It’s Bingo Time – Food Network style!

At the beginning of the year, I thought it would be fun to create bingo cards to play along with Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America. My husband and I watch the show every season, and DVR it to watch again later. I like Anne Burrell, and the rotating chef-instructor each season makes it fun. I am definitely a Rockin’ Red fan, even though I was really torn between the two teams last season because Alton Brown was running the blue team. (Long story short, I almost tossed him into his Megabake Oven when he was in Fresno in 2015, and made a vile frozen cocktail of fernet branca, whiskey, and dill pickle juice in 2017. Oh, and was accused of being a witch during the 2017 show because no one had ever been picked twice.)

I posted the bingo cards on several social media sites and tagged the stars, network, and show. I am not affiliated with Food Network, but I am a huge food groupie. Watching food competition shows is my idea of a sporting event. The cards went over well, and each week we made new cards. The new season is starting on May 10th with a celebrity edition. I am joining forces with Allison Victoria-Wolfe on the bingo cards to make sure more people can play along. Allison was the Season 15 winner of Worst Cooks, and has a great story of why she wanted to be on the show.

Want to play along? Click here to pick a bingo card: Worst Cooks Bingo

I hope you have fun playing bingo along with us. I don’t get to see the show ahead of time, so I am just as surprised at the shenanigans that go on. You can print up an individual card or play a few, the choice is up to you.

Bingo card archive

Quick Sandwich Bread

One of my biggest regrets is not learning how to make bread at an earlier point in life. Not only is it easy, relatively quick (with a little planning), and delicious, but it is rewarding and fun as well. If you have children, you can get them to help measure ingredients and knead the bread. It is a great way to help them connect to what they are eating.

Ingredients

3-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter

Pour 1/2 cup of the warm water into a small bowl or cup and stir in the yeast and sugar. Stir gently, and let sit for 5 minutes. If the yeast is not foamy after 5 minutes, discard and purchase fresh yeast.

Place 1 cup of the flour into a bowl and add the rest of the water. Stir until well blended (it will be fairly runny and gloppy). Add the rest of the flour a cup at a time, salt, butter or oil, and stir well. The dough will be shaggy and sticky at this point. If you have a stand mixer, combine in the same steps using a dough hook. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board (or let the stand mixer work it with the dough hook) for 5-10 minutes until it is smooth. It should feel soft and a little springy to the touch at this point.

Shape the dough into a ball and put it into an oiled bowl, then flip the dough over so that the ball has a light coat of oil. This will help keep the surface elastic while rising. Cover the bowl with a clean damp towel and let it rest on the in a warm area for 1-1 1/2 hours until it is doubled in size.

Lightly butter or oil a loaf pan and set aside. The dough should be puffy and rounded. Punch the dough down, then place back on a lightly floured board. Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes. It will feel tighter than the first kneading due to the development of gluten.

Stretch the dough into as much of a rectangle that you can, then fold up in thirds. Place the dough into the loaf pan with the seam (edge of loaf) on the bottom. Brush the top of the loaf lightly with oil or melted butter, cover with the damp towel again, and leave in a warm area for an hour. The dough should almost double in size again.

Once the dough has doubled it should be at or near the top of the bread pan. Preheat the oven to 375°F and make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown. Remove the loaf from the pan and set on a rack to cool.

Let the loaf cool for 2-3 hours before cutting. If you slice it too soon, the inside will be gummy instead of nice and fluffy.

Wasn’t that easy? Enjoy!

Always striving to be better

One thing about life is that you can always work at being better. That is true with cooking and baking too. I am always trying to learn something new, master a new technique, try a new ingredient (I wish I had a larger pantry!), read more, and find new things to put on the website. Before Covid-19, we had planned to be in Las Vegas this week to go to Robert Irvine’s event to benefit Three Square Food Bank. We attended it last year and had a lot of fun, especially when I won the chef coat Robert was wearing in an auction. As of today, Las Vegas is slowly reopening, but I prefer to wait just a bit longer to make sure it is safe to travel. By the way, Robert is the real deal. He is just like he presents himself on Restaurant Impossible. The man works non-stop, and gives a lot for the military and their families.

Working with Allison Wolfe on the Worst Cooks bingo this season has been fun, and I look forward to more of the zaniness when Alex Guarnaschelli joins Anne and a new cast of bootcamp recruits. This is one show that makes me laugh and yell at the television at the same time. I often wonder how all the contestants made it to this stage in life without learning how to cook. Two shows left, with the final round next week. I have no idea who might be in the final two, but it will definitely be interesting.

