Fried Ice Cream — made in the Air Fryer

     The Instant Pot has a companion in my kitchen–the Air Fryer.  Together they have transformed how I prepare foods, without my noticing it was happening.  Last year, I bought the Bella 2.5 liter air fryer, and it has indeed been a game changer.
     From wings, to simple buttered toast, to fish fillets, hamburgers, bacon, grilled cheese sandwiches; you name it, I now rely on the air fryer.
air fryer
One weekend when it was bad weather outside, I attempted fried ice cream in the air fryer, and kept experimenting until I had a process that worked.  Here’s what worked:


FRIED ICE CREAM
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE AIR FRYER
• Scoop ice cream into balls and freeze until hard.
• Coat in flour.
• Freeze until hard again.
• Coat in egg and then roll in slightly crushed cornflake cereal.
• If necessary, use your hands to squeeze the flakes into the ice cream and round out the shape.
• Freeze until hard again.
• Coat in egg and roll in crushed cereal again. If softened, freeze until hard.
• For frying, place on a small pan or piece of foil.
• Fry in air fryer for up to 2 minutes at 400F.
• Remove gently (because it will be soft on the inside) and eat immediately.
Tips and notes:
  • As you can tell from the steps, the key is to keep the ice cream frozen hard.  It’s not a quick process.
  • A 1 3/4 quart carton of ice cream made 16-17 small scoops.
  • My ice cream scoop is fairly small.  If you have a larger scoop, you might get an even better result than I did.  If so, please let us know in the comments.


Here are the steps in pictures:  
Make individual scoops of ice cream.  Freeze until hard.
Make individual scoops of ice cream
Coat ice cream in flour.  Freeze until hard.
Coat ice cream in flour
Dip in beaten egg, then cover with partly-crushed cereal flakes.  Freeze until hard.
(I’m using Aldi’s version of ‘Honey Bunches of Oats’. It makes a tasty shell.)
Dip in beaten egg then cover with partly-crushed cereal flakes
Press the flake-covered ice cream into a round ball and freeze until hard. 
(As you can see, the work surface gets a little messy.)
Press the flake-covered ice cream into a round ball and freeze until hard
[Do a second coating of egg + cornflakes.  Freeze hard again, if soft.]
For frying in the air fryer, put the ice cream on a little baking pan or piece of foil.
For frying in the air fryer put the ice cream on a little baking pan or piece of foil
Fry at 400F for up to 2 minutes; and maybe another 30 seconds, but that’s the max for these little scoops.  Any longer is likely to make your ice cream start to melt.
fried ice cream in fryer
Remove from the fryer with tongs and/or spatula, and eat immediately.  
fried ice cream done


Extras can be stored in the freezer to fry later.

Extras can be stored in the freezer to fry later
Get creative and try different things:
  • Drizzle sauce on the fried ice cream, such as caramel or chocolate sauce.
  • Top with goodies such as fruit, jam or sprinkles.
  • Try different flavored ice creams and cereals.

 

DIY Oatmeal mix

This being the first of the year, when people renew their vows to eat healthy, I’m sharing my easy, cost-effective oatmeal mix.  I don’t buy the single-serving oatmeal packages or flavored oatmeal.  I make my own, for pennies a serving.  Lots of people try slow cooker or Instant Pot oatmeal, or overnight refrigerator oatmeal.  To me these methods require way too much unnecessary time and effort.  (Caveat–I cook for one; not a family.  A family may change the efficiencies.)

I buy the 42 oz. carton of quick oats; currently $2.39 at Aldi.  That works out to 45 servings at 5.3 cents each.

oatmeal

Shopping list for the mix:  (Dillons/Kroger prices listed)

  • Oat bran — $2.69 for 18 oz
  • Wheat bran — $1.99 for 8 oz
  • Chia seeds — $3.99 for 12 oz
  • Flax seed — $4.49 for 16 oz
  • Sugar
  • Ground Cinnamon

mix ingredients a w labels rsr

The packages of seeds and bran store neatly in a basket in the back of my frig.

mix ingredients frig a w rsr

Measure into a pint-sized jar:

  • 1/2 cup Oat Bran
  • 1/2 cup Wheat Bran
  • 1/4 cup Flax Seed (ground)
  • 1/4 cup Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 4 tsps. ground cinnamon (optional)

The ingredients will look like this in the jar:

oatmeal mix a w rsr

Shake the jar until the ingredients are mixed.oatmeal mixed a w rsr

I keep an old broken teaspoon in the mix jar, and an orphaned 1/3 measuring cup in the oatmeal canister.


