I’ve been meaning to fry stuff for sometime, because I miss fried food and the last time Mary Kate and I had a fry-a-palooza was this past Thanksgiving. And I wanted potato chips. I tried a recipe where you baked them, but it took two hours of prep, and seriously, I can fry them faster than that, with less aggravation. This is one of those recipes where having good tools helps. I used a mandoline to slice the russet potato and sweet potato, and I used a Thermopop thermometer to keep track of the temperature of the oil. Also, I used a cast iron wok to fry in, because I like it and it uses less oil, but you can use a regular skillet or stock pot if you use enough oil.
Chili Flavored Russet and Sweet Potato Chips:
Serves 1 (let’s be realistic about this…I ate them all in 10 minutes).
- 1 Russet Potato, sliced extremely thin
- 1 Sweet Potato, sliced extremely thin
- a pinch of DIY Chili Powder
- a pinch of salt
- safe oil for frying enough to fill the pot about 3 to 4 inches deep
For the frying:
- A pot deep enough to accommodate about 3 inches of oil and the frying thermometer, a thick stainless steel stock pot or an enameled dutch oven would be best, although I used a cast iron wok and just fried less chips at a time. You also want a pot that’s tall enough that the edge is 4 or more inches above the oil level. It’s safer and there’s less splatter all around. We do not recommend using anything with Teflon or nonstick coatings. Of course, if you have an actual deep fryer appliance, use that.
- frying thermometer (but you can’t use this one with a wok, in case you planned use a wok instead, I used this one and just stuck it in the oil periodically to check.)
- tongs and/or slotted frying spoon/spider (we used a silicone one rather than the traditional wire and bamboo, but I can’t find a picture of ours)
- plate or cookie sheet, lined with paper towels
Set up your frying pot, add your safe oil, and set up your thermometer. Start heating your oil over medium heat, as it will take some time to reach the right temperature. You are aiming for about 380ºF.
I used a mandoline, shown below, to slice my potatoes, but you can slice them with a knife if your knife skills are that good.
The slices of your Russet potato will be wet and starchy. Place them in a bowl and water and agitate them a bit to rinse the starch off.
Place the rinsed slices in between the folds of a clean kitchen towel to dry them off.
The sweet potato slices should be dry enough after slicing as there is less water content than a Russet potato.
When the oil temperature is 380°F, carefully add some of the potato slices to the pot. You don’t want to overcrowd them.
Fry the potatoes, turning them occasionally with tongs until they are golden brown. They should be fried a bit darker in color than normal potato chips so that they are crispy. The mandoline does not quite cut the potatoes as thinly as a commercial potato chip, and in order to get some crisp, you need to cook them a little longer. The potatoes will start to wave and distort when they are close. if the potato chip seems pretty flat still, keep frying a bit. When the potato slices are fried, place them on the plate or cookie sheet lined with paper towels to drain.
Once the chips have cooled a little, place them in a bowl and sprinkle the salt and chili powder on them to taste and toss them a bit to coat them and distribute the seasoning.
I know we usually do recipe links and food allergy news, but this is sort of related, as you do need plates to eat things, if you’re polite. I love the Blue Willow china pattern, but these Calamityware versions of it with flying monkeys, robots (ROBOTS MARY KATE!!), volcanoes, pirates, UFO invasions, and sea monsters are so cool. If anyone wants to buy me presents, seriously, these are awesome. (I have seen these, but they are wicked spendy. I love the UFO one best. -MK)
I found this recipe for an aquafaba vegan butter. I can’t use it as is because of the coconut, but I might trying having another go at my margarine recipe using the aquafaba as an emulsifier. If you can have coconut, check out the recipe.
So, more in the aquafaba vein (I know we posted about this months ago, but aquafaba is Latin for “bean water” and is the stuff you drain out of a can of beans. It’s an amazing egg replacer and I can’t believe it took me so long to start playing with it. It makes excellent egg-free meringues, and if you want more, go join the Vegan Meringues group on FB. It IS a vegan group, so be respectful if you are not vegan, but a more enthusiastic group of bakers and experiments is hard to fidn online). Anyway, these almond-lemon cookies sound simple and amazing and perfect to make tonight. Well, maybe not exactly perfect, as I really want to try them with orange to pair with a chocolate mousse, also an aquafaba experiment.
