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SPAM CAN
The SPAM Post

SPAM! This isn’t junk email. It’s all about that ubiquitous canned meat.

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

In my writing adventures, I learn about all kinds of neat things. Technology, law, current events (whether I want to or not) and I write about them for other people. They pay me for this, although I need to get faster at it so I’ll have more time to blog about stuff that matters.

I also have a thing for vintage cooking stuff–ads, recipes, etc. It’s not that I want to make things like a Jell-O mold that looks like an aquarium, mind you. I just enjoy putting them on Facebook to make people say, “EEEEEEWWWWW!!” (You wouldn’t believe what they used to put into a Jell-O mold and call a “salad!”) But, admittedly, there’s a strange enjoyment from seeing what used to pass for “gourmet.” You’ll see some of them in this post.

On the healthier side, there’s news to report, especially if you like tortillas and wraps. But today, I wanted to have a little fun.

Healthy Options

You may be wondering why grocery stores have more “specialty health foods” than before. Things like Caulipower pizzas and other treats, gluten-free cakes, and brownies from baking stalwart Betty Crocker. There’s a good reason for it.

Multiple companies are trying to reinvent flour-based foods for a health-conscious consumer, and those with specific health concerns. And the way it starts is because frequently, it’s a necessity for one person.

In the case of Caulipower, it’s because founder Gail Becker had two sons who were suddenly diagnosed with Celiac disease. When she tried to make cauliflower pizza on her own, she wasn’t successful. So she sought to create the frozen cauliflower pizza for others who wanted it. Today the company sells a range of alternative processed foods around the country, including Walmart and Winn-Dixie. Forbes has an interesting article about Gail Becker and how she got started.

Egglife Wraps

Now comes the company Egglife, which aims to re-invent flour-based tortillas. You can buy Mission Tortillas that are “low carb,” but they frequently come with. . .wait for it–wheat flour. So they’re not gluten-free. That’s no help!

Egglife’s products include six different types of wraps made from cage-free eggs. Like Caulipower, founder Peggy Johns had to cut carbs and sugar for health reasons. They’re found in the refrigerator section and have just launched in Walmart. If you want to get something in front of the majority of Americans, that’s where you put it. So I’ll be looking for them soon and trying them out here at the Casa de Rurale with a full report.

The Definition Of Spam

Do you eat SPAM? Do you know anyone who does? I do–BF eats it. But until I met BF, I’d never met anyone who eats the stuff. Except maybe during a temporary emergency. If you’re in a shelter and the hurricane is blowing down the trees around you, you’ll likely be hungry for anything, and “special dietary needs” can go right out the window. But I digress.

Spam & Prunes

Because Spam goes with anything!

A couple of years ago, a client asked me to write about something called SAP. It’s a computer operating system that has both fans and detractors and elicits reactions from joy to despair. The reaction you get will depend on who you talk to about SAP.

I haven’t had the opportunity to learn SAP (stands for Systems, Accounting and Production), but if I had, I might still be living in the Houston area. Anyway. . . .

Deciding The Topic

While talking with this Manhattan-based client, I said, “It sounds like SAP is the Spam of IT.” He laughed and said, “that’s exactly what it is!” But they make their bread and butter with it (pardon the pun), so we didn’t want to be too critical. Here’s the article I wrote if you want to read it.

Fiesta Peach Spam Bake

I really doubt any Mexican restaurant would serve this.

But then I started thinking about. . .SPAM. It’s always in the grocery, but yet, “nobody” eats it. Really? I decided to do a little research.

History And Origins

Spam was created by the Hormel Company in 1937. There are some differences of opinion on the naming convention, but it either stands for “spiced ham” or “something posing as meat.” I guess it’s all in who you talk to. The US forces during WWII called it “ham that failed the physical.” This was not a compliment, as anyone at the company at the time could tell you. Spam was included in military war rations because it has a shelf life of approximately 9,724 years. A soldier far from home could eat it anywhere, hot or cold, right out of his or her backpack.

It was one of those foods that “thrifty housewives” knew would stretch their food budget like a rubber band. And so, recipes like this showed up frequently in popular media of the period:

Spam & Lima Bean Recipe from 1946

Isn’t it DELISH?

I did offer to make this vintage culinary delicacy for BF. He loves lima beans and Spam. Apparently, having them together like this isn’t as appealing.

Spam was also purchased by governments worldwide to add to their own military rations during WWII. Nikita Kruschev was once quoted as saying that if it weren’t for SPAM, they would have lost the war a lot faster.

Hormel, today, produces approximately 44,000 cans of this stuff per HOUR, every day. That’s not an exaggeration, that’s their own estimate. You know quality control keeps track of these things, right?

Spam Consumers

So who is actually eating SPAM? Besides BF, of course. One word: Asians. No kidding. SPAM is extremely popular in Asian American cuisine as well as Asian countries.

Spam became a symbol of American generosity after the war, and also kept people from starving in many of these countries. Agriculture took a long time to return to these smaller countries, so the easily transported cans of ready-to-eat protein helped them considerably. Today gift boxes of Spam varieties are a highly coveted holiday gift in Asia.

Hawaiian Spam

Another place it’s popular: Hawaii.

Spam musubi – “poor man’s sushi” – is a popular fast food in Hawaii. Photo: Alamy

Source: South China Morning Post

Not a joke–they even have even restaurants on the Islands dedicated to cooking and serving dishes made with Spam. Part of the love of Spam had to do with it being sent to the detention camps for Japanese descendants between 1941 and 1945. That’s why there are so many Japanese residents in Hawaii. It’s a sad part of US history for sure, but Spam love was one small good thing that emerged.

Post-War Spam

The company changed direction and began marketing the product to post-war American housewives who were now cooking for husbands and families in the 1950s.

Spam Meatloaf

Oh, YES. . . .

But because so many GIs ate it during their time in the US military, Spam’s pre-war popularity didn’t return. Still, Spam remains a best-seller stateside and quickly went on to gain a foothold in the Asian marketplace.

If you’re old enough to remember the original Monty Python, you’ll remember the skit about the restaurant that served nothing but Spam recipes. The sketch also came out of Britain’s recovery after WWII and the part Spam played in it, much like Asia’s. However, British agriculture returned quickly as did the US’s. There are also a few US restaurants that serve it. Comedy predicts the future!

And yet, when Americans like me think of Spam, the first thought is, “EEEEEEWWWWW!!” Others, like BF, adore it. Go figure.

Recipes

No–I’m not going to tell you I’ve eaten or cooked anything with Spam. That’s BF’s job, not mine. Usually, though, he goes for a “Spam sandwich.” I’ve also met people who will fry it up in a pan. I’m not one of them.

If the idea of cooking with SPAM appeals to you, their own website has a separate page of over 100 recipes available, such as:

Can you see me crafting these gourmet Spam recipes for BF? How about this one:

Ad for s-p-a-m with banana fritters from 1951

If people really ate this way in the 1950’s, that explains a lot, doesn’t it?

No, me either. I can hear him now:  “Stay ALERT! Stay ALIVE.”

Thirteen Varieties

In the modern (food) world, one variety of anything is usually not enough. During a visit to our local Rouse’s, I saw some of them:

Varieties on the grocery shelf at Rouse's

A great variety to choose from, including competitor varieties.

On the left, you’ll see a knockoff version. Our local Walmart also carries several types SPAM. The company actually makes 13 varieties, but I don’t know if all of them are available around the US, and in this part of Louisiana:

  • Classic
  • Lite
  • Less Sodium
  • With Real Hormel Bacon
  • Oven-Roasted Turkey
  • Hickory Smoke Flavor
  • Hot & Spicy
  • Jalapeno
  • Teriyaki
  • With Portuguese Sausage Seasoning
  • With Tocino Seasoning (I have no idea what that is!)
  • Two different sized packages with classic Spam

Somebody is eating Spam in this country, even if they won’t admit it. And yet, with all the variety presented, BF won’t eat anything but the original.

BF Loves Spam

Well, of course, he does! That’s why things like lentils, quinoa, Waffled Falafel, and Overnight Oats are so foreign to him. (Aunt Ruth is still laughing at my description of BF’s first taste of overnight oatmeal.)

BF grew up eating Spam, I didn’t, so that explains some of the disparity. But you won’t be seeing this around here anytime soon:

Spam and pancakes ad from 1946

Can you imagine? No, me either–because it was 1946.

When I showed this ad to BF, he was quite interested in all three of these. He’s welcome to make them for himself. Thankfully this “cutesy” form of advertising has given way to more genuine styles, mostly, and with SEO (search engine optimization.)

All You Needed To Know

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post; it’s been sitting in the draft folder for a while. If you really like the salty, cold canned meat, go for it! BF does, frequently. And now you know about the incredible variety of multicultural recipes that start with a simple can of Spam.

Of course, you can find plenty of recipes and information on the Spam website. There is also a gift shop for Spam merchandise and some cans. Some varieties of Spam are currently in short supply. But you can purchase Spam temporary tattoos, posters, magnets, postcards, T-shirts, Polo shirts, golf bags, and other quality merchandise that you didn’t know you needed. Want to learn more? Check out the company’s FAQ page.

At The Casa de Rurale

We actually have one or two cans in the kitchen somewhere. BF cracks open a can when he just doesn’t know what he wants for dinner. Sometimes it’s because he is in a place where food is being served that he doesn’t quite understand. He just takes his Spam sandwich and goes into a corner until it’s all over. Or, on rare occasions, I’m that mad at him that I let him feed himself, and he’ll find his way to a can.

One thing that worries me–if I go first, and I’m not there to make BF a healthy dinner, is he going to spend his days eating cereal for breakfast and Spam other times? Oh, well–if I go first, I guess it has to be up to him to eat healthily. I hope he’s learned a few things in the time I’ve been here.

Enjoy!

Chaffles and cheesecake on square red plate
Dash Into The Kitchen

Dash kitchen products–they’re small, cute, functional, and in stores around the US. Are they worth it?

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

On the heels of four weekly blogs. . .I’m on a roll! Good thing, because I have more to tell you about.

Cow Road Is Repaved!

Recently I got a call from Miss H, asking for some “senior tech support.” Miss H and her husband T live on the other side of what I call Cow Road, and that’s how I get over there. They’re nice people, and I’m happy to help on occasion.

When Miss H called, I got a huge surprise. But first, a previous picture of the lovely Cow Road, taken right after I moved here in 2016:

Tree Lined Cow Road

Lovely, yes?

