Food for Thought

New content is on the way

Where did the summer go? I am certainly not complaining, since we had 70+ days over 100 degrees this year. We’re now in what counts for fall in the Central Valley – 80-90 degrees, for the most part. The semester is half over (booooo, mid-term exams!) and we can waive at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Personally, I am more excited to see Alton Brown and Elizabeth Ingram when they are in Fresno on December 13th to perform at the Saroyan Theater. I’m curious to see what AB’s holiday version of Beyond the Eats contains…….and to see if I can make my way to the stage (again). If you go to the Fresno show and see me wandering in the crowd, stop and say hello.

I decided on a topic for my undergrad Honors thesis, and have been going through literature as I prepare to do the research portion and write the paper this spring. It is interesting, but this is the most intensive school project I have ever done. That being said, keep your fingers crossed and hold a good thought for me between now and May. On an even more positive note, I might be able to complete the degree a year earlier than I anticipated.

Now for the new content part. The Student Pantry on campus was kind enough to post flyers with my “Ask the Recipe Whisperer” info; students can send questions about food or cooking through a QR code or an online portal and I’ll send them an answer. One of the things that I’ve found while walking around campus is that many students have questions, but are too embarrassed or don’t know where to get the information. I have the links to the portal page to this website too, so anyone can send questions. I am also adding a “Struggling Student Recipes” section soon showing affordable and easy recipes for ingredients that are available in the Student Pantry.

Aaaaaaaand also, HFWT will be posting Food Groupie Cinema episodes on YouTube starting in November. It will be a combination of adventurous eating, mystery basket cooking, and food trivia, in no particular order. Tune in to see what I do next.

It’s Fair Season – 2022 Edition!

Over the last few weeks I have wrapped up a few crafts, helped judge homebrew, and baked like crazy for two days straight, all to get entries completed for the Fresno Fair. I wound up with a total of 24 entries (5 crafts and 19 baked goods/candies). Not my best total number of entries, but I’m very happy with what I turned in. The Big Fresno Fair runs October 5-16th, and you can be sure that I’m going to make my way through the buildings this week. I’ll wait to recap the results until after the fair is over but for those playing the yearly Home Game, here is this year’s score card. Can you find them all? Drop a comment below letting me know what you think was the best entry.

2022 Fresno Fair Forktravel home game card to track entries: Baked With Olive Oil - Saffron Raisin Cheesecake Buns,
Nut Cookies,
Pecan Pie,
Apple Grape Pie,
Pink Lemonade Pie,
Sweet Curry Cheesecake,
Miso Chocolate Pie,
Cork Art - Christmas Ornament,
Cork Art - Acorn Cork Board,
Crochet - Beer Mug Rug,
Handspun – Wool,
Handspun – Blends,
Baked With Raisins -Saffron Raisin Cheesecake Buns,,
Banana Bread
Muffins,
Pumpkin Bread,
Zucchini Bread,
Bacon Bread,
Cinnamon Rolls,
Specialty Breads - zucchini pumpkin spice,
Caramels,
Fudge, Chocolate,
Baked With Olive Oil - Sweet Muffin,
Baked With Olive Oil – Bread

Dog Days of Summer vs. Cooking

Summer in the Central Valley is generally made up of 100+ degree temperatures, so it can be a challenge to feel up to cooking or baking during the day. Other than travelling to the coast for a break in the weather, there are a few ways to minimize your kitchen heat stress besides ordering takeout. Take a look at the list and let me know in the comments if I forgot anything, or if you have a favorite method or trick for beating the heat. If you plan ahead, you can cook larger batches to reheat or use in other meals later.

  • Barbeque – Pros: this keeps the cooking heat out of the house. Cons: might take several batches; need charcoal or gas to cook (make sure you have enough before hand).
  • Toaster Oven – Pros: doesn’t heat up the entire kitchen, just the area around the appliance. Many of the newer models also have convection in addition to bake/broil/toast. Cons: smaller than a regular oven, so you can’t cook as large a dish. Depending on the size of the toaster oven, you might need to purchase baking dishes that will fit.
  • Air Fryer – Pros: crispy food; less oil needed to cook; generally preheats faster than an oven or toaster oven. Cons: take up a lot of counter and storage real estate; not necessarily “healthy” cooking if you use breading and oil when cooking; the unit gets very hot, so it can’t be used under cabinets or against a counter wall; limited cooking volume. We have a small one, and just use it to reheat/crisp leftovers. In the time it takes to pre-heat and actually cook enough for a meal, it would have been faster to use another method.
  • Sous Vide – Pros: convenient and hands-free; cooks to desired temperature or consistency without overcooking; you can cook ingredients to a set stage and finish (i.e. sear, wrap and bake, etc.) at another time; more flavorful food. Cons: not an “exciting” method of cooking; requires planning; long cooking times; needs a little more specialized items (silicone or heavy plastic bags that seal well, weights or racks to keep the bags in place or under the water).
  • Range/Oven – Pros: heats up fairly quickly; can cook or bake larger quantities than other methods. Cons: heats up entire kitchen; uses more energy.

We have been smoking meat on our Pit Boss smoker and grill combo on the weekends to cook larger batches of meat and vegetables to make dinner prep easier during the week. I also like using the Anova Sous Vide for the same reason. It does take a little more planning when you cook via sous vide, and sometimes a longer cooking time, but it is a great way to cook proteins or vegetables to a set doneness and sear or caramelize the exterior later. It will only cook the ingredients to whatever temperature that the water is heated to, so it is difficult to overcook something. There are a lot of cookbooks, applications, and websites available to get recipes or techniques from for all the cooking methods. Don’t be afraid to experiment or try new methods, or even combine them for different dishes.

What is your favorite cooking method to use to stay cool in the kitchen during the summer? Drop a comment in the section below and let me know!

shallow focus photography of burning charcoals
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Grilled peaches and bananas

4 peach halves
2 bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. brown sugar
salt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 toasted almond slices
1/4 cup torn mint leaves

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Drizzle peach halves and bananas with the olive oil and season with a pinch of salt.

Grill, cut side down, for 3 minutes until nicely marked. Flip over, and add the bananas to the grill. After 2-3 minutes, sprinkle the fruit with brown sugar and flip over.

Add a little more olive oil if it starts to stick. Cook 2 minutes, making sure that the brown sugar caramelizes on the fruit. Remove from the heat, and top with a dollop of yogurt, almond slices, and mint.

Options: use vanilla ice cream or whipped cream instead of the yogurt.

Soy Glazed Grilled Chicken with Honeydew Relish

2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 (6oz) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or thighs
2 cups honeydew melon, diced small
2 tsp. minced red onion
3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and mustard. Add the chicken to the marinade, gently toss to coat. Put the chicken on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, occasionally basting with leftover marinade. Flip, close (or cover if using a grill pan), and continue grilling until cooked through, about 4 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the honeydew, mint, red onion, and lime juice. Season with the salt and toss to combine.

To serve, put the chicken on plates and top with the honeydew relish.

1 2 13
%d bloggers like this: