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On Magic Grass and Fennel December 1, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in random stuff.

Regular readers of this blog may (or may not) remember that I promised you a review of . . . something from our old friends at CSN stores.


Peeps and I went through our short list of things we’d be interested in reviewing – a waffle iron?  We really don’t make waffles all that often.

An electric griddle?  Well, again, we don’t use the one we have very much, though we wouldn’t mind one that we can toss in the dishwasher.

How about a cutting board?

Specifically, a bamboo cutting board?


Although we have several cutting boards – the red acrylic chicken board, the too-small white board with the groove for meat juices, the slightly small green veggie board (get it – green – veggies?  Ha!) and the ridiculously huge board we picked up at the restaurant supply that we only drag out for major meat cutting, well, we don’t have a good-sized, nice cutting board.


And CSN had an absolutely gorgeous bamboo cutting board – and let’s face it, bamboo is cool.  It looks and acts like wood, but it grows like, well, like grass.

So we agreed to review the Totally Bamboo African Congo cutting board – an absolutely gorgeous, butcher-block style bamboo board that’s plenty big – 17.25 x 13.75 inches.  Not huge, but plenty spacious.


We took the new board on her maiden voyage with a tilapia dish – adapted and adapted some more from a traditional Christmas Eve stew.

First I sliced a fennel bulb, and the board was beautiful – it was solid, yet with give – I could just feel how happy the knife was.  And I know that sounds a little nuts, but you know what I mean.   You can feel the cutting surface in the knife.


And Peeps gave it a try with an onion, and he felt the same thing – he does love his sharp things – a nice cushion for the blade, yet a solid surface that will protect.

Plus, the really cool thing about the butcher-block style is that it’s less likely to mar – for whatever reason, we can cut on the board, and it doesn’t show.  I’ve always loved butcher blocks for just that reason.


And once the fennel and onion were sliced, the cutting board’s work was done – and it cleaned up just like new.  While it’s not dishwasher safe, according to Cook’s Illustrated,

Lab tests confirmed bamboo has natural antimicrobial properties that help kill bacteria even before you wash it.

So.  As good as a high-end wood cutting board, only better.  And cheaper.



And so went went about our business, making our dinner – the recipe is linked, but we used tilapia rather than cod.

And homemade tomato juice, rather than canned, but that was only because we had the homemade on hand – and not the canned.

Because we’re several hours from the ocean, our fish was frozen, so baking, covered with foil, took closer to 20 minutes than 10.


But that’s okay – it was well worth the few extra minutes.

Peeps may have been less than thrilled with the sauteed then braised fennel and onion, but I ate his share.

We both enjoyed the fish and rice bathed in the tomato broth with the shreds of lemon zest and a sprinkle of good olive oil – I loved it.

It was a quick, flavorful dish – flavorful and healthy, vegetables made even easier with a lovely new cutting board.

And as a side note, if you’re looking for a Christmas gift in the under-$50 range, this might be just the thing – with shipping included, it’s not a bad deal at all!


1. Barb Cooper - December 1, 2010

I always get stuck on the hand washing. I hate to hand wash. I mean, ANYTHING. I’m a knitter, for gosh sake, and I hate to even hand wash my socks. I suspended this rule when we ought our Waring Pro blender but I’m not sure I can get there with a cutting board.

Also, can you talk more about Fennel? I always see fennel in the grocery store but have never known what to do with it.

Fennel? Oh, I do love me some fennel. 🙂 Unfortunately, I’m the only one who truly LOVES it (well, me and the dog, but that’s a different story!) – Peeps tolerates it. Sort of. It’s got a bit of an anise sort of flavor (just a bit, though), so I guess your tolerance for licorice would come into play here. (I can’t get enough of the stuff, myself.)

I like it as a vegetable – it’s great raw, or braised or even roasted, but it also works nicely used the way you’d use, say, celery – chopped as kind of a supporting player.

Try this sausage & fennel risotto – that’s the one fennel thing (so far!) that Peeps and I both love. 🙂

2. judy - December 1, 2010

Now I am hungry! And the board looks wonderful. I think my DIL has one too. She is THE cook in the family.

Judy, that fish was really good – plus I got Peeps’s share of the fennel, besides! 😉

3. sjbraun - December 4, 2010

Yay for CSN! Great review – now you’re making me want one of those boards …

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