After the August 2016 flood here, the normal road to get in and out of town was closed because of a broken bridge. You couldn’t get to the Casa de Rurale from there. You had to go around the “long” way, which was Cow Road.

Now, the thing about Cow Road is that while I was in Houston, my long-term plan was to move out of Harris County and into a more rural area like this one. But there’s an old saying, “man plans, God laughs.” Yeah, it was like that. When I said I wanted to move out of Harris County, this was not what I had in mind. I’ve adapted as best I can, but I still get funny looks from people here.

Take a look at the road in this picture:

Cow Road farther down

Farther down, near the cows.

Don’t drive too fast here. Well, you couldn’t, anyway, not without serious damage to your vehicle. But for several months after I moved here, going into town required us to go bumping and grinding down Cow Road to get to the other road to get into town.

Then when I got the call from Miss H a couple of weeks ago, I took off and discovered:

Cow Road Paved 1

It’s PAVED!!

No kidding, after all these years, they paved Cow Road.

Cow road paved 2

Such a nice ride now

No more bumping and grinding when I take that road to either H&T’s place, or to pay the water bill (which I normally do online.) I couldn’t believe how smooth the ride was, and it takes a lot less time to get to the other side. This is primarily because you don’t have to beware of multiple holes that will take out your oil pan, kink up your chassis, flatten a tire or even knock your transmission off.

That’s Not Really The Name

Although there are signs with the legal name of this parish-owned street, there’s a specific reason why I call it Cow Road.

When I first got here, nobody, including BF, told me the actual name of the road. There were also no signs anywhere, not that I saw. Turns out there was one, and not in the most obvious of places.

While describing the drive one day, I said to BF,  “then you go down Cow Road. . .” He smiled and replied, “I think you’ll find that it’s called something else.” Well, with no street signs anywhere, what am I supposed to call it? Especially since I had just moved here and didn’t know where I was. So, I’ve been calling it Cow Road ever since, and so does BF unless I’m not around.

In case you’re wondering:

Cows in field on Cow Road

The cows are still there

And still, they don’t care about anyone who gets out of their vehicle and takes their picture.

Instant Pot Update

Remember when I said I bought the “latest and greatest” when I bought my IP? Well, the Duo Evo Plus can no longer be called that. It has been discontinued by the company.

In an email this weekend from the Pressure Cooking Today blog, there’s a new Instant Pot for 2021. It’s sleek and black, unlike previous models. It looks a bit like Darth Vader. The Instant Pot Pro is the newest and latest model for home cooks to use, incorporating updates from mine.

This newest Instant Pot incarnation costs about the same as the Duo Evo Plus. The biggest change is the ability to create five pre-set cooking programs in addition to the built-in menus (which I haven’t yet used anyway.)

The control panel is pretty much the same except for the new pre-sent buttons. The menus have been consolidated; instead of “poultry,” it’s now called “chicken.”  Apparently, the “start” buttons aren’t standard on previous IP models, only starting with mine. So they remind you to press “start.”

If you’re considering an Instant Pot after reading my long post, know that the newest IP is the sleek, black Instant Pot Pro. The Duo Evo Plus is now known as an “IBM Selectric.” That’s an electric typewriter that most of us learned on before there were laptops and iPads. In case you’re one of those kids that have never seen one before.

Just last week, I finally printed out my owner’s manual for the Duo Evo Plus, put the pages in plastic page protectors, and put the whole thing into a binder:

Printed manual for the Duo Evo Plus in a red folder

Just in time for it to become obsolete!

At least I have it in the kitchen now.

First The Disclaimers

Amy’s Note: this is not a sponsored post, but does contain my Amazon affiliate links as described at the bottom of each post and page. All opinions are my own, except where noted. Although I’ve researched the subject matter with readily available online information, I did not contact anyone with the Dash Company.

Additional Note: although these mini appliances are cute as a button, they are NOT toys, and children should not use them without proper supervision. The risk of burning little fingers–or any fingers, for that matter–is real, and we don’t want to start our day at an ER or a burn unit. So please exercise proper caution, especially around the little ones.

Dash–The Tiny Appliances

So, for the last few years, I’ve been seeing these cute little appliances in Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and a few other places. Finally, one day, I bit and bought. Then another. Then another.

The first Dash product I bought was the thing that makes hard-boiled eggs quickly and easily:

Egg maker boiling eggs

Fast and easy hard-boiled eggs

The cup that measures the water has a small pin in the bottom. Use that to put a pinhole in the widest part of the egg. Measure the water and pour it in, plug it in, put the lid on (don’t seal it), and touch the button. When it makes its little noise, turn it off, unplug it, and dunk the eggs in ice water to stop the cooking process. Tah-dah! Hard-boiled eggs with little effort.

You can boil eggs in the Instant Pot, but I have not tried it myself. But with this little doodad, I can leave the IP in the cabinet. There is another model that does a full dozen hard-boiled eggs.

Making Eggs

It’s simple technology–water on a hot plate. No kidding, that’s what’s under the rack. This picture from Amazon’s website explains it easily:

Source: Amazon

Additionally, you can make poached eggs with the little split tray, or a two-egg omelet with the other one. Both sit atop the egg rack, not directly on the hot plate.

The first job is to pour water into the hot plate. The amounts are on the side of the cup, but I usually go to the top-level amount anyway. I’ve had little omelets come out half-cooked, and I had to microwave them to finish.

Put the top on, press the button and you’ll have nice cooked eggs shortly.

Waffle And Other Tiny Makers

I tried to resist, but couldn’t, when I found Dash’s little pumpkin waffle maker in our local Dirt Cheap last year for just a couple of dollars. I found one more, and have bought two others elsewhere:

Four dash waffle makers

My “collection!”

I still want to get more, because there are so many designs. These are so hard to resist, they’re so cute. Making little waffles that are just enough for you or someone you love. Who could resist?

Seasonal Waffles

The company has a range of these little waffle makers to use all year long, including this one for Halloween:

Skull waffle maker

Scary!!!

I managed to get the red heart-shaped one before Valentine’s Day this year, but you know what happened there. My mini waffle maker collection also includes a flower design, but I’d like to get more of the different seasonals.

Dash’s newest design is the Star Mini Waffle Maker, which I may try to find soon for the 4th of July.

I did make BF a couple of tiny waffles using a bit of math and his favorite pancake mix, but he wasn’t terribly impressed. Even with a pumpkin on one side.

Egg Bite Maker

I bought this because I wanted to make the egg bites easier than using the Instant Pot. Well. . . .

Egg bite maker on shelf at Target

They’re readily available now.

They weren’t at Target at the time, so I waited until I was going to Mandeville and stopped at BBB. I used a coupon, brought it home and used it.

Egg bite maker on countertop

It’s cute, like the rest.

You use these little cups:

Cups in maker

Like this

The cups sit in a little water, and the water heats up, much like the other egg cooker. However, unlike the Instant Pot bites, these are about half that size:

Egg bite cup in hand

They’re silicone, too

I think they’re smaller than the ones you get in Starbucks, too.

Egg bite maker cookbook

All the products come with an instruction manual and a little recipe booklet.

Well, I tried it:

Egg bites from Dash maker

I made them the same way I did in the Instant Pot, with bacon and cheese and all that, but. . .they took a long time to cook, and they’re so tiny. And you have to keep refilling the cups and the water and starting over until you’re done.

Too much trouble.

I guess if I hadn’t tried the IP first, I would have been OK with it. But ultimately, I returned it in favor of the IP. This is good for someone who doesn’t have an IP or doesn’t want one but loves the egg bites.

Dash Tiny Ice Cream Maker

For many years–at least 12–I’ve had this Pure Indulgence ice cream maker from Cuisinart. I should make ice cream more often but just don’t. This makes two quarts, and I certainly have containers for the ice cream. I just don’t seem to get around to it as I would like.

But if you want a little ice cream tonight, Dash has you covered with this:

Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker

Isn’t it cute?

The My Pint Ice Cream Maker will make you just enough for this evening if that’s all you want. The bottom part is the “freezer bowl,” and must be frozen for 24 hours, just like the bigger one. Of course, if you make a recipe of ice cream that goes into the bigger machine, you’ll only be able to make one pint at a time in this one. So that’s an issue. Especially if you use the recipes in the booklet.

Similar to the Cuisinart, the dasher goes through the ice cream mixture. But in this one, the little motor sits on top and turns the dasher. The base doesn’t move. When the motor slows down, the ice cream is done.

Dash Ice cream maker motor and dasher

Very small.

There’s even a cup and spoon so you can enjoy your ice cream right then and there!

I did make some ice cream when I brought it home, but I keep forgetting that I have it. Just to make some that night, I mixed some heavy cream, vanilla, stevia liquid, and some sugar-free chocolate chips and ran it. Came out good, and even BF liked it. He only had a spoonful, though.

Bottom of ice cream maker

This part goes into the freezer for 24 hours. (I had to rinse out the collected ice first.)

Oh, and despite its affordability:

Ice cream maker in BBB

Not bad for an ice cream maker. The Cuisinart is three times this much.

I did manage to get it marked down at our local Dirt Cheap. I had to read the little manual to find all the parts, which were scattered on the shelf. Took it to the testing table, plugged it in, and it worked. Cleaned it when I got it home and stuck the cup in the freezer.

The Dash Range

Now, of course, Dash makes more types of mini-makers, including:

  • Grill
  • Griddle
  • Waffle bowl maker
  • Bundt cake maker
  • Rice cooker
  • Pie maker
  • Pizzelle maker
  • Donut maker
  • Mini electric skillet
  • Mini toaster oven (with very simple controls)
  • Dog treat maker (I should get one of these, their recipes use ingredients you already have)
  • Waffle stick maker
  • Omelet maker

They also make full-sized appliances as well as accessories, like these I found at Dirt Cheap for the little air fryer:

Small air fryer accessories

We’ve used these in the air fryer, they fit perfectly.

I need to get a few more of these mini-makers, especially since BF likes donuts and pies.

Chaffles

So if you don’t eat waffles made from flour and whatnot, the mini-waffle makers might just collect dust. Or you can make something sweet like these GF Peanut Butter Heart Waffles.

I’ve mentioned chaffles before, but they’re great anytime. That is, if you like eggs. If you don’t, well, this won’t apply to you. Chaffles are cheese and eggs mixed, and are quick to make in these tiny waffle wizards.

Chaffles and cheesecake on square red plate

And why not?