Over the last few weeks I filmed a few short clips for the local library to post for their summer session. Given that it was something completely new, both my husband and I learned a little about lighting and filming. One thing for sure, trying to film in the house at night or when it is over 100 degrees outside create challenges that we learned from. Each one was a little better than the one before, and it was easier to “talk to the camera” when I demonstrated a recipe. It’s a work in progress to be sure, but I did have fun doing it. Time to write up and post the recipes I used; I’ll post the links for the library once they are up.

The next project will be tackling my 400+ cookbook library. That will be quite a task to sort, catalog, then organize on the shelves. I am not sure how I want to group them, other than put the celebrity chefs on the top shelves followed by my favorites. Therein lies the challenge. Watch for the list and photos over the next week or so.

If you have a moment, please take the poll below to give me an idea of what you’d like to see on Have Fork, Will Travel.

Bulgogi Broccoli Beef

I love going through my cookbooks looking for new ideas. There are times that I can’t quite decide between two recipes to use for a meal. This one was no exception. I love Jet Tila’s book, 101 Asian Dishes To Cook Before You Die, and was torn between the Broccoli and Beef and Bulgogi Beef. I combined the two, and this is the result.

Ingredients

2 large broccoli florets
1 ½-2 lbs chuck roast
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seed, toasted
3 cloves (or 3 tsp) minced garlic
3 tbsp granulated or brown sugar
¼ cup water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup fish sauce (you can use more or less depending on preference) *

Slice the beef thinly into strips across the grain, about ¼ inch thick, and set aside.

Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seed, garlic, sugar, and water, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the sliced beef and mix thoroughly. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator three hours or as long as overnight. If you are short on space put in a gallon zip bag (close tightly), and store it in the refrigerator in that instead of a bowl.

Cut the broccoli florets into pieces and blanch in boiling salted water for 2-4 minutes until slightly tender and bright green. Remove from hot water and put in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok on high heat and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the meat into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until brown. Stir and turn the meat over, continuing cooking another minute or two until browned but not cooked completely. You might need to do it in a batch or two depending on how much meat and how large the pan is.

Add the broccoli and cook another 1-2 minutes.

Mix the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve it. Drizzle it into the pan with the broccoli and meat, continuously stirring the whole time. Add the fish sauce, and cook 1-3 minutes on medium high heat until the sauce it thickened.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

Options: You can also serve it over rice or noodles, and add in additional vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, bok choy, water chestnuts, or whatever you have on hand.

*I use Viet Kieu Dipping Sauce for the fish sauce. I find it isn’t overly “fishy” yet still adds a bit of umami.

Trying times call for patience and baking

It has been awhile since I’ve posted on here, though I do manage to upload pictures of my dishes several times a week. There has been a lot going on between completing my third college degree in October until now. The Wind Symphony that I am a member of had a great set of performances at the California Music Educators Convention in February, and had one piece with guest artist Derek Brown. If you have never listened to him play, it is well worth looking him up. He plays saxophone and does beatbox at the same time. It is pretty amazing.

I went outside my comfort zone and made weekly bingo cards to post for the followers of the Food Network show Worst Cooks in America. It was received well, and seemed to get more reposts and players each week. Food Network seemed to like it as well; once the nation was (mostly) directed to shelter in place they copied my idea and made cards to use while watching their network during the day.

Since then, Covid-19 has swept the world, and everyone is sheltering at home as much as possible. I’ve notice the increase in baking posts on social media, and have been assisting friends with issues via email and text. All I can say is that sourdough is a commitment and labor of love. It isn’t something you can use one time and forget about. Many of the chefs I follow are still working, and some of the celebrity chefs have been posting cooking/baking videos.

I am still working at my day job, though it involves telecommuting to campus most of the time. One of the pluses of being home is I can start dinner earlier since there is no commute and I don’t need to stop at the store.

I did set a few goals to accomplish while I am working from home. I am keeping the list reasonable and somewhat short, since I don’t know week to week when the university will have staff shift back to being on campus full time. I’ll update the list at I finish one task and add another. The main obvious ones are to deep clean and paint my kitchen, organize and post my cookbook list, and work on my fair projects. I do need to do some write-ups and handouts, as I will be filming a short series of talks about a few food topics. This is something completely new, and I am looking forward to it.