To make a bowl of oatmeal

For breakfast stumble into the kitchen sleepy-eyed, and measure into a bowl:

  • 1/3 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 tsps of the mix
  • 3/4 cup of milk (whole, 2% or skim–your choice)

I use a large soup bowl so it doesn’t boil over in the microwave.

  • Microwave on high for 90 seconds.
  • Stir and let cool for a few minutes; then eat.

mix in bowl a w rsr

I eat this oatmeal every. single. morning.  It’s a small breakfast, so around mid morning, I usually need a ‘second breakfast’ of toast or an egg; or I eat a very early lunch.

Additional notes and tips on the oatmeal mix:

  • Buying all of the ingredients at once may seem pricey; especially if you aren’t sure you’ll like it.  So my suggestion is to buy one item each trip to the store, and start using that item in your oatmeal.  Start with oat bran, then wheat bran, then chia seeds, then flax seed.
  • Flax seed can be purchased as whole seeds, and then ground in a coffee mill for the mix.
  • Cinnamon definitely changes the taste.  I suggest trying it in one bowl before making a whole batch of mix with cinnamon. I’m used to the taste, and I like that it ‘might’ have anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • I’m not sure the sugar is necessary.  I don’t need my oatmeal to be sweet.  I plan to make my next batch of mix without the sugar and see if I like it.
  • For an extra jolt of flavor and nutrients, try tossing a few craisins, raisins or other dried fruit pieces into the bowl before putting it in the microwave.

When I say I eat this every morning, I mean every morning.  If I’m going on a trip, I pack my own individual oatmeal packets; one for each morning I’ll be away.  Usually I pack some powdered milk too, so I can make breakfast with hot water, in case that’s all I’ll have access to.

mix for overnight a w rsr

Here are the potential health benefits of the ingredients as described in WebMD and Livestrong:

Oatmeal — LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol management

Milk — Essential for bone density; helps with blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and weight management.

Oat Bran —

“Oat bran might work by blocking the absorption from the gut of substances that contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  When applied to the skin, oats appear to reduce swelling.”

Wheat Bran — 

“Wheat bran is a source of fiber. Some people take wheat bran by mouth for preventing diseases of the large intestine (including cancer), stomach cancer, breast cancer, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids, and a condition where the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm muscle (hiatal hernia). It is also used for treating constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

Flax Seed — 

“There’s some evidence it [flax seed] may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.

Chia Seeds —

“Enjoy chia seeds for their flavor and to boost the fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s in your diet.”

Cinnamon —

“Lab studies have found that cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria.”

Six Updates on Things I Wrote About in 2018

Just for fun, here is what has happened with some of the things I wrote about over the last year.

1.

Our historic ballpark is gone.

The entrance to our 84-year old ballpark looked like this in September, when they announced it would be torn down.

WP_20180903_003 a

They first tore the grandstand down.  Here is the site in November, when only the box office and entry gate remained.  Now those are gone too, and it’s a big flat dirt field.

stadiumtorndown2 RSR

stadiumtorndown b RSR

In 2020, we are supposed to have a new ballpark in its place.

2.

I finished reading “Sticky Fingers”.

Sticky fingers cover

After my blog post about the book, it took a couple of renewals from the public library, but eventually I finished the book.  It is a well written book about a repulsive character.  It was a repulsive read to the end.  It made me want all of those hours back that I’d spent over the years reading Rolling Stone magazine.

The soiling of Page 393.

As I was pushing on to finish the book, a bad thing happened.  I took the book with me to the movie theater to read while waiting for the movie to start.  I bought a little bag of popcorn.  Too late, I realized the bag was leaking butter.  I soiled the library book on possibly the most important page, and maybe the only important page of the entire book.

Page 393 a w RSR

When I returned it to the library, I confessed and showed them the page.  I’m waiting to find out if they are going to bill me for the book.  They certainly are within their rights to ask me to pay for it.  Because I was up front with them, and the stain was confined to a couple of pages (it bled through to the next page), they will not ask me to pay for a replacement book.  Lesson learned!  Have I mentioned how much I ❤ our library?  Well, this is just the latest reason.

