The Air Fryer! After a couple of books on the subject, I bought one. I’ll tell you what I’ve done with it and let you decide for yourself.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
It’s been a busy time at the Casa de Rurale, and being in the south, it’s HOT. It’ll be cooling down about late October or early November, long after the north has begun sipping hot Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Me, I’m hoping for a cold front for my birthday, as I do every year. Could snow happen? Well. . .it’s always possible, but highly improbable.
After my post on Justin and Bronte’s wedding, I got some nice comments, including one from Justin, and one from Stacy Asaro, the event coordinator from Southern Oaks. I didn’t intend to say anything bad, honestly, and the “no coffee” thing is the only thing I would change if it were mine. But that’s just me, and everything was lovely.
As I write this there are now FIVE named storms floating around the tropics! I’ve got more hurricane snacks at the ready. What level of Jumanji is it now?
Let’s catch up.
Covering The Mixer
It is here where my two worlds converge. It’s fun when that happens.
Remember my black Kitchenaid Stand mixer? It was given to me many years ago by someone I used to know, and I don’t use it as often as I should. Part of the problem is that it’s always somewhere else, and I have to haul it into the kitchen. It’s heavy, and it should be *in* the kitchen, not away from it.
The story was that someone gave it to the person who gave it to me after having it repaired and then upgrading to a new one. I just said, “thank you.” I was saving up to buy one when it was presented to me about 2007 or 2008.
One big problem is that it collects dust. Well, the house collects dust, really, but the bowl holds on to it. I should be able to use it more, but where it was, it’s a lot of trouble. So in an executive decision, I:
- Moved the Instant Pot down to the bottom shelf of a kitchen cabinet
- Moved the stand mixer from the shelving rack to the lower kitchen counter next to the toaster oven
- Decided quickly that it needed a cover
You can buy these already made, but then tend to be expensive. So what did I do? I made one!
Sewing For The Kitchen
I went looking on Pinterest, and it didn’t take long to find this one from a blog called Heart of Mary. Headed over to the Hammond Office Depot, printed out two copies of the pattern (in case I bungled one up), and got some fabric at Hobby Lobby up the street. Black and white thread is like salt and pepper in the kitchen, and I already had the batting piece. (Need to get more soon anyway.)
It took longer than I’d planned because the sewing machine kept breaking the thread. I changed the needle, the tension, and even the foot, using a walking foot to try and get it finished. Nope. For whatever reason, it was the day from you-know-what trying to finish it. Eventually, I did, making the bias tape from the lining fabric. Both fabrics were just some ordinary cotton.
The cover is also reversible, and like the blog says, stands up on its own.
I’m guessing I spent about $10 and an afternoon to make this, and it used up some excess batting in the process. I didn’t have enough fabric to make it, that’s the only reason I bought some. And that was the best fabric I could find for it at the time. But now it’ll stay clean anytime I use it.
The End Of The Garden
After BF’s enthusiasm for a garden, his input didn’t last long. After the local wildlife population discovered the corn, he lost interest.
I pulled weeds as I could, but pretty soon they were overwhelming, and I didn’t have several hours a day to pull them. I asked for help, but I didn’t get it. Eventually, I walked away from it. No more watering, or concern for these plants.
Watermelon vines were growing until the melons started to rot and the critters came to feast. We had some, but BF’s self-centered car guy friend (not Justin) told him to “pick that now, it’s ready.” BF ran inside and told me it was ripe and I should cut it immediately. It wasn’t ripe, and it wasn’t ready. See, this “friend” was also growing watermelon and brought over some for us. That was nice, but it wasn’t about being nice, it was about making himself look “good.” That’s not what I said after he left.
BF recently did some “work” in the area with his favorite piece of equipment: the mower. There is still some basil, tarragon, and a pepper plant or two out there, and I plan to dig them up to put them into pots like I used to. Hoping for more pesto and maybe some tarragon vinegar for salad dressings. BF is talking about a “fall garden.” He’s on his own there–I’m going back to five-gallon paint buckets with holes drilled in the bottom.
What’s An Air Fryer?
Ok, you’ve probably seen these machines in pretty much every discount, department, and home goods store there is. You’ve likely seen the Ninja versions, as well as their new air fryer oven that “flips.” But there are multiple versions of these things at a variety of prices. So what’s the big deal?
Maybe it’s because the much-maligned “millennials” don’t know how to cook. (Some do, some don’t, it’s probably not just a millennial thing.) Could be that people are looking for faster, easier ways to make food. Many people (including this amateur chef) love the taste of fried foods but don’t like the mess. Others are looking for ways to make tasty food in a different way, such as French fries, and make them “healthier.”
Add to it the people who are camping in at home nearly 24/7 now, and you’ve got people looking for more dinner ideas, faster, easier, and with minimal cleanup.
Well, the air fryer addresses all this and more. Like the slow cooker and the countertop oven, it can also help keep the kitchen from overheating in the summer–a big plus throughout the southern US.
The One I Bought
Farberware’s version is a 1.9 quart and is supposed to be suitable for cooking for one to two people. I bought this one last fall, but online they are black and a nice teal blue. When I bought mine, they were $30; now they are $40.
