Just A Bean Soup

Yesterday I made ham stock. There are a number of soups you can make from a good ham stock. Potato soup, Congressional bean soup, pearl barley soup are just a few.

This soup is just my way of making soup with what I had. When I looked in the pantry the first thing I saw was a bag of navy beans, so bean soup seemed a good idea. If you have a really good stock then just about anything can be used to make a great soup. Next stop was the fridge to see what I had. That made today soup day, after I removed all of the fat on top of the stock that was in the fridge. Turned out today is the perfect day for home made soup for supper, it’s -25c, -34c with the windchill.

3 litres ham stock

3 cups shredded ham from the bones

3 cups diced tomatoes

4 cups navy beans soaked overnight

1 large carrot chopped

3 ribs celery chopped

1 large onion diced

7 mushrooms thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Add ham, tomatoes, and beans to the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook covered for 1 hour. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, the broth should taste a little salt at this point because of all the vegetables your adding. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and mushrooms and cook for another hour until vegetables are tender and serve.

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Air Fryer Fried Chicken

This is the experiment with the air fryer that I have been waiting to try. Whole chickens have been over six dollars a pound but Walmart finally had them on sale for $1.97 which is at least reasonable. There are just a few things I like made with chicken and fried chicken is second on the list. Normally I fry the chicken in oil until browned and finish it in the oven. I have heard and read that an air fryer does a good job with fried chicken. Still sceptical of that claim but definitely worth trying. If it fails I can always heat up some oil and correct it was my thought with this experiment.

This isn’t a recipe for fried chicken, my recipe is already posted, this is just wether the air fryer can cook my normal fried chicken recipe. There aren’t many chicken recipes I like, chicken wings, fried chicken, chicken parmesan, chicken Kiev, and maybe a couple of more are about it. Cooking the chicken I like isn’t the healthiest way to eat chicken, so the air fryer makes it healthier by eliminating the oil. My wife and I years ago changed how we eat, we make everything we can from scratch, eat more salads, and vary what we eat drastically. We didn’t get stupid with it we just followed the rule of everything in moderation and some stuff rarely.

I decided that even if this experiment was a complete failure I was going to post it. I read a number of different recipes but decided to go my own way with cooking time and temperature. I did it the simplest way because of all the recipes I read. Some said spray the coating with oil before frying others said it wasn’t necessary so I went with no spray, which I thought was a mistake. Cooking temperature I decided 200c would best for a crisp coating and 25 minutes to insure it was cooked, turned it after 13 minutes. I oiled the grill plate well to insure nothing stuck and hoped it turned out.

The verdict is in, it worked. It tasted like my fried chicken tastes just no greasy after taste. Yes, it surprised me, it was crisp and still moist. As I thought not spraying the coating lightly with oil is a mistake. Spraying it will give a more even crispiness to the coating. I have a pump up oil sprayer so next time I will lightly spray it with extra virgin olive oil. So yes you can take your normal way of making fried chicken and do it in the air fryer rather than oil.

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Making Lasagna And Feeling Stupid After I Made It

Today is a family meal for all the January birthdays. I was told by my wife that I was making lasagna. I will brag a little, and say I make very good lasagna. The reason I feel stupid after making it is every time I do I make the same mistake. I have lots of kitchen things to make cooking easier but for some reason I leave them in the pantry.

Yesterday I made the meat sauce which meant I spent a half-hour standing at the island chopping onions, celery, and red pepper. Since I wanted everything chopped in small dice it takes time. After I was done I sat down and complained because my back was sore. That’s when it dawned on me, I have a great large food processor in the pantry that could of chopped everything in about 5 minutes. Pretty stupid of me not to use something we purchased years ago to make things easier when I had lots of chopping to do. It gets even worse today.

Today I made the lasagnas, which means large ones with lots of mozzarella cheese to grate. So what do I do, get out the box grater and grate the blocks of cheese. When I had just a little left I realized again I could of used the food processor. I have 3 different sized graters for it. Grating would of taken less than a minute. Next time I make lasagna I told my wife ” remind me to do the smart thing and use the food processor”.

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Simple Chicken Stew

I decided to make chicken stew which is something I actually like, but make rarely. The reason is, I think it is a sin not to have dumplings with chicken stew, but my wife hates dumplings. When the kids were at home I would make dumplings but for just the two of us it doesn’t work. I’ve tried just making enough dumplings for myself but two little dumplings don’t cook properly, so now I just have bread with it.