But Dash’s mini-waffle makers can make delicious waffled food just like the bigger ones, but in smaller amounts. if you’re doing the ready-made pancake mix, just divide it down to what you need.

Many people also use chaffles to make breakfast sandwiches. And why not? Make your two chaffles, put some cooked bacon, sliced ham, sliced avocado, more cheese, or other delicious things in between them, just like you would with any regular English muffin. Then wrap your paws around it and eat like any two-fisted sandwich you can get out of a drive-through window.

I may have mentioned this before, but you can find several recipes for chaffles on Dash’s recipe page, as well as places like Pinterest and Instagram. There are also Facebook groups just for people who love chaffles.

Why Make Them Small?

Remember that although I embrace cooking large amounts to eat during the week or freezing for later, not everyone does. BF eats something once, maybe twice, and that’s IT.

Let’s examine some statistics: as of 2019, there are more than 36 million people living alone in the United States. You probably know someone who lives alone by choice (that was me) or because their life situation has changed. Not everyone wants to live with someone else, for whatever reason.

Off the top of my head, I think of:

  • The GER and The E Man, both widowers
  • Aunt Ruth, a widow herself
  • Neighbor E, who never married
  • LK, a Buddhist friend in the Houston area who also never married
  • RW, the lady next door, a divorcee
  • Several other former neighbors at El Dorado Trace, including Neighbor J upstairs and TM, the lady next door to him.
  • Many people we know locally and throughout the area

BF and I were living alone (separately) until I moved from Houston into his house (and changed his world around) in 2016. As I told him recently, “man was not in the plan,” meaning that before he came along in 2015, I had no plans to be “with” anyone again. That was my choice. El Dorado Trace had a lot of single women living there at the time, and probably still does. Some are owners, more are renters like me. Many are probably still living alone, even if they have a significant other who lives elsewhere.

Those Who Live Alone

Remember too that not everyone living on their own has a house like the GER or a fabulous two-bedroom condo as Neighbor E has, with a suitable kitchen. There are also:

  • College students in dorms don’t have room for a full-size anything
  • People just out of college who are working a new job and living in their first apartment
  • Young people who move out of their parent’s place and into a garage-style or efficiency apartment
  • Full-time residents of “tiny homes,” “fifth wheels” or other smaller accommodations
  • Folks who are recently separated or divorced, living in a smaller place after moving out of the marital home
  • People who are downsizing, for whatever reason
  • People who are starting over after losing their home to a disaster or other life-changing event
  • RV travelers, part-time or full-time
  • People living in “senior apartments” or assisted living facilities, with very small kitchens and little space
  • Vacation rentals and AirBnB places

In places like LA, San Francisco, and NYC, if one can afford a place on their own, it isn’t very big. Texas is also getting to that point, leading to people moving far outside of the city into the outer suburbs and rural areas.

When I was looking for a place to live to move out of the GER’s house, I looked at one interesting place in the Medical Center, a neighborhood in the Inner Loop area of Houston. It was a one-bedroom, three-story house. The kitchen had no oven, only a stovetop, with not a lot of room. There were lots of stairs (I was in my 40’s then.) Appliances like these would have been perfect for this little “kitchen closet.” The bedroom was on the third floor. So how was I going to get a bed, dresser, nightstand, and other stuff up there? Well, I didn’t–I ended up at El Dorado Trace, on the ground floor, with a fireplace and a breakfast bar, for 12 years.

With so many people living alone in the US, as well as people who want to eat better, there’s definitely a market for these smaller appliances.

Bigger Dash Appliances

Dash also has a range of full-size appliances that are available in Bed, Bath, and Beyond as well as online:

Big Dash Air Fryer

Twice the size of mine.

But if you want a larger model, they have you covered there, too:

Big Dash Air Fryer Pro

This is a bigger version of their air fryer.

They also have a six-quart air fryer, as well as accessories for each size like the ones I mentioned earlier.

Like popcorn?

Dash popcorn popper

I haven’t tried this one, but the company has two types.

And if you need a little extra cooking space one day:

Dash skillet in BBB

I’ve not tried this either.

Fancy a cuppa? Or are you looking to make oatmeal, pasta, or something else quickly?

Dash water kettel in BBB

More quick cooking

I have a kettle for boiling water, but not one like this. For someone in a small place by themselves, this 110 cooker could be just the ticket for a faster breakfast or late-night meal.

Other Specialty Appliances

Dash also has more full-size appliances like:

I received The Complete Dehydrator Cookbook by Carole Cancler from Callisto last year. Oh, boy–I was ready to start dehydrating. There’s a recipe for almond-flour based Double Chocolate Biscotti on page 197 that I just want to try first–I love biscotti. But when I showed BF the book and discussed getting one, he laughed and said, “that’s OK, I had enough dehydrated food in the Navy when I was overseas.” Darnit.

It was worse when I got a few books on aromatherapy. He had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.

The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Let me just admit that these appliances do, indeed, remind me of Suzy Homemaker appliances. Especially ones with the aqua color.

I also admit that when I go to our local Dirt Cheap, one of the things I’m looking for is anything from Dash. Somehow, I just don’t think many people around these parts are familiar with the company or see a need for their unique products. (You know, I haven’t been there in a while, but might visit this week.) But now, others have gotten into the “mini-maker” act.

Although Dash products haven’t appeared in our local Walmart–or any we’ve been in–Club W has been carrying a knockoff line of some of Dash’s most popular products:

Knockoff Egg cooker and waffle maker at Walmart

Just like the original, yes? (Probably not.)

Craft chain Hobby Lobby has also gotten on board with the smaller specialty appliances. They do carry some Dash products, but also the Nostalgia brand like Walmart, as well as another brand called Bella. They also have a few Star Wars products, like a Baby Yoda Waffle Maker, and some small character slow cookers as well.

The Company

On Dash’s About Us page, they explain:

We believe that taking small steps every day to live a healthier life can have a big impact. And that the best path to wellness is eating whole, natural foods. At Dash, we make products that make it easier for you to prepare and eat real food at home so that you can feel your best. In the store, in your kitchen and online — We give you the tools and the support to make delicious healthy meals.

That’s what living unprocessed is all about.

Their social media pages, particularly Instagram, have all kinds of posts, including videos from a lady calling herself “Ms. Dash.” Is she the person behind the company? I don’t know, but she is always cooking up something delicious and making videos of it for everyone to enjoy. They also have a YouTube channel with videos dating back 8 years for so many of their products. And it looks like this year is Dash’s 10th anniversary. Has it been that long?

The bottom of the box has this cute saying:

Bottom of DASH box

They do have a sense of humor

The company’s fun vibe runs all throughout its website and social media channels. They encourage people to cook for themselves, which I’m sure has been happening more in the last year or so. Their web page for their waffle makers has a title tag that says, “Waffles are like pancakes with syrup traps.” Isn’t that the truth?

Their tag line, “unprocess your food,” encourages people to cook for themselves, however simple. You’ll see a number of vegan and vegetarian recipes demonstrated by “Ms. Dash,” as well as learn how to use some of their appliances when making recipes.

Ready To Go Mini?

Dash’s products are all produced with one idea: to make cooking easier and more enjoyable. Their smaller products make cooking for one or two easy without turning on the stove, and the larger products accommodate families.

All of the mini-makers make great gifts for graduates, aspiring cooks, or anyone with a sense of humor. Families with children can use them to teach cooking (with supervision, of course–they’re not toys.) And those living single can cook for themselves easier with smaller appliances.

So far, I’ve found them to be great little products that work well and deliver on their promises. I don’t have each and every one of them, but I will be buying more over time in the future. Yes, even that dehydrator. I don’t know about the fondue set yet.

Happy Cooking!

 

 

Slice of blackberry cobbler
Review: The Southern Keto Cookbook

Keto? Southern Cooking? The two don’t normally go together. But if you’re The Texas Granola Girl, they certainly do. I’ll tell you all about it.

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Hi, Again Dear Readers:

It’s been a busy week again, and I thought a cookbook review was a good idea, especially for those who are doing keto. And if you’re in Texas, you’ll enjoy this one.

In response to my last post on the delicious Tex-Mex cauliflower rice dish that BF didn’t like, I received two responses. The first, from Aunt Ruth, who was quite complimentary. She might even try it one day. However, the second email came from the GER, who proclaimed, “BARFO! YUCK OH!” I used to cook for the GER. Like BF, if I didn’t tell him it was cauliflower, the reaction would have likely been different.

Incidentally, if you ever come to visit and see this on the kitchen counter:

Can of dog food on counter

Don’t panic.

Understand that it’s not part of any recipe. It’s just sitting there. That’s where we leave it when we get home from pet food supply runs at Tractor Supply. Honest.

Lots to tell, so let’s get started.

Alvin Calhoun’s Funeral

As I mentioned in the last blog, Baton Rouge barbecue master Alvin Calhoun passed away. The funeral was Friday the 14th at Winfield Funeral Home on Plank Street in Baton Rouge.

I was already planning to run some errands in Baton Rouge that Friday. BF was off work, and so the stars were in alignment for us to go.

BF and I went to pay our respects and see him one more time during the visitation period but didn’t stay for the service. We met with his son Davin and his wife Kim, nice people just like Alvin. I downloaded the picture of him onto my phone and sent it to her, along with the blog so they could read it. Davin will be continuing the business they started, and BF will be bringing some motor parts to them soon.

We went to the front of the chapel to see Alvin, and I chanted quietly with him for just a minute. He was well-liked, of course, and there were lots of people there. I couldn’t sit and chant with him for too long, but I did chant a little.

Alvin was dressed in a tasteful suit, and he looked good. In fact, he looked just like we remember him. Of course, we won’t forget him, either.

Friday’s Errands

After the funeral, we proceeded with our errands. It was going to be one, but since we were in the Capital City anyway, it ended up being a “day trip.”

My five-year-old vacuum cleaner needs a new electrical cord, and I made multiple phone calls to try and get it done. Finally, I found someone who would work on it for me without semantics. No kidding–one guy I talked to whined because I told him I had a higher-end Bissell. I found someone else. Once I figured out where I was headed, Friday was the day.

We did make it to Trader Joe’s, and we had to wear masks to go in. They were nice about it, as they always are. They’ve just dropped that requirement this week, though, nationwide. I saw lots of lovely new things, and they even had little cups of ready-to-eat “overnight oatmeal.” More on that later in this blog.

BF has finally set foot in Cost Plus World Market, where I buy his favorite British cookies, Jammie Dodgers. He had no idea what they were until I brought some home one day. They’re a favorite now, right behind Oreos.