If you have the infernal Instant Pot, you can also buy an “air fryer lid” that fits most models. Except for mine, I kid you not. I have the “newest” model of the Infamous Pot. (I know, I’ve got a post in the draft folder.)
Later, I bought this set of air fryer accessories for about $11 at my local Dirt Cheap. They fit my air fryer perfectly, and I’ve made cornbread for BF with the pans already. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What Is Healthy?
Let me give my standard disclosure here: I’m not a doctor, nurse, or another medical practitioner, nor do I play one on TV. I am a patient who reads and pays attention. I’m also not an attorney, but someone who does research and creates marketing content for them. I don’t practice law, but I do read it a lot. That being said. . . .
Real fat is what keeps you alive. Sugar can and will kill you over time if you consume enough of it–and it’s not difficult in the US. Notice I said “real fat,” which are things like olive and coconut oil, avocados, butter, eggs, etc.
Taking all fat out of your food isn’t necessarily healthy. If you replace hydrogenated vegetable oil with olive, coconut, or other healthy oils, that’s a healthy change. If you don’t believe me, check it out. What’s called “vegetable oil” is actually hydrogenated soybean oil. Ditto for corn oil and a few others. Hydrogenation adds a hydrogen atom into the oil to prevent spoilage. Canola oil, when heated, also turns into a trans-fat oil. Crisco is anything but “healthy.”
So the low-fat theory is prevalent here, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making “healthier” food. It all depends on what you’re working with, including the oils.
The Air Fryer Books
So thanks to my wonderful book benefit, I got curious about it. Most people think about using an air fryer for either chicken wings or French fries, but there are hundreds of recipes for it.
The first one I received was the Ninja Air Fryer Cookbook for Beginners by Linda Larsen. This book focuses solely on the Ninja® Air Fryer Max XL. The food looked delicious, and so far, so good. I tried two recipes, one for wings and one for a chocolate chip cookie that bakes in it. Because my air fryer wasn’t the Ninja, it took longer to bake. That’s OK, it was still pretty tasty. BF likes those wings, so I have to make them occasionally.
Then came some others:
- The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook For Beginners, Laurie Fleming
- The Ultimate Keto Air Fryer Cookbook, Wendy Polisi
- The Air Fryer Cookbook For Weight Loss, Jamie Yonash
- The Southern Air Fryer Cookbook, Pam Wattenbarger, and Brittany Wattenbarger (there is, indeed, a recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes in this book.)
- The Essential Vegetarian Air Fryer Cookbook, Linda Larsen
I also have:
- Convection Oven Cooking Made Simple, Janet A. Zimmerman
- The Ninja Foodi XL Pro Air Oven Complete Cookbook, Ninja Test Kitchens
I’ll explain why in a minute.
The books are now e-books, but that enabled me to send the vegetarian books to Miss Alice in Houston as well as make recommendations.
Using The Air Fryer
The thing to remember about any model of an air fryer is this: it’s a vertical convection oven.
If you’ve never had one, “convection” means that a top-side fan circulates the hot air inside the oven, cooking more evenly and giving a really crispy crust. Some newer full-size ovens now come with an “air fryer” setting, which is pretty much the same as “convection.” My countertop oven has this function, as well as the last one I had. In fact, Oster has a rather large countertop that also does convection, one of which I’ve seen at Walmart.
There are a few things you need to know before you start:
- Although you can make fried foods, the coating can’t be drippy. Any coating has to stick to the food and not run or fall off.
- Cakes, cookies, eggs, and other foods that have a liquid texture before baking have to be in a dish you place into the air fryer.
- With things like fries, you should take out the basket and shake them once or twice during cooking
- You spray oil into the cooker basket as well as onto your food, especially those with a coating or a texture, to make it crispy.
- The air fryer must be the only appliance plugged into the outlet. I have to unplug both the microwave and the kettle so I can use that particular outlet. Otherwise, you’ll blow a fuse or something. (This is actually in the instructions for mine.)
- The basket can be placed in the dishwasher, but not the entire unit.
- You must warm up the unit for five minutes or so before you start cooking.
- The unit gets very hot during cooking, so it needs plenty of “airspace.” Read the instructions before you plug it in, of course.
The idea is that it cooks faster and healthier. Well, “faster” hasn’t been my experience, but whatever.
I got it at Walmart.
A simple booklet came with the machine, with instructions and great recipes like this one:
I think that’s supposed to be Curry Fried Okra, but English isn’t the first language of the copywriter. Just an observation.
There were no accessories included, just the machine. Fortunately, I have the aforementioned cookbooks to work with.
BF will go on forever about how Hooters has great chicken wings. When I worked at Boeing, some of us would head to Buffalo Wild Wings on Tuesdays for lunch. Holding your receipt for a week got you six free wings, which was great. I got the unbattered ones, and they were pretty tasty.
So when we discussed chicken wings, he had this idea that it would *almost* be like having them at Hooters. (Not wearing orange, thanks very much.) He was so excited he bought this stuff at Walmart:
Boy was he disappointed. “It doesn’t taste anything like the sauce at Hooters!” he cried. I could have told him that, but he was undeterred until he tried it. The ingredient list was a nightmare.