This is and extremely simple recipe but it makes a very good chicken stew. It starts with roasting four bone in, skin on chicken thighs. The reason for roasting them is two things. Roasting them increases the flavour of the meat and gets rid of all the fat. I have made it the traditional way of boiling a whole chicken and making broth from it. Now I can get very good broth in the stores. Buying the broth makes it quick and simple to make.

Yes you can still put dumplings in it if you like dumplings. Just follow the dumpling recipe you like.

meat from 4 roasted chicken thighs

3 cups chicken broth

1 small turnip cut jn wedges

1 large carrot chopped

1 rib celery chopped

2 small onions quartered

1clove garlic minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

pinch of italian seasoning

4 bay leaves

cornstarch slurry made with 2 tablespoons of half and half cream and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

4 chopped green onions

Put everything in a pot except the slurry and green onions, and simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours. Thicken with the cornstarch slurry and green onions, simmer until thickened and serve. If you have dumplings with it add them after you thicken it and cook for your dumpling recipe time.

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Trying To Perfect Air Fryer French Fries

The first french fries I made in our air fryer were good but not perfect. There is are number of reasons I didn’t consider them perfect. The potatoes I used where what I had, which was the standard red skinned type. These are great for mashed potatoes but not my choice for other things. They’re a very versatile potato that can be used for just about every potato dish you want to make, but for french fries, potato wedges, and baked potatoes I prefer yukon gold potatoes. This attempt at french fries I used yukon gold and got closer to something I would call perfect.

I just cleaned them well and cut them into half inch fries, gave them a little salt and put them in the air fryer. Time was total of 23 minutes at 200. Tossed them after 10 minutes then after 15 and 20 minutes. They were close to what I want to be able to get from the air fryer but still need work. My wife thought they were great, I guess I am just a little bit fussy about it. I will make a few change next time I make french fries.

I could just get out our deep fryer and make them but the whole point, for us, is the air fryer is healthier and less mess. I learned a lot from this attempt which I will use next time. This experiment was close enough that I think next time they will come out close enough to perfect that a goofball like myself will be happy and move on to other things in our air fryer.

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Noodles For Turkey Soup

I make turkey soup three or four times a year for a very long time. Ever since I started making turkey soup we have always had noodles in it. Noodles in turkey or chicken soup has always seemed a perfect thing to do. When I first started making it I just used macaroni and I cooked it in the soup. The problem was that since with turkey soup there are lots of leftover soup. Cooking the macaroni in the soup meant the macaroni was always mushy a day or two later. It bugged me more than my wife because I hate mushy pasta.

I started cooking the macaroni separately and making just enough for the supper we were having. After a few years I decided to try other noodles because I didn’t like macaroni that much. I tried a lot of different types, fine egg noodles, broad egg noodles, broken spaghetti, penne, fusilli, even bow tie. None of them worked that well because it was hard to get them to stay on the spoon.

If my memory is correct it was at Tim Hortons for lunch I found what I use now. That was about fifteen years ago when I ordered their chicken noodle soup. It came with little shells for the noodles. It was perfect, they fill with the broth and you have absolutely no problem keeping them on the spoon. Since then it is the only thing I use for turkey or chicken soup. If you have never used them you need to try them. Yes, I still cook them separately.

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Air Fryer Frozen Pork Loin Chops

I just had to try cooking frozen loin chops in our air fryer, surprisingly it worked. Because I considered it and experiment all I did was salt and pepper them. As with any experiment I learned a lot. Firstly it does a very good job of cooking them evenly. They didn’t dry out and that is because they were frozen. Thawed chops I think would dry out very quickly so frozen is the best way with any pork chops. The most important thing I learned from this experiment is what to do before you freeze the chops. Before you freeze them either brine or marinate them. By doing that you can create a very flavourful chop. It would also work with boneless chicken pieces.

The chops were super simple. I took them out of the freezer and salt and peppered both sides. Preheated the air fryer at 200c for 3 minutes. Put the chops in and set the time for 12 minutes. After 8 minutes I turned the chops and let them cook for the remaining time. I did cut into one to verify that it was actually cooked which it was. If you marinate the chop and then freeze them this makes for a very quick supper. The total time with preheating was 15 minutes which I still find amazing. With the chops we had rice and broccoli and had a very good supper.

