Bringing a leek on a boat will surely lead to calamity.
- Leeks are somewhat leafy, edible vegetables that are thought to have originated in parts of the Mediterranean region, and they have been cultivated for thousands of years in a number of surrounding areas.
- The botanical classification of the leek is Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum, and it is from the family Allium, the family of onions.
- Leeks are mostly green in colour with large flat leaves that grow centrally around each other, and they form a thick stem at the base that is coloured white, and to encourage taller, whiter stems, the plants are usually grown in furrows and as they grow, soil is piled around the base of the plant.
- The leek is embedded deeply in Welsh culture, likely stemming from the legend of Welsh soldiers wearing the vegetable in their hats to differentiate their foes from the enemy, the Saxons, in 640 AD.
- Leek plants usually have a diameter between 2.5 and 6 centimetres (1 and 2.4 inches), and can reach 1.5 metres (5 feet) in height, though if purchasing them at a shop or market, the tops have usually been trimmed off and discarded, reducing their size down to around 60 centimetres (24 inches) or less.
- The white stem of a leek is the most commonly utilised part of the plant, and it can be sliced and eaten raw, or cooked by boiling, frying or steaming, and it is often used in soups, salads or eaten as a side vegetable.
- Leeks were popular in Ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek cuisines, even favoured by Roman Emperor Nero, who believed they had positive enhancements on one’s singing voice.
- The flavour of leeks is commonly compared to onions, albeit lighter in flavour with a sweet tendency, and the vegetable has a crisp texture when raw, which sometimes softens, depending on the method of cooking.
- The term ‘leek’ derives from the word ‘leac’ of the Ango-Saxon language, translated as ‘herb’ or ‘plant’, which is also the second part of the original term for ‘garlic’.
- Leeks are very high in vitamin K and are high in manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C, and they have many other vitamins and minerals.
You cannot get jokes more sweet corn-y.
- Sweet corn is a maize variety that has a particularly sweet taste in comparison to other varieties of maize, and it is also known as ‘pole corn’ and ‘sugar corn’.
- The scientific name of the sweet corn plant is Zea mays saccharata or Zea mays rugosa, and it is from the family Poaceae, the family of true grasses.
- Sweet corn has a higher quantity of sugar and less starch than other maize varieties, and it is believed that this is caused by a natural mutation, and the cobs are harvested before they are mature, to ensure maximum sweetness.
- A single sweet corn plant produces a range of one to three cobs each, that typically range from 20 to 25 centimetres (8 to 10 inches) in length.
- Generally sweet corn hardens and becomes starchy easily, meaning it should be eaten soon after picking and stored only for short periods of time in a cool location.
- Sweet corn can be steamed, microwaved, baked, boiled and barbecued, and is readily available in supermarkets and can be bought fresh, frozen or canned, and sometimes ‘creamed’.
- Even though sweet corn is technically a grain, it is often eaten as a vegetable, commonly with peas, as a side to a main meal; with beans in Central and South America; and once the kernels are removed from the cob they are commonly used in salads and main meal dishes.
- Sweet corn kernels are typically a yellow or white colour and they have a sweet flavour, and while on the cob, they are typically surrounded with a green leafy husk and strands of hair, known as ‘silk’.
- Native American tribes were the original growers of sweet corn, and it grew in popularity around the late 1700s, when it became accessible to Europeans.
- Sweet corn is very high in fibre, folate, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and contains many other vitamins and minerals.
Feeling lively? Try a caper!
- A caper is a small, edible bud of the flower that grows on the bush of the same name, native to the Mediterranean area and some parts of Asia.
- The scientific name of the caper bearing plant is Capparis spinosa and it is from the family Capparaceae, the family of capers, which is considered to be closely related to the mustard family of Brassicaceae.
- Capers are roughly oval in shape and are an olive-green colour, and the leaves and berries of the plant are also edible.