Into the trash that went.
I used this recipe, which BF loves:
The recipe is created especially for the Ninja Air Fryer, I just cut it in half. Cooking was just until they were done, however long that took. To paraphrase Hague Law Blog author Aaron Lukken, air fryer cooking is not about “building rockets.” Just cook the wings until they’re done. (I read his blogs all the time, but not everyone will find them as interesting as I do.)
Then I just sprayed some oil in the basket and got started.
BF only ruined one of his wings with that god-awful sauce. The rest he gobbled up and said, “make these again!”
Other Air Fryer Cuisine
Since getting this thing, I’ve made some:
- “Louisiana-style” fried fish (from one of the books)
- Chicken Wings
- Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Sweet potato fries
In the case of the fish, you do the batter coating and press it into the fish:
The recipe calls for adding parchment paper in the fryer basket, then spraying it with oil:
Then spray the fish with the oil and cook it up.
The fish came out nice and crispy, but not *quite* as crispy as it would have if we’d fried it in oil in a pan. BF actually liked it, although he hasn’t asked me to make it again.
Another Amy Favorite
Sweet potato fries seem to take longer in the air fryer.
They come out nice, but it takes an hour. Might as well use the toaster oven.
Dash’s website has a number of recipes that are specific to their accessory package, including sweets. I’ve used the cake pan for some cornbread for BF. Made from scratch, he really liked it.
Air Fryer Desserts
Yes, you can make some desserts in an air fryer, no kidding. In addition to the ones at the above link, you can make a number of desserts in the air fryer. I did make some Air Fried Fudge Brownies for BF about a month ago, with the note to use a 6″ pan in a convection oven. If you use a smaller pan, it will take too long to cook.
Just looking at the Essential Air Fryer Book For Beginners, where I got the brownie recipe, you can make a chocolate Bundt cake (using a six-inch Bundt pan) banana cake, cherry cobbler, doughnuts, stuffed baked apples, apple hand pies, and pumpkin fritters. That’s just from this book. For just about any contained dish, six inches is the number to remember.
The Big Cookie
One of our “couple friends” split last year, and because things were rather contentious between them, we invited the female to dinner. I made an old Martha Stewart recipe for bacon and egg pie, to which BF turned his nose up. In fact, he didn’t stick around for dinner, he had to go out and do something or other. I think he found an excuse to leave because he didn’t want bacon and egg pie, but whatever. So it was just me and AB for the night. The idea was for us to have a conversation without judgment, make sure she was all right, and certainly not trying to reconcile them.
So this was the bacon & egg pie for dinner:
The Big Chocolate Chip Cookie didn’t work exactly as it should have. In fact, it took longer to cook, because I used a five-inch Corningware dish. It’s what I had available at the time, and what I could grab quickly.
I had to get BF to bring home some chocolate chips:
I couldn’t believe he brought home ORGANIC. From Piggly-Wiggly, no less.
So you mix it all up, and then add parchment to the pan, plus spray it with flour-infused cooking spray while preheating the air fryer. Then add the cookie dough into the pan.
Bake it at 300 degrees for, it says, 9 minutes. But as I recall, it took considerably longer–like 30 minutes. But this isn’t the Ninja, and I didn’t have the proper pan available or handy. I think I have the right one now since I bought the accessory kit. The recipe makes four servings.
Admittedly, I had a bit of this cookie, and it was quite tasty once it finished baking. The addition of a little white chocolate is a nice touch.
Verdict: It’s A Toy
A toy, in sort of a Suzy Homemaker kind of mindset. The coiled heating element and the fan, very simply arranged in the housing. They’re all like that in one form or another.
Honestly, it’s not a bad thing, and if you like appliances, you may enjoy this one. But if you have a convection oven, especially a full size one, would it be a good idea to basically buy a smaller one? That’s up to you and your kitchen.
I actually wanted to return it but BF asked me not to. I already have a convection oven, hence the other two convection books. Seriously, the air fryer does the same thing, just more fashionably.
Then again, there’s always the Talkie Toaster.
Air fryer recipes are all over the web, especially at Pinterest. What do you want to air fry? Chicken wings? Sandwiches? Keto dishes? It’s all there, as well as with a quick search on Google (or your search engine of choice.) Like the Instant Pot, air fryer recipes aren’t difficult to find for pretty much whatever you want to make with it.
Happy air frying!!
Finally some news, including Hatch chiles, sort of.
Hi, again, Dear Readers:
Well, it’s summer again, and you know what happened. I’ve been writing, cooking, washing, and cleaning, and generally not blogging. For three weeks, the blog was actually broken. Finally, I created a service ticket for my hosting service, and they fixed it quickly.
After finishing the post on the John Walton Celebration of Life, a little catching up is in order.
My new copywriting website is still not finished. It’s one of those big, hairy things I don’t want to deal with, but I have to, eventually.
The good news is that my Upwork Job Success Score (JSS) just went back up to 100%.
I also finally finished two certifications from Digital Marketer: one for SEO (Search Market Mastery), the other for Content Marketing. The SEO course is the one that I’d been fiddling with for over a year, and Content Marketing was the other one I wanted.
These will be added to the new website. . .eventually.