And for the next time I make pesto, I found this lifesaver with a slightly curved end:

Blending spatula

Where has this BEEN all my life?

I mean, REALLY–the blades in my blender have left cuts in my other spatulas, but now I don’t have to ruin any more of them. It’s about the same length as my others:

Blender spatual full length

Can’t wait to use this!

It wasn’t expensive. Kitchenaid has a similar model, but I didn’t know that either. Next door is Joann’s, where I got some buttons for two projects and two on-sale patterns.

I also replaced my years-old coffee grinder that blew up the other night.

Bodum coffee grinder with box

Similar to the previous model

Wish I’d bought this a long time ago–it’s much quieter than the older one and doesn’t scare the cat. Bed, Bath & Beyond has some very high-end expensive models, and. . .I went to Target for this $20 model.

During a quick FaceTime call to BF, while I was out shopping recently, he told his manager at work that “there’s a whole other world that Amy’s in that I’m not familiar with.” (She waved at me, too.) Now he’s been introduced to a couple of those places. After a stop at a local outdoorsman place, the feeling is mutual. But I did pass on those locally-made dog treats they had made with nutria meat. Nutria is a large rodent creature that is an invasive species mistakenly introduced into the US, and thrives in coastal states like Louisiana. I don’t think even our dogs would touch those treats. Ever.

New Sprouts Market In Baton Rouge

We were headed home and what did I see? A new Sprouts Market! I had no idea!

I never made it to the Sprouts that, um, sprouted, in Houston before I left. Longtime friend of the blog LK visited the one near Pearland on Old Chocolate Bayou Road when they first opened. I meant to go, but I never made it. Or maybe I was afraid to because of all the great stuff they have and I didn’t have money for all that. Oh, well. There are now 49 Sprouts Markets throughout Texas, and Louisiana just got one.

I’ll be stopping in next trip and giving a full report, finally.

Low Caffeine Movement?

It seems that drinking high-octane coffee during the pandemic has led to something unintended–caffeine overload. Now one company wants to help with that. 

New startup Buzz Lite recognizes that coffee lovers don’t like caffeine overdoses and offers an alternative. It looks like the millennials are leading the way, but lower-dose caffeine can benefit those with high blood pressure and other caffeine-induced issues.

Yeah, OK, I’ll just go ahead and admit that I can get downright grouchy if I OD on caffeine. BF just ducks and sneaks out the back door to get to the garage.

What’s Amy been drinking with her decaf since she got here? Community Coffee’s Half-Caff Ground Coffee. Add about a half tablespoon or so into the decaf and it’s just fine. No burning my stomach or anything, and I get enough “boost.” It’s when I add full-strength coffee or have a cup of very strong tea that I start reaching for the Tums.

Half-caff has been around for a while, and it just takes knowing how much you can tolerate without bad side effects. I’m glad I’m not the only one, though.

Buzz Lite Coffee is currently only available online, but may eventually be as widely available as other brands of coffee.

The Texas Granola Girl

What happens when a Texas ranch girl goes keto and starts a blog? You get The Southern Keto Cookbook.

The cookbook has been available since last year and is one of those wonderful titles I received from my year-long Callisto benefit. I’ve made a few recipes from this book, and I always want to make something else and get BF to eat it. He just told family members his philosophy of my cooking over the weekend: “Stay ALERT! Stay ALIVE.” Not all of it is bad, though.

Emilie Bailey is a rancher’s wife in a city north of Dallas. She cooks and works on the ranch with her husband and two daughters. She’s a seventh-generation Texan and is also a former restauranteur. After a health diagnosis of inflammation for both her and one daughter, she began creating keto recipes that are just as enjoyable as their non-keto counterparts.

Here are a few that I’ve made since receiving this book.

Keto Green Chile Cauliflower Rice Bake

Well, on page 64-65, is a recipe I think I tried first, and even BF liked it (mostly because of the Monterey Jack Cheese.) Tasty, cheesy, and a nice touch with the can of green chiles.

Adapted from Emilie’s mother’s rice dish, it’s a creamy, delicious side dish that’s easy to make and good anytime. I haven’t made it since last year, so I need to make it again.

NOTE: you must cook the cauliflower rice prior to making this dish. I speak from experience. That’s why there’s a bit of yellow highlighter and a note to make sure I don’t forget.

Keto Turnips? NO

Ok, I hate to rain on this parade, but turnips and I do not get along.

Emilie has six recipes for turnips, including one I tried on pages 66-67 for Cheesy “Hash-Brown” Casserole.  Turnips are used here as a substitute for potatoes. One of our neighbors grew turnips in his garden last year and brought over a bunch. Well, this was the first recipe I tried.

Never again.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad recipe at all. And I know there are people who just love turnips. Not me. BF wouldn’t try it, so I ate it all week. Well, until it made me horribly sick.

As I mentioned in the post on cauliflower rice, I’ve made mac & cheese with cauliflower many times. I need to make that again sometime. But the turnips nauseated me!

Maybe it’s because I ate it every day for a few days. I’ve never eaten turnips that much or that often. Much as I like this book, I have to pass on those six recipes. If you like turnips, you’ve got six recipes to enjoy with them.

Granny’s Blackberry Cobbler, Keto Version

Now here’s one sweet treat we can all get into.

Dessert is always essential, and Emilie doesn’t disappoint here, either. Allow me to show you a dessert that I like because it’s tasty and keto, and BF likes it because it’s sweet and tasty. 

We have blackberries growing all around the property. When they start to ripen, I pick and pick and pick until the cycle is over. Right now on the other side of the garage, there is a mass of the little berries I’m anxious to see ripen so I can pick them all. One reason is I want them is for a cup for this delicious blackberry cobbler on page 176. If I pick enough I can freeze them and make this anytime.

Note that the pit bull loves these little berries, and will eat them off the vine if I show them where they are.

The Keto Dessert Time

There is a quart-sized bag of frozen berries from last year that I forgot to use up, so I decided to make one this week. I let the berries thaw for a few hours prior to baking. They were juicy, and they worked just fine.

Ingredients minus sweetener

The Setup

Of course, I forgot one essential ingredient:

Sweetener bag erythritol

This is essential, of course.

Emilie, like many keto authors, uses a blend of this and monk fruit, but I don’t have any right now. So because I didn’t think it was sweet enough, I added a bit of my secret weapon “booster.”

Bottle of liquid stevia in my hand

Liquid Stevia

One of the biggest differences this time is that I decided to use almond MEAL instead of almond FLOUR, as I normally do. This may be why it didn’t bake in the recommended time, and I had to put it back for another 20 minutes. But it came out just fine. 

Making Cobbler

There are a few steps, but it’s not difficult. First, mix the dry ingredients and whisk them together:

Whisking dry ingredients together

Just like this

Then start adding in the wet ingredients:

Adding sour cream

I did this out of sequence but it came out fine. Next up: a stick of melted butter:

adding eggs

And three eggs, whisked and beaten well:

pouring eggs into the mix

Right in.

Pouring almond milk

Almond milk instead of regular dairy? Yes.

Finishing

Spraying baking pan

Don’t forget the cooking spray!

Now add the very thick batter into the baking pan:

Spreading batter into baking pan

I had to do this, it was that thick.

Now add the blackberries–sprinkle them over the top:

Sprinkling blackberries

One cup, but I wish I’d added a little more

Next, you press the blackberries into the batter a little, so that they’re still visible but “stuck” in the batter.

Berries pressed into batter

Like this.

Mix up a tablespoon of the sweetener (no stevia here) and a quarter-teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and sprinkle that over the top.

Spreading cinnamon topping

It makes a nice sweet and crunchy topping

And Bake!

At 350F degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s baked, “or until the top is golden brown.”

Blackberrycobblerbaked

Ta-dah!

You must let this cool for a good 30 minutes before cutting into 9 squares and serving.

Slice of blackberry cobbler

It is as good as it looks.

Emilie also suggests serving with fresh whipped cream, but we didn’t do that.

I did, however, let our dinner guest TT know that while he was welcome to try some, it’s keto, gluten-free, and not what he might be expecting based on the Instant Pot chocolate cake. He said that he was full, and left shortly thereafter. The Boy had also come by to work on a motor, stayed for dinner, and was going to try some but ended up forgetting. 

BF didn’t. I might make another one next week.

Oh, and if it’s cold from the fridge, warm it in the microwave. You’re welcome.

Two Things

This cobbler look longer to bake than I remember from last year’s, but there are two factors that likely affected it:

  • First, I used a pan that was 8″ by 8″, not the 9″ x 9″ suggested in the recipe. That’s what I have on hand.
  • Second, I used almond meal instead of fine almond flour made from skinned almonds. It makes a heavier and denser batter, I think, and that probably was the main reason for the longer time required.

It was still good.

Followup: The Overnight Oats Post

Last week I served BF dinner and said, “I wouldn’t feed you anything bad.” He responded, “what about quinoa? And the Awful Falafel?

Remember my post on overnight oatmeal about five years ago? I wrote this when I was living in Houston, and told BF about it on one of our nightly calls. I suggested that he try overnight oatmeal for himself. It would be perfect for a single guy living alone. Breakfast–done! Well, that’s what one thinks.

Five months after I moved here, the weather warmed up in February, and I decided to make it one night. The next morning, I went where BF was snoozing with the cat, and I asked, “Honey, would you like to try some overnight oatmeal?” Rolling over and half awake, he says, “hmmm, sure.” I gave him a bite and got a reaction I wasn’t expecting. He was then wide awake when he said:

“AAAAAHHHH!!! That’s disgusting! It tastes like cat vomit! AAAAAHHHH!!!!”

Yeah, OK, I guess you didn’t like it. Thanks for the unvarnished opinion, as always. Believe me when I tell you that I still giggle when I think about this pivotal day in our relationship history.

To Anyone Who Will Listen

BF likes to tell HIS side of the story frequently, most often to coworkers. It was at that point that he began telling AK and then everyone, “she’s tryin’ ta kill me!” I’ve been offered my own opportunity to tell the story from my side on a few occasions. However, the conflict comes down to one factor: BF never read the original blog post.

So last week, I looked it up and read it to him. Finally, he understands that overnight oatmeal is served cold and that I like it with chocolate, peanut butter, agave syrup, and a few other things. You can make it with a wide variety of ingredients, customized to your own tastes. BF is so used to the packaged “instant” stuff that he doesn’t know how to make it for himself. Why would he, when there is such a thing as “instant microwave oatmeal?” Never mind that it has 6,000 grams of sugar and a host of other chemicals that you might not want to eat. 

