Author Archives for Have Fork, Will Travel

About Have Fork, Will Travel

Office by day, home cook/baker by night, maker of many things. Food groupie always. Life is too short for bad food.

Time flies…..

So far, 2022 has been moving merrily (and rather quickly) along. The semester is almost done, the Wind Symphony has a joint concert on May 1st with the Air Force Band of the Golden West, and I’m counting down until May 13-15th when the National Garlic Festival will be held in Fresno. This food groupie would be very excited to have a way to talk with the chefs (Food Network and local) about what they are making with garlic.

We had a recent trip to Las Vegas for my birthday (separate post later this weekend), where we ate our way across the Strip on a foodcation. No spoilers, but I do have to give Hell’s Kitchen a double thumbs-up for great service, quality of food, and cost overall. We didn’t get to try any of the many gelato vendors though. We were so full from all of the planned meals that we had no room for anything else. I know, me pass up ice cream?! Next trip for sure.

I’m enjoying working with the doctor on my internship for the folklore archiving project. We have created the process from the ground up, and have had to overcome a few bubbles in the process. It is slower going than we both would like, but I’m learning a lot as we go. It looks like it will probably continue after the semester is over, and become a paid side-gig. After all of the work and progress, I would really hate for someone new to take over.

There are a few things planned for spring and summer. I’m going to be adding to the cookbook page weekly. I have to, because I forget which books I already have and sometimes wind up with duplicates. The Fresno County Library contracted with me for a couple of videos for summer meals that will be aired in July. If you miss the debut showings, they will be available on the library’s website and YouTube. I hope you pop in to watch; I am very happy with the dishes chosen.

New year, new goals, new adventures, and 2021 recap

January 1st, the first day of the new calendar year. It is a great time to evaluate where you are and make new goals. Make sure that you have both short and long term goals on the list, and don’t be afraid to edit them as needed. Life is a personal journey, and unfortunately we sometimes let other people decide what path we take. Me? I make goals, evaluate and update them on a regular basis, and keep trying to grow as a human.

Homecoming photo booth – October 2021

The 2022 list will evolve just like those before it. Bake and cook as much as possible, try to remember to write the recipes down, craft like crazy, get the garden cleaned and planted in the spring, practice the contrabass clarinet more frequently, and eventually get all the cookbooks cataloged and listed. That last one would be easier if new (to me) cookbooks weren’t showing up in the mail now and then. I did achieve one of my 2021 projects of installing another bookcase and filling it with the stacks in the front room. Progress! It also helps to be able to poke fun at yourself now and then, and not take it seriously.

I wrapped up the first semester of the BA for an anthropology degree, and classes for the spring semester look to be very interesting. I will be doing an internship with the Central California Folklore Archives as one of the courses. The information that I was given about the project sounds very interesting, and I look forward to having a hands-on project.

Another project/goal on the horizon will be regular installments of the Adventurous Eating and mystery basket cooking. Some will be live and some uploaded onto YouTube, so watch the social feeds for updates. The first one next weekend will be full of new and different food/beverage items to try. I will only say that I know there is a durian pastry on the list for sure. The rest you’ll have to tune in to see. There are summer videos in planning for the Fresno County Library, and of course Worst Cooks In America Bingo.

The new season of Worst Cooks starts on a new night and with a new chef to try to beat Chef Anne. I think Cliff Crooks will have his hands full with the bootcamp rookies. This is a slightly different season in that some of the contestants know each other. At the end, there can be only one! It looks to be a frantic and hilarious good time, so make sure to print up bingo cards, grab a beverage and snack, and hang on for the ride! As in prior seasons, I’ll post new cards each week and add the prior week’s ones to the card archive for those that want to play the home game later.

I have a few other “goal” things to shoot for, so keep your fingers crossed for me. More info, pictures, directions, and other silliness will be posted as it becomes available.

Keep in mind that each day is a gift and a chance to try something new. Give yourself permission that things don’t have to be perfect. Stop and smell the roses, and enjoy something tasty along the way.

I must say that 2021 was a quirky year. The pandemic is still around, but the lockdowns in California went away as the vaccine became available. There were good things: I started back to school, made new friends in the culinary world, live concerts for the Wind Symphony of Clovis started up again (hence the need to practice more), I FINALLY won the baking sweepstakes at the Fresno Fair (I’ve been trying to get that for about ten years), and was able to get on stage with the irrepressible Alton Brown for a third time. I cannot express how amazingly fun it was, and seeing his wife, Elizabeth, play bass was a treat. Super couple, and I will keep watching to see if he is bringing the show to Fresno anytime soon.

Remember, life is too short for bad food.

