February 23, 2017

What we've been eating lately



Every time I write a blog post I promise myself I'll write another one in a few days — or at least in a week. But the time just seems pass so quickly, and before I know it, two weeks have slipped by. I haven't stopped eating, I've just stopped thinking about it as much. And because I'm not thinking about it, I'm not taking photos of the food. Sometimes, though, I enjoy a dish I've made so much I can't help but photograph it. Today I'll share a collection of random foods I've managed to both enjoy and remember to photograph.

In my previous post I talked about my new air fryer, and I'm happy to report I'm still using it nearly every day — or more. In addition to lots of other foods, I've made a lot of fries, and have started embellishing them. The fries you see here are smothered in mushroom gravy, and were quite a treat. I've had many variations of the dish and plan to make one with cashew cheese and gravy — a take on poutine.



Yesterday, I made a 'baked' apple in the air fryer. I had already halved and cored the apple to eat when it occurred to me to air fry it. It took about 20 minutes at 390˚. The apple was sweet and sticky on the outside, and tender enough inside to cut with a fork. I added a dab of plum jam to make it look prettier for the photo, but honestly, it looked great the way it was. Tasted great, too.



Here is a dish of pasta with a side of bok choi. The interesting thing about the pasta, which we used to buy from Costco, is it's made from chickpeas. It's very high in protein so you don't really need another protein in your meal. I say "used to buy" because although I liked the pasta a lot when we first started eating it, I started to fall out of love with it after a while. It has a bit of a strong flavor that you either like or don't. Maybe I'll change my mind again, but for now, it's off the table.



We were also enamored with edamame spaghetti — another Costco find.



Seriously, where can you find pasta that has 24 grams of protein per serving. Wouldn't it be fun to answer the next "where do you get your protein?" question by saying, "oh, I get my protein from pasta." We used to love it, then we got tired of it. There's still a large box in the basement (it's from Costco, so quantity is part of the deal), and I'm hoping to start craving it again. Craving might be too strong a word, though.



These are spiced nuts from Kristy Turner's book,  But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan. (I reviewed Kristy's book here, if you want to read more about it.) The nuts are GOOD — sweet and spicy and perfect to have on hand when company is coming. I made this particular batch to take to a snack potluck.



Last but not least, here is what a day's food might look like for my dog. I've mentioned before she's on a special diet for liver failure. She gets a hepatic formula dry food which I mix with veggies to attract her attention. Sometimes there are chickpeas, rice or quinoa. Most of the time, the add-ins are broccoli, peas and pumpkin. Ironically, the hepatic diet is vegetable-based, as she's not supposed to get too much protein, especially animal protein. Her appetite can be erratic, but most days she eats. I've found she prefers a shallow dish rather than a typical dog dish. She's doing extremely well, considering, and you would never guess she's got such a serious problem. She's my baby, and I love her a lot.

February 09, 2017

My air fryer — What? I bought an air fryer?

Fries made from yukon gold potatoes.

I've been bested in my latest battle against the acquisition of new kitchen appliances by the powerful, almighty, fabulous-bargain-price, one-day-only-sale monster. I encountered the monster on a Facebook group for vegan air fryer enthusiasts, so what did I expect? I was there of my own free will, reading about other people's air frying fun, when the price notice popped up. And, I might add, I was conversant with the various models and their usual prices because I'd been researching them, just out of curiosity, you know. I didn't plan to actually buy one just then, but the one-day-only price appeared, and before I could stop myself I went to the Web page and clicked 'buy'. In the photo above you can see the first thing I made — oil-free fries. I ate them all myself, and, yes, they were good.  Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I seasoned them with granulated garlic, granulated onion and Old Bay Seasoning before I air-fried them.

Russet potatoes.

I've done lots of potato things, including crinkle cuts and wedges, and used different varieties of potatoes, and preparations. I've tried coating them with potato starch, pre-cooking them, etc., and have liked them all. Sometimes I have fries for breakfast.



The easiest thing is just to wash the potato, cut it into wedges and throw it into the air fryer. No matter what I do, the result is always delicious. One day I cut thin slices and made potato chips, but I ate them so fast I didn't have a chance to photograph them.

Russet potato.

My favorite potato to use is a russet, and a hefty russet like you see here (hand for scale :D) will make enough wedges or fries for three normal people or two greedy ones. (Or one incredibly greedy person.)



Although it's true I've eaten more potatoes lately than usual, I've also made a few other things in my air fryer. Like fried tofu cubes, for example. Here are some cubes I made to use in miso soup.



I've gotten much better at air-frying tofu since taking the photos here, and have started cutting the tofu into strips instead of cubes — I find it easier to cube it after it's done. And I'm frying it longer so it puffs up and becomes more crispy. I don't have any photos of my more recent efforts.



Here's a tofu experiment I did using three different coatings, but unfortunately, I neglected to write anything down, and now I've forgotten. It doesn't really matter though since everything I've tried has worked well, and most of the time I just air fry the tofu plain to use in other recipes.

Fries from garnet yams.

Sweet potato fries turned out great in the air fryer, and again, I didn't use oil. We gobbled these beauties up, and I was wishing I had more.

Carrots.

I did a little experiment with skinny carrots where I marinated them in tamari, a touch of maple syrup, liquid smoke and sriracha, before air frying them. They were tasty but I doubt I'll make them again. I also did tempeh strips with a homemade barbecue sauce. They came out a bit too dry, and I may try steaming the tempeh first, next time. We usually steam it before cooking but I was in a hurry.

Leftover pasta and tempeh.

I've also been using the air fryer to quickly reheat leftovers. I used it to reheat leftover pasta with tempeh chunks, and it tasted better than the original dish. The tempeh developed a nice crispy edge. It does an amazing job on leftover pizza. The pizza crust had a fabulous texture after its turn in the air fryer — better than at the restaurant! And I made onion rings!



This is my latest experiment — spring rolls stuffed with an egg roll filling of cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and air fried tofu. I would say it's a dish in progress —  I see great potential but it's not quite there yet.



This is my air fryer. If you're not familiar with air fryers, they cook with moving hot air similar to a convection oven. They achieve results comparable to deep fat frying but with little or no oil. Some people use a small amount of oil and others use none, depending on preference. If you use no oil, the food won't come out tasting like it's coated in grease, but it will be crispy and delicious.

I'm having great fun experimenting with my fryer, and am glad I bought it, but I'm still trying to figure out where to keep it. Right now it's on the counter where the Cuisinart food processor used to be, while I wait for my recalled processor blade replacement to arrive.* Once the food processor is reinstated to its usual spot, I'll have to figure something out. Unless ... the food processor moves to a new location. Hmmm. Hadn't thought of that. The food processor is a lot smaller.



Here's the inside cooking basket. It looks larger in the photo than it actually is. The machine itself is a bit bulky, but the cooking basket is only about seven inches square. I like the Phillips, which gets good ratings but is expensive (unless, you know, there's a one-day-only special) because it has a metal cooking basket rather than non-stick. If I'm cooking something sticky, like tofu, I use parchment paper. Another air fryer that is popular is the GoWise. But, there are lots — and the prices are coming down.



Anyway, there are many more people who know much more than I do about air fryers, and I can point you to them if you're interested. I'm a novice. One thing I do know, though, is while I was putting together the blog post, I got a strong craving for fries, and as you can see in the photo, they're ready. Got to go now.


* Cuisinart food processor blade recall

Cuisinart issued a recall for the blades in certain processor models because slivers of the metal can break off and become embedded in food. People have suffered injuries due to ingesting the metal. If you haven't yet checked to see if you have one of the recalled models, you should!



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