Well, we keep soldiering on, as two imperfect people who don’t give up on each other.

Until Next Time

Whether or not you’re doing keto, I highly recommend The Southern Keto Cookbook by Emilie Bailey. The food is good, pretty easy to make, and enjoyable whether or not you’re from the South. I want to make so many more, like the Roasted Poblano Cauliflower “Mac” & Cheese on page 78 and the Texas Taco Hash on page 168. But there is. . .well, never mind. It looks tasty, for me, anyway.

Turnip lovers may like this book for the six recipes alone, but the entire book has plenty of great recipes we’ll be enjoying for a long time. And it’s all healthy, keto-friendly, and uses ingredients that are generally easy to find, even in this part of Louisiana.

Emilie’s newest blog post was just posted today. What’s she cooking up? Keto Rice Pudding, with, no kidding, cauliflower rice. You’ll have to read it to believe it, and I need to find whatever allulose sweetener is, order it, or make it with what I have here. Dairy-free, her newest dessert uses full-fat coconut milk and almond milk. It’s just so crazy I have to try it, and BF can have his Jammie Dodgers.

Happy Dining, Y’all!

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus Control Board Showing ON
Amy’s Instant Pot Adventure

The Instant Pot–the newest obsession in cooking. Is it worth the hype? It depends on who you ask. Get ready for a long post.

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Once again, I got behind in blogging. As we said in Boeing, I was “OBE,” or Overcome By Events. How many times has that happened? It’s been a month.

So, what’s going on? Well. . . .

Air Fryer Update

Have you decided on an air fryer, or decided against it? Neighbor E in Houston figured he’d pass on it after reading my report. I’m glad I could help.

Neighbor E also tells me that after the fanfare we experienced over the expansion of Baybrook Mall a few years ago, many of the stores have closed up and there is considerable empty real estate there. This includes my favorite Sur la Table. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which is a reorganization, not a complete shutdown with liquidation. The company was hit hard by the pandemic closures, and they’ve closed half of their stores, including the new one in Baybrook that I was so happy to have (albeit briefly.) The stores in River Oaks, the City Centre on the west side, and The Woodlands are still open, as are a few others in Texas.

The Baton Rouge store in the Perkins Rowe area was also closed in the reorg. It was the only store in Louisiana, and I don’t know if many people ever visited it. But Sur la Table still has online shopping, which is my preferred method anyway. They introduced virtual cooking classes last year for $29, but the remaining stores are also offering in-person classes again. You can even learn from Martha Stewart!

The IKEA Order

It took two weeks, but my order from IKEA did arrive, two days later than the originally predicted delivery date.

Box from IKEA

It’s here!!

I got everything I ordered, and we have used the tealight lanterns a few times.

Rotera tealight lamps from Ikea in Galvanized

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I’ve loved the Rotera since I bought the first one, and thankfully, they’re the same as I remember.

Rotera with tag

Just like you’d buy it in an IKEA store!

Because I was very annoyed with the candles I bought locally, I made sure to get some of IKEA’s as well.

Two packs of Glimma tealight candles

Their own brand of candles.

Of course, I had to test them out for the next time we needed them. We actually have had one power outage since February, during a hard rainstorm two weeks ago.

Tealight burning in Rotera lantern

Heavenl

Yes, they work great, and they keep the candles enclosed and safe. The Glimmas work exactly as they did last time I had some, too.

I’ve also finally begun to replace some of my incredibly worn-out dishtowels. It’s a start.

Colorful dishtowels from IKEA rolled up

These were inexpensive and have a nice retro design

I tossed out the ones with big holes in them. I really liked the waffle type from IKEA, but they don’t make them anymore. So over time I’ll be looking for more, and tossing out the incredibly old stuff. I’ll be ordering more lanterns, candles and dishtowels, as well as some other small stuff we need. Hurricane season is coming soon.

Now onto the main feature.

Introducing The Instant Pot

Many years ago friend of the blog AK asked me what I thought about this thing. I had no idea, I didn’t pay attention to it. At the time, I was looking for a job in Houston. I just didn’t want to think about something new I had to learn that wasn’t related to an occupation. But over time, these electric multicookers started showing up in more and more places, and so did the recipes.

If you don’t know what they are, they are electric pressure cookers that also have multiple cooking functions built into the unit, including slow cooking. You can start a dish on saute, and then finish it with slow cooking or pressure cooking.

They’re also called “multicookers,” depending on the type of unit you buy. Some do the pressure cooking, some do not. And the funny thing is that they nearly all look just about the same as the Instant Pot brand. I once bought what I thought was a small IP, but it turned out to be a small Hamilton Beach rice cooker that was on clearance at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $12. I returned it.

Let me say that although the name indicates “instant,” it really isn’t always as fast as that. But that’s part of the learning process.

Amy, Why Did You Buy One?

Because my 15-year old CrockPot was deteriorating. I bought it when I lived with the GER. Here’s what I mean by that:

 

Crockpot Face

It became battle-weary from frequent use.

Long before I began communicating with BF, I used the heck out of this.  When I got here, I put all kinds of food into each one of them. A couple of years ago, I even bought a pair of two-quart ones later, nicknamed “The Twins.” (One red, one black, from Target.) I replaced the lid and the dial on this one, but some parts weren’t available:

Left side broken handle

This one is ready to go.

Missling right side handle

And this one is just gone.

But the biggest concern, which I noticed right before I bought the Instant Pot, was this:

Split electrical cord insulation

This is the main reason I chucked it.

When I showed it to BF, he said, “that’s a fire.” The GER, bless him, would have said the same thing. I didn’t realize it was that serious until I was getting ready to buy the Instant Pot. The trash men took it, so it’s gone. The four-quart cookers seem to be fine for now, but eventually, those will probably be replaced. One is mine, and in a similar condition, the other is BF’s, which he only rarely used. Both work fine.

How Many Instant Pots Are There?

Two words: MUCHO GRANDE.

When you start looking at these things, you realize that there are half a million appliances under the name “Instant Pot.” There are even more brands of “electric pressure cookers” and “multicookers,” so you have to know what you’re buying or you’ll come home with the new egg-boiling rice cooker that you didn’t actually want.

Many of these pots are branded, like The Pioneer Woman’s line at Walmart and the Star Wars line that Williams Sonoma had. I think BF would have died happy if I bought the one that was made to look like R2D2, but I didn’t. I’ll tell you why.

An Instant Pot is an expensive purchase, and I’m probably only going to buy it once. Although I did buy the newest model with coupons at BBB, I also did a little investigating before I decided on it. If you’re going to spend the money anyway, it makes sense to know what you’re getting. And, if I’m going to buy it, I might as well get the newest and the best model available with all the functions. That’s the kicker–those Pioneer Woman and Star Wars models have limited functions on them, but you might not know this until you go and use R2D2 or BB-8 to cook something.

Sure, I could have just bought another 6-quart CrockPot. But again, if you’re going to spend the money, get a good one, and get the best one available and/or the best one you can afford. So I did.

How It Works

Just like the pressure cookers from years gone by, the principle is simple: water heats up at a higher temperature under pressure and cooks food faster. Some food, not all. Things like roasts take less time than they would normally.

The old type like this one has been around forever. Nobody I knew ever used one, and of course, there was always the fear of damage.

Modern pressure cookers are electronic appliances with a range of features built-in. You’ll still have a pressure gauge, but the lid locks on and prevents you from opening it too early. They also require a sealing ring inside the lid to prevent leaks.

The key is the float valve, which lets you know that there is still pressure inside, or that it’s all gone.

What It Can Do

Dried beans cook in an hour. However, I haven’t had such good luck with cannellini beans. Either they’re hard or they’re mushy–nothing in between. I’ll keep trying since beans are cheap. Even the cannellini, which is locally produced.

Frozen chicken breasts or roasts cook in an hour or so. Not what you’d call “instant,” but infinitely faster when you don’t have all day for it.

Put the food in, click the lid on, seal the lid (if you have a different model than mine), and start your engines. If you’re slow cooking with it, just leave it alone until dinnertime. Note that if you’re using the slow cooker function, there won’t be any pressure buildup. That’s only for pressure cooking.

Understand that even after seeing these things for years and hearing folks bleat on about how incredible they are, I don’t have any experience with them. This is my first.

Slow cooking blogger Stephanie O’Dea emphasizes that she does not have an IP and doesn’t want one. Well, maybe one day she will.

The Duo Evo Plus

What I finally purchased was the six-quart Duo Evo Plus, a ten-in-one cooker that’s the latest and greatest but does not connect to the WiFi. This model automatically seals when you click the lid in place, which is a first. It has a wide range of functions, most of which I haven’t used yet. The included instruction book is simply an overview and isn’t terribly detailed. I found out later that there is a larger “full” manual that you download and print yourself. I have it but need to have a hard copy in the kitchen where I use it.

The lid on this model comes completely off with a circular motion. Previous models have a lid that flips up but sits on the base.

There are sealing rings and a small cup that clips on the back to collect condensation. Looks like it’s standard on all the models.

Instead of the cup of water that the other models use, the Duo Evo Plus requires a cup and a half, or 12 ounces. You don’t get that from the “quick setup” manual that comes with it.

The Purchase

I bought mine at BBB (with multiple coupons) right after its release 18 months ago. At the same time, I also bought a cake pan, a glass lid for slow cooking, and two egg bite molds to make breakfast just like Starbucks.

Empty egg bite mold

The key to egginess!

I love the bacon type. Turns out those egg bites are quite popular with the low-carb and keto crowd, and for good reason. I’ve since bought the silicone cake trivet because it keeps things from sliding around when you remove them, and not just cakes. There are a few other accessories I’d like to get later, but I’m not in a hurry for them.

I’ll be honest and say that I have not used all of the functions on this new and improved Instant Pot. I wanted an all-in-one model.  Mostly, I’ve used Saute, Slow Cook, and Pressure Cook. There is even a baking function, and I may play with it one day. I also wanted this one for the yogurt-maker function, but I haven’t tried that one out, either.

A Removable Pot

While all of the Instant Pots have removable inner pots, they are simply for use inside the unit. They aren’t designed for use anywhere else. However, you can buy replacements.

The Duo Evo Plus has one with silicone-covered handles on the side. (I think that’s the correct one for mine.) Add the glass cover, and you can use that inside pot on top of the stove, too. You can also take the pot out of the unit, cover it with the glass lid, and bring it directly to the table for serving. Just put a trivet or something underneath to protect your tabletop.