Back to the current situation and baking. My sourdough starter, Stinky, is about two years old now. He had (thankfully) evolved past his name, and I am thinking about starting a companion starter next week. I am lucky in that I had already bought plenty of flour when the pandemic changed how we shop, so I didn’t have to deal with the supermarket scramble to find something to bake with. Sourdough is an interesting and challenging thing to work with, and timing is everything. I’ve been practicing on smaller loaves to get the technique down, and then branching up to larger ones when I feel more confident. Over time, I can now do a 100% sourdough loaf that has a nice rise, resilient and balance crumb, and a thin crisp crust. If you follow me on social media it looks like all of my baking is wonderful, but there are times where the bread is only good for crustini, stuffing, or breadcrumbs. I don’t let the “flops” bother me. It could be a timing issue, an ingredient ratio miscalculation (I don’t always follow a recipe exactly), or even a technique blunder. At that point, as long as it tastes good and I can use it in something else, I chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. It is therapeutic to knead and shape dough, and the smell of bread baking in the morning is one of my favorite ways to start the day. It isn’t for everyone, but it does teach patience while you wait for it to rise (will it? won’t it?) while proofing or in the oven. Watching the browning due to the maillard reaction to the degree of golden brown is like performance art. No two pieces are ever the same.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting recipes and reorganizing the site to make it more accessible and to increase content. If there is anything you want to see added, just drop me a line or make a comment.

Image may contain: food
Just a little sourdough to start the week with.

Exciting changes coming soon

I’ve had to put the website on the back burner for the last few months as I wrapped up my third degree. That was completed as of noon last Friday. I have a few changes coming to the site, including more recipes and adding a print feature. Thanks for being patient, and I hope you come back to see this little blog grow. If you have an idea or want to see a certain recipe, let me know.

Remember, life is too short for bad food. 🥂

Fall means fair time!

It was a good fair entry year. The total awards so far are: 1st – 18, 2nd – 9, 3rd – 7, Best In Show – 3, and Honorable Mention – 1. I won’t know if I placed in sweepstakes until next week. Overall, it was a great year. I only had six items that didn’t place. Pat got a 1st and 3rd for his beer, and Nicole’s boyfriend got 1st and Best In Show for his peanut butter stout. Time to start planning for next year. 😁

Brunch oven pancake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

toppings (optional) – powdered sugar, maple syrup, whipped cream, your favorite jam or jelly

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium size bowl. Whisk or use electric mixer to make sure the batter is smooth and has no lumps. Set aside.

Spray a cast iron or oven-safe pan with non-stick spray. Heat the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.

Whisk or stir the batter one more time, then pour into hot pan. Put the pan back into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top.

Remove pan from oven and let cool for about 5 minute. Cut and serve with your favorite topping.

I am totally (beer) judging you….

The Fresno County Fair is just two weeks away. Last weekend was the turn-in for crafts, fine arts, and canned goods. This weekend is the Homebrew competition, and next Saturday is the baked goods turn-in. Needless to say, it has been busy. Today, my husband and I helped judge beer. Not all were good, but all the judges gave everyone a good evaluation. All next week will be hectic after work as I work on roughly 32 entries in various categories.

Easy English Muffins

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1 1/2 cups milk, heated to lukewarm
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp shortening, melted
1 package dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
1/2 cup whole wheat or rye flour*

*You can also use 2 cups all-purpose flour instead of the mix.

In a medium bowl mix the milk, sugar, salt, melted shortening, and yeast. Mix until the salt and sugar are dissolved, then let rest for 5 minutes.

Add in the flour(s) and mix thoroughly, then cover the bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, stir and check texture. It should be about the consistency of cornbread batter. If too loose, add flour a teaspoon at a time; if too thick, add water a teaspoon at a time. Mix well in between additions.

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Preheat griddle over medium heat and place rings on pan. Spray with nonstick spray, and using an ice cream scoop to put one scoop in each ring. Spray the pan next to the rings with water and cover rings with a lid or pan. Cook 5-6 minutes, spraying the pan once halfway through and cover.

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Remove the lid and flip the rings using a spatula and tongs. Spray the pan again and cover. Cook another 5-6 minutes, or until brown. Remove the muffins from pan to cool, and start the next batch in the rings on the griddle.

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Once cool, you can split the muffins and toast. Serve with your favorite topping and enjoy.

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