Random Thoughts

FOOD! – Now You’re Talking!

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

It’s Tuesday here in North Carolina in the United States.  Let’s talk about some food discoveries I’ve made recently and that I’ll share with you.  There really isn’t any rhyme or reason for what is included nor their order of presentation, so here goes.  I hope you enjoy at least one of these for yourself. 

  • There was a lightly seasoned toast that I’ve enjoyed at a chain restaurant called Jason’s Deli to supplement the salad bar in my Pre-COVID days.  One day, I decided to use that as a concept for creating something much better.  The following directions use a covered gas grill.   
    • Take a slice of good quality white bread (“Nature’s Own Whitewheat” bread for us at this time, but someday I’ll use an Italian bread as it has more flavor to me than French bread) and butter one side of it.  Lay it butter-side down on a plate (or cookie sheet – something that protects your counters from getting messy). 
    • Sprinkle dried oregano, fresh parsley from the garden (in case you have any), a little garlic powder (optional) on the bread. 
    • I next placed a layer of tomato slices on the bread, topped with fresh basil.  If you don’t have fresh basil, put dried basil under the tomato slices along with the other spices so it doesn’t blow away outside when you’re trying to place it on your grill. 
    • Lightly spray the completed top layer of your bread with olive oil. 
    • Carefully slide each slice of bread onto the grate of the grill with the butter-side down and cook it over medium to medium-high direct heat until the bottom-side of the bread on the grill is toasted. 
    • Place on a plate for serving and cut each slice in half.  Serve. 
    • Tell me what you think. 

  • People often use lemon-pepper as a seasoning for fish or vegetables.  However, for me it leaves a little side taste I don’t care for, perhaps from the old lemon zest in the mix.  I discovered it is close to impossible to buy some “fresh” lemon zest – and I don’t want to make my own with real lemons.  So here’s how I worked around it:  I made my own lemon-pepper seasoning but without the lemon. 
    • Get a glass custard cup or something similar that won’t influence the taste of the spices. 
    • Sprinkle in some garlic powder, onion powder, medium-ground sea salt (to avoid the iodine taste), medium-ground black pepper and . . . ground ginger!  The ginger replaces the old lemon zest taste with something slightly pungent to match what you’re replacing – but it doesn’t dominate the flavor of the fish. 
    • It’s great on grilled salmon or fish without overpowering the taste of the fish.  I have yet to try it on vegetables as I like my vegetables straight and unencumbered by other flavors.  But that’s just me. 

  • My wife has a basil plant in her garden that she has willed over to me, if I want to use it for pesto.  However, I’m just going to make a half-recipe, because pesto can be overpowering for several meals in a row.  And I’m cutting back a lot on carbohydrates as I need to lose some weight. The Betty Crocker Cookbook, Gift Edition [2011], page 405 states, “Keep some on hand to toss with pasta, spread on sandwiches, add to salads or top off hot meats or vegetables.”  Key phrase is, “Keep some on hand . . . .”  THEN AT THE LAST OF THE RECIPE, it states, “Use pesto immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate up to 5 days [!] or freeze up to 1 month . . . .”  Yeah, keep on hand for five days.  No, a half recipe should be more than enough. 

  • Speaking of cookbooks, we have a Nordic cookbook in keeping with our shared heritage (my wife is half Norwegian, and I’m a quarter):  The Nordic Cook Book by Magnus Nilsson [2015].  It’s 767 pages.  We have yet to cook anything from it.  Ah, confession is good for the soul. 

  • Do you like salt-free deluxe mixed nuts?  As far as I can tell, “deluxe” usually means without peanuts.  Costco or Sam’s Club?  I suggest Sam’s Club (Member’s Mark) on this one.  However, keep your eye out if you carry dual citizenship with those two warehouse stores.  Sometimes one or the other doesn’t have pistachios.  However, Sam’s Club does have hazel nuts (AKA, filberts).  This is ironic in that Costco is based in Kirkland, outside of Seattle, Washington.  And the state to the immediate south – Oregon – produces 99% of the US crop of hazel nuts.  I enjoy a sprinkling of mixed nuts on my raisin bran cereal every morning.  If a hazel nut or two pops out into my bowl, I select one and chew it with enjoyment by itself.  It reminds me of my late father-in-law who always had a bowl of hazel nuts around the house with a nutcracker in the bowl.  I eat one by itself in his honor. 

  • Finally, what about popcorn?  Yeah, what about popcorn??  I am not a fan of air-popped popcorn; it just needs a little oil.  By the way, I am NOT being compensated by the popcorn industry or any related products.  In fact, I’m not being compensated by anyone for anything I write in my blog.  
    • However, if you want good popcorn, I recommend a “Westbend Stir Crazy”.  A little pricey at $30 or less, but it does make good popcorn.  It uses less oil for the popcorn product than other makers with 2/3 cup of corn kernels and two tablespoons of oil.  It makes quite a bit. 
    • For the microwave, I recommend “Presto Powerpop Microwave Popcorn Maker”.  The drawback is that it needs “Powercups” to concentrate the microwaves for the popcorn.  If you don’t burn your popcorn, a powercup will last for many poppings.  It calls for 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels with 1 tablespoon of oil.  I use a butter-flavored popcorn oil, and I use 1 ½ tablespoons to give it more a buttery flavor.  An important key to a good bowl of popcorn with the microwave popper is that, when it is completed, there will be moisture on the inside lid of the popper.  Do not shake the moisture into the popcorn as it makes it chewy and not so crisp.  Just set the lid aside.  It took me a while to figure this out.  Our Presto maker is several years old, so I don’t know if they now have a popper that doesn’t need powercups.   Oh, and it makes enough for two people to watch a program on TV in the evening.

Well, there you have it.  My first (and probably only) food entry on my blog.  I hope just one of these ideas will work for you and make your life so much more fulfilled.  Have a great week!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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