Of course, the IP has a big range of functions, like saute, so you probably won’t have to use the stove. But you never know, it could come in handy when you need an extra pot for something, right?

Quick Cooling

One of the newer features of the Duo Evo Plus is this little spot on top:

Ice rack on the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

The specially-shaped ice pack goes right here.

Sometimes you’ll make a recipe that requires “natural pressure release” (like the cake below.) In other words, you leave it alone until the float valve drops. Otherwise, the recipe won’t work right.

In the new model, this little tray makes that easier. Remove the grate and put the accessory ice pack right there to cool the machine faster and therefore release the pressure. But when I went looking for one of these ice packs, they weren’t available. They are now, so I’ll get one eventually.

Instant Pot Chocolate Cake

The first thing I made was a little chocolate cake with a recipe from Corrie Cooks via Pinterest:

chocolate cake

This was my first attempt, not pretty, but well-received by BF.

I decided to make it again this past weekend and add some rich, homemade frosting to it:

Chocolate cake cut open

Looks delicious, doesn’t it? BF loves it.

Yes, Corrie is a guy. I’ve made this a few times to BF’s delight.

When I told BF I would make one for him last weekend, he said, “oh, no, I want that cake with the regular flour.” Well, that was the plan, but he wouldn’t let me finish. I made the cake, two keto chocolate cakes for me (from Jen Fisch’s book), and our dinner for that day, all in the Instant Pot. (The frosting was made with a mixer, no cooking required.) The dinner was keto, but this cake was not. But I just really, really wanted to use it, too.

No, I did not eat this cake, but enjoyed the keto cake. I did taste-test this cake’s icing. It was so rich it made my teeth wiggle.

Our occasional dinner guest TT had a piece of it and told BF that it was “too perfect.” He insisted that it came from a store because it didn’t “taste homemade.” That’s because TT, like most people here, is used to boxed cake mixes. BF says it’s very rich. With a stick of butter in the cake and two in the frosting, plus a lot of sugar, you bet! It was indeed homemade in the IP, with the icing whipped up in a bowl, so I guess I did well with it.

Note that while my IP has a “bake” function, Corrie’s recipe uses the “manual” function. Not every IP has “bake,” but they all have a manual button.

Egg Bites In The Instant Pot

This is one of the main reasons I bought this thing. I love egg bites. Well, let me say that they are a bit more trouble than, say, hard-boiled eggs. They take longer, and involve more prep work, depending on what you put in them.

Cooked egg bites on red plate

Aren’t they delish?

After futzing around with Ree Drummond’s recipe for a while and then one or two from Jen Fisch, I more or less created my own with:

  1. 8 eggs
  2. Cooked bacon, chopped up after cooking (it’s easier that way)
  3. Alternate: breakfast sausage, browned and drained (hence the saute function, although I forgot on the first try)
  4. Alternate: chorizo, browned and drained, which you can either make yourself easily or buy in the grocery (even here!)
  5. Heavy Whipping Cream (a cup, I think)
  6. A half-cup of sour cream (optional, adds body)
  7. Cheese of some kind, about a half-cup to a cup (the leftover shredded Mexican blend from Taco Tuesday works just fine)
  8. A splash or two of Chipotle Tabasco
  9. Salt
  10. Pepper
  11. A can of chopped green chiles (optional)
  12. Anything else I feel like chopping and tossing in

 

You mix the eggs with the cream and sour cream (if using). I like to use the immersion blender here, and then switch to a whisk or spatula for the rest of it.

Ree Drummond recommends adding the cheese and cooked chopped bacon into the molds first. Jen Fisch doesn’t. Your choice.

 

Cooking chorizo with onion

 

 

 

Make sure to drain off the grease from bacon, sausage, or chorizo before you proceed.

 

Spray the egg bite molds, then add your ingredients:

You can do it this way or just dump them all in together. I’ve done it both ways.

Cooking Egg Bites

 

Egg bite molds half full

Trust me on this–spray your egg bite molds.

Also, don’t fill them to the top. You’ll be covering them with foil before putting them into the IP, and they will expand like popovers if you overdo it. Ask me how I know this. <grin>

Egg bite mold covered in foil in IP

Add a cup (to 1.5 cups) of water in the bottom, put foil on top of the egg bite molds (not the lids that came with them, I dunno why), and put them on top of the metal trivet (or the silicone one if you’d rather.) Seal it up, and pressure cook for 18 minutes.

IP cooking

This was somewhere towards the end of the process.

For these, I went ahead and used the “quick release.” That is, I flipped the switch on the top of the lid and it depressurized quickly. Remember to stand back from the steam, because it will burn you.

I make two batches at once (that’s why I bought two molds) and then scoop them out with a big spoon.

Cooked egg bites

Breakfast is served!

It was a trial-and-error situation because if I cooked them for 15 minutes it wasn’t long enough. Into the trusty microwave they went to finish:

Microwaving egg bites

Oops.

Then I just put them into food storage in the fridge. But lately. . .well, maybe again soon.

These molds can also be used to make other things like cake pops. I haven’t tried that yet.

Other Notes

I wasn’t kidding when I said to use the cooking spray:

Egg bite molds with stuck egg

See?

They will slide right out with the aid of a big spoon IF you have them sprayed well. Do that right before you fill them or the oil will roll down into the bottom. Again, never mind how I know this.

Make batches for the week and freeze them whenever you want, or just refrigerate them for tomorrow’s breakfast. I’ll admit that it is more trouble than just hard-boiled eggs. But if you really like them, go for it. You can find thousands upon thousands of recipes on Pinterest or with a simple search.

No, BF won’t eat them either. It’s not that there is anything offensive IN the egg bites, even if it’s bacon and eggs and cheese. He just doesn’t like that the idea came from Starbucks.

The IP Cheesecake

Yes, you’ve seen this before in my cheesecake post. After being ill last year I kind of fell out of love with the cheesecake, but that’s OK. Both are still delicious anytime.

When Jen Fisch’s last book, Keto In An Instant, arrived, I knew I had to try her recipe in the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Cheesecake

Cheesecake! Sugar-free, gluten-free, and thoroughly delicious!

Now, I already had the six-inch springform pan from about 1996. . .used once or twice, and I think for BF’s IP chocolate cake, too. But this is a real cheesecake with a nut crust that’s baked in the Instant Pot. Yes, it’s very good, and it’s pretty easy to make.  The crust is also not damp like you’d think due to aluminum foil on the bottom. Jen’s recipes are delicious, I don’t care what BF says. I need to get her book that I don’t have soon.

If you get just one book for the Instant Pot, I highly recommend Jen’s. Her recipes are easy, delicious, and, honestly, the ones that BF will eat and likes the best. I’ve told her that on Instagram, and she said it made her happy to hear it.

After writing four cookbooks in two years, it’s going to be a while before Jen writes another cookbook. (I asked.)

More Than Cheesecake

Jen has some of her delicious Instant Pot recipes here on her website. Unfortunately, these aren’t the ones I’ve made for us! From the same book, I’ve made some creamy Brussels sprouts with bacon, a quick IP Gumbo (minus okra–sorry, we hate it in gumbo), an incredible crab bisque for two, and a tasty chicken with pancetta and broccoli recipe. (Gotta keep pancetta stocked in the freezer, of course.) Jen’s Chicken and Green Chile Soup on page 80 is also delicious, but BF won’t touch it because of the poblano and jalapeno peppers. But guess what? It’s not “hot” because you take out all the seeds and ribs. His sister and brother-in-law did like it.

While BF loves the non-keto chocolate cake you see here, he also enjoyed Jen’s keto chocolate-espresso lava cakes on page 193. So there’s good food to be had in all of her books, especially this one, even if you aren’t eating keto. There are plenty more recipes we haven’t tried but will over time.

The Instant Pot Brand

Although the company started out with one product, you have probably seen a range of branded IP products that are not cooking pots. There’s a blender now, an air-fryer oven, and other stuff. There are also other “pressure cookers” that aren’t from Instant Pot. I didn’t want any confusion when I started so I just bought the IP brand.

For starters, there are lots of accessories you can buy, including those that are IP branded. Oxo has a range of products for the pressure cooker as well, and you can find a range of them on Amazon and in stores like Walmart, Target, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Recipes are everywhere, on Pinterest and other places on the web. Newer cookbooks bring new recipes made for pressure cooking. There are multiple books on the subject that you can find pretty much wherever you look.

Instant Pot Accessories

There is no end to the accessories you can get for the Instant Pot, including this air fryer lid that fits every model except mine. In fact, a search for “Instant Pot Accessories” on Amazon brings over 3,000 things you can get for your IP, like this set of over 100 pieces. Whatever you buy, always check to make sure that whatever you buy will work with yours. (Yes, they’re my affiliate links.)

For fun, I also bought a wrap to make my IP look like R2D2. The maker, Becky of InstantWrapsUSA on Etsy, creates a range of colorful wraps to have a little fun with your machine. I had to wait a while because, at the time, she wasn’t doing Duo Evo Plus, but has since added them to her lineup. I asked about a Doctor Who version, and she said she’d do that on request. They wrap around the front with a cutout for the control board and attach with magnets at the back. If you should spill something, just carefully wipe it clean.

And for fun, I also found this very nice accessory for the stand mixer. Yes, I will get a decal to turn my black Kitchenaid stand mixer into a Suzy Homemaker model.

Resources

If you’re wondering where to learn more about this abominable beast, I’ve collected some Instant Pot resources that I use regularly.