Because Digital Marketer had a hard-stop ending on the free access on April 15th, I had to finish them ASAP. Nothing like a deadline to make you complete something, right? Well, I almost didn’t get the SEO finished because there was a bug on their website that gave me an error message when I went to take the test. Finally, it was fixed, and I was able to finish the certification. I did the content marketing course in two days, and I have notes and handouts and downloads to refer to.
World Gone Mad
I’ve got to be careful about how I phrase this next section. My hosting company sent out an email in March that included a comment on how they were removing *those* disease-related search terms from their domain search tool so that nobody could set up a website to take advantage of the situation, including alleged and likely fake “cures.” So, here goes.
Last time I wrote a blog post that bug was just affecting some folks on a cruise ship overseas. Now it’s a worldwide thing that has seen all manner of disasters, including economic. While people are starting to emerge from their homes, many because they can’t stand it anymore, the powers that be are continuing to scramble to try and find the right answers.
Part of our preparations included some panic shopping at Walmart for “essentials.” However, what he considers “essential” and what I consider “essential” are frequently not the same. But we were able to get some foodstuffs to pack up under the counter. They’re packed in boxes along with some other foodstuffs that were given to us from BF’s Dad’s house when his sister cleared out some things in favor of “low-sodium” for their Dad to help lower his blood pressure.
Everyone needs cans of chili with beans, right? (Don’t forget the Gas-X!) I added some cans of salmon, which BF wouldn’t touch. For a while, we couldn’t get canned tuna or salmon at all. There were also nationwide shortages of things like yeast, flour, cleaning supplies, and those were evident here. BF was concerned about not being able to get bread, so I bought an extra bag of flour. . .but there was no yeast. I have some in the pantry that I brought from Houston, but that was it. Might be good, might not be, but I haven’t tried proofing it yet. When I found some, I bought it.
We’ve kept ahead of the game on the most coveted item, toilet paper.
Managing The Pandemic
Louisiana has been one of the states with higher rates of cases, but as of this writing, the fatality rate is about 6%, and the recovery rate is high. (I did the math, so be proud of me.) We are fortunate to be in one of the outlying parishes that’s close to the Mississippi border. Our parish has seen a total of 58 presumptive cases, and one fatality due to the bug.
Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Tammany have seen the greatest numbers of cases and deaths, with all 64 parishes now reporting infections. The New Orleans Advocate has a page that’s updated daily with the latest numbers, and the Houston Chronicle also has regular updates for Houston and for Texas.
The most awesome Dr. Sakina Davis at Woodlands Wellness recently had a Zoom call with some of us interested folks to talk about not only what it was, but how to defend yourself against *it* with supplements, healthy eating, and of course, getting some sun as well as supplementing with Vitamin D. I greatly appreciated that. I had to get some Vit C from them, and got a couple of bottles of their very posh-smelling hand sanitizer as well. (I have the most incredible hand sanitizer for miles around!) Another thing: turn off the TV and don’t have a steady diet of “news.”
And if that isn’t enough, it’s now hurricane season. Tropical Storm Cristobal was the first storm to come this way. We just had some rain, nothing serious.
It’s Jumanjij Level 6!
We’re starting to come out on the other side of the pandemic, and slowly, places are reopening around the US. We’ve been to our local Tex-Mex place, La Carreta, once, and have bought curbside takeout from them twice. They’ve reopened with masks on servers. We’ve not been to any of the other local places, which have since reopened, including BF’s favorite Cracker Barrel in Hammond. Yet. But eventually, we all hope to get back to some kind of normalcy.
Trending Egg Bites: Starbucks Leads
Once again the Big Green Coffee Company of Seattle leads the way in trends. First, it was the much-lauded (and maligned) Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL, complete with 50 grams of sugar). Now, they’re leading with their famed egg bites.
I’ve done egg bites in the Instant Pot, but they’re a bit of trouble and I’ve not made them in a while. (I even bought two of those silicone egg molds to do make them in.)
Egg bites are quite popular for a lot of reasons, and it’s probably the one thing I buy the most when I visit Starbucks, other than coffee.
They’re now considered an “emerging food trend,” meaning that everyone is getting on the bandwagon after Starbucks started it. Finally, you’ll soon be able to get egg bites in your grocers’ freezer case. Organic Valley will begin shipping frozen egg bites to stores in late July with an MSRP of $3.99 a pack. Nestle and Valley Fine Foods will soon follow with their own brands.
NOTE: Starbucks has begun to re-open their stores, but our Hammond store has a drive-thru curbside service, Although the store is actually open, there is no seating. You can just go to the counter and pick up your order or hit the powder room (I think.) They aren’t allowing seating outside under the patio, either.
Understand that when I first got here, the center of my universe in Hammond was the Starbucks on St. Thomas. I was very surprised to see a PJ’s in our town, right by Winn-Dixie, and that was a small comfort. It still is, and both have free WiFi.
Admittedly, I only visit Starbucks sporadically, usually, when I’m going to Hammond anyway, or if I’m headed to New Orleans. If there are extra points to be had or some other kind of “special” reason to go, I might make a trip and hit Target at the same time. I’ve utilized the mobile app ordering, and it worked fine.
