The Air Fryer! After a couple of books on the subject, I bought one. I’ll tell you what I’ve done with it and let you decide for yourself.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
It’s been a busy time at the Casa de Rurale, and being in the south, it’s HOT. It’ll be cooling down about late October or early November, long after the north has begun sipping hot Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Me, I’m hoping for a cold front for my birthday, as I do every year. Could snow happen? Well. . .it’s always possible, but highly improbable.
After my post on Justin and Bronte’s wedding, I got some nice comments, including one from Justin, and one from Stacy Asaro, the event coordinator from Southern Oaks. I didn’t intend to say anything bad, honestly, and the “no coffee” thing is the only thing I would change if it were mine. But that’s just me, and everything was lovely.
As I write this there are now FIVE named storms floating around the tropics! I’ve got more hurricane snacks at the ready. What level of Jumanji is it now?
Let’s catch up.
Covering The Mixer
It is here where my two worlds converge. It’s fun when that happens.
Remember my black Kitchenaid Stand mixer? It was given to me many years ago by someone I used to know, and I don’t use it as often as I should. Part of the problem is that it’s always somewhere else, and I have to haul it into the kitchen. It’s heavy, and it should be *in* the kitchen, not away from it.
The story was that someone gave it to the person who gave it to me after having it repaired and then upgrading to a new one. I just said, “thank you.” I was saving up to buy one when it was presented to me about 2007 or 2008.
One big problem is that it collects dust. Well, the house collects dust, really, but the bowl holds on to it. I should be able to use it more, but where it was, it’s a lot of trouble. So in an executive decision, I:
- Moved the Instant Pot down to the bottom shelf of a kitchen cabinet
- Moved the stand mixer from the shelving rack to the lower kitchen counter next to the toaster oven
- Decided quickly that it needed a cover
You can buy these already made, but then tend to be expensive. So what did I do? I made one!
Sewing For The Kitchen
I went looking on Pinterest, and it didn’t take long to find this one from a blog called Heart of Mary. Headed over to the Hammond Office Depot, printed out two copies of the pattern (in case I bungled one up), and got some fabric at Hobby Lobby up the street. Black and white thread is like salt and pepper in the kitchen, and I already had the batting piece. (Need to get more soon anyway.)
It took longer than I’d planned because the sewing machine kept breaking the thread. I changed the needle, the tension, and even the foot, using a walking foot to try and get it finished. Nope. For whatever reason, it was the day from you-know-what trying to finish it. Eventually, I did, making the bias tape from the lining fabric. Both fabrics were just some ordinary cotton.
The cover is also reversible, and like the blog says, stands up on its own.
I’m guessing I spent about $10 and an afternoon to make this, and it used up some excess batting in the process. I didn’t have enough fabric to make it, that’s the only reason I bought some. And that was the best fabric I could find for it at the time. But now it’ll stay clean anytime I use it.
The End Of The Garden
After BF’s enthusiasm for a garden, his input didn’t last long. After the local wildlife population discovered the corn, he lost interest.
I pulled weeds as I could, but pretty soon they were overwhelming, and I didn’t have several hours a day to pull them. I asked for help, but I didn’t get it. Eventually, I walked away from it. No more watering, or concern for these plants.
Watermelon vines were growing until the melons started to rot and the critters came to feast. We had some, but BF’s self-centered car guy friend (not Justin) told him to “pick that now, it’s ready.” BF ran inside and told me it was ripe and I should cut it immediately. It wasn’t ripe, and it wasn’t ready. See, this “friend” was also growing watermelon and brought over some for us. That was nice, but it wasn’t about being nice, it was about making himself look “good.” That’s not what I said after he left.
BF recently did some “work” in the area with his favorite piece of equipment: the mower. There is still some basil, tarragon, and a pepper plant or two out there, and I plan to dig them up to put them into pots like I used to. Hoping for more pesto and maybe some tarragon vinegar for salad dressings. BF is talking about a “fall garden.” He’s on his own there–I’m going back to five-gallon paint buckets with holes drilled in the bottom.
What’s An Air Fryer?
Ok, you’ve probably seen these machines in pretty much every discount, department, and home goods store there is. You’ve likely seen the Ninja versions, as well as their new air fryer oven that “flips.” But there are multiple versions of these things at a variety of prices. So what’s the big deal?
Maybe it’s because the much-maligned “millennials” don’t know how to cook. (Some do, some don’t, it’s probably not just a millennial thing.) Could be that people are looking for faster, easier ways to make food. Many people (including this amateur chef) love the taste of fried foods but don’t like the mess. Others are looking for ways to make tasty food in a different way, such as French fries, and make them “healthier.”
Add to it the people who are camping in at home nearly 24/7 now, and you’ve got people looking for more dinner ideas, faster, easier, and with minimal cleanup.
Well, the air fryer addresses all this and more. Like the slow cooker and the countertop oven, it can also help keep the kitchen from overheating in the summer–a big plus throughout the southern US.
The One I Bought
Farberware’s version is a 1.9 quart and is supposed to be suitable for cooking for one to two people. I bought this one last fall, but online they are black and a nice teal blue. When I bought mine, they were $30; now they are $40.
If you have the infernal Instant Pot, you can also buy an “air fryer lid” that fits most models. Except for mine, I kid you not. I have the “newest” model of the Infamous Pot. (I know, I’ve got a post in the draft folder.)
Later, I bought this set of air fryer accessories for about $11 at my local Dirt Cheap. They fit my air fryer perfectly, and I’ve made cornbread for BF with the pans already. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What Is Healthy?
Let me give my standard disclosure here: I’m not a doctor, nurse, or another medical practitioner, nor do I play one on TV. I am a patient who reads and pays attention. I’m also not an attorney, but someone who does research and creates marketing content for them. I don’t practice law, but I do read it a lot. That being said. . . .
Real fat is what keeps you alive. Sugar can and will kill you over time if you consume enough of it–and it’s not difficult in the US. Notice I said “real fat,” which are things like olive and coconut oil, avocados, butter, eggs, etc.
Taking all fat out of your food isn’t necessarily healthy. If you replace hydrogenated vegetable oil with olive, coconut, or other healthy oils, that’s a healthy change. If you don’t believe me, check it out. What’s called “vegetable oil” is actually hydrogenated soybean oil. Ditto for corn oil and a few others. Hydrogenation adds a hydrogen atom into the oil to prevent spoilage. Canola oil, when heated, also turns into a trans-fat oil. Crisco is anything but “healthy.”
So the low-fat theory is prevalent here, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making “healthier” food. It all depends on what you’re working with, including the oils.
The Air Fryer Books
So thanks to my wonderful book benefit, I got curious about it. Most people think about using an air fryer for either chicken wings or French fries, but there are hundreds of recipes for it.
The first one I received was the Ninja Air Fryer Cookbook for Beginners by Linda Larsen. This book focuses solely on the Ninja® Air Fryer Max XL. The food looked delicious, and so far, so good. I tried two recipes, one for wings and one for a chocolate chip cookie that bakes in it. Because my air fryer wasn’t the Ninja, it took longer to bake. That’s OK, it was still pretty tasty. BF likes those wings, so I have to make them occasionally.
Then came some others:
- The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook For Beginners, Laurie Fleming
- The Ultimate Keto Air Fryer Cookbook, Wendy Polisi
- The Air Fryer Cookbook For Weight Loss, Jamie Yonash
- The Southern Air Fryer Cookbook, Pam Wattenbarger, and Brittany Wattenbarger (there is, indeed, a recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes in this book.)
- The Essential Vegetarian Air Fryer Cookbook, Linda Larsen
I also have:
- Convection Oven Cooking Made Simple, Janet A. Zimmerman
- The Ninja Foodi XL Pro Air Oven Complete Cookbook, Ninja Test Kitchens
I’ll explain why in a minute.
The books are now e-books, but that enabled me to send the vegetarian books to Miss Alice in Houston as well as make recommendations.