I’ve been cleaning, and I’ve discovered a cache of grains I bought without a clear idea of what to do with them. One thing I might try is this cold sorghum salad with fruit and nuts (does contain walnuts). I might alter things a bit to use what I have, but kale and apples would be great in the fall. I was thinking maybe berries and spinach right now in the summer.
Have a great weekend everyone!
So as many of you know, my husband and I bought a house in January so we could have a garden and grow food, have space to can and do food prep, and make all the things that I need, like soap, lard and tallow, that were really inconvenient to make in a second story balcony apartment. We now have a large garden, a huge lawn, and a lot of fruit trees. And when spring came, we also had a crap ton of ticks.
Because of my allergies and as I was trying to grow safe food, I didn’t want to use pesticides. I looked into diatomaceous earth, but I didn’t want to kill the bees. I looked into commercial stuff I could spray on my clothes, but they didn’t have the inactive ingredients listed, so I didn’t know if it was safe for me. I found an all-natural tick repellent at Blue Seal Feeds that used essential oils, but it had citric acid (corn) in it. I looked online for other all-natural repellents, but they had other corn or coconut derivatives. So I did a little googling, swiped some of the ingredient list from one of the all-natural repellents, and came up with a do-it-yourself version. Make no mistake, it reeks. But if I sprayed down my clothes and my rubber boots with it, I didn’t get ticks. Now, I don’t know if that was coincidence or not, but since I really don’t need Lyme disease in addition to my body deciding to be allergic to the world, I’ll keep using it. Also, if you want more information on ticks and tick-borne diseases, check out the information from the CDC.
I used an essential oil 4 ounce spray bottle (shown only for illustration purposes, we have no affiliation with Amazon or the seller).
Homemade Tick Repellant
- 2 ounces of apple cider vinegar
- 1 ounce of water
- 20 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 20 drops of Eucalyptus citradora essential oil
- 15 drops of lemongrass essential oil
- 15 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 10 drops of tea tree essential oil
Put all the ingredients in your 4 ounce spray bottle, put the sprayer top on and shake well. Spray on clothes and shoes. Make sure you don’t get it into your eyes, it would not be fun.
It also seemed to help with the black flies, but I’ve not yet tried it with mosquitoes. When I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.
Be safe out there!
I am not a big eater of salads. Mostly, that’s because “salad” to me equals lettuce, and I don’t eat lettuce. I don’t like it that much and my body hates digesting it. But the thing is, salad doesn’t need to be lettuce at all. I love chopped salads, and I’ve been experimenting lately with meal salads that are spinach (which I do like) with something warm and cooked over top. Putting something hot on spinach slightly wilts the spinach, which I love, and somehow makes the salad seem more like a hearty meal. This salad is one of those.
Actually, this salad is several of those. The point of this salad is the dressing, which I originally whipped up to go over a grilled steak salad. But as I was getting ready to make it again for better photos, I really didn’t feel like steak. So I made a white bean, dill, and mushroom saute, instead, and it was really good. Again, the point is the dressing. Make that, and then put it over whatever you think will taste good with caramelized onions on it (so, basically, anything up to dessert). The salad is the vehicle for the dressing. It keeps in the fridge overnight, but I’ve never had it around longer than that.
Overall, this recipe makes 2-4 servings, depending on how hungry you are. It’s about 2 servings for me.
Caramelized Onion Balsamic Dressing
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil (cooking quality, not finish quality — you’re heating this)
- 1 cup of onions, halved, then quarter each half and slice thinly. This is about one baseball-sized onion
- 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon salt (how salty do you like your dressing? I like the high end of this range, but to just get good flavor, 1/2 teaspoon is enough)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic (about one largish clove)
- 1-2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (again, adjust for your preferred tanginess)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon faux tamari, or 1/2 Tablespoon tamari and 1 teaspoon maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
Place a large skillet (I always use my cast iron) over medium heat. When hot, add olive oil and let it heat until shimmering.