Mostly, though, I’ve been going to our local PJ’s Coffee on Fridays, ordering their $1-any-size hot coffees through the drive-through and adding a bigger tip or the folks working there.
The cafe just re-opened a couple of weeks ago. But I was doing what was asked, helping out by going through the drive-thru to keep them in business throughout the shutdowns.
BF and I went through one day and I got him a delicious breakfast croissant. A couple of times, I bought BF a double-chocolate muffin, including one for his birthday. He was happy with that. We also bought a gift card to help keep our PJ’s in business, and I’ve just started using the money on it. Their drive-thru has been quite busy so I guess it worked.
Like a lot of fast-food places, PJ’s has been following the guidelines set out by the CDC and the State of Louisiana. They just re-opened the local cafe a couple of weeks ago, with limited indoor seating and the same abbreviated hours. There is also a bigger PJ’s in Hammond, but not near Starbucks, although I haven’t been to that one in a while. Situated next to military recruiting offices, they have a second-floor seating area, and also offer lunch items. They too have abbreviated hours, but chances are, the same as ours.
PJ’s also offers discounts to military personnel and veterans, at least here. That’s a plus for BF, except that he doesn’t drink coffee.
But guess what? PJ’s is, through expansion and franchising, moving into other states, including Texas! I couldn’t believe how many PJ’s there are now around the US. California? Maryland? Georgia? Arkansas? Alabama? I had no idea. There is one “coming soon” to Katy, TX, and I notified longtime Boeing brother RR to be on the lookout. There is also a location in Pearland, which is kind of near Miss Alice, but also might be somewhere in the path of the GER. I let him know about it, and that it is a great alternative to Starbucks (his least favorite place.)
Could PJ’s become the new go-to place for coffee and topple the reigning coffee empire? It’s possible. You could find a PJ’s in your neighborhood one day soon.
The HeatCageKitchen Garden, 2020
Partly in response to the worldwide crisis, BF decided we needed to step up our homesteading game at the Casa de Rurale. I just say it’s about time.
After gardening in buckets, small patches of land, and getting some “toilet-tank tomatoes” two summers ago, we now have a more formal garden. I’ve already made two batches of fresh pesto for the freezer, which he is, as always, unhappy about.
The plant on the right has already been cut for both pesto and for cloning. I’ve got to plant those rootlings soon and get them out of the window. I’ll fill the chest freezer with pesto for the winter, or I’ll end up giving some away. Now to figure out what to do with the burgeoning tarragon. I’ll start with a compound butter for chicken.
Our neighbor across the street, Mr. JD, brought over his tractor and dug up some land for us in front of the shop, and we’ve been planting and planting again. Some things don’t work but we keep trying. We’ve planted a number of things, some of which are actually doing quite well. Right now we have actively growing:
- Potatoes, including some from the grocery store we let bud
- Green beans
- Yellow teardrop
- Chocolate cherry, from seeds I saved in 2015 in Houston (no tomatoes yet)
- Mexican Oregano
- Purple bell peppers
- Shishito peppers (a small, sweet pepper from Japan)
- “Coolapenos,” a variety of jalapenos without the heat
- Anaheim chili peppers, aka, Hatch
Between the plants and the seeds, there have been some that were successful, and some disappointments. We just keep planting stuff and hope it works.
The agreement with Mr. JD was that we would share the harvest, and that’s fine. But when I picked the first of the bounty, three French breakfast radishes, he never stopped by for them. So I washed them and ate them:
Note: eat radishes right after picking. I’ve planted more, and they’re coming up quickly. I’ve got both French Breakfast radishes and some older seeds of some other type, and both are growing.
The Anaheim, or Hatch, Chili Pepper Plant
Remember a couple of years ago I did some reading into Hatch chiles? Well, I am finally getting some from the garden, after three years of trying to grow the darn things from saved seeds from Hatch seasons past. They’re not exactly Hatch chiles, but they’re pretty much the same thing.
I’m convinced this was a mistake, but our local Tractor Supply had Anaheim “Hatch” chili pepper plants about two months ago, and I got the last one. I keep going back to see if they’ve received any more, but nothing yet.
At the moment, there are four small peppers in various stages of growth, and I’ve got four in the fridge. I’m planning to roast them soon, and save the seeds. I used the first two peppers to try and plant more–get a load of these:
Miss Raylina, who works at our local Tractor Supply and puts up with my harassment about “setting up the coffee bar,” told me how to plant any pepper. It’s simple: cut it in half lengthwise and fill the cavity–seeds and all–with soil. Then bury the dirt-filled pepper in your garden. The seeds will germinate and feed off the flesh of the pepper while growing. Simple, right?
I really want more of these peppers this summer, so I’m willing to sacrifice the first two for the greater good of the garden (and give me more “Hatch” peppers, darn it.) But nothing yet. I’ll be saving the seeds out of these during the summer to try and grow Hatch chiles again next year.
But so far, nothing yet. At least we have New Mexico’s harvest in August, at which time I will be able to harvest more of the Hatch chile seeds for next year.