Using The Air Fryer
The thing to remember about any model of an air fryer is this: it’s a vertical convection oven.
If you’ve never had one, “convection” means that a top-side fan circulates the hot air inside the oven, cooking more evenly and giving a really crispy crust. Some newer full-size ovens now come with an “air fryer” setting, which is pretty much the same as “convection.” My countertop oven has this function, as well as the last one I had. In fact, Oster has a rather large countertop that also does convection, one of which I’ve seen at Walmart.
There are a few things you need to know before you start:
- Although you can make fried foods, the coating can’t be drippy. Any coating has to stick to the food and not run or fall off.
- Cakes, cookies, eggs, and other foods that have a liquid texture before baking have to be in a dish you place into the air fryer.
- With things like fries, you should take out the basket and shake them once or twice during cooking
- You spray oil into the cooker basket as well as onto your food, especially those with a coating or a texture, to make it crispy.
- The air fryer must be the only appliance plugged into the outlet. I have to unplug both the microwave and the kettle so I can use that particular outlet. Otherwise, you’ll blow a fuse or something. (This is actually in the instructions for mine.)
- The basket can be placed in the dishwasher, but not the entire unit.
- You must warm up the unit for five minutes or so before you start cooking.
- The unit gets very hot during cooking, so it needs plenty of “airspace.” Read the instructions before you plug it in, of course.
The idea is that it cooks faster and healthier. Well, “faster” hasn’t been my experience, but whatever.
I got it at Walmart.
A simple booklet came with the machine, with instructions and great recipes like this one:
I think that’s supposed to be Curry Fried Okra, but English isn’t the first language of the copywriter. Just an observation.
There were no accessories included, just the machine. Fortunately, I have the aforementioned cookbooks to work with.
BF will go on forever about how Hooters has great chicken wings. When I worked at Boeing, some of us would head to Buffalo Wild Wings on Tuesdays for lunch. Holding your receipt for a week got you six free wings, which was great. I got the unbattered ones, and they were pretty tasty.
So when we discussed chicken wings, he had this idea that it would *almost* be like having them at Hooters. (Not wearing orange, thanks very much.) He was so excited he bought this stuff at Walmart:
Boy was he disappointed. “It doesn’t taste anything like the sauce at Hooters!” he cried. I could have told him that, but he was undeterred until he tried it. The ingredient list was a nightmare.
Into the trash that went.
I used this recipe, which BF loves:
The recipe is created especially for the Ninja Air Fryer, I just cut it in half. Cooking was just until they were done, however long that took. To paraphrase Hague Law Blog author Aaron Lukken, air fryer cooking is not about “building rockets.” Just cook the wings until they’re done. (I read his blogs all the time, but not everyone will find them as interesting as I do.)
Then I just sprayed some oil in the basket and got started.
BF only ruined one of his wings with that god-awful sauce. The rest he gobbled up and said, “make these again!”
Other Air Fryer Cuisine
Since getting this thing, I’ve made some:
- “Louisiana-style” fried fish (from one of the books)
- Chicken Wings
- Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Sweet potato fries
In the case of the fish, you do the batter coating and press it into the fish:
The recipe calls for adding parchment paper in the fryer basket, then spraying it with oil:
Then spray the fish with the oil and cook it up.
The fish came out nice and crispy, but not *quite* as crispy as it would have if we’d fried it in oil in a pan. BF actually liked it, although he hasn’t asked me to make it again.
Another Amy Favorite
Sweet potato fries seem to take longer in the air fryer.
They come out nice, but it takes an hour. Might as well use the toaster oven.
Dash’s website has a number of recipes that are specific to their accessory package, including sweets. I’ve used the cake pan for some cornbread for BF. Made from scratch, he really liked it.
Air Fryer Desserts
Yes, you can make some desserts in an air fryer, no kidding. In addition to the ones at the above link, you can make a number of desserts in the air fryer. I did make some Air Fried Fudge Brownies for BF about a month ago, with the note to use a 6″ pan in a convection oven. If you use a smaller pan, it will take too long to cook.
Just looking at the Essential Air Fryer Book For Beginners, where I got the brownie recipe, you can make a chocolate Bundt cake (using a six-inch Bundt pan) banana cake, cherry cobbler, doughnuts, stuffed baked apples, apple hand pies, and pumpkin fritters. That’s just from this book. For just about any contained dish, six inches is the number to remember.
The Big Cookie
One of our “couple friends” split last year, and because things were rather contentious between them, we invited the female to dinner. I made an old Martha Stewart recipe for bacon and egg pie, to which BF turned his nose up. In fact, he didn’t stick around for dinner, he had to go out and do something or other. I think he found an excuse to leave because he didn’t want bacon and egg pie, but whatever. So it was just me and AB for the night. The idea was for us to have a conversation without judgment, make sure she was all right, and certainly not trying to reconcile them.
So this was the bacon & egg pie for dinner:
The Big Chocolate Chip Cookie didn’t work exactly as it should have. In fact, it took longer to cook, because I used a five-inch Corningware dish. It’s what I had available at the time, and what I could grab quickly.
I had to get BF to bring home some chocolate chips:
I couldn’t believe he brought home ORGANIC. From Piggly-Wiggly, no less.
So you mix it all up, and then add parchment to the pan, plus spray it with flour-infused cooking spray while preheating the air fryer. Then add the cookie dough into the pan.
Bake it at 300 degrees for, it says, 9 minutes. But as I recall, it took considerably longer–like 30 minutes. But this isn’t the Ninja, and I didn’t have the proper pan available or handy. I think I have the right one now since I bought the accessory kit. The recipe makes four servings.
Admittedly, I had a bit of this cookie, and it was quite tasty once it finished baking. The addition of a little white chocolate is a nice touch.
Verdict: It’s A Toy
A toy, in sort of a Suzy Homemaker kind of mindset. The coiled heating element and the fan, very simply arranged in the housing. They’re all like that in one form or another.
Honestly, it’s not a bad thing, and if you like appliances, you may enjoy this one. But if you have a convection oven, especially a full size one, would it be a good idea to basically buy a smaller one? That’s up to you and your kitchen.
I actually wanted to return it but BF asked me not to. I already have a convection oven, hence the other two convection books. Seriously, the air fryer does the same thing, just more fashionably.
Then again, there’s always the Talkie Toaster.
Air fryer recipes are all over the web, especially at Pinterest. What do you want to air fry? Chicken wings? Sandwiches? Keto dishes? It’s all there, as well as with a quick search on Google (or your search engine of choice.) Like the Instant Pot, air fryer recipes aren’t difficult to find for pretty much whatever you want to make with it.
Happy air frying!!
Do you like iced coffee? Have you tried a cold brew system before, but were left. . .cold? Fear not–I found the most awesome iced coffee maker, and it’s as easy as filling a bucket.
Hello, again Dear Readers:
I’m still writing, just not here, unfortunately. Neighbor E says he knows I’m OK when he gets a blog post. The GER pops in every so often. I’m trying. . .but we’re doing OK, and busy as heck.
But. . .I’m being harassed. Not by BF or some man that I could do without, but by this website. I get these emails telling me to pay attention to it. Like I haven’t.
Oh, wait, I really haven’t.
Emails with subject lines like:
Problems found on HeatCageKitchen.com
Failed : Automatic Backup of your WordPress installation
Softaculous backup of. . . .
Wordfence activity for. . .
The plugin needs an upgrade. . .
Additionally, people are still trying to hack their way into this website. Why, I don’t know, and it’s from places like Albania and Laos. Don’t they have anything better to do?
And on it goes. But the good news is that writing this blog as long as I have has taught me how to use WordPress. I have a few clients who use it, and they grant me access to their sites so I can go in and upload, format and tweak their content. SEO included, and it’s easy with Yoast. So that’s a good thing.
Oh, and if you like the new “table of contents,” you can thank my client in Israel for telling me how to do that.
