How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, August 2, 2021

Corny Corn

We picked up some corn at the local farmers' market yesterday and decided to cook it on the #BigGreenEgg. But how to do it? (Our usual approach is simply to bring a big pot of water to a boil before putting the husked ears in for exactly ten minutes.)

The EGGhead forum offered many options; we settled on a simple one. We removed the husks and soaked the corn, while heating up the Egg to about 400. (Since we were essentially using it for a quick, direct cooking, we did not worry too much about the exact temp.)

Then we put the ears directly on the grill, turning every five minutes with our indispensable kitchen tongs. Giving the corn a 5-minute head start, I then put some burgers on the griddle insert.

When the burgers were done (perfectly, I might add!), I could not tell if the corn was done. I asked Pam to look with me, and we agreed that we really had no way to know. So we took the burgers in for condimentage, which in our house is always a process. At this point, the corn had 20 minutes of regular turning over high heat, so we decided to declare victory.

Photo shamelessly stolen from EGGhead Forum
member bitslammer

And a victory was had! I did not think to try a photo until too late, but the corn looked a lot like the image above, taken from the forum. We were skeptical -- it looks tough and we like our corn-on-the-cob tender. Somehow, though, it was -- tender and delicious. I think the soaking must have played a big part in this. I applied nothing but Amish butter and a little black pepper to mine.


This simple story is not a recipe story in the traditional sense, but it is a good example of what happens as we build cooking experience. Once we decided on a goal, Pam and I each consulted a wide variety of informed opinions. We did not follow any one of them as a script, but as a group, the other #BigGreenEgg users gave us key things to consider as we figured this out. 

Some of those ideas require considerably more time and effort; following this success, we might just revisit those and keep exploring the world of grilled corn. Local corn, that is, not the King Corn stuff.

Monday, July 26, 2021

FTE Air-Fryer Potato Wedges

Note: This is one of those long posts that people who do not like cooking blogs like to complain about. Read from the bottom up if you only want the recipe. But stories are what makes civilizations, so ...

So we accidentally ended up being air-fryer people. We cook a lot, as readers of this blog know. And since we often try new things, we are tempted by all kinds of cooking tools (aka gadgets). But we are also relatively frugal and can envision just about anything we buy landing up at a yardsale, landfill, or ocean plastic patch. As quick as we are to try a new recipe, we are slow to try new equipment.

We've been hearing about air fryers -- because how could we not -- for a few years, and had only the vaguest notion of what they are. We had heard some encouraging testimonials, but not enough to spur us to serious research.

And then the electric range at our weekend place died. Well, it did not die completely, but it was in need of enough serious repair that we decided to put it out to electronic pasture. Somewhere, it is probably refurbished and serving someone else just fine.

As food snobs, we had thought we would need to "upgrade" to natural gas when replacing this range, especially since we are in the process of making this weekend place our retirement place. 

But the house has a surplus of solar power and natural gas is a bridge to nowhere. So we decided to invest in an electric oven as -- we hope -- our last oven purchase.

Following advice from friends, we located an independent appliance dealer (one we used for years ended when its owners retired, and big-box is not the way to to go for these big boxes).

We found the folks at Yale Appliance to be excellent, allowing us to select an oven through consultation with a knowledgeable salesperson by smartphone and to schedule delivery quickly and conveniently. The crew who brought the stove were amazing -- while two of them removed the old range, the third team member readied the new unit. They had it installed, leveled, and tested within minutes.

After choosing what we thought was a fairly basic model, we of course learned of its features. They include WiFi (that's a hard "no" Hal), two kinds of convection and air frying. Everything we read about air frying is that it is a kind of convection, so we are still not quite sure what makes it "frying" rather than "really even cooking" but it seems to be just a matter of degree.

Further research suggested that one other distinction is that we could not "air fry" something unless it was suspended in the air; that is, we needed some sort of basket. Between the two of us, we have worked at the Big Three frying places (McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King -- we have tales to tell), so we know what a fryer basket is. An air fryer basket is much different -- called a "crisper tray," it looks something like a little dish rack. I spent way too much time reading reviews because I could not really envision how this would work. We were already $1500 into this project, though, so I plunked down another $30 to see for myself.

Pretty confident that none of our printed cookbooks would address this topic -- all of them being published more than 5 minutes ago -- I turned to AllRecipes, which regular readers know as one of our favorite places for food advice on the Interwebs. I found a 5-star recipe with the perfect title for my first time frying air: Air Fryer Potato Wedges provides guidance on cutting, coating, and cooking potatoes. 

My approach differed slightly from the recipe -- because some sources cautioned against using oil at all, I decided to combine oil and spices in a bowl and dredge the wedges in that paste. Kitchen tongs made this much less messy than it might have been. 

Because I was preparing this for Pamela to do while I was rowing, I thought that some of that oil might drip onto the tray. So I placed paper towels between the basket and the tray, to be removed when these were ready to cook. Pam did the honors -- cooking an uncrowded trayfull for 20 minutes at 400F. She did not interrupt for turning, as that is the whole point of the rapid air movement.