More Garden Pictures
Of course, Anaheim “Hatch” chili peppers aren’t the only thing we’ve got going on. BF insisted on growing corn and potatoes because that’s what his Dad always grew when they were kids. Mind you, BF just turned 50, has been married twice, owned a house once, but has never had a garden of his own. So far, the corn is doing well, with just one stalk knocked over a bit when Cristobal passed through:
How can we incorporate Hatch chiles in with corn? Well, for starters, do it when BF isn’t around.
Because the little yellow teardrop plant didn’t seem to be doing well, I went ahead and moved it. I figured if it was going to die anyway, I might as well try and give it a fighting chance. Not exactly a bumper crop, but it’s a start:
Earlier this year I found three bell pepper plants called Tequila. They turn purple when ripe, not red. I thought it was interesting so I bought a flat of three. Well, one plant didn’t make it, one is still in the shadow of the bigger one and needs moving, even though it’s got one pepper growing on it. But the big plant has three purple peppers, in various stages of ripeness.
Interesting, yes? And then there are the Shishito peppers:
I only saw Ina Garten make these on her show recently, and apparently it’s also in her last book. (Giada de Laurentiis also has a recipe for them.) When I saw the plants at Tractor Supply, I bought two. One is doing better than the other, so I’ll be trying them out when they get bigger. Surprise! One of them is going to be HOT.
Have you ever heard of someone being overrun with zucchini? That hasn’t happened to us yet, we’ve only gotten two off this plant.
And because the leaves are so big, I may have to move the oregano–again.
BF doesn’t eat them, so of course, I’ll be happily feasting on them soon. Zucchini noodles, and preserved zucchini are right on my list.
We’ve also had blackberries growing wild, but BF has never told me how to cultivate them. (Mr. JD said they were “dewberries,” but whatever–they’re delicious.) I gathered berries every day during the brief season, and I have about two quarts in the freezer. That’s the berries left from when I go out berry-picking with the now 80-pound pit bull. We eat berries together. He loves them, right off the vine. I also drop them into his huge, muscular mouth for him to enjoy.
Salad Greens And Other Ingredients
I love salads, and I have long wished to be able to walk outside, pick my salad, walk back inside, wash everything, cut and toss everything into a bowl. I’ve sort of done that twice so far, but there were no cucumbers yet, and I bought some grape tomatoes at Winn-Dixie:
I think I may have dipped into the remaining stash I have of Meyer Lemon EVOO and Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar from Oil & Vinegar in The Woodlands. Just this once, it was a special occasion. But this salad didn’t need much. Those bottles have been at the top corner of the pantry behind everything. BF has strict orders to never touch it, but he probably won’t anyway.
I miss that place. I wonder if they ship.
I tried to grow Romaine lettuce in Houston but was always unsuccessful. The GER told me once that lettuce is a “winter crop,” which put me right off trying again. One day I had a nice big leaf growing, and an hour later, a slug took it out.
Then I moved. Here, we’ve grown some “gourmet” lettuce as well as what doesn’t really look much like iceberg lettuce, but is quite tasty.
The seed for the iceberg lettuce moved when it rained or I watered, so it’s in an odd place. I might try to move it again soon, or move both lettuces away from the outer part of the garden plot so they’ll grow better. There’s a reason for that.
See, I did sprout some Romaine and some celery in the kitchen recently, but they disappeared after I planted them outside. Not died–disappeared. BF said it looked like either deer, possums, raccoons or some other nocturnal creatures came to feast and dug them out of the ground. Without one of those outdoor cams, we have no way of knowing. I’m not 100% sure I want to know what’s going on outside with Mother Nature, anyway.
We also planted cucumbers, which, along with watermelon, are threatening to take over the lawn.
You’ve got to check those cucumbers regularly–if they turn yellow, they’re awful. I know this because the GER grew cucumbers once, and we missed one. He found the yellow “ripe” one, and of course, I had to try it. NOPE! So I’m on them daily for the ones that are ready to pick. If I see some yellow, they get harvested.
No watermelons yet, but we’ll be enjoying those hopefully later in the summer.
I do keep watering and pulling ever-present indigenous weeds out of the plot. There’s some over-grown grass to be removed as well, and I take out some every morning when I water. At some point, I hope to do a mass removal of everything and get some of that black fabric to put over the ground to keep the weeds from getting sun. Fingers crossed.
Books, Books, And More Books
Callisto Press has blessed me with oodles of books since last July. The variety of topics include:
- Weight lifting
- Wine, spirits, and cocktails
- Professional poker
- Aromatherapy (three books, but I’m not allowed to do that in the house)
- Spells for new witches (I kid you not, it was interesting)
- The Law Of Attraction
- Weight training/fitness
- Cannabis edibles (not legal here)
- Successful aging and retirement
- Fung shui
- Essential oils
- Multiple cookbooks, including:
- Italian cooking
- French cooking and baking
- Scandanavian baking
- Baking, including cakes and donuts
- Barbecue and grilling, including sauces
- “Five-Ingredient” cookbooks
- “For two” cookbooks
- Quick-cooking, 30 minutes or less, including “healthy”
- Instant Pot cooking
- Air Fryer cooking
- Slow cooking
- Gardening (including urban gardening)
- Convection oven cooking
- Dehydrator recipes
- Cooking for your dog (absolute truth, including recipes for “doggie date nights” for you and the pup)
- Psychology in different forms, including three “couples” books and one on “willpower”
- Sleeping (and how much sleep have I lost reading them? None.)