Add onions, and stir well. Cook until translucent, stirring frequently.
Add salt. Stir well, and turn heat to medium low. Cook until caramelization begins (golden browning), stirring infrequently, knowing that this will take up to 45 minutes. It’s worth it.
When the browning has begun across the pan of onions, add the garlic, Dijon, balsamic, and tamari, stirring well after each addition. Stir this over the heat until everything has really incorporated (2-4 minutes), and then remove from heat.
Bonus Salad Recipe: Mushrooms, White Beans, and Dill over Spinach
- 2 -3 teaspoons of oil
- 1 package (8 oz) mushrooms, washed and chopped roughly
- 1 can (15 oz) small white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 packed Tablespoon of fresh dill, chopped
- 5 oz of spinach, washed and torn (if big)
Heat a large skillet over medium heat — since you’re combining everything, feel free to use the skillet you made the dressing in without washing it. When hot, add the mushrooms and oil. I always add these two together since I “measure” the oil by adding just a little to the pan, adding the mushrooms, and stirring well. I keep adding little bits of oil while stirring until the mushrooms are all lightly coated. This is probably less than you’d imagine, or less than you would start out with, so it keeps the mushrooms from sticking but also keeps them from being greasy.
Cook over medium heat as the mushrooms release their liquid. Stir frequently. When they’ve shrunk and look cooked, add the beans. Stir well, and add the dill. Cook another 2-3 minutes, until all the beans are hot.
Place the spinach in a large bowl. Pour beans and mushrooms over spinach, then dressing. Let sit for about 5 minutes to wilt the spinach, then toss. Let it sit again, if you like, for further wilting, and then serve.
In food allergy medical news, it looks like the peanut allergy patch, Viaskin®Peanut, is entering Phase III in the clinical trial process during which it will be given to a larger group of people to confirm its effectiveness and collect information that will allow it to be used safely. Still not sure how I (Denise) feel about this without long term data.
And in further food allergy news, here’s an interesting article on the effect that the molecular structure of some milk proteins (the ones which lacks iron and siderophores) has on activating Th2 lymphocytes in your immune system, which stimulates the production of IgE antibodies against the milk protein. Apparently the same thing is possible with birch pollen.
Apparently this is the week for allergen news — a recent article discussed a study (that I could not find in a quick search) that showed that at least some doctors are starting to recognize that blood and skin prick tests do not actually capture all the allergic reactions that children have. As adults, we’re both well aware of this. It’s good to see that maybe doctors are starting to pay attention. (Though if anyone has more time to search and finds that study, post the link.)
To give you one bit on a lighter note, here’s a homemade cherry vanilla syrup that is apparently based on a drink at a restaurant in Maine, Denise’s home state. This is pretty allergen-friendly, and I LOVE cherry sodas, so I think I’m going to have to try it.
Go forth and learn something. Or not — it is almost the weekend, after all.
My friend Mary S, of the green thumb, has been gifting me garlic scapes. Since her garlic was planted in the fall and is almost as tall as me, her garlic has lots of scapes, whereas my garlic was planted in the spring, and the tallest plant might be, oh, six inches high, and there are no scapes to be seen. Since I had some basil leftover from another dish, I decided to make a sauce. You will need a blender for this recipe.
Garlic Scape Pesto Sauce
- 1 cup of tightly packed basil leaves
- 1 cup of garlic scapes, chopped into 1 to 2 inch pieces
- 1 cup of olive oil (make sure it’s safe for you, I do well with California Olive Ranch)
- 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar (make sure it’s safe for you)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Roughly chop up the basil leaves. Add the basil, garlic scapes, olive oil, and vinegar to the blender. Process until the sauce is pulverized to your liking. I like mine pretty smooth.
