The next time somebody bugs you to cook, cook bugs! We recommend these Chocolate Chirp Cookies

Did you know that insects are eaten in more than three-quarters of the world’s countries? They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fats and have a very small environmental footprint when compared to other types of livestock.

Think that’s gross?  You are probably ingesting insect parts everyday — you just don’t know it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has something that it calls The Food Defect Action Levels, and this document specifies the acceptable amount of bug bits in your groceries. For real. For example, you can totally have “10 or more whole or equivalent insects and 35 fruit fly eggs per eight ounces of golden raisins.” Yum, extra protein!

Having an exoskeleton makes bugs crunchy on the outside but chewy in the middle, like a 100 Grand Bar. You, on the other hand, are chewy on the outside and crunchy in the middle, like a Take-5. The crunch in the exoskeleton comes from chitin, a long polymer chain that makes up the “shells” of many arthropods — including crabs, lobsters and insects. Interestingly, chitin never shows up in animals with an internal skeleton, which recognizes the chitin as a foreign substance and eliminates it. Allergy sufferers take note: If you are allergic to shellfish, you are also probably allergic to insects. Blame the chitin.

A chiton, which is not to be confused with chitin or a chiton (a type of Greek dress), is a type of marine mollusk in the class Polyplacophora. We have several preserved specimens here at the Museum, and they are awesome. This one once went on a trip to Whiskey Bridge with a group of school kids and was referred to by name as “Mr. Ugly.”

Chocolate Chirp CookiesThe third form of chiton (the Greek clothing style) is less likely to be crunchy and more likely to be stylish in everyday use, but appears to have more than one etymological meaning. The Greek “Khitōn” could be used to describe this simple cloth garment or a type of protective armor, which makes total sense when you think about the chitinous exoskeleton of a bug as its protective armor.

Are you totally hooked? Can’t wait to try some chitinous culinary cuisine? You can wait for more blog posts which will feature critters in your own kitchen, you can check out the books below by other famous entomophagists, or you can come visit us on October 26th for Spirits & Skeletons or Oct. 27th for Tricks, Treats & T.Rex — which will both feature a bug chef!

 

From the Test Kitchen of Julia Chitin: Beginner-Appropriate Chocolate Chirp Cookies

Ingredients:
•    Chocolate chip cookie dough of your choice
•    Crickettes (available in the Cockrell Butterfly Center)

Chocolate Chirp CookiesProcedure:
1.    Make sure no one is watching. See Recipe Notes below.
2.    Preheat your oven to the correct temperature as listed on your cookie dough instructions.
3.    Place cookie dough on a baking sheet as you normally would.
4.    Place a single crickette on top of each ball of cookie dough. Don’t be put off if some drumsticks or wings fall off.
5.    Bake as recommended and let cool.
6.    Serve up to your friends and family and enjoy the subtle flavors and audible crunch.

Chocolate Chirp CookiesRecipe Notes:
This recipe is the equivalent of ordering fancy take out and then putting it in your own dishes before the in-laws arrive. Minimal effort for maximum gross out results.

I used to make the cookie dough from scratch using a family recipe, adding in the bugs and mixing well. What I discovered is that the bugs get covered in the dough and aren’t visible. (AND when you are eating cookies with bugs in them, no one actually cares about Nana’s secret recipe.) Save yourself the time — and Nana the heartbreak — and use prepackaged dough.

The crickettes, which generally taste like what they are cooked with or in, will have a slightly nutty flavor and are therefore excellent for replacing nuts in recipes for those with nut allergies.

NOTE: If you have a shellfish allergy, you might also be allergic to insects as well!

Crickets: Trick or Treat? Let your little one find out at Tricks, Treats, & T-Rex!

Why would you bother Trick-or-Treating for the same old boring candy? Aren’t you exhuasted from the same old M&Ms, Snickers Bars, and Sour Patch Kids? Do you like a good crunch with nutty overtones? Perhaps you have a love for adding the element of slow-roasting to your main dish or maybe you just like the smell of good old fashioned food coming from your oven! Have you ever thought of adding a little cricket to your crock pot or putting some grasshopper in your gazpacho?

A cricket is looking at you
Creative Commons License photo credit: fdecomite

Throughout human history, bugs have been a traditional source of protein. Did you know that hamburger is roughly 18% protein and 18% fat? Cooked grasshopper is 60% protein and only 6% fat! Shrimp and lobster are also considered arthropods; other creatures that share that phylum? Try insects and spiders – Yummy!

Taste for yourself… or better yet, let your kid do it for you! This Saturday from 10am – 2pm, HMNS is serving up bugs for food at Tricks, Treats & T rex – try our “Cajun Crispy Crickets,” or “Chirpy Chip Cookies”…mmmmmmmmmm Mmmm!

We wouldn’t leave you hanging on all of the other fun stuff happening here – you also get to see Mad Scientists perform crazy chemistry demonstrations, you get to touch real brains and eyeballs, and best yet -your ticket includes a show to a world-renowned illusionist, Steve Wallach! It’s a heck of a deal for $5 (nonmembers) or $4 (members)!

When you purchase your tickets you also get the opportunity of purchasing tickets to Dinosaur Mummy CSI at the group rate!