- Cookbooks for pecific diets, including:
- Keto (including vegetarian)
- Thyroid disorders
- Intermittent fasting
- Mediterranean (I have three, including one for Keto)
And that’s just the ones I’ve been able to put my hands on just now.
Amazingly, we’ve found a few new “winners” for me to make again, with two thumbs up from BF. This includes one called Roasted Calabrian Chicken, which I made last week. It was really just chicken and diced potatoes with some dried oregano, fresh rosemary, and (don’t tell him!) a squeeze of lemon juice, on a sheet pan in the countertop oven. Needed to cook the potatoes longer, though. Next one is an air fryer recipe with. . .chicken and diced potatoes. The potatoes go into the bottom, and the chicken goes on top on a little rack. Maybe next week.
How Many Books?
Honest, I have no idea. I haven’t counted or organized them yet. They’ve been coming hot and heavy since last July, and until they started limiting people to four books, I got as many as seven at once. I have given a couple of them away as Christmas gifts, and some may be donated to the library eventually.
I need a new bookshelf now, and I’ll have to organize them accordingly. That means BF will be moving some of his boxes of ju. . .I mean, things, for me to put the bookshelf up. I plan to put a nice china cabinet up next to the bookshelf one day, preferably from IKEA, but that’s going to be a while yet.
I wondered if I would need more bookcases. And then one day, it became e-books. I’m guessing it’s because of the expense, but the reason Callisto gave was because of the delivery times. So now it’s about reviewing e-books, and they offer a very short time window for it, too.
I’ve sent one or two of these e-books to Miss Alice in Houston since she’s now vegetarian, a gift from Hurricane Harvey.
I do appreciate all the physical books they’ve sent me (and now, some of my writer friends) to read and review, and will keep them in their own bookcase. LOTS of delicious food in these books as well as really good info, which I hope to digest before my 90th birthday.
I missed two books out of the last batch of physical books that I really wanted, so I’ve got them on my Amazon wish list. I’ll try to fit them in my next Amazon order (whenever that is.) One was a 3-ingredient cocktail book, the other another “for two” kind of thing. Oh, well–they’re not expensive.
I’m a good six months late on this, but I think the next post will be about the cheesecakes. KJ is impatiently waiting for me to write it up, and I need to blog a little more regularly anyway. Plus I’ve got to tell you about the air fryer and the Instant Pot that’s taking up way too much room on the countertop. At least when I use it I can “let R2D2 handle dinner.”
Please take care of yourself, wash your hands, take necessary precautions, and stay far and away from trouble. It’s everywhere, lurking around corners. I’ll be back soon with more delicious recipes to share.
Can you believe it’s already July?
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Here it is, the middle of July, and I’m still trying to find time to a) blog, b) exercise regularly, c) cook in advance more, and d) enjoy the summer while it’s here. Haven’t changed the futon cover to the “summer fern” one, either. I’m having enough trouble keeping up with the laundry.
It’s been a month since my last post, and although I have topics, I haven’t gotten around to writing about them. What I did write about last night was a legal principle called “The Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree Doctrine. “ It has nothing to do with agriculture. It’s a legal principle related to illegally obtained evidence that makes the evidence inadmissible in court.
And the truth is, I knew exactly what it was, because I’ve written about it before. So I’m writing this on the fly to send out so you know I haven’t forgotten to write.
What I am able to do is enjoy my Barista Cup, and use it just about every afternoon. A month later, I’m still thoroughly in love with it, and tell coffee lovers about it. However, Aunt Ruth let me know that she wasn’t a coffee drinker–but that’s OK, you know someone who is, right?
One of BF’s “car guy” friends, JJ, has finally purchased her own Kitchenaid Cold Brew Coffee Maker. I noticed it was on sale on their website recently, so I mentioned it on Facebook one day, and tagged her so she’d see it. She ordered one immediately, it arrived two days later. JJ and her kids love iced coffee, but not the expense of getting it in the coffee shop. We saw her at a 4th of July party, and she was so happy to finally have it. However, she said that she had to rescue it from her teenage son, who was under the impression that it was a Halloween decoration of a decapitated head. He’s 17, we have no idea where he got that idea.
BF, despite 22 years in the National Guard with two stints on active duty, including a year-long stint in Iraq, still doesn’t drink coffee.
Last weekend we were supposed to get a visit from BF’s former roommate. The occasion was the memorial service of regional radio personality John Walton, part of the duo of Walton & Johnson. He passed away on Monday, July 1, after being ill for some time.
He was receiving treatment, but decided to stop treatment for whatever it was he had, and he passed away a few days later. (They didn’t disclose what the treatment was for.) According to their producer, Ken Webster, he had a number of conditions such as arthritis, and had periods where he couldn’t walk very well. He also didn’t follow doctor’s orders well, scarfing down a BLT when he should have been eating better. “Producer Kenny,” as he’s called, began filling in when Walton took ill, and they were under the impression he would return to the airwaves on Monday July 8th. However, Ken will continue the show with radio veteran Steve Johnson, who supplies the character voices. They will continue the long-running show “as long as the listeners want it.” Fortunately, John Walton mentored Kenny very well, so he was able to pick up on air where Walton left off.
