Winner of Edible!

Last week, I held a giveaway for a copy of the book Edible by Daniella Martin.  The book covers the world of edible insects and the increasing role that insects may play in the future (and perhaps not so distant) human diet worldwide.  There’s also a section on edible insect varieties and some recipes so you can try your hand at edible insect cookery.  It’s a great book, and to those of you who didn’t win, I would highly recommend that you buy a copy or check it out at your local library.  It’s a really fun book and well worth the read.

The winner, chosen by a random number generator from all the entries, is becomingcliche!  I’ll e mail you to get your address so I can mail you the book.  Hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to everyone who shared the insect dishes they’ve tried or the reasons why they haven’t yet sampled insects intentionally.  I love reading about what people have tried or want to try and I’m always fascinated by the many excuses people have for not eating insects.  Confession: I am not an insect eater myself.  The texture just doesn’t work for me at all.  Texture drives most of my food choices (and makes me largely vegetarian – I am SO squeamish about meat textures!), and the insects I’ve tried so far sadly don’t have the right sort of texture.  However, eating insects is healthy, more sustainable than most other meat production, and could become a hugely important part of our diet in my lifetime.  I want to keep trying bugs, so I am planning to get some cricket flour sometime and bake with it, just to see how it goes.  Cricket flour eliminates the textural issues I have with whole crickets and who can resist a delicious cookie or cake?  And dry roasted big butt ants are still high on my list of things I want to try if I ever get my hands on them.  Someday…

Been super busy again recently, but I hope to get some more blogging done this week. And if anyone happens to be in the Raleigh, NC area this Saturday, I’ll be at NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ BugFest in the afternoon!  Check out the posters made by the kids participating in my Dragonfly Detectives project in the Citizen Science Center on the first floor of the Nature Research Center – they’re doing a phenomenal job!  I’ll also be giving a talk on dragonflies at 3PM in the Windows on the World on the 3rd floor of the Nature Exploration Center.  BugFest is awesome!  Even if you don’t come see me, it’s WELL worth the trip.

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth
Advertisements

No Swarm Sunday today. Instead… a Giveaway!

I am on an expedition to see some cool North Carolina nature this weekend and do not have an internet connection, so I am not able to get Swarm Sunday posted today.  Look for it Monday or Tuesday instead.  It was a HUGE week for dragonfly swarms, so I’m excited to post it!

In the meantime, this is post #700 on the Dragonfly Woman!  To celebrate, I have a copy of Daniella Martin’s awesome book, Edible, to give away!

Daniella is an expert on entomophagy, or eating insects, and is a huge proponent of introducing edible insects into the human diet worldwide.  I love this book, and I am excited to give a copy to a blog reader.

To enter, simply answer this question in the comments by Friday, Sept 11, 2015:

“What would it take to convince you to eat an insect?”

Now I know some of you are already edible insect lovers and if so, please also tell me what the best insect you’ve tried so far is.

I’ll select one random winner and post their name next week.  WordPress asks that you  provide an e mail address when you comment, and I’ll use that to contact the winner to get a mailing address to ship the book.  Please double-check your e mail address before you submit!  I can’t contact you for an address if you don’t send me the right one.

Good luck, and thank you all so much for continuing to read my little blog!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Dragonfly Entomophagy

dragonfly

Eastern pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis)

I wrote a post about entomophagy, people eating insects, a while back that talked about a few new ideas about eating insects, including one that has been pushed heavily by a group in the Netherlands: commercially farming insects for human consumption as a replacement for our current meat sources.  I am intrigued by this idea, though I also don’t personally eat insects and I’m not entirely convinced that it is going to work.  But, I’ve already written about that topic and I don’t want to rehash things I’ve already done.  Today’s post is going to focus on a specific type of entomophagy: dragonfly entomophagy.  Yes, that’s right!  Many cultures eat dragonflies, and today I’m going to cover the importance of dragonflies in cuisine.

Americans aren’t typically big proponents of eating insects, so it’s not surprising that we don’t find dragonfly nymphs or adults for sale in our food markets.  That’s not the case in other parts of the world though!  Dragonflies are eaten by many cultures, though they are most popular in Asian cuisine.  In many countries, especially in southeast Asia and Indonesia, dragonflies are available for sale in markets, intended for consumption by people.  In Japan, a variety of aquatic insects are considered delicacies and can be purchased on skewers to be taken home to eat.  Dragonflies are also popular in Papua New Guinea, where they are either boiled  or skewered and roasted over a fire, and in the Philippines.  In most parts of Asia, both the nymphs and the adults are eaten, typically boiled or fried and often served on rice.

Dragonfly haul on Bali.  Photo by Peter Menzel and made available on the NOVA website.  Click image for source.