I have been shopping, and not just for groceries, although I do that a lot. I look at a lots of different things, primarily online. I’m always interested in something new that will solve a problem or make life easier. BF thinks I’m a little nuts, but I don’t mind. I remind him that my “pill habit” comes from Vitacost.
Did you know you can buy moving bags for mattresses? I had no idea–but when we were suddenly given a queen sized mattress set (that we don’t need), I ordered some of these great big giant Baggies for mattresses, and they’re now sealed up tight in the back room. We could actually put them outside in the garage, but for now they’re fine. Fortunately, when we moved mine, we didn’t have any problems. When it’s time to replace mine, we have a new set ready to use.
I’ve also replaced a few more things, which I will be posting about as soon as I can. The countertop dishwasher is still humming along, thank heavens, sometimes three times a day.
I’ve also finally been to the dentist after more than six years, seen a doctor about something else, and I’ll be getting another eye exam in the next month or so–it’s been a year. If my prescription changed–and even if it didn’t–I’ll be shopping for new glasses again, at Zenni, like last year.
The Royal Wedding
Did you see it? It was FAAABULOUS!!
The night before, I made some Raspberry Scones. I got up at 2:30, drank coffee, made a pot of tea, and turned on the TV to watch it live. From 3:00 am until the live coverage ended (and I passed out) about 8:00 am, I watched history being made–an American marrying into the British Royal Family. First time in nearly 100 years!
Everything went without a hitch, despite all the press from the bride’s side of the family. The music was great, and I wanted so much to give Doria Ragland (Meghan’s mother) a hug. She looked so happy but so far out of her element. Very elegant and classy she was, and now the press goes out to take her picture when she drops by her local bakery for some pastries.
If you didn’t read about it, Harry and Meghan chose Bishop Michael Curry to speak, who is the first African American to lead the Episcopalian Church. What I didn’t know until recently is that the Episcopalian Church is the “American Branch” of the Church of England. So he was kind of a big deal. He was great, although his speech was longer than expected, about 15 minutes. At one point, he said, “I know I’ve got to sit down so we can get you two married.”
The theme was “love.” One of his quotes: “Two people fell in love, and we all showed up.” Oh, yes we did–20 billion of us! (I think.) Fire, as he pointed out, was one of the things that allowed civilization to grow and flourish. But If we can harness the power of love the way we’ve harnessed the power of fire, love really could change the world.
Not to be outdone, Saturday Night Live brought the Most Reverend Curry to Weekend Update to talk more about it. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work–and you know that’s not really him, anyway. But it is funny. The other sketch, featuring “Prince Harry” talking to a videographer while he walked through the reception at 2:00 am, was not only pretty funny, but featured costumes that were nearly identical to the ones worn to the wedding earlier in the day. Unfortunately, that sketch has been taken down.
BF was totally unimpressed. I’ll get the DVD real soon. (Yes, I’m still a Buddhist.)
And Now It’s Summer
Yup–nobody’s drinking yeast-free hot chocolate much these days. That’s OK. I’m back making iced coffee again, but much easier than before.
I started drinking iced coffee in the summer of 2011, when Houston went through a heat wave and a drought. The office was parchingly hot, because the AC couldn’t keep up. I just said, “the heck with this,” and threw a fresh cup of hot coffee into a glass over ice. I’ve been drinking it ever since.
Two years ago, I told you about how Nick Usborne at The Coffee Detective had instructions and recipes for iced coffee. But I’ve got one better, and I don’t think Nick knows about it. I must tell him soon.
I really didn’t mind too much the brewing and cooling process. But when I found this, I snapped one up.
Enter The KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker!
It happened very innocently. I was buzzing through Target on a quick run while BF waited in the truck. Walking through the coffee makers on my way out, I saw this interesting steel glass square sitting there. I thought, “I’ll have to look at that soon.” Didn’t look at the price tag, I just wanted to mentally bookmark it for later.
A couple of days later, we watching a TV show called CityLine, a daytime TV talk show out of Canada. They talk about the usual things for the home–new furnishings, stuff for spring etc. I only caught a couple of minutes of it, but they were showing off new things for spring entertaining. What do you know, the guest speaker moves over, and there is this beautiful thing. She starts to explain it and demonstrate while pouring a glass of iced coffee for the host, Tracy Moore. After adding milk and sugar, she hands it to Tracy. She takes a sip, and says, “Oh, yes, mmm-hmmm, that’s really delicious, yes.” (You know how they do that on TV.) You’d have to go looking for the video, but I couldn’t find it myself. Anyway, I looked at BF and said,“I’m getting one tomorrow.” And I did!
However, I was not prepared to pay the full manufactured price for it. So I managed to find myself a couple of coupons.
Getting It For Less
First of all, if you’re not using Ebates, you should be (here, use my referral code.) I also checked another browser app called Honey. What this does is look for coupons and promo codes right in your browser that you can use to get discounts on different websites.
I put one in my shopping cart, then ran Honey. Found a coupon for 15% off. Wrote the coupon code down, and then went back and started over through Ebates. Now, the shopping trip was registered through Ebates, I used the coupon code and got a little bit of money back.
Essentially, I got it for half price.
Target and Overstock Sell it for about $100. Amazon usually has it for about $75. The KitchenAid website actually had it for $79 when I bought it, and I’m glad I bought it there. I’ll tell you why later. But if you’re going to get one, try to find the best price before you go spending for it (unless you don’t care about money.)
Making Iced Coffee
So now it’s time to answer the question, what’s it like to use this to make iced coffee? Well, it’s probably a little better than other methods that are available. Really, it couldn’t be easier, and I took pictures to show you.
Take the filter basket, and fill it up with the coffee of your choice to the line, which is hard to see, but there.
That should come to 750 g. Make sure the little plastic rim is in place, and set your basket into the coffee maker, then fill it with ground coffee.
According to the directions, you poor 34 ounces of water into the coffee grounds, and let them sit for a couple of minutes to absorb. When that’s done, you poor additional 8 ounces of water into the coffee grounds.
Once that’s done, take a spoon and push the coffee grounds under the water and make sure all the coffee grounds are wet and absorbing water, eliminating any “dry spots.” Put the lid on it, and leave it alone.
Easier Than A CrockPot
When you’re ready for it, the directions say to let the coffee steep for 12 to 24 hours. The first time I used it, I let it sit for 12 hours. The second time, I left for 24. I have to say that I prefer the 24 hour steeping.
After your coffee has steps for the desired amount of time, just use a little handle to pick up the coffee filter basket out of the coffee maker.
Stand it to one side so that the coffee drains out. Then tilt iin the opposite direction, so that more of the brewed coffee will drain out of the filter basket.
Now it’s just a matter of putting the finished coffee into your refrigerator. It has a small footprint, sits right on the shelf, and conveniently allows you to get iced coffee whatever you want.
Ready To Drink Iced Coffee?
Now that the iced coffee is ready, it’s very simple to make in a glass. You simply add one part coffee concentrate to three parts milk or water, whatever your choice. I use this cup I bought on sale from Starbucks a few years ago, and I put the coffee concentrate to just over the ridge on the bottom of the straw. (That keeps it from falling out of the cup if you turn it over.)
And then fill the rest with milk. It’s kind of eyeballed, but it works for me.
At this point, you sweeten, add flavor or whatever you like to do with your iced coffee. You can add regular milk, cream or half-and-half, or you can use one of the alternative milks like almond milk or hemp milk, your choice. Like whipped cream? Add it. Like those fancy sauces that flavor your coffee? Add some. Once you get the basic formula down, it’s all up to you.
I know that there is a myriad of ice coffee brewing systems on the market. I just happened to find this one, and it’s so easy and foolproof. Of course, I read a bunch of reviews on Amazon and on KitchenAid’s website before I popped open my piggy bank. (My review is actually on KitchenAid’s website, but I guess I didn’t win the food processor!) But after seeing it in action and seeing how well it works, even non-coffee drinking BF thinks it was a great buy. Especially since I not only got it for half-price, I use it all the time.