The Houston memorial service for John Walton was on Friday, July 12th in Katy, TX. Walton wanted a big New Orleans style sendoff, complete with a brass band and second-line. The New Orleans “celebration of life” was scheduled for Sunday, July 14th. Unfortunately, a guy named Barry decided to barge in that weekend, so the New Orleans memorial was rescheduled for July 28th. BF and I plan to attend.
BF’s former roommate was planning to attend the NOLA service, having been a huge fan of W&J. This guy met them on one or two occasions, and has the picture of the three of them plastered on his Facebook page. He called the show regularly, although less regularly since he moved to Pennsylvania. Roommate also called in when they did their first show after Walton’s passing on Wednesday the 3rd, and called in right before 8:00 am. Both BF and I heard it from our respective locations; I was home, he was on his way to work.
Roommate is planning to return with a friend to attend the memorial on the 28th, and they were able to reschedule from the 14th. I’m happy, because we’ll be able to give him the rest of his rubbish he left behind when he moved. But if and when he comes in the house, he will be in for a shock. Lots has changed since he’s been here, and since I’ve been here. I’m hoping the reaction is positive, but you never know.
Surviving Barry’s Visit
I really didn’t think it would be a big deal for us, and it wasn’t. East Texas got some rain out of it, but in Houston, it was more hit-and-miss. But BF was sure we were going to need the generator and the camping stove, so he bought extra batteries, gas bottles, and of course, a case of bottled water, which now sitting unwrapped under the kitchen counter. We moved things and battened down the hatches, waiting for this middle of July event.
Someone posted a warning meme on Facebook that if you eat all the hurricane snacks too early, you might not fit in the rescue basket. Another said to post a picture of yourself without the filters so that when your body floats by, everyone will know who it is.
July Storm Prep
We gathered up all the flashlights, bought extra batteries, and put them all on the table. I even made a pot of what I called Hurricane Crockpot Beans. (Of course, I forgot to take a picture of it.) Two cups of baby green lima beans, some cut bacon ends, some cumin and coriander, and water, of course. Cooked it all night on Friday the 12th, so we would have food on Saturday during the hurricane. What did we do? We ate beans and rice all day!
Barry was like a bad date that arrives late and wouldn’t end (another FB meme.) He’s making landfall in the morning, then late morning, then mid-afternoon, and finally Saturday night, he showed up onshore. We got the visit sometime on Sunday, mid-morning, when the power went out. . .for fifteen minutes. Seriously. That was it. It flickered a few times, and out it went. Didn’t even rain that much. I figured I’d be doing all those things I didn’t have time for when I had power. Nope. BF wasn’t even awake yet when I told him. By the time he started shuffling around and became somewhat upright, the power came back on. Oh, well.
I subscribe to a number of blogs, including those related to working from home, copywriting, marketing, and law. One of those blogs is The Work At Home Woman, written by Holly Reisen Hanna. She recently published her book on time management, and announced it in her blog. I planned to get it when it was released, until I got an email from the publisher asking if I’d like a free review copy in exchange for a review on Amazon.
A free book? Thank you!
I got the book the day before it was released, and I read it as fast as I could, then left a lengthy review. I also notified the publishing company that it was posted and live.
And More Books
On Monday, I got another email from the publisher. . .we have more books to review, are you interested? I clicked on the link and saw. . .two cookbooks. No kidding, two new free cookbooks. I clicked on both, and they arrived today. They are The 5-Ingredient Italian Cookbook by Francesca Montillo, and Keto In 30 Minutes, by Jen Fisch of KetoInTheCity. I’ve never heard of this blog (which means nothing) but I might have to check it out. She’s actually published her fourth book called Keto In An Instant. However, I do not have an Instant Pot, nor do I really want one.
I already know what recipes I want to try from the Italian cookbook just by flipping through it, and I think BF will enjoy the chicken bundles if I don’t use the word “Braciole.”
In addition, I have also purchased Laura Pennington Briggs’ new book on starting a freelance writing business, and participated on the launch team. I didn’t get any money for it, but she did send out some great free stuff. As much help as she has given me, I felt like I owed her one.
All three of these books arrived today. I’m way behind on reading!
I am still enjoying the Gazpacho that I wrote about last time; I make it when I run out and have it at about lunchtime. It’s as delicious as the first time I made it.
I was so happy to find out how good it was that I wrote an email to Ina Garten, explaining that I tried it, mentioning Red Dwarf and Gazpacho soup is served cold! Included a link to the clip and warned that it was frat-boy humor. About three weeks later, I got a short email from one of her assistants. She said that Ina was “delighted” to read about how I got to trying the Gazpacho and that I liked it, and sent her best wishes.
What do you want to bet that they watched the YouTube video?
Until Next Time
I’ve got to get it together and find time to blog. Maybe I should set a time, like Monday morning, and get started. I do some marketing on Monday, but like most writers, I’m always marketing, really. So I’ll have to figure something out. I have more to talk about. And with the new cookbooks, new recipes to try and report.