Dragonflies seem to be especially popular as food on Bali in Indonesia.  There, some people still engage in a traditional dragonfly hunting method that involves a bamboo pole tipped with a long strip of palm.  The palm is coated in a sticky substance produced by the jackfruit tree and dragonfly hunters catch their prey by flicking the palm strip toward the dragonfly.  If the strip touches the dragonfly, it sticks and the insect can then be transferred to another string to carry it home.  This is, however, a dying hunting method.  With the modernization of Indonesia and other dragonfly eating cultures, many of the traditional hunting methods are being lost.  In the book Man Eating Bugs, the authors Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio recount a conversation with one Balinese man who could not convince his children to hunt dragonflies the way he used to as a child.  They had enough money to buy food and had a television, plus it was too hot outside, so the kids couldn’t be bothered to catch dragonflies to eat.

Fried dragonflies on rice

Fried dragonflies on rice. Click on image for image source.

Whether captured by the people who intend to eat them or purchased from a market, dragonflies tend to be cooked in one of a few ways on Bali.  The simplest method is to simply remove the wings and fry the dragonflies, usually in coconut oil.  The same technique can be used on nymphs by popping them into the hot oil as is.  The fried dragonflies can then be eaten plain as a snack, or placed atop rice to be eaten as a meal.  Fancier preparations are made as well.  Boiling wingless dragonflies in coconut milk seasoned with ginger and garlic is said to be especially tasty, giving the adult dragonflies a flavor somewhat reminiscent of soft-shelled crab.  Not surprisingly, the aquatic dragonfly larvae are reported to taste more like fish and are sometimes cooked using the same methods.

squeamish eater

A young girl looks on in horror as her mother samples a dragonfly hors d’oeuvre. Click on photo for image source.

While dragonflies are most commonly eaten in Asia, it’s not the only continent on which dragonflies are consumed.  You can even try dragonflies right here in the USA!  Just head to the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans, where one cafe is dedicated entirely to sampling insect cuisine.  One dish that has been served there features native dragonflies, eastern pondhawks, fried in Zatarain’s fish fry, settled on top of a sautéed mushroom, and drizzled with Dijon soy butter (on the plate in the image).  You can even occasionally find dragonflies on the menu at the annual Explorer’s Club banquet, an evening of adventurous eating for members that can feature many insect dishes.

If dragonflies sound completely delicious to you, let me offer a few suggestions for cooking your own!  In her book Creepy Crawly Cuisine, Julieta Ramos-Elorduy recommends using dragonfly nymphs in mecapale tamales.  The tamales are made by layering masa, a tomato salsa, and dragonfly nymphs (or predacious diving beetle larvae, hellgrammites, or stonefly larvae), wrapping the contents in banana leaves, and steaming them.  This is a style of tamale that people still eat in some parts of Mexico.  And how can you go wrong with dragonfly tempura?!  A recipe featured on the website World Entomophagy offers the following technique for preparing your dragonflies (edited slightly as there are a lot of typos in the original):

Dragonfly Tempura
Serves 2

7 ounces dragonflies (about 12 large nymphs or 12 adults)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup ice water
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying

Heat oil to 340-350 degrees F.  Meanwhile, rinse the dragonfly larvae or adults and remove the wings from any adults being prepared.

Make the tempura batter by mixing the egg, flour, ice water, salt, and pepper.  Whisk together until smooth.

When oil is hot, lightly flour the dragonflies and dip them into the tempura batter.  Drop them into the oil immediately.  Cook until brown and crispy.

Serve promptly with soy sauce or Siracha.

I personally think that if you’re going to eat tempura dragonflies then you should dip them in the tempura sauce made from soy sauce, mirin, dashi, and sugar that you get at Japanese restaurants.  It is super tasty!  Although I’m unlikely to sample dragonfly tempura any time soon myself, I imagine that tempura sauce would pair marvelously with this dish.

I am sure there are more cultures that eat dragonflies and preparations I have missed, but this should provide a basic overview of dragonfly entomophagy around the world!  So, who’s hungry for dragonflies?!

___________________

Congratulations to my contest winner, Dave Stone of Things Biological, for suggesting this fun topic.  Congrats Dave!  A hearty thank you to everyone else who participated in the contest too.  Even if you didn’t win this time, you might still  see the topic you suggested here in the future.  There were several excellent topics proposed, and I had a hard time making a final decision.  Dave, I will contact you to get an address where I can send your loot.  For everyone else, I’ll have another contest soon!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Contest!

Today’s post marks my 450th post and I think that is cause for celebration.  It is thus time for another contest!  Up for grabs this time is a breakfast set – a generous cereal bowl and coffee mug:

set

The set – large cereal bowl and a mug sized for a true coffee or tea lover

featuring my crawling ants pattern:

Ants!

Ants!

Here are the rules, and they’re super easy:

1. Contest runs through 12am Pacific time Monday, October 15.  Get your entries in before then.

2. To enter, simply leave a comment below with an answer to the following question:

If you could pick any topic that you would like to read about on The Dragonfly Woman, what would it be?

The topic you suggest must have an insect theme to it to be eligible for the contest, but the sky’s the limit otherwise.  It could be about aquatic insect photography techniques,  an insect craft project, a hard-core insect science topic – anything that you’d like to read more about!  You give me a suggestion for a topic that you’re interested in reading about here and I’ll give you a chance to win the breakfast duo.  Easy peasy!  Just be sure to leave a working e mail address so I can contact you if you win.