3.

The electric blanket needs another repair already.

Thanks to the foster pup, aka “Jaws”.

Chewed plug aw RSR

4.

The pepper plant is still growing.  

The Poblano pepper plant that I’d planted and tended outdoors all summer, is now in a pot on the enclosed porch in the south sun.  It gets cold on the porch but has stayed above freezing.  When the sun is shining, the room can get above 70°.  Three peppers are growing on the plant, albeit very slowly.  I may be waiting all winter for a harvest of three peppers.

Outdoors vs Indoors:

 

Indoors

5.

Another Coco dress is in the works.

Here are numbers 1 and 2.

 

Sneak preview of #3:

Yellow Coco aw RSR

6.

I’ve made a shell from the 1937 pattern making instructions

 

and it fits.

IMG_20190101_160201865a w RSR

 


Aaand another holiday season is in the books.  One of my favorite holiday songs goes from reflective to angry to a call for hopefulness.  It sums up the end of the holiday season the way I feel it–looking back on the joyous gatherings of family and friends, and looking forward to the new year.

“And so I skate, across the Thames, hand in hand, with all my friends.  And all the things that we planned…

“Goddamn this government, will they ever tell me where the money went?  Protesters march out on the street, as young men sleep amongst the feet.”

“The end of Christmas day, when there is nothing left to say, the years go by so fast, let’s hope the next beats the last.”

 

 

Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!  I hope you had a lovely Christmas day.  Here’s some of what came out of my kitchen over the past few days:

Soup mixes for my family who have pressure cookers. 

Soup mixes RSR

Homemade treats for the pup cousins, using this simple recipe from another blogger.  

Pup treats aw RSR

I tried baking a small carrot cake in the Instant Pot.  It came out dense like a brownie; not light like a cake.  The flavor was good though, so I hastily frosted it (aka the best part), and put it away for my own snacking later.  We shall not speak further of this failed cooking experiment. 😉

Carrot cake baked in PC RSR

Carrot cake ruled out, I ended up making my fail-safe pumpkin bread to take to the family gathering.  

Pumpkin bread aw RSR

Prep for the road trip to KC involved bottling a supply of hot coffee for me, and packing a bag of food, toys and blankets for Myrtle the foster pup.

Thermos etc a w RSR

While I was in the kitchen doing Christmas prep, this cute little booger was in the other room producing a spectacular array of shredded stuff.  Look how proud she is of her work.

Home Alone a

Myrtle mess gif

Not from the kitchen, but this was my first-ever attempt to knit a tiny sweater tree ornament.  It was my ‘hostess gift’ to our aunt and uncle who had us all at their home. (Free download pattern here.)  

Tiny sweater a RSR

The family gathering was special, as always.  Myrtle got lots of attention from the foster cousins, both human and canine.  The cat cousin Willie opted to hide out in the bedroom.

Back at home, where my Christmas decorating is bare-bones, this print is one of my treasured holiday items.  

I Believe in Father Christmas 2 a RSR

Can’t leave out Adam Sandler’s masterpiece.  🙂 

Creamy Wild Rice Soup–what I’ve been making

This is a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) recipe I tried this week after seeing others recommending it.  They were right; it’s simple and scrumptious.

The recipe calls for carrots, celery, onion, and mushrooms; all chopped.  My own twist was to use dehydrated ingredients from my pantry.  It worked out great!  Oooh, the possibilities!

Here’s the link to the recipe: Instant Pot Wild Rice Soup

My assembled ingredients:

Wild Rice soup ingredients2 w RSR

(All of my ingredients are dry or dehydrated, except the mushrooms.  I only had canned mushrooms on hand, and didn’t want to postpone making the soup.)

What it looked like in the pot, before adding the water and cooking:

Dried wild rice soup w RSR

A bowl of soup!

Bowl of soup w

My dehydrated carrots were grated, which made them too small for the orange color to stand out.  Next time I dehydrate carrots, I’ll chop some of them instead of grating the whole batch.

This was my first experience ever with actual wild rice.  (The recipe emphasizes to use only wild rice and not a rice blend.)  It turned out perfect; thanks to the recipe and the pressure cooker.

