Another win for the air fryer

Boy, do I wish air fryers had been invented 20-plus years ago.  It has quickly become a very welcome tool in my kitchen, and it doesn’t heat up the house (or the utility bill) like using the oven would in the summertime.

Take last night for example.  For a change of pace, my wife and I were interested in having some chicken for dinner.  Marinated chicken.  Rather than firing up the grill, or turning the oven on to compete with the central air, I decided to use the air fryer to cook the chicken tenders, which had been soaking in herb and garlic marinade since early that morning when I toddled off to work.

I wasn’t completely certain how long to cook the chicken or what temperature, but of course, the Internet helps out with that sort of thing.  Finding some other recipes suggested 400°F for 10 minutes on the first side, then 4-5 minutes depending on thickness and number of tenders on the second side.  Seeing as the whole idea here was keeping the chicken moist (as well as being sure it was completely cooked) this seemed fairly simple.

Popped the marinated tenders into the air fryer, and they got a nice barbequed look on them after the initial 10 minutes.  I checked the internal temperature and we were right on the money.  I flipped over the chicken and got my whole green beans cooking in the microwave.  After their cook time, they would steam for the amount of time the mashed potatoes were cooking in the microwave as well.

All in all, it came out perfectly.   Yes, I know there’s an inordinate amount of butter on both the potatoes and beans, but that’s something I have to work on in the future.  I remember a time when my Dad would eat baked potatoes without ANY butter at all.

Kinda looking forward to the next experiment with the air fryer.  It’s a very versatile tool.  Again, I really wish it had been invented a lot longer ago.  (Yes, I know it’s basically a mini-convection oven, which has been around for a long time..but still!)

Embracing new experiences

I’ve often been described as a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to new experiences in food.  I’ve been known to eat the same thing for lunch for many days in a row without getting tired of it.  When my wife and I go out to eat, pretty much she can predict where I’ll want to go, and what I’ll order when we get there.  Red Lobster; I used to always get chicken.  I’d say for the last 12 years or so, I get the ‘create your own feast’ option with the same entrees.  Sometimes I’ll get three, sometimes two, depending on how much I want to take home.  Olive Garden, I like the ‘Tour of Italy’ option, where you can get three samples of items, and if it’s too much (I love their Toscana soup and breadsticks) I can always take the leftovers home.  It tickles me sometimes as it reminds me of the scene in ‘Defending Your Life‘ where Rip Torn’s character mentions that the people at the restaurants love to send stuff home.  And there’s always vast quantities of food going home with them.

One thing that I definitely don’t do often is want to go to new restaurants.  That sort of thing can be my Kryptonite, especially when it comes to not knowing if I’m going to find something I’m going to enjoy or even eat there.  Having a little ‘heads up’ about what’s on the menu can go a long way towards making or breaking an evening.  While our guests were here, we decided that we wanted to go out to a more ‘fancy’ restaurant than the pizza joint we’d been to the night before.  Friday evening they were going to cook for us all, so it was going to be our last chance to dine out together. (they left Saturday morning)  Our ‘go-to’ place wasn’t yet open for their full summer schedule; when I called to get a reservation, I got the answering machine, which told me they weren’t open.  So we needed somewhere else to go.  There were two quasi high-end options, but neither of those places ever appealed to me, as I always got the impression the staff was looking down their noses at me, and I never really felt comfortable going there.  I always had the notion someone was going to approach me suggesting I needed to be wearing a tie, or I was using a salad fork instead of a dinner one.   When I inquired as to how our guests felt, they seemed to be reluctant to go to either of them as well.  So again, we needed a new option.
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