This is a pretty versatile sauce. It can be used mixed into cooked hot rice noodles or even just brown rice to use as a savory side dish. You can use it as a dipping sauce for grilled meat, or toss it with steamed veggies. You can thin it down with a little more vinegar and use it as a salad dressing. If you come up with other ways to use it, please let us know.
Why is the week after a holiday always a nightmare? In any case, I’m pretty glad it’s Friday.
I (Denise) found an article about a study that’s in process for a patch to treat milk allergies by desensitizing the person by introducing increasing levels of allergen over time. I have mixed feelings about this. I’d love to have a cure to my food allergies, but continuing to eat my allergen for years after diagnosis (see my page) made me worse, and I suspect overwhelmed my immune system in conjunction with other factors to result in my current level of 15 food allergies (I haven’t updated my page to include my newest food allergy, eggplant, which resulted in anaphylaxis and a ride to the ER in an ambulance). Honestly, I’d probably need 20 to 30 years of long term data to show that there’s no ill effects (same reason I haven’t had Lasik eye surgery), and I just don’t have enough time left on the planet probably. Unless I become a cyborg when they invent that in 20 years. (I am first in line to go cyborg. — MK)
I’m starting to see purslane weeds in my garden, and supposedly it’s edible, and a really good source of Omega-3, and Vitamins E and C. Since most grocery store produce is either waxed, sprayed or gassed, and is usually corn contaminated…I keep thinking about eating it. Serious Eats had an article on foraging it. I’ll let you know if I bite the bullet and try it. Also, I’m thinking it would make really easy cheap ground cover near my patio. So what if it’s a weed? (There is not a recipe for it in my “Wild Plants to Eat: Workbook Number One,” but there is a lovely line drawing that I colored back in 6th grade when we did this workbook. You need to borrow this! — MK)
I am intrigued by this raw tart involving a seed-based crust (instead of nuts, which is typical), a coconut creme, and ripe peaches. I’m new to liking peaches (which I hated all the years I lived in Georgia), but they are in season now, and these tarts are so pretty.
I am heartened (yet not hopeful) that there is a push within the community of doctors to make sure that there is SOME training in diet and nutrition during medical school. Every little bit helps, right?
Because it’s Friday, and as Denise said, it’s been a week, here’s a bonus: some ridiculous photos of baby animals pushing grocery carts. Hey, it’s sort of food-related, right?
Have a great week everyone!
I’m hoping this is the last post on my slow-as-tortoises laptop; new one should ship this week!
I’m not sure why this chicken is “Caribbean,” exactly. The lime juice, maybe? What I can tell you is that this is an “old” family recipe (and by “old,” I mean my mother learned it sometime in the early-mid 1980s) and it’s a family classic. And that’s what it is called. This chicken tastes like summer to me, as we always had it in the summer. It should really be grilled for the best flavor, but be aware that a marinade with olive oil in it means FLAMES, so you’ll need to be on top of putting those out (or know that you’ll have some burned chicken skin). You could also broil it, I assume, but I have never tried this. Frankly, I think the flames are part of the fun, but I’ve been told I’m a little weird.
DON’T skip the soaking step. It seems like you could, with little change, as it’s not very long, but don’t. Somehow, this keeps the chicken incredibly moist and tasty.
Grilled Caribbean Chicken
- 1 to 1 1/4 lbs. chicken, BONE-IN, SKIN-ON. My favorite is chicken breasts, but drumsticks are also really good. Use what you like.
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- cold water to cover
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (cider vinegar will also work in a pinch)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
- 2-4 teaspoons salt (depends on how salty you like it — I’ve gone down to the low end and add a bit more at eating if I want it)
- 2 teaspoons dry oregano, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, preferably freshly ground
Place the chicken in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Add the lime juice and agitate the chicken a little to make sure the water’s getting in between all of the pieces. Let sit 15-30 minutes.
Make the marinade by combining everything else — olive oil through pepper — and stirring or whisking well. Drain the chicken well and then brush or pour on about half the marinade.
Start the grill. You want medium to medium high heat, if you have a gas grill with temperature settings. For charcoal, you want a “hot” side with a three-second hand (if you can hold your hand just above the cooking grate for three seconds, you are around 300-325ºF, about right for poultry) so when your coals are ready, push them slightly to one side.