Books

In addition to Jen Fisch’s book with IP recipes, I also have:

  • How To Instant Pot by Daniel Shumski. He’s the same author of another favorite, Will It Waffle? I went looking for his subsequent books one day and discovered this one. Shumski also has one more book that I would like to get called Will It Skillet? This one is all about cooking in the classic cast-iron skillet. Oh, look! He’s got yet another one coming in September called How To Sous Vide! Ok, I’ll add that to my list, too.
  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier, Ree Drummond. In addition to the books I was receiving from Callisto, I bought this one. There are several recipes for the IP here, including egg bites. She also offers a primer on the IP. I think I got this one and then decided to jump into the waters of pressure cooking, pardon the pun. Ree’s food is always good, with great photography and stories to accompany them. I started with the egg bites, but I don’t think I’ve made anything else there yet. Time to revisit. Her updated biography, Frontier Follies, is also an amusing read. Ree’s next cookbook is released in October.
  • The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook For Two, Janet A. Zimmerman–I learned about this book through my Callisto Publishing book review membership. (Recently I unsubscribed.) I can’t say this is the best book ever, but it’s pretty darn good–and cooking for two, not 12. There are multiple recipes I’ve bookmarked, but I haven’t made any yet. Why? They’re not BF’s style of eating. That doesn’t mean I can’t make them, it just means I haven’t. But the book covers a range of different flavors that normal people will find appealing. And it’s just for two.
  • The One-Pot Weight Loss Plan by Shelley Rael. Another of the many from Callisto, and the food is good here. The book isn’t exclusively about the IP, but has a number of recipes for it. Winner: Page 105, Turkey Chili With White Beans. It’s easy and fast, and you can have dinner on the table in about 30 to 45 minutes. It’s a good substitute for the Frontera White Chili Starter that they don’t make anymore. One alteration is that I use a can of Navy beans instead of cannellini because. . .BF.
  • One-Pot Cooking For Two by Linda Kurniadi. Another favorite from Callisto. Again, not strictly for the IP, but several recipes for it. Bonus: this book has an index of recipes in the back that are listed by the cooking vessel. There are 15 for electric pressure cookers. Included are recipes for baking dishes, sheet pans, skillets, and slow cookers. I made the Pressure Cooker Beef Stew on page 124, but subbed in coconut flour for the regular all-purpose. It worked well, as it does with other keto recipes, but I have a note to try another type of seasoning instead of the Italian. It was “OK, not great,” and it takes about an hour. I should revisit this book soon.

 

If you visit a bookstore or any online bookseller, you’ll find fifty million plus books on Instant Pot for nearly every taste and style. No kidding. Amazon has a wide range of free Kindle books you can get, too, if you just want to find a few recipes to start with.

Ready To Instant Pot?

I know this is a long post. But you know me, I’m thorough.

As with anything, you should consider whether this would be a good idea for you and your kitchen. It’s a big beast, so you’ll need space for it. Mine is in a cabinet until I’m ready to use it. A few months ago I used it daily for a week.

Neighbor E may not find it useful, but maybe Miss Alice will. But I’m not sure what the GER would do with one, even though he does cook well. At least he could cook in his outside electronics laboratory.

I first considered getting a smaller IP just for us. Then I read in the Janet Zimmerman book that you’d be forever confined with cooking smaller amounts. If you have the need to cook more, it wouldn’t be possible. So, I went with the six-quart.

I’m in a couple of Instant Pot Facebook groups, and many people have multiple models. Later, I could go with a 3-quart model if I wanted one.

Like the slow cooker, you can cook anywhere you have an outlet. During our February Big Freeze, that was a possibility, especially if we had a longer power outage.

What The IP Can Do For You

I keep hearing from folks who are just devoted to IP that it revolutionizes cooking. Yes, it will cook things like roasts, ribs, and frozen chicken in an hour. There are many recipes that are easier with it. But there is the learning curve to get over the fear of the thing going off and how it actually works in practice. The Shumski book has a good amount of instruction on the thing.

At this point, I’m over my compulsion to take a sledgehammer to it. And BF does like much of the food I’ve made with it, both from recipes and on the fly. I also use it as a slow cooker, and no complaints there, although it only heats from the bottom. Like a slow-cooker, it does keep the kitchen cooler if you’re just using it for dinner. Because it can also saute, you may not have to turn on the stove at all.  But I can’t say it has “revolutionized” my cooking yet, just gave me another way to make dinner. I’ve not yet come across the “thing” or the trick that gives me the magical understanding of all things IP.

This machine will do whatever you like it to, I suppose. It’s just a matter of finding what you like and want to get out of it, no pun intended. In a home with children, an Instant Pot can likely go a long way in making dinner easier. In a smaller kitchen, it can keep you from turning on the stove and oven, or cook one thing while your countertop oven is baking something else.

If you’re interested in getting one, do read some of the online resources I listed here. Know someone who has one and loves it? Talk to them first, see what they say, and maybe watch them in action. An IP has different ranges of functions in all of its models, so think about what you’d use it for. One day, I’ll make yogurt and dry-bake in it too. For now, it’s good for that turkey-white bean chili, a little chocolate cake, and the egg bites, and anything else we try to do with it. Just makes sure to read the directions and do the “water test” before you put food in it.

Happy Cooking!

 

Whole Chocolate Cake
Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting–have you heard of it? If you’re curious or interested in trying it, I’ll attempt to break it down here. It’s not “just another diet.”

Find me on Bloglovin’

Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Yes, it’s still 2020. I’m sorry, nothing I’ve tried can fix that.

No, we haven’t tried the Apple Jack Daniels. But it’s not yet 2021, is it?

Got a couple of things to tell you about. And, it was my birthday!

The Birthday Cake, Again

So nearly every year since 2002 or 2003, I’ve made this delicious cake from Suzanne Somers’ Desserts book. Of course, I have to fiddle with it, because there is no more Somersweet and I have to use Swerve Sweetener instead.

Whole Chocolate Cake

My favorite!

Unfortunately, mine never comes out quite as neat as the picture:

Picture of chocolate cake from cookbook

Beautiful, isn’t it? Because it’s the cookbook picture.

This year’s cake came out better than last year’s, the second time I made the cake part. I only make it once a year, so I don’t practice a lot. The buttercream and the ganache are pretty standard, but the cake is a bit fussy.

Actual slice of Amy's cake

Despite it’s odd appearance, it’s still delicious.

The only ingredients are:

  • Eggs
  • Chocolate
  • Butter
  • Baking Soda (just a pinch)
  • Cream
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Swerve

Whip the eggs into a frenzy:

Beating eggs in the KitchenAid stand mixer

They triple in volume here.

And bake.

That’s pretty much it–no “gluten-free” ingredients, and yet it is truly gluten-free. Of course, once I was done, there was some cleaning to do.

Chocolate splatters on kitchen counter

Yup. Crime scene!

BF decided he’d rather have the brownies I made him from scratch a week or so ago, and they are definitely not gluten-free. He was also given some of these:

Pizza Hut Brownies

Because brownies are best from Pizza Hut!

I cut my cake up into 16 slices, so I’ll have it for a while.

I stopped making the delicious cheesecake when I was ill recently. Just like that, I stopped making it. I’ll make it again soon.

Also made it to Starbucks for my free drink: a Venti Iced Decaf Cafe Americano with a heavy splash of cream and some sugar-free Vanilla syrup.

Venti Iced Coffee From Starbucks

Yummy!!

Later that night, we stopped at the local JC Penney for a trip into Sephora for my birthday gift:

Sephora makeup gift

Can’t wait to try these soon.

Last year, a storm passed through, and JC Penney was closed after a massive power outage, so I never got my gift. Turns out you can go anytime during the month of your birthday. I’ll remember that.

All in all, it was a nice day, but no cold front this year.

Farewell, Sweet Tomatoes

You’ve probably heard that one of my favorite places in Houston, Sweet Tomatoes, has closed all their locations nationwide. They were also called “Souplantation” in some parts of the US. It’s just one of the many side effects of the “pandemic” that has cost billions in lost. . .everything.

Sweet Tomatoes Logo

Note: these pictures from Sweet Tomatoes were all sourced from a Google search.

On a side note, gourmet kitchen stuff store Sur la Table has closed up about half of their stores, which includes the one in Baton Rouge. It was part of a “restructuring” thing, but of course, I can always order online. Pier 1 Imports is now online-only, like Wayfair and Overstock.

I’ve written about Sweet Tomatoes before, and I just loved all the variety of things they had.

Sweet Tomatoes building sign

A great place, it was.

Their website has been taken down, and all the buildings are now just empty. Their pantries and perishable ingredients were cleared out months ago. I hope the workers were able to take home everything instead of throwing them away.

I loved going there when I was in The Woodlands, especially before or after visiting Dr. Davis at Woodlands Wellness or when I was attending a concert. Wish I could have taken BF there–he would have enjoyed it, consuming less salad and more of the “other stuff.”  I love salad, so it was just the best place for me.

Sweet Tomatoes Salad Bar

THAT is a a salad bar!

Last week we had dinner at the local La Carretta with BF’s family, and I mentioned it to his sister. I asked, “If I say, ‘Joan’s Broccoli Madness,’ do you know what I’m talking about?” Indeed she did–BF’s sister and brother-in-law went to Sweet Tomatoes many times in Atlanta and were also sad to see it go.

Picture of Joans Broccoli Madness

Delicious, is it not?

We tried explaining it to BF, but he just didn’t get it. He went on to tell his sister that I was still trying to do him in by making him eat quinoa.

It was, if I remember correctly, about $15 for the all-you-can-eat nature of the place. Of course, my thing was THE SALAD.

Joan’s Broccoli Madness

If you never had the pleasure of going, I’ll give you a visual.

When you walked in, a very long salad bar greeted you, with some specialty salads like Joan’s Broccoli Madness at the front.

Salad Bar long picture

Talk about a smorgasbord!

As I mentioned in my previous post (without pictures, unfortunately) I never forgot the salad with cherries in it. It was one of the most memorable visits, all by myself, before a concert.

After the prepared salads, there were fresh greens, other vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, proteins like egg and chicken, then salad dressings followed by toppings of all kinds. You could choose from cheeses, bacon bits, dressings, nuts (ranch dressing with sunflower seeds are still my favorites) raisins, dried cranberries, chow mein noodles, and other crunchy things. I loved it all.

Sample salad picture from Sweet tomatoes

This is just a sample picture of what you could choose–and all you could eat.

Get to a table, put down your salad, and go over to the prepared food area where you could choose from:

  • Soup Bar (including a turkey chili I loved)
  • Potato Bar
  • Pasta Bar
  • Pizza Bar
  • Bakery Bar

More of Sweet Tomatoes offerings

This is after you finish the salad bar line

Many of their baked items were square, from the cornbread to the blueberry muffins and brownies. It was one of those little things that made Sweet Tomatoes unique.

Sweet Tomatoes Bakery Bar Area

Delicious, it was

Even the interior was comfortable, with a very interesting tomato-pattern carpet:

Sweet tomatoes dining area

Tomato in carpet usually sounds like a cleaning issue!

I was thinking about Joan’s Broccoli Madness the other day, and guess what? There are recipes online for this deliciousness from:

They’re pretty much the same recipe, and I hope to make it soon, possibly for Thanksgiving.