While I savored the delicious soup, someone else chewed an old boot.  We were both happy.  

Myrtle boot w RSR

Gift idea!  Using this recipe, I’ve decided to package the dehydrated and dry ingredients into gift soup mixes for my family members who have pressure cookers.  I’ll be able to give it a label that says, “Just add water and margarine.”

Happy 2nd Anniversary to my Electric Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)

The Wednesday after cyber-Monday two years ago, this badass appliance arrived and changed my kitchen life forever.

instant-pot

Things I now make in the Instant Pot:  

  • Hard boiled eggs–that come out perfect every. single. time.
  • Refried beans–I may never buy canned refried beans again.  They take minutes in the pressure cooker, instead of hours.
  • Burrito fillings–In one pot I can thaw, crumble and brown the meat and then cook it with the spices and beans, to fill a big batch of freezer burritos.
  • Yogurt–Using a gallon of milk and 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, I can make a big batch of yogurt to freeze in portions for smoothies on demand.
  • Applesauce–Apples + water + pressure cooker = applesauce in minutes, to be eaten and/or frozen in portions.
  • Soups— Some of my faves have simply been adapted from crock pot recipes.  Easy.
  • Wine!–My first batch of wine using these instructions came out fine, so I’ve got a second batch in progress.  I changed a couple of steps, to make it er, more drinkable.  Once I made the changes, I had something I would actually drink a glass of now and then.
  • Other foods–Cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, spaghetti squash.  All of these take just one or two ingredients and a few minutes of prep time.

Meals–I’ve seen some pictures of amazing beef, pork, seafood and poultry meals from pressure cookers by first-time and novice users.  If you have several mouths to feed, I think the Instant Pot meal possibilities are limitless.

Desserts–Lots of people make desserts in their pressure cooker.  I’ve seen scrumptious photos of cheesecakes and other goodies, but I haven’t tried my own yet.  It will happen, though.

Adapting recipes to the Pressure Cooker — I’ve had great luck adapting crock pot (aka slow cooker) recipes to the pressure cooker.  It has usually been as simple as reducing the cooking time from hours to minutes.  There are some helpful conversion charts that can be found online.  Food colors and textures are generally more fresh and bright with the pressure cooker than the same dish cooked in the crock pot.

Here are some handy pressure cooking time charts for lots of different foods. https://www.meredithlaurence.com/pressure-cooking-101/cooking-charts/

Now, a little demonstration.

LASAGNE SOUP!

This week, I made this Lasagne Soup recipe.  (The link is to a pdf download of the recipe.)  A few views from the soup preparation:

The meat in the steamy picture below is browning quickly on the ‘Sauté’ setting.  

instant-pot saute buttonSaute a

Assembled here are the remaining ingredients to add to the browned meat.  

Lasagne soup ingredients2 a

All ingredients are now in the pot, ready for pressure cooking on the Beans/Chili setting.  That big chunk in the middle is a cup of frozen V-8.  Frozen ingredients can be tossed in frozen.  The pressure cooker takes it from there. 

Lasagne soup ready for PC ainstant-pot bean chili button

After the pressure has released, add the rest of the water and the dry pasta, and set on ‘Slow Cook’ for 30 minutes.

Pasta water

instant-pot slow cook button

Then the soup is ready to eat.  Ladle some soup into a bowl and add a scoop of Cheese Mixture, which will start melting.

Lasagne soup ready to eat w

More About Electric Pressure Cookers:

Other brands.  You don’t have to buy an ‘Instant Pot‘.  There are less expensive models that do most or all of the same functions.  A couple of weeks after getting my Instant Pot, and having realized how amazing it is, I spotted a display in Walmart of their Farberware electric pressure cookers left over from Black Friday.  The Farberwares were $39.  I got some of the Farberwares for gifts.  Turns out the Farberware is everything the Instant Pot is, but without a separate yogurt button.  (It can still do yogurt.)  Aldi occasionally offers an electric  pressure cooker for $39, and I’m guessing it is just as user-friendly as the Instant Pot and Farberware versions.