When your grill is ready, place the chicken on the grill, skin side down (or just on, if it’s drumsticks). Be ready to put out flames (a water gun is fun) or move the chicken around a bit as the oil drips down. Cook about 5 minutes, skin down, and then base your back side and flip. After another 5 minutes, move the chicken to the indirect heat side of the grill for another 5 (drumsticks) to 15 (breasts) minutes to reach an internal temperature of 165ºF. Baste again at this time (though that should be enough). Check every 5 minutes. I’d love to give you an exact grill time, but I can’t — grills vary too much.
Once your meat is done, let it rest a few minutes before cutting. It should be plenty juicy, and if you haven’t burned the skin, it should be wonderfully crispy and tasty. Actually, if you have burned the skin a bit (see the chicken breasts in the grill photo), it still tastes pretty good.
Serve with grilled veggies or just a salad.
Well, I’m sure that one of my links will be no surprise to anyone, because it’s got chiles in it. This recipe for Green Harissa looks pretty awesome.
Because I’m in the market for a smoker, well in the next couple of months’ anyway, I thought this article from Serious Eats on The Best Smokers Under $500, 2015 Edition was interesting. I’m probably going to go with the Weber Smokey Mountain 18.5-Inch given advice I’ve received from a local friend who is into competitions, and based on the killer Amazon reviews. I need to smoke bacon, and eventually ham, once I get my curing recipe sorted out.
I know Denise posted about Anti-Grain Foods flours a few weeks ago, but I got the sample pack as a gift from my friend Laurie, which is awesome. We’re planning to try out this recipe for squash flour potstickers (with a few modifications) later today.
Last recipe for the day: I have never heard of moong dal chilla, but my friend Deb had pinned this, and it looks really good. I’m probably still eating potatoes for breakfast most days, but I’m definitely trying these bean-and-veg pancakes soon.
I realize, looking over this list, that we’ve not been very holiday themed, but you can always check out the All-American Chicken Ranch burgers or the homemade hot dogs for weekend grilling. Don’t blow your fingers off, everyone.
This started out to be a different post. Denise and I had gone to a public lecture at one of the big medical facilities in our area to hear an immunologist talk about food allergies. I don’t think either of us held out hope that we would be enlightened, but given our conversations after, I think we’d both hoped to learn something.
The questions from the audience showed a hunger for knowledge, for answers. About half the audience seemed to be there because they have children with allergies. The other half seemed to be adults with unexplained chronic health issues or actual diagnosed adult-onset food allergies, looking for information and answers. We did not really get answers. There was an implied dismissal of patients who have anything less than full anaphylactic shock (and, again, that was not all that clearly defined other than “can lead to death.” If the actual definition is applied — any reaction involving more than one bodily system reacting — all of us in the food allergy and most in the food intolerance worlds have been in anaphylaxis way more often than we’d believed.). There was also very polite scoffing at anyone searching for answers who believes that food allergy or food intolerance might be the problem.
Denise and I have both encountered this in our fun exciting journeys through western medicine and the US health insurance and health care systems.
Here’s the rub: For some of us really unlucky people in the world, our bodies have decided that foods, some foods, are enemies worse than viruses. This food fight can take a variety of forms. Food allergy is an IgE-mediated allergic response to a food. Food intolerance can be a lack of digestibility (e.g. lactose intolerance) or something more vague than that. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. The only one of these things that has a clear clinical diagnosis protocol is celiac. In all of these cases, though, the prescription is the same: Avoid eating the things that make you sick. This is generally just good life advice, but when the fight in you takes days, weeks, (or a trip to the ER) to resolve, it’s a little more serious.
