Feeling Strangely Fine

Adventures in New Foods-Polenta

I recently watched Food Inc and am currently reading The Omnivores Dilemma both of which describe America’s dependency on corn among other topics. I hadn’t ever put much thought into how much our diets consist of corn product in some form, be it actual corn, meat from corn-fed animals, or corn syrup and a laundry list of other ingredients found in almost all processed foods. I would recommend both the documentary and the book as interesting media to think about where what we eat really comes from and what it really is we’re eating.

I’m not giving up corn or suggesting anyone else should, as can be seen by this week’s new food choice.  Polenta is basically cornmeal that can be prepared creamy or permitted to harden then baked or fried. I’ve been meaning to try polenta for some time now but have not been able to find it in the grocery and didn’t want it bad enough to hunt someone down to ask. I finally found the small box of quick cooking polenta in the pasta aisle amongst the collection of specialty Italian foods.

For my first polenta attempt I decided to go with a creamy preparation to accompany some cajun shrimp in honor of Mardi Gras. I spiced the shrimp similarly to my last spicy shrimp prep with some alterations. This time I mixed 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper with 1 teaspoon each of black pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and oregano. To the dry spices mixture I added 2 tablespoons of oil, a splash of sriracha, white cooking wine and tomato paste. I coated the raw, thawed shrimp and let refrigerate for a few hours before cooking. For the polenta, I prepared as the package directed but used chicken stock instead of water.

Success!  The polenta was yummy and very easy so now I have another starch choice to add to my repertoire.  As for the shrimp, perhaps I should have cut back on the cayenne or skipped the sriracha.  If you plan on trying this one, consider yourself warned they are super spicy; I love spicy food and had to quit halfway through.  The flavor was there though, so I think with some minor adjustments this will hit the spot.  At least dinner cleared my sinuses!


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