Scary?  No!  Pressure cookers have been around for several generations.  I too was terrified of my grandma’s stovetop pressure cooker when it would shoot steam out the top like a locomotive.  Rest assured, the electric pressure cookers now on the market aren’t scary.  You can release the pressure manually, but otherwise, the operation is well contained inside the pot, with easy labels on the control buttons–labels like “yogurt”, “saute”, and “keep warm”, that do exactly what the button says.

Where to get pressure cooker advice:

  • Facebook groups:  There are Instant Pot groups on Facebook that are full of recipes and tips for using your pressure cooker.  My favorite group is actually for the Farberware model.  From the Farberware group, I’ve gotten recipes, troubleshooting tips, and discount codes for pans and other accessories useful with the pressure cooker.
  • Useful Websites.  Here are two sites I consult regularly:
  • Cookbooks (lots of them):  Every day, there are free Instant Pot cookbooks available in the Amazon Kindle store.
  • YouTube:  Lots of recipe and instructional videos are available on YouTube.

This 1949 pressure cooker commercial is done as a cute sitcom.  Much of the dialogue is even funnier now, 70 years later.  Mixed into the fun story are some great basic explanations of how a pressure cooker cooks.

[Teenage Carol:  “I wanted to cook the first meal, with mother just helping.  Like most elderly people, she had doubts.  But she finally gave in.”  Haha!]

The ‘nuts and bolts’ pressure cooker segments are found here:

  • At 9:50 how pressure cooking works
  • At 16:50 more pressure cooker facts and tips

[I’m dying to know if Carol and Jack ended up together. ❤ ]



If you prefer to not download a document, here is the text of the Lasagne Soup recipe:

LASAGNE SOUP
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
3 c. beef broth (I use 1 T. beef bouillon powder and 3 c. water)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. dried parsley
1 T. dried basil
½ c. chopped onion (2 T. if dehydrated)
1 c. V8 Juice
¼ t. pepper
¼ t. salt
2 c. uncooked shell pasta or rotini
1 c. of water
1. Brown meat in the pressure cooker, on the ‘Saute’ setting.  Drain.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste.  Add the rest of the ingredients except 1 c. of water and the pasta.  Cook on ‘Bean/Chili’ or ‘Manual’ for 5-7 minutes.  Let the pressure release naturally.
3. After the pressure has released, open the cooker and add the remaining water and pasta. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on the ‘Slow Cook’ or ‘Keep Warm’ setting until pasta is tender (about more 30 minutes).
4. Ladle the soup into bowls.
5. Drop a 2T ball of Cheese Mixture (see below) into each bowl of hot soup.  Serve.
*Makes apx 20 ladles of soup.
*The soup can be frozen in individual portions for a microwavable bowl of soup on demand.
Cheese Mixture
4 oz. Shredded Mozzarella
1 c. Cottage Cheese
¼ c. Grated Parmesan
1. Mix cheeses together.
2. Spoon 2 T. of cheese mixture into each bowl of soup.
*Makes apx. 30 scoops.
*To freeze cheese mixture, scoop in 2 T. portions onto cookie sheet and freeze. When frozen, transfer the portions to a freezer bag and place in freezer for later use on demand.
[Adapted from a crock pot recipe found at onehundreddollarsamonth.com]



Myrtle the 4-month-old foster pup came to my house this week.  She was interested in being my sous chef, until she discovered the heated throw on the couch.  Now she’s just a cute puppy head sticking out of a warm blanket.  She will be with me for about a month while her skin condition is treated.  Soon she’ll have a pretty furry face, instead of bare skin.

Myrtle heated blanket

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving Day tomorrow!  Yes, it is a US holiday, but this is me ignoring countries and borders, and inviting you wherever you are, to share in the gathering of hearts.  And heck, have some people over for a big, delicious meal, too.  🙂

I’ve made pumpkin bread to take to our little gathering…the details of which are still being worked out.  Little details such as at whose house, and who will be attending.  Nothing like last minute planning.  Again.  This is how my family does things.  And I’m deeply thankful for them.

