There’s such a thing as funeral college.

-Hailstones are loaded with bacteria called P. syringae, which causes water to freeze at warmer than normal temperatures. The bacteria uses hail to damage the cell walls of plants so it can eat the inside.

-An aggregation of whale sharks is called an “afuera,” which means “outside” in Spanish.

-To attract females, male alligators use their lungs to produce an infrasound that causes the male to vibrate, creating waves in the water just above his back.

-Wild hamsters exist, but there are only 800 or so left in France.

-Sprouts hold bacteria in their seeds.

-Olives and acai are “drupes,” or pitted fruits.

-In some species of lemur, males and females have different fur colors.

-A “gore” is a plot of land (usually a triangle) that, thanks to surveying error, is not part of any town.

-When kiwis were first imported to the U.S., they were called Chinese gooseberries. They didn’t become popular until they were renamed “kiwis.”

-Alzheimer’s patients tend to be more active at night and sleep during the day, a phenomenon known as “sundown.”

-When worker ants (of the species Pachycondyla chinensis) come across food that’s too big for them to carry alone, they go back to their nest, pickup another worker ant in their jaws and carry it to the oversized prize. The ant drops its helper next to the food and the two ants carry it back to the nest together.

-There’s a fruit called “dragon fruit.”

-The Nova Scotia Association of Architects celebrates National Beaver Day on the last Friday in February.

-Blind people can use echolocation to "see."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Crispy Chickpeas with Spinach and Italian Sausage

Pete isn’t a bean-lover. He is a bacon-lover. Well, guess what we discovered…when you dry chickpeas really well and then sauté them, they kinda taste like bacon.

(Adapted from The Minimalist)

2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and diligently patted dry with paper towels
1 lb. spinach
4 oz. Italian sausage, diced and de-cased
¼ cup sherry
¼ cup olive oil

1. In a large skillet, heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the chickpeas.

2. Reduce the heat a tad (to medium-low) and cook, stirring the chickpeas and shaking the pan occasionally, until the chickpeas start to brown (approximately 10 minutes).

3. Add the sausage and cook for 5-8 minutes, until the chickpeas are crisp.

4. Remove the chickpeas and sausage from the pan and set aside.

5. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet. When it’s hot, add the spinach and sherry.

6. Cook the spinach until it’s fully wilted and the liquid has evaporated.

7. Dump the chickpeas and sausage back in the skillet. Stir to combine. Serve. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ricotta-Stuffed Tomatoes

You know what really bugs/annoys/perturbs/irks me? Better yet, ya know what really gets my goat? When people don’t respond to an email until they have time to write a friggin’ book. I, quite frankly, would rather hear from you in small increments than in your semi-annual tome. And so I must confess: I’ve been procrastinating posting because I haven’t had time to do it properly. I am sorry. Screw proper-ness. Here’s a recipe:

(Adapted from Vegetarian Times)

4-8 large tomatoes
2 eggs
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup corn kernels
2 medium zucchini, 1 diced and 1 sliced into very thin slivers
Nino’s pesto (I just realized that I didn’t measure this. I’m guessing ¼ cup. Click here for the recipe.)

1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray a baking dish with olive oil.

2. Slice the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp, but don’t be too diligent about scooping—you want it to be a tomato, not a tomato-like vessel.

3. Combine the eggs and ricotta in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the corn, diced zucchini and pesto. Stir to combine.

4. Stuff the tomatoes with the ricotta mixture and top with zucchini slices. You will most likely have more stuffing and zucchini slices than you can fit in the tomatoes. Place the stuffed tomatoes and the extra stuffing in the baking dish. Top the extra stuffing with the leftover zucchini slices.

5. Bake for 45 minutes, until the filling is puffed up and slightly browned.