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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Monthly Challenge – August


August is a hot month in Texas.  This summer has been milder than any we’ve experienced since we moved here, but we are now hitting the three digit temperatures.  A lot of places in the northern hemisphere are hot this time of year, or at least as hot they are likely to get.  (“Hot” is relative.)  :-)  The southern hemisphere is still having some winter from what I hear.  These challenges will let you stay inside for the most part.

Last month’s challenge was about things we are familiar with – places we like and things we wanted to do.  This month we’re going to try another challenge about pushing ourselves out of our boxes.

So, here it is!


Try a food you’ve never eaten before.


Read up on a country that is unfamiliar to you – one about which you know little or nothing.


Crawfish Etouffee (I made this batch years ago.  My family still likes it.)

First of all, I don’t just mean trying a new recipe.  We’ll cover that in another challenge, maybe.  What I’m talking about is trying some specific food item you’ve never eaten before to your knowledge.  This could be an herb or spice, meat, vegetable, fruit, grain, etc. 

There are so many different foods available these days; it shouldn’t be hard to find something new to try.  If octopus, scorpions or snake aren’t going to work for you, try something tamer. :-)  Maybe some new-to-you fruit or vegetable would be appropriate.  This is a good time of year to look for different vegetables in the north because harvesting of these things is in progress now.  Maybe visit a farmer’s market and look for something interesting – a new kind of cheese, bread seasoned with flavors you’ve never tried, etc.

Red lentils purchased at an Indian store.

Also, don’t forget the multitude of ethnic foods that are now available.  My personal favorite is Ethiopian food.  (If you find an Ethiopian restaurant near you please be aware that some of the food is very spicy.  Ask for advice if you need “mild” food. :-)  )  Visit an ethnic market and look for something interesting, but be aware that you may find a lot of “strange” things, and be sure you buy something with English instructions or that you can guess how it should be prepared. :-)

My family has had a lot of adventures in this line because my dad is famous for bringing home unusual foods.  I’d have to say that we’d probably have to go to an ethnic shop to find a food he hasn’t tried before.  He’s introduced us to a lot of really good things, but he’s also had some real “duds”.  We remind him about his horrible tasting shark stew (his own concoction), and also the “jelly grass” which basically had no flavor to speak of. :-)  At the very least, trying new foods gives us fun memories to laugh about later.

Nairobi, Kenya.  Taken by my Grandpa Hoover in the 1960s.

Learning about a new country should be pretty straightforward.  If you have no idea just look up a world map and pick a place about which you know little to nothing.  Then begin your search.  Google, Wikipedia, an encyclopedia, and your local library are good places to start.

Need some ideas?

Eritrea – formerly a part of Ethiopia.
Lichtenstein – a city-state in Europe with a famous bank.
Tonga – an Island kingdom in the south Pacific that crowned a “new” king this year.
Andorra  - a tiny country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world.
Belize – the only country in Central America whose official language is English.    [Photo: King Tupou VI]

Nope, I didn’t give any links.  The point is to find the information yourself. :-) 

Enjoy the challenge!  (And hopefully the food you try. ;-)  )


  1. Another brilliant challenge!!! I will have to take a closer look at Ethiopian foods as I have never tried it :)) I am always up to trying new things.

    1. I hope you enjoy both the challenge and the Ethiopian food! :-)

  2. My dear Mary, how I love the picture your grandpa took! I was in Benin, West Africa ten years ago...what a remarkable place. Thank you for sharing your loveliness with Roses of Inspiration. I hope you're able to join us again this week. Hugs!

    1. My grandparents were missionaries in Tanzania, but various things took them to Kenya from time to time. I'm glad you enjoyed that picture. :-) My in-laws were missionaries in Cameroon, West Africa for about 18 years all total. I never visited them there, but my husband was there with them for a couple of those years and also visited them at least once before we were married. :-)

  3. This sounds like another fun one! The children and I regularly learn about different countries and we do love trying new foods - although that does have its limitations sometimes due to our health requirements... But yes, we will have to do one of these! :)

    1. I hope you enjoy it! I screwed up my courage and tried frog legs. (The thought still makes me feel kind of weird.) I haven't chosen a country yet to read up on.