The Karma Of Spare Parts, Again
Yes, I already needed a spare part for it. Somehow, the little handle fell off the filter basket, and needed a new one. A quick call to the nice folks at KitchenAid, and they said they would send me a new one, no problem. They sent the whole filter basket, not just the handle. I asked how much this would cost, and I heard the words that made my day:
“Oh, there’s no charge. It’s still under warranty.”
It arrived a few days later. I’m so glad I bought it directly from Kitchen Aid.
What Kind Of Coffee?
You’re probably thinking I used some high-end exclusive blend curated just for iced coffee. Or at least something from Starbucks. Well, I did use a very exclusive type of decaf coffee:
Yeup. Exclusive to shoppers of Rouse’s. About $4.35 for that brick. It’s what I had available the first time, and so it’s what I’ve been using. At some point I’ll order plenty of HEB’s wonderful grocery store brand coffee and use that again. But for now, this works just fine.
Cold brewing also eliminates the acid that you may get if you make your iced coffee from hot. No boiling pots, nothing hot, and no burns either.
Cold Brew Iced Coffee The Easy Way
I know there’s a bunch of different ways to make iced coffee. And if you’re happy with the way you make it, go for it. If you’re not happy with it, I offer a simple, foolproof alternative.
This hands-off method just takes a little planning, and makes it perfect every time. The elegantly designed cube sits right in your fridge at the ready. KitchenAid has also recently introduced a stand for it, but I probably won’t be getting one. We’re not planning a brunch anytime soon.
But if you love iced coffee, but don’t like spending a fortune for it, just break open the piggy bank get yourself one of these models. Find a stainless steel cup to drink it out of (especially one that fits in your car’s cupholder so you can take it with you) and you’re on your way to enjoying iced coffee more often. Don’t forget to use Ebates and find it on sale or marked down.
More New KitchenAid Things
Well, sort of. We recently were gifted quite a number of things, including a KitchenAid toaster and 14-cup coffee pot, and some other small things. The caveat is that they’re all RED. No kidding. You’d think I’d be enjoying red dishes, red cups, red bowls and red everything else. But even as a fan of red, after a while your eyes get tired of all that red. I’ll live with it, because we were gifted them from someone who won’t need them anymore. We’ve nicknamed him DG, and I’ll explain more next time. I’ll try to take pictures and add them to an upcoming blog post.
Meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying summer, staying cool and hydrated. Now that you know an easy way to make iced coffee, you can enjoy it more often. I have it every day, i the Casa de Rurale, and no driving to a coffee shop.
More big changes at the Casa de Rurale, and this one involves a new appliance–the countertop dishwasher!
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Some of you may be shoveling snow, or not. After three hard freezes, two with snow, we’re in spring-like weather here in Central Louisiana, and I’m in shorts.
Some of you may remember my Karma of Spare Parts series, in which I describe buying spare parts online to be able to use what I have. I’m still at it! In addition to meeting the mail ladies many times, I’ve also met several UPS and FedEx drivers who bring packages to the Casa de Rurale, including one smoker who handed me a big package from Vitacost with a cigarette in his mouth. No kidding. I didn’t complain to FedEx, because he was very nice, but I did lecture him a little on the irony of smoking while delivering my package of health products.
More Spare Parts Karma
Just last week I ordered some replacement glass beakers from Sur la Table:
I actually ordered three of these little ones, and one of the 8-cup beakers. The two smaller ones broke on the trip from Houston. To get more of these requires either online ordering or a trip to Baton Rouge (that’s now the closest Sur la Table to me; New Orleans doesn’t have one.) So, I finally ordered the darn things. I have three small pots–two of the Brazil model and one of the Chambord. (The small Chambord was in my desk at work while at Boeing after seeing an executive with an 8-cup model in his office.) The two Brazils went straight into my suitcases, because I like to take them on travel (not that I’m going anywhere anytime soon.)
And, finally, my little Apple Master contraption is now whole and complete again, after however long it was since the rubber vacuum cup broke on the bottom:
BF is going to help me replace the rusted fork soon. He has no idea what this thing is for–and that’s just fine, because then he won’t touch it and hurt himself, either!
Online Ordering From HEB
For my Texas peeps: You probably know about HEB’s new curbside ordering service. Well. . .they also ship. Nearly anywhere in the US, as a matter of fact. Recently, I ordered me some coffee! A bag of decaf Taste of San Antonio and a bag of decaf Breakfast Blend. The next order will include bigger 2 pound bags and a supply of decaf espresso for cappuccino and lattes at home. Even with shipping, it’ll be cheaper than $15 at Starbucks for it (not that I don’t like Starbucks, either.)
Love the new packaging, too. The previous packaging was nice, and had been in use since I started buying their coffee in 1998. I guess it was time for a refresh.
Plus, there’s all those things I can buy with Hatch chiles in them, including salsa. I’m happy that I can get canned Hatch chiles in Winn-Dixie, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market. But there will be more online ordering from HEB in the coming months, because there are a lot of things I want that I just can’t get here. In the case of the large bottle of coarse-ground pepper, it’s available and cheaper than the small bottle I can get at Albertson’s in Hammond. I so miss my HEB.
No Toaster Oven Yet
In my online shopping forays, I remember companies that I’ve bought from some time ago and see if I still have an account with them. In the case of Overstock, I actually do. I’ve updated it with my new email and snail mail address, and I get their emails again.
The last time I ordered from them was in 2005, when I ordered a pair of earrings to go with a necklace. This was years before Comfy Earrings were created, and it was for a formal night out. The completed order was still there, with the comment that it is now “past the return window.” I still have the earrings, I’ve worn them once or twice since, but the jewelry is packed up for a wedding that’s in our future (we’ll be guests, not participants.)
I’ve been saving my Bed, Bath And Beyond Coupons for a long time for the day I get a new toaster oven. Upon checking the Overstock website, I discovered that not only do they sell the one I want, they also sell it as a refurbished model.
I can even get one nearly the same as the one I had before I moved, the one that didn’t make the trip well, as a refurbished model. How have I missed this?
So, at some point, soon there will be a new toaster oven, finally, and this time around, it may be the less-expensive refurbished option. I miss my toaster oven so much. Since winter is pretty much done now, it’s time for a new one, especially since BF is complaining that he’s tired of anything slow-cooked.
Presenting The New Dishwasher!
Now, let’s talk about something I bought out of urgent, utter necessity.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment you’ve been waiting for. The relocated HeatCageKitchen in the Casa de Rurale now has a counter-top dishwasher:
You’re probably thinking, “that’s a dishwasher?” Yeup. There’s a reason for it, too. Much like the new glasses, I really needed it.
I’ve been really busy, and I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon. In fact, both of us are. BF works a rotating 40-hour-per-week shift, plus he does some mechanic work for folks. I work on client work in between all that plus dishes, laundry, hound care, cat care and other stuff. Well, the dishes were really piling up, and BF just does *not* do dishes. Without disclosing any TMI, it was getting ridiculous, but he didn’t see a problem. I needed a dishwasher, darnit.
Not For HGTV
You have to understand that this house is an old “mother-in-law house,” literally built to accommodate someone’s elderly mother. Not exactly ergonomically or functionally designed, you understand. But it’s paid for, and BF is proud of that fact, even if there are a number of things that are left to be desired (as well as repaired.) Like a dishwasher!
In the kitchen, there really isn’t a way to install a dishwasher without remodeling the whole kitchen. Neither of us have that kind of money, even to get stuff from IKEA. I’m not spending money to renovate a house that will never belong to me. So. . .we manage. Until we can’t.
I’ve been spending hours trying to catch up on washing dishes by hand at the expense of everything else. I finally got tired of it one night and yelled at BF about it. Just annoyed as the dickens that I’m the one doing all the dishes. Sometimes the clean laundry can been piled up for a while. But then, I got an idea. . . .