Louisiana’s Answer:  The Salad Station

OK, I’m not going to lie–The Salad Station isn’t exactly like Sweet Tomatoes, they don’t have a carpeted dining area, nor do they serve Joan’s Broccoli Madness, and that’s OK. But when my birthday was looming this year, I asked BF where he was taking me. “I don’t know yet” was his answer.

I have long wanted to try The Salad Station–especially since there’s no chance of ever going to Sweet Tomatoes ever again. Every time I brought it up, he said, “but there’s nothing for me to eat.” He was wrong, of course, and had bacon and ham on his salad, while I chose boiled shrimp. Because I don’t have to mess with them.

We’re not talking about flying to Beverly Hills–or even Houston–for an exclusive restaurant. It’s just a ride to Hammond, although we could have gone to Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, or any other location. I talked BF into it, and he said, “whatever makes you happy.” Awww.

Salad Station does have many of the same qualities as Sweet Tomatoes, but they are smaller. Like Central Market and a few other places, you buy your salad by weight–it’s not “all you can eat for one price.” That’s OK too. However, BF was surprised when my salad was weighed–it was twice the size of his. But as you can see, BF has a markedly different definition of “salad.”

Two salads, one for Amy, one for BF

Just like the last time–two different interpretations of salad. Those are Parmesean cheese crisps at the top of my bowl.

Their salad bar is wide open as it was before, and they require you to wear your mask while you’re there. (Everyone in Louisiana does.) They also have thin plastic gloves you’re required to wear while choosing ingredients. Not a problem, and we took them off when we sat down to eat.

Yes, this does segway into the main topic of the blog post.

Intermittent Fasting

You’re probably thinking, “get to the point of the blog, will you?” I am.

I’ve been doing Intermittent Fasting for a few weeks now. I started right before my “breathing emergency” last month but had to quit while I was on Prednisone. A couple of days after I took the last pill, I went back to IF, and have been doing fine since.

Amy’s Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nurse, scientist, or other type of healthcare practitioner. I’m a blogger who writes about different topics, occasionally diet, health, and wellness. I’m by no means an expert on these things. Should you choose to pursue IF or any other thing I’ve written about, please do some additional research before you start, or speak with a health care provider who can guide you.

Additional disclaimer: I’m not an MLM representative, and not trying to sell anything with this post. There’s no sponsorship to this post, no products to buy. I’m just passing along information. You can buy a book or two, and there are Amazon links here, as there are in many of my blogs. But should you choose to begin intermittent fasting, you don’t need to spend any additional money on it. Books are available at your public library, including online, for free, if you choose.

How To Eat On IF

Intermittent Fasting isn’t really a “diet,” and doesn’t require any special foods, supplements, shakes, or other financial outlays.  You can find plenty of info online, particularly on Pinterest. Like any subject, there is “good” information and “bad” information, equally accessible. (I’m a copywriter, ask me, I know!)

Fasting has its roots in many religions, including Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. (That “fish on Friday” thing is Catholicism, but I think that’s been made optional.) There is “wet fasting,” where you drink water and maybe a few liquids as well as “dry fasting,” where you consume nothing, including water. If you decide to do any kind of fasting, I highly recommend doing some reading first, either from the library or from online searching. Just don’t assume you can stop eating and drinking and figure you’ll detox and lose every excess pound you have. NO–hydration is important, the body needs water for its many processes. I’m not a fan of “dry fasting,” and do not recommend it.

Intermittent Fasting’s basic premise is that you “wet fast” for a specific window of time during your day, generally overnight, or whenever you get to bed. Easy, right? Then you enjoy food during your “eating window,” which is also a specific period of time.

What period of time is that? YOU figure that out for yourself. If you work evening or night shifts, then, of course, your eating window will be when you’re awake, and the fasting window is when you’re asleep.

Easy, right? Well, there’s a little more to it than that.

Getting Started With IF

I have these books on the subject:

No, I haven’t read them yet.

I got started when cookbook guru Stephanie O’Dea published her new e-book, 2,4,6, Eat: Intermittent Fasting Simplified. I have read this one.

The first three books were gifted from Callisto, some of the last physical copies before they went digital. Stephanie, on the other hand, wrote four e-books during the lockdown, this being one of them. When they were published, she mentioned them in her regular weekly emails, and they were 99 cents each at that point. I bought all four. Her book on IF is the one I read first–in less than an hour if I remember correctly. Much like her cookbooks, Stephanie lays it out as if you were sitting with her in Starbucks and talking about it.

You can do IF with your CrockPot, too.

So how did Stephanie do with it? In a nutshell, she’s lost the last few pounds she was trying to shed, and she looks great. I mean, she already looked great, but now she looks even better.

I also joined a Facebook group called Intermittent Fasting For Women, which is not affiliated with Stephanie’s own Facebook group (I’m also in that, link in her blog.) There are over 360,000 members around the world focused on one thing: fasting intermittently to lose weight that won’t come off any other way. Very encouraging, and if you ask a question in this big group, you’ll get many different answers to it.

Many of these women show pictures of their results, but I’m not posting any pictures in my underwear on Facebook. Some have small amounts of losses, but they’re visible–all depends on how they’re doing IF, how long, and how much exercise they get. Some show considerable results, like the ladies who are quite large and have shrunk down to a tiny size 6 (or less.) Many become absolute bombshells after losing weight. In fact, sometimes when I see these pictures, I comment, “bombshell alert!” One lady who posted is about 63, and she looks fantastic. Another lady who is 72 is no longer using her “Bumblebee” chair to get around (although she is using a cane.)

I’m not there yet.

What To Eat On Intermittent Fasting

Well, that’s the $64K question, isn’t it?

Of course, it’s best to eat as healthy as you can. Many people find that keto is a good thing for them, and as I always say that I eat “keto, mostly,” since BF likes to make jambalaya or red beans and rice occasionally. But some folks may decide to eat paleo, low-carb, or simply eat what they’ve always eaten, just changing the times of day they eat.

Then there are those who eat the same foods that they ate before but at different times and maybe different amounts. They lose too. They may eat a few Oreos or a candy bar along with salads and grilled chicken during their eating window, but ONLY during the eating window, and maybe decrease the amounts, or increase your fasting window during a “treat day.”

Everyone has an idea and offers advice. But the most prevalent thing I’ve seen is, “You do you, and what works for you.” If having a little sugar-laden French vanilla coffee creamer isn’t stopping your weight loss, go for it, in moderation.

Drinking water is encouraged since you need it. Not the excessive soft drinks BF chugs down on a daily basis. In my case, I’m still drinking the lime water all the time, along with coffee, occasionally tea, with pink sweetener and cream in the last two.

Here’s the thing: there aren’t any “special foods” you need to eat on IF. Do you like keto, paleo, or low carb? Go for it. Want more gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free foods? That can work, too. You can count calories–but I don’t, and neither do a number of other IF devotees. And if it doesn’t, try something else, add exercise, increase your fasting window, or whatever you want to, and wait for the results.

Unlike the popularly advertised diet plans on TV, you don’t need to buy any brand, type, or style of food. It’s great that so many celebrities have lost weight with the diet plan thing, but that’s not what IF is about.

The key is: You do you.

My Current IF Results

I’ll be perfectly honest here–I haven’t dropped what feels like 915 pounds in a matter of days. That’s not happening any more than riding my bike for 30 minutes once and being in top shape for the Texas MS 150 tomorrow. I did the hCG diet for about a year and a half–I lost weight, but even the hCG diet doesn’t work like that either. But in my case, my current results are:

    • The scale hasn’t yet gone down, but remember–there’s water weight, and “weight” fluctuates anyway,  particularly in women. I don’t get on the scale often because it can be discouraging.
    • I’ve noticed some “shrinkage” here and there, but I’ve not yet gone down to smaller clothes yet.
    • Although I did fill up the bowl at The Salad Station just like I did at Sweet Tomatoes, I didn’t finish it like I used to. I credit that to Intermittent Fasting. I took about half of it home for the next day, then had a sliver of cake when we got home an hour later, then my “fasting window” began.

My current exercise consists of the occasional walking tours of Walmart, along with regular use of the Thighmaster set, and slinging around a kettlebell weight, the latest of which is 20 pounds. I’m trying to get to the point where I can get a half-hour of yoga, HIIT (“High-Intensity Interval Training“), or bicycling in place in my day.

While in Academy after dinner, I did check out the availability of heavier kettlebells. (They seem to be difficult to find in some places.) Right now I’m lifting a 20-pound (padded) Bionic Ball kettlebell, but I want to eventually lift more. I told BF that if I start swinging around a 40-pound kettlebell like a roll of paper towels, he’d better be on guard.

Nah–I’m not going to swing it at him. I just like poking him in the ribs now and again. Trust me, it works both ways.

Honestly, IF is not terribly difficult once you get into a rhythm. You just have to remember not to have a nibble of something before bed, or you’ll break the fast and it won’t work. And Stephanie’s book is HIGHLY recommended. It’s not a long or difficult read and is very informative.

And The Cat

I loved my felines, Catmandu and Kismet, who have long been gone for many years. Our current apex predator, Tab E. Cat, is all about BF, and couldn’t care less what else is going on as long as he can curl up with him. He only likes me when I have food.

Until one day.

I did try to do IF while on Prednisone, but it wasn’t happening, so I quit for the duration of the medicine. One of the drug’s side effects is that you can become very hungry.  I did, and just didn’t bother with IF for a couple of weeks, but sticking closely with keto as much as I could.

One night, about 11:00 pm, my stomach was letting me know it wanted something–fast. I went into the fridge and found some sliced roast beef that BF was using for sandwiches. (Notice I said “was.”)

Taking out a couple of slices, I went to talk to BF, who was now curled up in bed with the cat. The beast was nestled under his left armpit. Upon seeing and smelling the roast beef slices, Tab E. Cat looked up at me, opened his eyes, walked OVER BF’s chest, and up to me, completely ignoring him. He meowed, giving me that wide-eyed cat look that said, “oh, that looks delicious, I’d love to have some!” I gave him a small bit to avoid getting clawed. BF was shocked, and said, “great, now I’m chopped liver.”

Only when there’s food involved, Honey.

Until Next Time

Whether you’re looking to lose for the holidays or get a jump on next summer’s bathing suit season, Intermittent Fasting may be just what you need to start shedding extra pounds you didn’t intend to have. It just takes a little information, understanding, and planning to get started–and not a lot of money. Will it work for you? Try it, on your schedule, just don’t expect an overnight transformation.

Enjoy!

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