Thankful for many things

It’s hard to believe we are almost at the end of the year. In some ways 2021 was very similar to 2020, though we went back to working on campus full time in August. I didn’t mind working remotely, as it gave me time to bake on my breaks and lunches. If you’ve ever made bread from scratch, you know that it isn’t something you can just start and walk away from all day. Well, at some point you can, but with sourdough there is a bit of dedication and love involved in the early stages.

I have many things to be thankful for. I have a good job (office job during the day), a house to live in, a loving family, and being able to share my passion for food with everyone. I’m almost done with the first semester of an anthropology degree (with a few more years to go), and I’m happy with my choice of major. I am definitely a lifelong learner, and won’t be slowing down soon. As it gets closer to December 31st, I’ll do a recap of some of the interesting things that happened this year.

A few years ago, I would not have given any thought to the idea of starting a blog or making cooking videos. I started the blog to share my love of food:, where to find it, how to make it, and the tasty dishes I created along the way. Working remotely last year added filming to the list while working remotely. We watched the first ones from 2020 recently, and saw the progress from then to now. I know I still have room to grow and get better, but this is a journey. We learn a little bit with each session, and each video is more polished than the one before it. One thing that stays the same is that the food and cooking are real. I might accidentally drop a spoon in the pot, or the deep fryer decides to quit mid-shoot. One night, the tripod kept falling over during filming (with my husband’s iPhone face-planting each time); thank goodness for the power of the edit.

As you can tell, I love food. I love talking about food with anyone that wants to discuss it. I made food ornaments for my Christmas tree, a shrimp cocktail hat to wear to Alton Brown’s live show (more on that in another post), and will be wearing a turkey beanie all week for Thanksgiving. There is a room full of cookbooks that I go through on a regular basis, and new videos on the way. If there is something you have questions about or researched, drop me a line or comment.

Pie Milkshakes

Shake ’em if you got ’em. Leftover pie can be used in so many different ways. Breakfast with hot beverage is one way (shhhhh, don’t tell anyone), but you can always take that last piece of pumpkin or apple pie and make a delicious milkshake in just a few minutes. Add some rainbow sprinkles or shaved chocolate an you have a party!

Ingredients

1/4-1/2 cup cold milk (you can also use your favorite milk substitute)

1 cup vanilla ice cream

1 small slice of pie (or 1/2 a larger piece), cut into chunks

toppings (optional): candy sprinkles, shaved chocolate, whipped cream

In blender, place ice cream and 1/4 cup milk. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add pie chunks; cover and blend until smooth, stopping blender to scrape down sides if necessary. Add additional milk, a splash at at time, if the milkshake is too thick. Blend until smooth.

If the texture is too loose, add additional flour one tablespoon at at time. Mix well. You want

Pour into a fancy glass and top with candy sprinkles, whipped cream, or chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.

This recipe makes one shake, but you can easily double it to share with someone.

Mashed Potato Tots

Have leftover mashed potatoes? Take them to a whole new level. This easy recipe can be put together in a short time, and you can have the kids help with shaping them.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

1 egg

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons chopped chives

1 tsp onion powder

panko crumbs

Mix mashed potatoes, egg, chives, onion powder, and half of the flour together in a medium bowl. Mix until well combined.

If the texture is too loose, add additional flour one tablespoon at at time. Mix well. You want the consistency to be like clay. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes. This will give the flour time to rehydrate.

Add panko crumbs into a bowl for rolling.

Using a small scoop or two teaspoons, drop spoonfuls into the panko and completely coat. Gently remove and shake off excess. Place on a parchment paper or wax paper lined baking sheet. You want to fill up the baking sheet, but the tots should not touch.

Using your fingers, press the potato cakes into a log shape. Place the pan into the freezer for at least an hour, and up to overnight.

When you are ready to cook them, heat up cooking oil to 350F, then add in 5-8 frozen tots into the hot oil. You don’t want to crowd them so they can cook evenly. Flip over after 3-4 minutes and cook until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Note:

You can make these ahead of time and only pull out as much as you need. Store them in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer.

Turkey a la King

Turkey gravy is so delicious, and often you have a cup or two left over after a holiday meal. With just a few ingredient and 10 minutes you can create a whole new meal with it.

Ingredients

1 1/2-2 cups gravy (use whatever you have on hand, store-bought is ok)

1-1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables (if using green bean casserole, dice the green beans to bite-sized)

Chicken or vegetable stock, or water, as needed

1/2 tsp. mustard

3/4 cup diced turkey

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

Drain the vegetables and place in a medium saucepan.