Enter The Compact Appliance
When most people think of kitchen appliances, they think of the full-size versions–refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, laundry appliances, etc. But smaller compact versions? You can get a small fridge, some with freezers, pretty readily. But compact dishwashers? You don’t see them in places like Lowe’s, Home Depot, or even Walmart–but they’re available if you know where to look.
One night I got to thinking. . . what about a counter top dishwasher? Do they exist? I set out to do some research, and it didn’t take long–they’re everywhere! Again, if you know what you want and where to look.
Note that I am not talking about the electric automatic potato peeler BF’s daughter has. I’m talking about important stuff here.
The first place I tend to go for research when I’m considering or looking for something is Amazon. Love them or hate them, they have just about anything you could want. Even if you don’t buy, you can research for free, and read comments by people who have bought these items. I know they’re not all accurate, but you can get an idea of what to expect.
Amazon has a range of dishwasher models, small and regular sized. I didn’t know you could still buy full-sized portable dishwashers that you can roll around. They have some, although they cost more than the countertop model.
Of the models that Amazon had, both the websites for Target and Walmart had many of the same ones with more reviews.
At the bottom of the Target website was a series of those “sponsored links.” One of them was to a site I’d visited many years before and forgot about.
And then there’s this site. I’ve known about them for many years, but never bought from them.
Years ago, I’d planned on buying a very small chest-type freezer for the condo I moved out of in 2016. I went to the Clear Lake location of the chain appliance store, Conn’s, but they didn’t want to talk about anything but “the great financing we can do for you!” That, of course, is how they actually make a profit, I believe. I walked out.
I knew about the freezer, and it was about $100, but they didn’t seem to like the idea that I would either write a check or give them my debit card to pay in full and walk out with it. (It was small enough to easily fit in The Mighty Saturn.) I never got around to going back, and never bought one, despite the thought staying way in the back of my mind.
I really, REALLY don’t like being treated like that, and I generally won’t return to a place that tries to force a financing contract on me. That’s why I never went back to Conn’s.
There was another occasion I was thinking about something else, and I came across Compact Appliance’s website. In addition to compact appliances, they also have full-size appliances like Conn’s and Lowe’s and the like. I should have signed up for their emails, but I didn’t. Well, I finally did.
After looking at Amazon’s website, there were a couple of dishwashers I was going to consider buying, even if I was a bit concerned about the possibility of returning it if it didn’t work.
Not a matter of *if” I bought a dishwasher, you understand, just a matter of *when.* And I let BF know about it. He just gave me that look that says, “I smile because I have no idea what’s going on.” Like the day he looked into the pantry after I’d unpacked all my stuff in there. (It still needs a reorg.) BF says he doesn’t mind about anything I do in the house. Good thing.
His main concern was spending a lot of money on a brand neither of us had ever heard of. I agreed, but three hours of washing dishes by hand was getting to be too much. This solves the problem, and it’s not built-in. And yes, if I ever decide to move back to Texas, I can pack it and take it with me. (He can buy his own!)
I got paid, and I had enough to order one on December 27th. I got a 5% discount for signing up for their emails, and free shipping. Should I have a problem, they’re ready to help–I asked before I bought. I think there were three phone calls before I finally ordered.
I waited for its arrival. Meantime, I bought some of this stuff:
Reading all that I had, everyone said that the gelpacs worked the best. Having used three different types, I have to agree–they dissolve quickly and cleanly, and leave no powdery residue. A couple of times, I’ve put stuff in there that accidentally blocked the little door, and I had to run it again because the powder cakes in the compartment. So gelpacs it is.
Two Days Later
I was sitting at my desk when the FedEx driver rolled up. I had my office mini blinds open, and BF was asleep. And then the dogs started barking (they were inside because it was so cold out.) And then I ran through the house, yelling, “It’s Here! It’s Here!” He took this as his cue to start moving around, put some warm clothes on and get out to the patio to get it into the house.
While he did that, I had a nice chat with the FedEx driver, who is a single mother of 4, lives in nearby Mississippi, and would also like to work from home. I gave her an intro card from SGI-USA, taught her how to chant, and gave her the “elevator pitch.” She was open to the idea, and thanked me for the card. (She also dropped off another Vitacost package a couple of weeks later.)
The Box Opens
Of course, I was so excited to open this box that I didn’t take any pictures. BF started carefully cutting open the taped edges, and removed the machine with equal care to put it on the counter top.
I had to read the manual first, to make sure I didn’t do something wrong. It was pretty simple. Truth is, They put the owner’s manual as a PDF on the website so you can look at it before you buy it. How’s THAT for good customer service?
Oh, dear–mine isn’t on the website right now. However, this is a similar model, and the manual is available there, down the right side. Hmmmm. . .well, anyway. . . .
How It Works
It hooks up to the sink with a couple of little hoses, and a screw-in metal bit that screws into your faucet, once you remove the diffuser:
The plastic you see on the right clips onto the metal. Turn on the water, turn on the machine, and you’re washing dishes!
These are also great for offices and labs, if you didn’t know that. But in a small kitchen, or where you can’t install a dishwasher, it’s awesome.
I would also like to point out that BF graciously replaced the kitchen faucet that’s been problematic for a long time. The hot water leaked so much that in order to use hot water, you had to turn it on under the sink. That problem, thankfully, has now been eliminated. Plus we have one with that little sprayer thingy that’s plumbed separately into the water line, too. Isn’t he sweet? (The bathroom faucet is also due for replacement, but it hasn’t happened yet.)
The little red button on the right is for water. Just push and you get some out. Be careful though, because it’s like a fire hose. And, don’t use it while the machine is filling.
It runs a lot like a laundry washing machine, really, off the water supply. There are some on Amazon who say they can plumb it directly into the water line, but BF’s not going for that, and I don’t mind, either. It’s not been that much trouble to use. We don’t have to unscrew that bit, although we could do that. Works just fine the way we have it.
So What’s It Like To Use?
Well, in a word, AWESOME. But there’s a few caveats I have to tell you about while I explain all this.
Since it’s smaller, it obviously won’t hold as much as a full-sized machine The idea behind the design is service for six, that is, six dinner, salad and dessert plates, drinking glasses, coffee cups (small flat ones) and cutlery. But of course you can wash other stuff in there, too.
Bigger than a microwave oven, it holds quite a lot, but that bowl takes up a lot of room. That’s OK.
You may be wondering why the dishes are wet. That’s another caveat–it doesn’t have a “dry” cycle like the big ones we’re all used to. So what do you do? You can dry them by hand, pull the rack out and let them dry, or unload them into a dish drain or on a draining towel so they dry on their own. I usually just pull the rack out, but if I need to use it again, I just unload them and start the next load. Believe me, it’s OK, too.
When you’re ready, drop in your detergent:
Turn it on:
Then touch the start button:
When you touch the start button, the colon between the numbers blinks, and it starts in ten seconds. I haven’t tried the delay function yet. Or that other one. . .better read the manual again, yes?
The big round knob gives you several cycles to chose from I just like the hour-and-fifteen-minute cycle, but you can chose whichever you like, from the nearly two-hour cycle to the ten minute “rinse them off” cycle.” When the detergent caked on, I picked it all out, moved the obstruction and used the 45 minute cycle for the re-run.
Whenever the cycle finishes, it beeps and the numerical readout goes back to the original time of the cycle. I just turn it off, open it up, pull the rack out, turn off the water, pop the pressure and remove the hookup from the faucet, letting it drain into the sink. The whole cycle only uses about 3.5 gallons of your hot water! And it makes a neat “moaning” sound when the water flows out of it into the sink. I just roll the hoses up behind the dishwasher after they’re drained, I’m done with the washing and that’s it.
The Last Caveat
Obviously this wonderful machine can’t wash as much, or everything that a full-sized one can. Again, that’s OK. Also, I’m not naive enough to think I’ll never hand wash again; far from it. Big pots, cast-iron skillets, and a few other things that can’t be washed in the dishwasher will always have to be hand-washed. I can handle that. But for everyday dishes, coffee cups, flatware and other smaller things, this dishwasher has been a wonderful thing. I’ve spent as long as 3+ hours catching up dishwashing. I hope I don’t have to do that anymore, and so far, I haven’t.
I was so happy to finally get this dishwasher. Is it wrong to love a kitchen appliance? Well, I got this one because it’s much easier to get than the Suzy Homemaker model:
And I think mine holds more, anyway.
I kept talking about my new dishwasher on Facebook, and well, I guess it’s one of those things you look and go, “oh, how nice.” But one gentleman, who I’ve never met in person, ended up buying his own dishwasher right after I bought this one (the same one, too.) He lives in a 900-square-foot “fifth wheel,” an expanded trailer kind of thing. He’s a single guy, lives alone and hates washing dishes. So. . .I made him happy, too. He loves his as much as I love mine. Isn’t Facebook great?
What Else I Learned On Facebook
Well, if you have dogs that do not want to take a bath, there’s a way to make it easier. Get a jar of cheap peanut butter and smear some on the walls of your bathtub or shower stall. Lead them to it, let them have it, and wash while they lick the peanut butter off the wall. Think I’m joking? I’m not, and it works like a charm. It’s how I washed a 65-pound pit bull today, as well as a 25-pound mutt.
BF says it’s “cheating.” I say it works, and nobody’s keeping score, so who cares?
Caveat: if you let the dog lick the utensil, don’t put it back into the jar. If you do, make sure you mark the jar “DOG ONLY.” Or you’ll be eating the dog’s peanut butter. (Because BF couldn’t remember if he did or not.)
The New Addiction
This little detergent scoop comes with the dishwasher, along with some other plastic parts I’m not yet sure about:
I was thinking, “Wow, a little Command Hook right there will keep it where it won’t get lost.” Indeed, it does.
Unfortunately, I’m now addicted to Command Hooks.
There are lots of boards and pins dedicated to organizing your home with these babies, but there aren’t all that many “new ideas.” Most are the same ones recirculated, although I wish I’d known about hanging curtains with the bigger ones a long time ago. However, they’re all quite useful ideas:
I got this idea from one of the articles suggesting putting a measuring cup on a hook on your cereal container (it was oatmeal in a plastic bin.) It works, just like this one that’s also quite useful:
It was the first binder clip I could put my paws on, you understand. And then there’s this:
Now, I actually had a large cup hook there, but it’s just sheetrock. I put it there to cover the old landline phone jack, because, well, we have cell phones, so who cares, right? But the cup hook kept falling out, and the little picture fell a few times, so–Command Hook to the rescue!
This is BF’s oven mitt, which was hanging by a nail, and knocked to the floor many times. Not anymore.
And there are more in the house, including the bathroom. 3M actually makes a specific type to use in the bathroom to withstand the extra humidity.
I’ve also hung up my yoga mat bags on the back of a door, individually, with bigger hooks.
How Did I Miss These?
When I moved to the condo in 2004, I bought a Command Hook to put up a thingy I made to hang extra rolls of bathroom tissue on the back of the door. I put the tape on backwards, but it stayed up, and the hook was there when I left. (I’m sure it’s gone now, but who cares?)
But they were relatively new then, and somewhat expensive. Guess I didn’t pay enough attention over the years, and then life got much more complicated. But now there’s a huge selection of these sticky-tape products, and they can do quite a lot of things, without putting holes in the walls.
So now when we go somewhere (especially if we head up to Hammond), I’m fond of telling BF, “We need some Command Hooks.” He asks, “what kind?” I respond, “I don’t know–I just know we need some.” (We probably need more of the tapes, though.) Alternately, I’ll tell him, “Oh my GOD! I haven’t bought any Command Hooks lately!” He either ignores me or looks at me funny. As usual.
Until Next Time
If you were wondering how the heck you’d get a dishwasher in your kitchen, I hope I gave you an option. I’m loving mine, and I know my Facebook friend RG is loving his, because he tells me. I’m always looking for other options and alternatives, because I know in this world, they do exist. (I can’t answer for other worlds, don’t ask me.) With both the dishwasher and the Command Hooks, it was a matter of “what took you so long?”
Hope I’ve helped someone out today. I’m looking for new stuff all the time, I just don’t always find stuff to write about.
Big Little Fudge–if you’ve seen it and haven’t tried it, do you know what you’re missing?
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Remember when I told you I was also doing work on Upwork? Well, I’ve been published–with a byline! Off The Grid News has published two of my articles! There is another in the pipeline, and I’m thinking about the next natural health topic to suggest to them. There’s a whole section of natural medicine on this website, where my articles are located. Look at this–tea tree oil! I didn’t write that one, but I just bought some for BF’s icky toenail fungus. He says the oil “stinks,” and says he’s “just humoring me.” (I’m using it straight.) He refers to his socks and shoes as a “containment field.” Wait til the stuff actually works. . . .
The Griddler is fixed!
I am SO happy, and yes, we’ve used it–for grilled pork chops, waffled burgers, and pizza waffles so far.
I couldn’t resist, it was just there, and I could cook those pork chops on the counter top and not worry about dripping grease anywhere. Waffled burgers just happened because the waffle plates were on the machine already.
It’s so quick and easy! We have ready-made crusts, pizza sauce and grated mozzarella cheese at the ready in the freezer. BF knows how much I enjoy using this appliance. He just smiles when I mention using it.
How about some foodie news?
To bounce off two previous posts, it seems that Libby’s canned veg will now be marked as BPA-free. Good move by Seneca Foods. We definitely need to know these things when we’re choosing canned goods.
Mug cakes go corporate
Someone at Pinnacle Foods, a/k/a, The Company That Owns Duncan Hines, has been paying attention to Pinterest. You can now buy your “cake in a cup” experience in a boxed mix. Seriously. They’re now making “cake in a cup mixes.” Isn’t the whole “cake in a cup” thing so that you don’t have to buy a box of cake mix?
No kidding. I just found this in Walmart the other night. So if you’re too lazy to mix two tablespoons of flour and sugar, an egg and some oil, here you go. Just remember that you’re still going to be mixing this mix in a cup. Anyone get that irony?
Ho, ho, ho!
The Green Giant brand has been bought by B&G Foods, and they’ve got some new things coming, including new Ortega products! They also sell some food products in Sur La Table stores and on their website.
Blue Bell’s new idea
Finally, Texas’ own Blue Bell now has an ice cream flavor to answer the conundrum of, “should I have a cone or put it in a bowl?” The new Ice Cream Cone flavor solves that problem for you. The cone is IN the ice cream, so you can have it whether or not you have a cone handy.
I kid you not.
More Texas sweetness
I had a little bit of home just recently when BF took us out for a little “date night.” About a month ago, we went to. . .Cracker Barrel in Hammond. If you’ve never been in one of these “country-style” themed restaurants, it’s quite nice with home-style food (think meat, potatoes, fried okra and gravy like your grandmother made), and salads. There’s even a fireplace in the dining area, which I appreciate, but they didn’t light it when we were there. He loves Cracker Barrel, and honestly, I can’t complain, either. There is also a “general store” attached where you can buy some nice things, a little bit like Buc-ee’s. As we were checking out, I noticed something on the counter. There are lots of things on the counter, but this one caught my attention. Oh, my GAWD. A little bit of Texas, here in rural Louisiana.
Big Little Fudge.
Back in 2011, I was lucky enough to attend the Houston Metro Cooking & Entertainment Show, and went with the Boeing Teammates Association, so it was a bus trip. No parking issues! Basically, it’s a trade show for food vendors and open to the public, primarily from Texas, but some from other places, too. Grass-fed beef. Premium olive oils. Himalayan Pink Salt. Gourmet vinegars that taste like wine. Community Coffee (no kidding!) and delicious coffees from everywhere–no Starbucks here. And of course, sweet stuff–artisan chocolate, especially. I told the folks on the bus driving home that most of what I ate was olive oil, garlic and chocolate. I wasn’t yet blogging, but if I were, you would have heard all about it here.