My pumpkin bread recipe:


PUMPKIN BREAD

Bowl #1

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 t. salt

Bowl #2

  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 1 c. vegetable oil (or half unsweetened applesauce)
  • 4 eggs
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
  • 1/2 c. water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease or line with parchment paper three medium loaf pans, or two 9×5 inch loaf pans, (the smaller pans work better for me).  Stir together the Bowl #1 ingredients.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl (Bowl #2), beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin.  Stir in contents of Bowl #1, adding alternately with water.  (‘Add alternately’ means to add the remaining ingredients in portions a little of each at a time.  For example, add about 1 c. dry with 1 Tbsp water, several times, until there’s nothing left to add.)
  3. Divide batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans.
  4. Bake for about 40 minutes (up to 60 or 70 minutes for larger pans).  Use toothpick test for doneness.  For best flavor and slicing, store wrapped overnight before serving.

Does anyone besides me have to wipe away tears at the last scene in Raising Arizona, with the Thanksgiving dinner?

 

Black Friday is for Football!

The morning after Thanksgiving, you’ll find me at the football stadium, shivering in the grey, chilly weather, and cheering the Kansas Jayhawks vs. Texas.  It will be a sort of rematch of the game with the awesome finish two years ago.  Texas has a different coach this time around.  For Kansas, this will be the last game for a beloved, talented, competitive group of seniors, and the farewell game for our hard-working coach of the past four years.  Lots riding on the line for both teams.

There is no cold like stadium cold.  When it is 50 degrees and cloudy, it feels like 20 in the stadium.  We froze at this game two years ago.  That’s why my video was shaky at the start.  I couldn’t stop shivering.  This year, I’m prepared, with a totally awesome ‘Aldi Find’, a wearable sleeping bag!

Sleeping bag onsie RSR

Unfortunately, my family has strongly hinted that they won’t sit with me at the game if I wear this, so … other options are being considered.

After the game I’ll shop some of the best-ever small businesses, that just happen to be less than a mile from the stadium:

Update:  Looks like I’ll do a little online small business shopping, too.  Tilly and the Buttons is having a Black Friday sale on her sewing patterns. ❤  Link: https://shop.tillyandthebuttons.com/collections/all 

This is your brain on spicy food

Shun anything spicy, is what I did until I was well into my 30s.  Even the ‘mild’ sauce option was a no-go for me at restaurants.  Then came a New Mexico bus tour guide.  His explanation to us of why people get hooked on spicy food changed my food life, literally.  It’s because spicy foods make you feel good!  It’s an endorphin release.  So, the me who has always believed in the power of endorphins when it came to exercise and chocolate, resolved to test out the effect of spicy foods.

First, the important thing:  How do you get relief from the burning sensation when the heat gets to be too much?

  • Take another bite.  This will only cool things off for a brief moment, because eventually you run out of the food you are eating.
  • Drink milk.  This will soften the burn.  Other dairy works too, such as sour cream or cream cheese.  Milk had always been my go-to relief, and the tour guide confirmed it is the best relief.
  • Water and soda pop don’t work.  The soda actually magnifies the sensation.  The tour guide confirmed this, too.

milk carton sm x2

Ways to start adapting your palate to spicy foods:

  • Picante sauce.  If you usually get mild, try medium by using less sauce and keeping milk or sour cream at hand for a quick cool down.
  • Rotel tomatoes and melted cheese dip.  Aka, ‘Queso’.  Who doesn’t know how to make this tailgating staple?  It’s got your spicy hot flavor and dairy combined in one scrumptious dip.  Rotel makes several options for how hot you want it.

Rotel page2

old-bay-seasoning-6oz

  • Hot Italian sausage.
    • Make it your go-to pizza topping.
    • Substitute it for ground beef in homemade Spaghetti and Lasagna.
  • BBQ Hot Links.  Almost every barbecue restaurant around here offers hot links on their menu.  It’s my standing order.  For home cooking, I like to buy my spicy hot links here.  https://www.yodermeatsks.com
  • Spicy jams and jellies.  If you don’t see them on your grocery shelf, try the nearest farmer’s market, or order it online.  I order from Simply Homemade, a maker in Minnesota.  She and I have been friends for several years, because of her hot pepper jellies, and our shared love of ’60s music.  (Scroll down on her page for the hot pepper jellies.)  The jellies are great on buttered toast or Ritz crackers.  To control the heat, first spread a layer of cream cheese, then dab the jelly on top of the cheese.

