Summertime is here

Pit Boss Pro Series 1100 Wood Pellet & Gas Combo Grill

It is summertime in the Central Valley, which means daytime temperatures of upper 90s-105 or so. One of the challenges with the heat is staying hydrated (to me, water is boring) while keeping sugar and calories down. The other is how to fix meals that won’t heat up the house while staying affordable. We recently bought a Pit Boss smoker and BBQ combination, and have already used it a few times. The hubby is still dialing in the timing but so far the results have been very tasty. We’ve been cooking enough meat for a few meals at a time, so that all is needed is reheating or finishing.

Another way to beat the heat is using a sous vide device. If you don’t know what sous vide is, it is basically using a hot water bath to cook the food to the desired temperature. There are several models available, along with the respective price points. I have a basic Anova model that has bluetooth. Some of the newer styles have WiFi capability, which is great if you want the flexibliity of being able to change the time or temperature when you aren’t home. It does take a bit of planning, but if you are used to meal-prepping there isn’t much of an adjustment. Sous vide can cook more than just meat; you can make cheese, desserts, hardboiled eggs, sauces, vegetables, and more, and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen. I have a few sous vide cookbooks, and will post about any recipes I make.

*Not a sponsored post, just items l like and use at home.

Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker 

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.

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