A quick search doesn’t show any evidence of a food show in Houston since 2013, so they may not be held anymore. I’ll have to start looking for “food shows” in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. You never know what you’ll be sampling, and you meet all kinds of people. Like any trade show, you go home with bags of cool stuff–but some cool stuff you get to eat. Wear comfortable walking shoes.
Wait–I’m a blogger now. Wonder if I can get a press pass for one?
Yes, Texas has great desserts too
One of those vendors was a company called Big Little Fudge, and they were giving out samples! Well, they gave me some of their delicious fudge to try, and I bought a couple of them too.
This deliciousness has been around since October of 2010, started by two longtime business partners, Robin Strickland and Kevin Graham, who had just sold their *other* business, and decided to launch a business making. . .fudge, in 2009. Naturally, you bring something chocolate to a food show, and people show up. There they were. Nice people, and they make a smooth, creamy fudge that you won’t soon forget. I know I never did.
Sweet, but not overly sweet
This is the one called Heavyweight Champ, which has dried cranberries in it. I haven’t seen it since, but you can order it from their website.
I’ve bought it a time or two since that date night in Hammond, but I have to be careful or I’ll be a BIG blogger!
Big Texas flavor in a little square
These pack a lot of flavor in a little chunk. I GASPED when I saw it in Cracker Barrel, and even BF was a bit concerned.
The blue one, Chocalot, was the first one, and Big Wally was the second one. I think those were the only two they had. One lady standing behind me wanted to know what the big deal was, and I told her–delicious fudge from Montgomery, Texas, here in Louisiana! I also mentioned that I’d met the owners at the Food Show in 2011. . .she wasn’t impressed by that, nor the fact that it’s gluten-free.
She responded that someplace around Hammond also had very good fudge, but she wasn’t sure if it was gluten free. I have no idea what place she was talking about.
Turns out that these two were part of a promotion in November to benefit the G.O.V.E.T.S. Foundation, and sold in Cracker Barrel nationwide. This is a foundation dedicated to improving the lives of our military veterans with things like job assistance. (Surprisingly, it didn’t register on BF’s radar for this sort of thing.) I’m guessing the Hammond store just had some left, and I was lucky enough to find them.
The rest of the story
You see all my pictures from that day at this external link–it’s on Facebook, but you don’t need to sign in or have an account. I’m only in one of them, when I took a picture with a man whose cookbook I bought and had autographed:
I looked pretty good in that picture. That shirt was way too big. . .soon, one day, it will be again.
Big Little Fudge, anytime
A little something sweet right now, party favors, holiday stocking stuffers, or corporate gifts for clients, or fundraiser sweets, Big Little Fudge has you covered. Just hop onto their website and take a look around. They also have a map function for you to find out where you can find these delicious morsels in your area. They’re available in some Sam’s Club locations, too. In my neck of the woods, the closest places showing are in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but of course, online ordering makes nearly *anything* available.
This is Prize-Winning Fudge
Big Little Fudge was chosen as the 2016 Buyer’s Choice winner for “Best New Chocolate” at ECRM’s (Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing) annual Candy Planning: Everyday & Summer Seasonal event held in New Orleans, August 28-31, 2016. Um, yeah! (Source: company press release.)
For a little treat for yourself, or for someone else, Big Little Fudge may be just what you need. Look on their website to find out where they’re sold in your area to satisfy your immediate chocolate craving. Need more? They ship anywhere, and made right in lovely Montgomery, Texas. I’ve been up there, although not to their factory. (Now, I wish I had.) This fudge is definitely worth seeking out, whether a single wrapped piece for yourself or buying a batch for corporate gifts or special occasions like parties and weddings.
Serve these babies at a wedding and your guests will ignore the wedding cake, OK? At least until they’re all gone.
Happy Wednesday, Dear Readers:
I’m quite happy to receive two very nice comments on my last blog post, one from Miss Alice herself. I hope you try Miss Alice’s Magic Beans soon and enjoy them. I’m looking forward to the next time I can make some, but BF says “I’m all beaned out for a while.” But I made something fast last night that I thought I should tell you about.
I also mentioned that my beloved Cuisinart toaster oven is now. . .toast. Oh, it still works, but. . .not well. Let me explain further.
The model I have, I think, I bought about 2009 or 2010. It’s a well-built workhorse, and it’s done a great job for me since I bought it. The one I had before was a Christmas gift from the GER, and I used that heavily until the electrics went. Well, the front panel on this one, which contains the circuit board, come loose a while back. It was fine, I guess, until it got a little jostled in the move. We moved it to Neighbor E’s place, and it sat for a month until we moved it last week to my new location, and it was moved around a bit more, in the back of the pickup. I plugged it in, and the readout acted a little wacky, but after a couple of unplugs and re-plugs, it seemed to be working fine.
I’ve been cleaning out the back room that will soon be my “studio”, and going in and out of the main part of the house. Not suspecting there was any reason to be concerned, I put a lovely pork loin roast into the beloved toaster oven and went about my business. I checked on it periodically, and the Herbes de Provence-coated roast was cooking along just fine.
Until it wasn’t. I had an emergency. And BF was at work.
I went back into the main part of the house and saw thick, heavy smoke. (Thank heavens the dogs are outside.) I went into the kitchen, and just saw more smoke–no flames, thank heavens, but SMOKE. Now, I’m accustomed to a little of it, particularly roasting things like turkey and chicken at 400F–my eyes burn a little, and I had to open up the patio doors to let that all out. Took a few minutes with the air conditioner cranked down to about 65F. Then the odor and smoke is gone, and I can go back to what I was doing. But this was the thick white smoke that comes from something burning.
I rang BF at work for help, and he told me what I needed to know. He has a big floor-stand fan that’s missing the front (I’ll get that cleaned and back together soon), and I had that plugged in and blowing fresh air in as well as one from my place by the front door. Opened all the windows and sat on the patio with the curious pit bull who kept licking my face to let me know it was OK while BF texted me and said, “Relax.”
The pork roast was charred, but tasty once you cut past the burned bits (which the dogs happily munched.)
The next day I did some forensics–cleaned the whole thing up, but didn’t take any pictures. It was that bad! The drip tray was full of grease, and grease was baked onto the glass door. The square ceramic IKEA baking dish (similar to this one) was burned and broken into about six pieces from the center out, much like a large cookie–not shattered in a lot of little pieces. It was old, so I wondered if maybe it just had micro-fractures I didn’t notice and the heat did it in. Everything gets jostled around in a move, and we did have a few minor casualties, including broken glass. The breaking apart allowed the rendered-off fat to drip to the heating elements, then fill the drip tray and smoke up the house. Right?
This where all my root-cause analysis and detective skills come in. See why I like to watch shows like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Burn Notice?
After I’d cleaned up that disaster and made it look shiny, I turned it on and set the temperature at 400F, which is what I use frequently (although the pork loin roast was set to 350F.) I left I it alone, and watched it while I washed dishes. I noticed that the convection fan was running, and it was getting pretty hot–but at no time did the readout indicate “temp ready,” which is what it’s supposed to do.
So I got to thinking–maybe it wasn’t the dish? After I left the library on Monday, we stopped at Walmart for milk (as we do every couple of days, because he drinks more milk than a cow produces in a day), and I went to the kitchen stuff section to get a little inexpensive oven thermometer. I just sat it in the baking pan and repeated the test. Guess what?
The temperature regulator is toast. The oven “works,” but it doesn’t stop at 350F or 400F, it just keeps getting hotter. That’s what fractured the baking dish into six pieces and allowed the grease to drip onto the heating element, smoking out the house. Had I used a stainless steel or aluminum pan, the roast probably would have still been charred, and it may have indeed smoked, but the metal wouldn’t have fractured like that.