Grow your own?  For the first time, I’m trying to grow peppers.  Apparently, I got them planted too late in the season, so I haven’t been able to pick any yet.  There are a bunch of little growing peppers and blossoms on the plant, so I’m trying to keep the plant from freezing.  I badly want my first-ever harvest of Poblanos.

Run


More from the web on spicy foods and their mood-elevating effects:

1.  From Northwestern University.  “Now that we know why peppers are hot, you might be asking yourself, “Why exactly would anyone seek out this burning sensation?” The answer to this question can be found in the way our brains are wired. Capsaicinoids trick the brain into thinking it is being burned, which is a painful experience, through the transmission of neurotransmitters. Remember, earlier when I said your neurons play telephone. Well, when your body senses pain somewhere like the tongue that message has to make it to the brain. The message is sent from the location it is initially generated to the brain through a network of neurons by talking to each other via neurotransmitters, which are essentially chemical messages. One such message produced by capsaicinoids is substance P, which transmits pain signals. The brain responds by releasing another type of neurotransmitter known as endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural way of relieving pain by blocking the nerve’s ability to transmit pain signals. Additionally, the neurotransmitter dopamine, responsible for a sense of reward and pleasure, is also released. In essence, for some people eating large amounts of spicy food triggers a sense of euphoria similar to a “runner’s high”.  Source:  http://helix.northwestern.edu/blog/2014/07/your-brain-capsaicin

2.  From MedicalDaily.com. “If you haven’t jumped on the Sriracha bandwagon yet, maybe you’ll want to after reading this. Spicy food, that oh-so-tingling, burning, get-it-out-of-my-mouth food, actually induces a natural high minutes after eating it. And hey, the spicier the better.

Chili peppers in particular contain high levels of the substance capsaicin, which causes the burning sensation in spicy food. The chemical has been proven before to work as a topical painkiller for arthritis, and also forces the brain to release endorphins. “The endorphins work to block the heat,” Paul Bosland, cofounder and director of New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute, told ABC News in 2012. “The body produces them in response to the heat, which it senses as pain.” The result: a strong head buzz and numbness.

Some research even suggests capsaicin in higher levels can have mildly hallucinogenic effects. According to History, Mayans used them over 9,000 years ago as stimulants, while today’s chili eaters have reported seeing objects that weren’t even in the room and losing feelings in body parts.”  Source:  https://www.medicaldaily.com/pass-spicy-food-4-ways-get-high-without-any-drugs-whatsoever-323588

3.  Chile Facts‘ is a useful information page on the various hot peppers.  http://chilefacts.nmsu.edu/


So there you go.  If you’ve always shunned spicy foods, you may be denying yourself a great dose of endorphins.  Pour yourself a big glass of milk, and try to expand the limits of your taste buds.

And yes, the title of this post comes from the 1980s commercial.  It’s still true.

 

Tomatoes–what I’ve been growing

This is my one tomato plant I grew this season.  It was supposed to hide in the middle of the 10-foot planter, surrounded by marigolds, vincas, petunias and alyssum.  Instead, the tomato plant went all ‘Little Shop of Horrors‘, and took over the planter and pushed the marigolds out of the box, and choked off most everything else.  It has grown out of the planter on all sides.  The plant is about 15 feet wide.  There is a wire tomato cage buried somewhere in the middle.

Tomato plant 2018

In mid-October, we had a surprise early freeze, with snow, so I bundled up the plant with a series of blankets and tarps, two nights in a row.  (No homeowners association rules here, thankfully.)Tomato plant 2018 covered RSR

The snow covered the ground and the tarps all night.  The windchill was in the 20s Fahrenheit.  The snow and freeze broke four very old weather records.

Now we are back to sunny warm afternoons and chilly but not freezing nights.  The plant came through the freeze mostly okay, and has a boatload of green tomatoes currently ripening on the vines.

Some of the tomatoes got scarred from the freeze, but continued to ripen.

Freeze scars aw RSR

The scars have so far been confined to the surface.  The inside growth pattern is odd, but the taste is normal.

Freeze scars sliced aw RSR

The planter faces south and gets a full day of sun.  With luck, I’ll get another dozen or so tomatoes before I have to give up on the growing season.

My foster garden helper got adopted by her forever parents this past week.  The little digger was with me for almost 6 weeks, and gained 12 pounds during that time.

Butterscotch dirt2