- Capers are sold commercially and are generally categorised in sizes from 7 to 14 millimeters (0.28 to 0.55 of an inch), with different names for each size – the smallest being ‘nonpareil’ and the largest being ‘grusa’, though the smaller ones are more sought after.
- Capers are commonly dried and salted, and often pickled in vinegar or brine, to enhance the flavour before consuming as is, or lightly cooked.
- Foods that may include capers as an ingredient include tartare sauce and other condiments, salads, pasta dishes, and meat dishes including fish.
- The flavour of capers tends to be a blend of vinegar or other pickling solution if any, salt, and a flowery mustard or peppery taste.
- Due to their fragile nature, capers are unable to be collected using machinery and thus must be picked by hand.
- The cultivation of caper buds as food originates as early as 2000 BC, and their use has become more widespread throughout the centuries.
- Capers are extremely high in sodium and a good source of vitamin K and copper, and they have many other vitamins and minerals.
Step on a potato? Turn it into mashed potato!
- Mashed potato is an edible dish primarily made of cooked potato that has been crushed to a soft and somewhat smooth consistency.
- Mashed potato’s main ingredient is potato, while additional ingredients often include butter, milk, vegetable oil or cream, as well as flavourings such as spices or herbs.
- Commonly, mashed potato is served as a side accompaniment with meat or vegetables, and often gravy, although it may be used as an ingredient in dishes such as cottage pie.
- The earliest known mashed potato recipe published was in The Art of Cookery recipe book authored by Englishwoman Hannah Glasse, in 1747.
- Mashed potato is typically made with the use of a masher (powered by hand) or a mixer (electric), and modern style masher designs have been available from the mid to late 19th century.
- Mashed potato can become sticky and somewhat unpleasant if excessively mashed, particularly while using electrical mixers, due to the starch being released because of over-stimulation.
- Various potatoes can be used to make mashed potato, while some prefer waxy ones, while others prefer to use dry floury potatoes, and the typical texture of the potato once mashed with added ingredients is soft and starchy, and somewhat creamy.
- It is thought that mashed potato dates back to the 1600s in England, though it is likely that potatoes were first mashed thousands of years ago by the Incas in South America, where potatoes originated.
- Mashed potato can vary across cultures, with Indian mashes preferring an abundance of flavour with many ingredients, while a French preparation differs somewhat and includes the yolk of an egg.
- Mashed potato is commercially available in a dehydrated or frozen form, and an ‘instant’ dehydrated flaked version has been available since the 1960s.
Imagine kale, imagine leafy vegetable.
- Kale is a form of commonly eaten leafy vegetable that possibly has its origins in and around Turkey in the Middle East.
- ‘Kale’ is also known as ‘borecole’, ‘boerenkool’ and ‘salad savoy’, while the ‘ornamental’ varieties that are grown are also edible.
- Kale is directly related to cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, as it is from the species with the scientific name Brassica oleracea, and it is from the family Brassicaceae, the family of mustards and cabbage.
- Kale was grown in ancient Rome and Greece and was commonly eaten up until the Middle Ages, and at various times in history it has had renewed popularity.
- Kale comes in a variety of colours, including pinks, whites, purples, reds and greens, of which the latter is most commonly eaten, and the vegetable can be stored in the freezer so that it can be used at a later time.
- Kale is popularly used in salads, soups, or as a side vegetable, and it can be separated into smaller pieces and cooked like a potato crisp.
- There are different varieties of kale, and some have fairly flat leaves, while others have very curly leaves, and they can have a somewhat bitter or earthy flavour, though it depends on the variety.
- The flavour of kale can decrease if lemon juice or oil is used with the vegetable, though it can reduce the bitterness, and the vegetable develops a sweeter flavour if harvested after a frost.
- Kale is extremely high in vitamin A and vitamin C; is extraordinarily high in vitamin K; and the vegetable contains antioxidants, as well as having anti-inflammatory and cancer preventing properties.
- A significant amount of oxolates are found in kale, which can crystallise and can cause problems in those with kidney and gallbladder issues.