Add the leftover gravy, turkey, and mustard to the pan and heat on medium low. If the gravy is too thick, add broth or water, a few tablespoons at a time.

Heat until simmering, cooking constantly. You don’t want the bottom to scorch. Add Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.

Once everything is heated through, about 5 minutes, remove from heat.

You can use this to top mashed potatoes, savory waffles, potato croquettes (tots), or even a toasted roll.

Stuffing Waffles

Stuffing or dressing is a standard side dish for turkey or other poultry. Often, once the meal is over and there are dribs and drabs of vegetables, stuffing, and gravy. What better way to make a completely new meal with what you have on hand? The best part is that you can use whatever is available.

Ingredients

2 cups leftover stuffing

1 egg

Chicken or vegetable stock, or water, as needed

2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)

Non-stick spray or vegetable oil

Preheat the waffle maker.

In a large bowl, stir together the leftover stuffing, parsley, and egg. If the stuffing seems a little dry, add chicken broth or water a few tablespoonfuls at a time and mix until well combined. Continue adding chicken broth or water as needed until the mixture is well-moistened (but not soggy).

Grease the heated waffle maker with cooking spray or oil.

Scoop 1/2-3/4 cup of the stuffing mixture into the prepared waffle iron, spreading it evenly. Close the lid and let the waffle bake until golden brown and the egg is cooked throughout.

Transfer the waffle to a serving plate then repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining stuffing. Serve the waffles with turkey a la king gravy and enjoy.

NOTES:

Make sure that the vegetables in the stuffing/dressing are relatively small. This will ensure even baking of the waffle.

Don’t repeatedly open the waffle baker while the waffle is baking or it will pull apart.

Stuffing waffles take longer to cook than regular waffles, because the egg must be completely cooked throughout. Don’t be afraid to let the waffle bake until it’s golden brown and crispy.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with topping with chili, cheese, pulled pork, or whatever is your favorite topping.

It’s good to be the…….(fair results)

I could only hold out so long before going to the fair to see how my entries placed. I must say, I am very happy with the results. Thirty five out of 40 entries placed, one I couldn’t find, and eight Best in Show ribbons. I won’t know if I placed in Sweepstakes until I pick my items up after the fair is over. Time to start planning for next year!

Edit: see the last photo for the ribbon count!

It’s Fair Time!

2019 baking drop off

It’s that time of year again – local county fairs. I love the frenzy of last-minute crafting and baking, loading up the truck, and taking everything in. This year was no exception. I always aim to enter more items than the year before, and usually have a few that I simply run out of time to finish. I’ve been doing this long enough to laugh about it, promise myself to get started on my projects earlier (knowing full well that there would be a last minute rush like every year before it), and then spend the week following turn-in day picking up all the craft or baking supplies and putting things back in their place. The end of the craft week has my front room looking like a craft store, and the baking week has flour in places of the kitchen I wouldn’t have thought could get there. It’s all good, and then I start planning for the next year.

This year was like every other. On the drop-off day we decide what the latest time we can leave the house is, then set a cutoff time to wrap up things in process. For the baking day, I had 25 completed baked items by the designated time. We loaded up my husband’s car and the cab of my truck, then raced across town. Promptly at 4pm, I dashed into the building so that I “technically” made it on time. Or so I thought. The women that run the building looked at me and told me they were there until 5pm, not 4. Apparently, someone had put the wrong time on the main listing page for Home Arts, but the correct one was listed if you checked each individual division. If you enter as many categories as I do (39 this year!), you don’t have time on the last day to double-check the book. So. After Tokyo-drifting into the parking lot with many, many baked goods, we find out that I could have wrapped up 3-5 more items already in progress. As it was, my hubby had to zip back across town to bring back the upside down cake that we forgot (it had been set aside to finish cooling). The sourdough bread was the last thing pulled from the oven at 3:30pm; I had to hope for the best on that one. You cannot rush sourdough baking, or bad things happen.

All the pans are washed, baking ingredients returned to their shelves, and the yearly Where’s Waldo Fair Home Game card completed. We will go to the fair this week to see how my items placed, get our obligatory geodes, and probably enjoy a bit of fair food. If you go to the Fresno Fair and see my entries, let me know what you think!

The next frontier…..

It’s been quiet on the Fork Travel front over the last month. My day job has everyone back on campus full time, the semester started two weeks ago, and Wind Symphony rehearsals have commenced. I returned to school part-time to start on a Bachelor’s degree while working full-time (plus everything else), so getting back in the swing of homework has been a slight challenge. The lull is about to change for this blog, because I’m working on a few new things for fun. I hope you enjoy them, and check back often to see the changes. Let me know what you think.

Coming soon…….

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