So without clear diagnostic protocols, and with a pretty basic (if really time-consuming, life-altering, and fucking annoying) treatment plan — avoid the food — how do you, a sick person, get actionable information about what to do to improve your own health? How many of you have asked your medical professional about certain tests, certain diagnoses, or certain studies that they hadn’t ever heard of? How many of you have relayed information about how you experience symptoms in your body, whether in relation to food or not, and had a doctor ignore that information because they don’t know what it means diagnostically? How many have been told that food has nothing to do with your issues, even if your issues are digestive? How many have waited months to see a specialist who spends 5 minutes listening, shrugs off everything you’ve told them, and then prescribes a drug without explaining anything about it?
I think this is common for those of us with adult-onset food issues — allergies, intolerances, and the like. I know that I read more than my primary care practitioner on the research about food allergies. She has admitted that. She has suggested tests and diagnoses and let me go off to research them and see if I think the descriptions of symptoms fit with my experience. At first I was not on board with this, but now? Who knows better what I feel in my body than me? I’m the only one living here! Besides, she has maybe hundreds of patients. I have only myself and my own symptoms to read up on.
When I research, however, how do I find valid information? Who do you trust, how do you vet your information, and how do you avoid bad data? How do you tune out the really bad advice?
I trust that most of the research being done by federal health agencies (NIH, CDC, FDA) is based on solid scientific methods, that they will be properly cited, and that the authors will be clearly identified. I trust research being done or promoted by FARE is the same. I trust that data provided by major hospital and research groups (Mayo, Dartmouth, Mass General, Kaiser) is also scientifically valid. But bear in mind — scientifically valid and useful are two different things. Like many other people with food allergies, I think I’ve learned as much if not more from other food allergy sufferers as I have from “proper” scientific research. I’m not a scientist, and neither are most of the other food allergy bloggers. Nor are most of us dieticians, doctors, pharmacists, or other medical professionals. But we live it, this food allergy life.
So this is how I try to weed out useful information from randomness. Writers I trust relate their own personal experiences of symptoms, suspected causes, trials and missteps in figuring things out, methods of “research” on themselves, any helpful or non-helpful information from medical professionals, tests, and outcomes or results. They do not try to generalize this to everyone. Most food allergy writers know how idiosyncratic allergy and intolerance presentation is, and they write with that in mind. Writers who generalize that their personal story must be everyone else’s, writers who purposely or knowingly relay “health information” that has been debunked or disproved, writers using anything that sounds like a “health information headline” in a major news outlet (i.e. alarmist and click-baiting), or anyone promoting a magic cure, I do not trust and generally drop from my reading list. Writers who do their research and cite it, I am more inclined to trust and keep reading. This includes anyone whose research is “I tried this and here’s what happened.” Sometimes, we learn best by doing.
Anyone who dismisses all alternative treatment methods outright, I don’t trust. It’s one thing to share studies that show efficacy or lack thereof of different alternative treatments. It’s also great when, again, people share their personal experiences and even their theories. Most of us who are in this boat are or have been desperate at one point or another, and if you try some supplement or massage therapy or anything else in hope, how can I blame you? I understand. Doesn’t mean I’ll follow you, but I’ve done my own experimenting.
The wealth of information available to us is a benefit and a pitfall, I think. Anyone who has had a long bout of ill health with no good answers from their doctors has probably tried the sugar water, and I don’t fault them for that. This is one of the reasons that the gluten-free trend doesn’t bother me that much. People don’t feel great and they are searching for answers. But too many “health” blogs and “health” companies out there promote magic cures that do nothing or, at worst, cause additional harm. I do not believe in magic cures.
You are the only person who has to live in your body and deal with whatever is wrong with it. If you can learn to pay attention to what it’s telling you, I think that is generally your best chance for achieving your own optimal health. This one I feel okay making a generalization on — what better primary source of information do you have than your own bodily experience? With the information you get from paying attention, you can evaluate health information and treatment options from the internet, from well-meaning friends and family, and from your health care professionals.
We don’t have a magic cure. If we did, honestly, I’m not sure I would trust it. I guess the closest thing we’ve come up with as “magic” is being able to make and eat good food that doesn’t want to kill us. That is why we write this blog. I hope at least one or two of our recipes has made you forget you’re being “deprived” of “normal” foods.