I have stated I am not a formally trained cook, I am just a man, husband, father, and grandfather who love to cook and play with food. I have no fear of just trying things for the fun of it and have learned a lot from the mistakes I have made doing that. I think one of the earliest things I learned is when you get a new kitchen toy is figure out how and why it works. The more you know the quickly you will learn how to use it properly and it won’t just sit in the cupboard and collect dust.

I try different things so I can learn a better way to do things, create different tastes to add to the flavour. I have never had something I would call and absolute failure because with every mistake I have learned a lot. From some of my mistakes I have made really good things because of the changes I have made. I have always wondered if a formally trained chef learns the way I do, from making mistakes.

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Still Experimenting With Our Air Fryer

I’ve been trying different things in our air fryer so I can find out what it can do and what it can’t. So far it is working exactly the way they are advertised. French frys worked but I am still going to play with exactly how I cook them in it. As good as the frys where I know they can be better.

Potato wedges turned out fantastic and cooked in 12 minutes which I found amazing. Really simple to make and quick to cook. I just tossed them in olive oil, then a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Normally I make them the same way, but I cook them in a 375 oven for 45 minutes. If I am totally honest the air fryer did a better job.

I have a number of breaded things I want to make in the air fryer but since I didn’t want to screw up a good piece of meat I did some I never do. I found Janes Pub Style chicken strips on sale so I figured if I was going to throw something in the trash it was better them then a fresh chicken breast. They turned out well in the fryer, both sides were crisp and they cooked from frozen in 12 minutes. They tasted like all packaged breaded products taste, but the air fryer worked much better than the oven. If you buy breaded chicken nuggets or strips the air fryer is a better choice for cooking them.

Tonight I am trying something that is totally foreign to how I cook. I am trying frozen half inch thick pork loin chops. The instructions that came with it says you can cook meat like chops or steaks frozen. In the back of my mind it kind of makes sense to me given exactly how the fryer works. From frozen it should give the same effect on the outside that you get from the bbq. Not doing anything to them but salt and pepper just to see how it works. If it does work I can see brining them and then freezing them. Makes it a quick and simple supper if it works. Will post a picture if it does.

Played with it enough to understand it now and have a number of recipes running around in my mind to try. So after tonight the next thing I will cook is something from my goofball mind.

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Air Fryer French Fries

My wife and I cooked a small turkey for new year day so there is plenty of leftover turkey. One of our favourite things has always been having the leftover turkey with french fries the next day. Normally that meant deep frying, this year trying them with the air fryer. Frozen oven french fries we stopped buying years ago when are kids got older. They are convenient but that’s about the only good thing about them.

I have heard other people with air fryers say great things about french fryers from them, others not good things. Since I am a goofball when it comes to trying to figure out the easiest and best ways to do things making fries in the air fryer is just another challenge. I looked at a couple of hundred recipes which likely would of worked but I like doing things my way. Since the air fryer is meant to replace a deep fryer I looked at what happens in the deep fryer when the fries are cooking. Thing that immediately hit me is the fries are constantly moving in the oil. That isn’t happening in the air fryer.

With everything I do that isn’t a problem it’s a question that needs an answer. Looking at the recipes one of the answers was to cook the fries in batches, with a cooking time of 30 minutes that’s not an answer. Others said turn them half way through the cooking time, again for me that wasn’t an answer. Other recipes called for cutting the fries thinly but in my book that isn’t a french fry. So after thinking about how the best way would be my simple answer was kind of half shake them half toss them every 5 minutes. It worked out very well, a little extra work for a very good result. The fries were crisp on the outside and fluffy inside which is what you want. I cut the fries exactly as I would of if I was deep frying them.

** Our air fryer only uses Celsius so if yours is Fahrenheit you will have to use Google to convert it **

Cut the potatoes into french fries

6 cups cold water

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon canola oil

In a large bowl mix water, vinegar, and salt together until salt is fully dissolved. Add the fries and soak for 30 minutes. Drain the fries and dry completely. Dry the bowl and add the oil and dry fries. Toss together ( hands work best ) and set aside. Rub the air fryer grate and bowl sides with oil. Preheat the air fryer at 190 for 4 minutes then add the fries. Cook for 30 minutes shaking and tossing ever 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

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***HAPPY NEW YEAR***

We wish everyone a very Happy New Year. We hope the new year brings you joy and happiness. May it bring you adventures that stimulate your creativity and brings joy to your life. As in all things it isn’t the destination it is the journey, and may your journey through 2023 be a great one.

Graham

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