Weird (or Disgusting?) Canned Foods

Weird (or disgusting?) canned foods.

Recently, a friend invited me to join a Facebook group dedicated to weird foods and recipes. Honestly, I am totally addicted to it…the page, not the weird foods…because there are so many crazy posts. Every day…heck, several times a day…I see something posted there that just blows my mind. So many times, I’ve thought, “Who would eat that?!?!”

Yesterday, I shared a picture of Sweet Sue Canned Whole Chicken on my personal Facebook page, and it got quite a reaction. Here’s the photo:

Most of the comments were right in line with my own thinking. “What the heck?!?!” “How disgusting!” “Why????” Seriously, I can’t understand why someone would want to purchase a whole cooked chicken in a can, but to each his own. If you’ve ever used one for a recipe or just eaten it straight out of the can, please let me know…blech!!!

And that made me start thinking about other canned foods. I’ve eaten some pretty disgusting canned foods…Vienna sausages would be at the top of the list. When I was little, I loved Vienna sausages. Back then, lots of southerners called them “Vi-een-a” sausages, but even with a fancy name, they’re nothing short of disgusting. Spam? You betcha. I ate it when I was a little girl. I didn’t love it then, and I can’t even imagine eating it now.

I’ve made tuna salad with canned tuna and chicken salad with canned chicken (not the whole one, mind you), but for whatever reason, I don’t think those are disgusting…maybe because I know other people use them for salads too? As a child, I ate salmon patties made by my mother from canned salmon. Yuck. My brother ate canned sardines any time he went fishing with my uncle or grandfather. I don’t know why that seemed like a good idea, but they did it. Personally, I would have just taken a peanut butter sandwich with me if I needed protein…but they took sardines.

A year or two ago, I watched a video of a man eating a can of seal meat. I don’t remember exactly what the circumstances were…either he lost a bet or he was going to win a lot of money if he ate it without vomiting. He did it, but not without gagging. Ugh. It was disgusting and funny at the same time. Fortunately, since it was just a video, I couldn’t get the aroma from the canned seal meat, but it was clearly a bad odor.

For a less disgusting canned food option, this summer I tried canned bread. Apparently, it’s pretty common in New England, but I had never heard of it till May or June of this year. I don’t even know where I read about it, but as soon as I did, I ordered some on Amazon. The brand? B&M. Honestly, when I first saw what brand it was, I was a little taken aback. Why would anyone put a giant B with a giant M on a can? My mind went straight to “bowel movement,” but I was able to get past it. When the cans arrived, I packed them in my luggage to take to the beach, where we were meeting friends. I thought it would be a fun treat. And it was actually pretty darn good! Ours was raisin bread, and we toasted it and buttered it…if I’d had a little cinnamon sugar, I would have topped it with that too, but it wasn’t bad without it. If I were stuck somewhere and needed food, I could definitely survive on canned bread.

A friend says she grew up eating Dromedary Canned Date Nut Bread and loved it with cream cheese. I looked online to see if I could buy it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I found several recipes, and on Vermont Country Store, I found a loaf of date nut bread. I remember the Drapers on Mad Men having it on special occasions…I definitely need to try it. I’ll be ordering from Vermont Country Store here.

There are lots of other canned foods I haven’t tried. I’ve seen canned macaroni & cheese and canned potato salad in my local grocery store. I’ll be buying them soon, just to see what it’s like. As a kid, I ate Chef Boyardee canned spaghetti and canned ravioli…both of which sound absolutely disgusting to me now. I remember seeing jars (does that count as canned?) of pickled pigs’ feet in gas stations, and I’ve heard you can buy canned bacon and canned hot dogs. Not sure I need to try either of those, but maybe I should just so I can say I’ve had the experience? I’ll be scouring the shelves of my local grocery store…and after I’ve tried them, I’ll post about them.

Till then, I’ll be trying to recover from the stomach ache I have from thinking of these various canned items. Ick.

Squash It

I’m no chef. I can barely even call myself a cook.

But I love reading Hungry Girl cookbooks and magazines, and I love the website, http://www.hungrygirl.com. I’ve written about the site before. I’ve learned a lot about ways to swap high-calorie/high-carb foods for lower calorie foods over the years, and one of my favorite swaps is veggie noodles.

I was slow to buy into veggie noodles. I love my pasta.

But recently, I started to question whether it’s the pasta I like or the stuff that goes with it. Red sauce? I love it. Tomatoes? I love them. Bolognese? Yes, please! I even like Alfredo sauce, but it’s not my favorite.

So I started experimenting with some of Hungry Girl’s veggie noodle ideas. For months, I ate zucchini noodles. I didn’t buy them in the grocery store. I actually purchased the zucchini and brought it home to make my own noodles. I bought a handheld veggie spiral slicer, and I stayed busy making my own zucchini noodles. The first few times I ate them, I was so proud, and I liked them…but that changed. For some reason, the zucchini noodles just didn’t do it for me. I gave up.

Then a few weeks ago, after reading some info on Hungry Girl about spaghetti squash, I went back to the grocery store and picked up a couple of spaghetti squash. I will openly admit that I had no idea what a spaghetti squash looked like. I actually had to read the labels on the produce shelves, but I found them. They look like the gourds they are. I grabbed two and brought them home. Following instructions I found online, I cut them, cleaned them, brushed on a little olive oil and sea salt, and baked them, face down, in the oven. After I took them out of the oven and scraped the “spaghetti” out of them, I knew I had found my true veggie spaghetti love.

The difference in the zucchini and the spaghetti squash? The spaghetti squash absorbs the flavor of its pairing. The zucchini…not so much. There’s something about the texture of the zucchini that prevents it from absorbing the other flavors, but the spaghetti squash texture is perfect. It absorbs the flavor of tomatoes, onions, Alfredo sauce, red sauce, garlic…whatever I put with it! In fact, the texture of it is so perfect that I have actually fooled my teenager with it. I served it to her once with chicken, butter and sea salt, and she didn’t even realize she was eating squash instead of traditional pasta.

That is a win!

After cooking it in the oven several times, I tried cooking it in my Instant Pot. I got the directions from the Hungry Girl website here. Even before trying it, I knew it would be a little lower in calories, simply because it eliminates the need for the olive oil. I wondered how that would affect the flavor. But I wasn’t disappointed! I was thrilled! The Instant Pot method was super easy and super tasty! Hungry Girl wins again!

So now I need to get creative with the spaghetti squash. I’ve prepared it with marinara sauce, Alfredo sauce, Rotel tomatoes, and even chicken/butter. Taking a look at the Hungry Girl site, I see lots of different recipes I need to add to my repertoire. Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi? Yes, please! Spaghetti Squash a la Vodka? Bring it on! To see them all, click here.

Try cooking some of them without telling your family, and see what kind of reaction you get! My super-picky teenager didn’t even turn her nose up at it!