So. . .we’re debating on spending money on a new, and for now, less expensive toaster oven from <gulp> Walmart or Target. Or should we send this nearly $200 model to the Cuisinart repair place in Arizona, and spend a currently unknown amount of money to have it repaired? The circuit board will have to be replaced, and likely the entire front panel, since it’s not exactly attached anymore and hangs by two wires. Is it worth it to have this one repaired, or would it be better to buy new? If we do, it will likely be an Oster, Black & Decker, or Hamilton Beach; I would just take measurements on this one to make sure I get one that’s relatively the same size. Meantime, I’m using the big oven for everything, or the little one on the left. That oven thermometer will be used to check the temps on those ovens as well.
This is what happens when life unravels. And sometimes, it’s highly annoying. Oh, well. . .so let me tell you about last night’s dinner.
I may have mentioned this, but we don’t have cable TV in our rural hideaway. (No Internet yet, either, until I can pay for it. I’m working on that.) We have two, and occasionally three, sets of PBS stations at our disposal–New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the one from Mississippi comes in occasionally (along with a radio station.) The other night, I turned on one of the stations to see cookbook author and chef Lidia Bastianich cooking with eggs. (It was a rare night when something called NCIS something-or-other wasn’t on.) PBS now has multiple stations, and one of them is called @Create. It’s where they run lots of cooking shows, including Martha Stewart’s, most of the day. (There area also other craft shows, as well as shows like this interesting one called Urban Conversion.)
I haven’t made a frittata in a long time, and I figured, now is a good time to start making them again. Especially since there’s a hungry man in my environment. He was out in the workshop for a while, elbow-deep in some kind of car grease, and came in halfway through the show. Lidia was taking the frittata out of the oven, and turned it upside down onto a plate, much like you would a pineapple-upside-down cake. She’d sliced up some large tomatoes and put them on the bottom of the pan, added a couple of other things, and then poured the eggs over the whole thing. When it comes out, and you flip it, it has a lovely top. BF didn’t know what that was, and I told him–a frittata. He said he could do without the tomatoes.
Lidia also answered a viewer’s question about using leftovers to create frittatas. Lidia said that was a great idea, because leftover meat and veg are perfect for creating one-of-a-kind frittatas whenever you want. That’s when I realized–I could make them too! Why haven’t I done this in a long time?
If you’re like BF and have no earthly idea what that word means, well. . .let me ask you, do you know what a quiche is? (He doesn’t know what that is, either.) If you do, it’s basically a quiche without a crust under it. That’s the biggest difference, and they are prepared differently. Quiche is French while Frittata is Italian. Paleo, gluten-free and low-carb folks have adopted frittatas as one of their own, because they’re low-carb and fit right in. Purists may prefer the quiche, and the crust that comes with it (and it can be gluten-free with the right crust, but have a lot of carbs.)
If you really don’t know what either one is, think “egg pie.” Vegetables, meat, or a combination of the two, in a baked egg/milk or cream/cheese base that’s cooked on top the stove first, then put in the oven to finish it. It’s great for breakfast and brunch, of course, but also good for a quick lunch or dinner. The trick is to get started on it soon. . .and don’t wait until late like I did last night.
I found a very basic recipe for frittata on The Food Network’s website, as well as more recipes and an explanation of the difference at Chowhound. Here’s a primer on them from The Kitchn, which I will probably bookmark on my phone so I can refer to it again one day. Lidia also has a YouTube channel, and you can search it for a number of frittata recipes, too–I just can’t find *the* one I saw last week. If you search Food Network’s website for “frittata,” you also will find a myriad of recipes. But I’ll show you what I did with ours so you can see how easy and varied they can be when you’re wondering what you can make that’s new, or you have leftovers to use up.
I call it The Use-It-Up Frittata. Because that’s what I did–and I didn’t want to mess with a Red Baron Pizza.
We had two pork chops left from the weekend, (recipe is here, but I used almond flour) and I figured BF didn’t want any more of them, so I used them elsewhere. Of course, for this, I wanted those HEB eggs from Texas chickens, green onions that are growing on the kitchen windowsill, and a hatch chile pepper that came from my garden in Houston. (It’s the only one that isn’t bright red, but I’ll use the rest for myself later.)
I started by grabbing a handful of green onions:
Chopped them up really well, then moved onto the pepper:
And you know I saved those seeds, too:
Chopped them up really fine, too:
Then I chopped up the two pork chops:
You want to chop meat small like this because bigger pieces will make it harder to eat once you cut the frittata. Next up, I added the onions and Hatch into a cast-iron frying pant to cook for a bit:
Turn the oven on when you’re starting to cook on top the stove. You don’t want to wait for the oven to heat up. I recommend 350F, I think 375F was too high.
Pretty soon, the veg will be cooked:
At this point, I added in the chopped pork chops to heat them:
And let them heat while you deal with the eggs:
I think I used 8 of these babies, from Texas chickens (yes, it’s a prejudice.) I also used my huge 8-cup Pyrex mixer so I’d have plenty of room. (You’re going to wash something anyway, right?) I cracked them right in and added a bit of milk:
And because, DUH, I had this handy, I shook in about a quarter cup or so:
I have some Manchego in the freezer, but guess who doesn’t like that, either? So this is what went in:
Plugged in the immersion blender:
And hit the button:
Now you’re ready to pour the egg mixture into the pan. Carefully, please:
Your frittata is almost ready:
I put the universal pot lid on it so that it might cook a bit faster on top:
Then I put it directly into the preheated oven to finish cooking (minus the lid) slicing through it to make sure it was completely baked:
With cries of “I’m hungry” from BF, and apologies for the the delay, I served this to him:
I love it. It’s quick, easy, and because the pork chops were already cooked and seasoned, I didn’t have to do much of that. But what did the man of the house think?
“I don’t really like it. Can I have a grilled cheese sandwich instead?”
Yes, he really said that. And I did make him one, in the same skillet. I’ll be eating frittata for breakfast this week while he has some cereal and milk. That’s what he likes.
I asked him why he didn’t like it, and he said that it was “just too many flavors going on at one time.” So if I ever attempt a frittata again, I’ll have to tone down the flavor combinations and follow a recipe. (Not like there aren’t many around.) I felt bad that it didn’t live up to expectations, and it wasn’t as special as I thought it was. He appreciated the effort, but just didn’t like the finished product.
And now the word “frittata” will be, in his mind, synonymous with something awful.
He did mention something about stuffing the other night, the kind out of a box. I consulted Will It Waffle? and made him. . .Stuffles. When I mentioned that I *could* waffle the stuffing, he got this smile on his face and asked, “Are you serious?” I nodded, and he said, “OK, go ahead.” And, you know, that was a pretty darn good thing to do. You just add some melted butter and water to a packet of the stuffing mix in a bowl, mix it up well, then heat up the waffle maker. Add a half-cup to each section, close the top for a few minutes (watch it, of course) and you’ve got hot, salty, greasy, crunchy, tasty Stuffles. If anyone wants the recipe, send me a note and I’ll write a post on it. (No, it’s *not* gluten free.)
Meantime, we’re doing what we need to around the homestead. BF has taken vacation time next week (the “use it or lose it” type) and it also happens to be. . .my birthday! Gifts don’t always come wrapped in a box. No Denny’s around, but I’ll be getting my yearly free salad (or something) from Starbucks, and maybe one or two other “birthday free things” I can find. Well, I knew I would miss some things when I moved here.
Y’all, frittatas are a great way to make a quick egg dinner for yourself, your family, as well as breakfast, brunch or lunch. Heck, really, anytime you’re hungry and have a few minutes.
Except for The E Man. Unfortunately, he’s allergic to eggs. My sincerest apologies to you, my friend.
So will you try it this week? If you’re in an area where it’s already cold, frittatas can really fit the bill any time. Here in the south, it’s not a long oven time, either.