3. I’ll pick my favorite topic from those suggested and write about it next Monday.  The person who suggested the topic wins!  In the event that two or more people suggested the same topic, the first person to make the suggestion will be declared the winner.  I’ll send the winner an e mail asking for a postal address so I can mail the bowl and mug set.  Send me your address and I’ll send you the loot.

And that’s it!  Let the topic suggestions begin and good luck!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Contest Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my 2nd blogoversary contest!  This time I entered everyone into a spreadsheet and used the random number generator at random.org to choose a winner.  And the winner is:

Kimberly Hosey!

If you haven’t checked out Kimberly’s blog, you should.  She writes about nature and family, but she is really into bugs and they feature prominently.  She’s also a great photographer – of bugs, birds, other natural things, her kid with bugs and birds and other natural things.  Her story about her late night run in with black widows is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever read.  Seriously, check it out!

Congrats to Kimberly!  I will contact you to get the information I need to get a mug to you ASAP.  To the rest of you: I will give away another mug in the future! Or, for those of you who were interested, I think I am willing to sell a few.  Let me figure out how best to make that happen and I’ll get back to you…

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com

The Dragonfly Woman Turns 2! (And another contest)

Happy blogoversary to me!
Happy blogoversary to me!
Happy blogoversary to DW!
Happy blogoversary to me!

The Dragonfly Woman is two years old today!  Crazy to think that I’ve kept this little blog o’ mine going for two whole years.  When I started my blog back in 2009, I posted once a week and struggled to post that often.  Thankfully, it was a requirement for an academic  fellowship I had at the time, so I stuck it out.  Thank you Biosphere 2 for not only helping me get a blog started (I had always wanted to write a blog), but forcing me to stick with it long enough to create something worthwhile!

Now blogging has become completely routine.  I walk around thinking, “Ooh!  This would make a good blog post!” when I see something interesting.  I notice things in a way I never did before.  I carry my P&S camera with me everywhere, just in case I see something I want to photograph for my blog.  I’ve vastly improved as a photographer with both my DSLR and my P&S and I’m finally getting bug shots that I’m proud of.  In the past year, I’ve also expanded from posting once a week to posting thrice a week.  (Yes, I worded that specifically so I could use the word “thrice” for the first time ever.  What a glorious word!)  I’ve built up a regular following of fantastic people who apparently enjoy the same sorts of bizarre things that I do.  And, last weekend, I topped 100, 000 views!  Overall, I’m feeling pretty good about where my blog is now and where it’s headed in the future.  What a fabulous experience!

My main goal for the coming year is to move my blog over onto my own  website.  I just can’t do some things that I would like to using WordPress.com.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love WordPress, and I heartily recommend it to other bloggers.  Still, I am feeling limited by the system. on WordPress.com  None of the templates make me entirely happy and why pay for a custom CSS upgrade when I can pay for my own site?  I also need to streamline my dragonfly swarm data collection.  Can’t do that on WordPress.com.  Need my own site.

Otherwise, I hope to keep things going as they are now!  I enjoy mixing science, education, and random entomology topics together, so I’ll keep on doing things as I always have.  It seems to be working okay so far!

mug

My aquatic insects mug.

Because I love you all for supporting my blogging habit and I’m in the mood to celebrate my blogoversary, I’m going finish up here with another contest!  Lots of people wanted a mug last time I offered one, so I’m offering another one.  No need to follow me on Facebook or on Twitter this time!  Just leave a comment below and I’ll enter you in a drawing for an aquatic insect mug hand painted by me.  Same rules apply as last time: if you win, you can have the mug pictured at left or you can choose up to 3 aquatic insects of your choice for a custom mug – black ink on a white mug in the style you see in the photo.  I’ll collect entries for one week and announce the winner next weekend!

Thank you all for sticking with me and supporting what I do here!  The very best part of the blogging experience has been forming online relationships with other bloggers and my readers.  I used to scoff at my computer science geek friends in high school and college for forming online “friendships” and swore I wasn’t ever going to stoop to doing it myself.  Yeah…  Sorry high school and college friends!  I clearly didn’t know what I was talking about.  I love feeling like part of a community, even if I haven’t met the majority of the people in my community offline – and I look forward to the day that I get to meet some of you in person!

Now excuse me, but I need to work on my post for Monday.  :)

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com

April Contest Winner!

cards

block printed cards

A huge thanks to everyone who entered my latest contest!  I’m sorry I can’t choose all of you because many of you have been following my little blog for quite some time.  Unfortunately, I only have the time and funds to choose one winner.  I wrote all of the entries on little slips of paper and mixed them up in a bowl, then had my husband draw a winner.

The winner this time is Lora F!  Congratulations Lora!  In answer to my question about eating insects, she said that she would be most willing to try fried grasshoppers.  Probably a good safe bet!  Nearly everything is tasty fried.  :)

Lora, I’ll contact you by e mail shortly to work out the details for getting your prize to you.  To everyone else, be on the lookout for the next contest!  It could be sooner than you’d expect.  (Hint, hint!)

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com