These turned out PERFECT. A very similar flavor to what I have been making for years -- very Old Bay-forward -- but with a much lighter texture. These were soft on the inside and crispity on the outside, with no heavy oiliness. Win-win-win!

Regarding the reviews for the tray: most were 4-5 stars, with some very interesting and angry 1-star reviews. I concluded that these were posted by people who did not read the directions about cooking and/or cleanup. Our results were terrific and the tray/basket combo cleaned up easily.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Oeuf Mayo (Egg Mayo)

In honor of Bastille Day James and I had a simple French dish for lunch. Oeuf Mayo showed up on my Facebook feed from the New York Times Cooking Pages. According to NYT the description "it's so beloved in France that it has a society to protect it." As with so many recipes from the New York Times the name of the dish tells the ingredients. In this case eggs and mayo. The recipe says you can use either store-bought mayo and spice it up or make it yourself. I made mayonnaise one time many years ago and decided not to do it again. Vegetable oil (rather than olive oil) seems to be especially important when making your own mayo, and I only had olive oil. I added some fresh parsley and basil from my garden to a few tablespoons of Hellmann's along with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. I spooned the mayo over the eggs and then added paprika as an additional seasoning. It was a super easy dish to make, but I think I prefer my eggs and mayo as egg salad. We had some mozzarella slices on the side and a crusty french bread (made fresh in our bread machine) to complement the eggs.

Those who have read my very first post know that this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professors. I was a Spanish major as an undergraduate, and also have a Master's degree in Spanish literature. However, we both also know a bit of French. I learned the language by attending French classes up through the advanced level in college. James has learned mostly by the use of the Duolingo app over the past year - a pandemic project. We actually met in French 101 back in college. It is still a wonder to me how we ever ended up together given James' super poor attendance record in the class.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Blueberry Syrup

Blueberries from our garden!


We have had blueberry bushes for the past three years, but they didn't produce much the first year, and last year the birds got to them. This year our blueberry farmer friend covered the bushes with a net and they have been producing like crazy for about the past month. We have made good use of them in our morning smoothies, in waffles, fruit salad, and in reprising a seafood favorite - blueberry salmon. And yet there are still more berries, so I decided to make some blueberry syrup. I found this super simple recipe online which I doubled because I had so very many blueberries. This calls for equal parts berries, sugar, and water, and a bit of lemon juice. We have used it on french toast, and in lieu of jelly on our English muffins. James is going to try putting some in the waffle batter this weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Honey Chicken

One lesson I have learned over my years of preparing new recipes is that it is not enough to simply ensure that I have all the ingredients (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) before starting; it is imperative to read the instructions as well. Woe has been begotten on more than one occasion when I discovered that I should have started preparing the food hours before I actually did. So I am pleased to report that I was successful in my preparation of this tasty recipe from the New York Times Cooking pages. A marinade of sherry, honey, line juice, crushed garlic, cinammon, salt, and pepper was easily mixed and poured over the whole, fresh, cut up chicken we'd recently procured from Maribett FarmThe chicken marinated in the refrigerator for about 8 hours and then was placed in the oven for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. As the recipe instructed I basted often and was pleased with the juicy, tender, savory, and sweet meal that resulted. I served this was mashed potatoes on the side and a Chardonnay to complement.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Gochugaru Salmon with Crispy Rice

When this recipe from the New York Times Cooking pages showed up on my Facebook feed along with a colorful photograph I decided to find out what Gochugaru was (a Korean pepper spice) and find out where I could get such in order to prepare this dish. My husband and adult child went looking locally, both online and irl but struck out, so we resorted to Amazon. The spice arrived just in the knick of time before we left for a long weekend at our near-the-beach house. The salmon was (naturally) purchased at our favorite fishmonger Kyler's Catch Seafood Market

This was pretty quick to make. The most time consuming part was waiting for the rice to cook. We only had brown rice, so it took a bit longer than the white rice that the recipe calls for. Once the rice was cooked it was "crisped" in the same pan that the fish cooked in, and then the same pan was used again to make the sauce.

As promised in the original recipe this had a sweet, fruity taste. We all enjoyed this meal and will definitely make again. We will also look for other recipes using this spice.

Eggs Benedict for Father's Day

On the rare occasions that I eat breakfast out I look for Eggs Benedict on the menu. It is one of those things that I (for some reason) believed I could not make at home. I had never even bothered to look up the ingredients to Hollandaise sauce, never mind how easy it was to make. It was a package of Canadian bacon in a recent Crescent Ridge delivery that prompted me to see what I needed to do to make Eggs Benedict at home. Turns out the answer is "not much". We already had the eggs and English muffins and the only ingredients needed for Hollandaise sauce are egg yolks, butter, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper. I used this recipe from The Kitchn to make it. 

Father's Day breakfast was a big hit. We recommend adding a dash of hot sauce when serving.