Dried Pineapple Snacks

pineappleWith all the flavor of fresh, ripe pineapple and a chewy, candy-like texture, Dried Pineapple Snacks are perfect for combating a case of midday munchies. Even better, this snack has Continue reading

Microwave Potato Chips

chips1Our garden produced a nice crop of lovely little purple potatoes this year. The insides are ringed with beautiful shades of violet, but the small size of these potatoes makes them impractical to peel. Voila! Potato chips! What a simple way to show off the color of these heirloom veggies!

On our Kitchen Gadgets page, we’ve provided a link to an affordable gadget which makes potato chips (oil free) in the microwave. It works really well, but makes small batches. We have a LOT of potatoes, and needed to find a way to process larger batches of chips. Aha! This worked like a charm:chips3

Emson Bacon Wave, Microwave Bacon Cooker

Yes, friends, an “As Seen On TV” microwave bacon maker, no joke! We used a mandolin to slice potatoes really thin, sprinkled them with a bit of sea salt, and arranged them in the bacon maker as shown:chips2

We microwaved our chips for approximately 6 minutes (until the chips started to brown). Done! So simple! What a great way to enjoy the high fiber goodness of garden fresh potatoes, without adding fat.

PS – this same technique works for vegetable chips made from yams, beets, carrots, and parsnips. Stay tuned!

 

Tokyo Food Tour! Octopus Senbei

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Crispy octopus chips for sale at Tokyo Solamachi

My travel companions and I spent a rainy day at Tokyo Solamachi, an enormous shopping mall/entertainment complex attached to the Tokyo Skytree. If you live in the US, think Mall of America but more of a feast for the senses!

There it was… a cheerful red and white storefront prominently advertising something called “Octopus Senbei.” My understanding was that senbei were rice crackers… but these were clearly, definitely, octopus! How Continue reading

Tokyo Food Tour! Part I: Airplane Snacks

airplane snacksOur bags are packed, our flat has been rented, and our airline tickets have been printed. Crowded Earth Kitchen is off on a Tokyo Food Tour! We promise to bring you lots of amazing photos and delicious foods to recreate… but first, there’s that little detail about needing to travel halfway around the world. Spending over 12 hours on an airplane with children – after hours spent driving to Chicago and flying to Toronto to catch the flight to Tokyo – is not for the faint of heart. That said, it’s not impossible, either. Here is the two -part method to our madness:

  1. Pack really light. Don’t be that goofy American in an international airport, trying to drag 100 pounds of nonsense behind you to the train station. Seriously, reconsider every item you pack! Nobody needs 3 pairs of shoes on vacation. Most people in the world don’t even own 3 pairs of shoes. People will notice your accent… they won’t be looking at your feet.
  2. Pack your own travel snacks. While all of those shoes are silly, travel snacks are smart. Just try a 12 hour flight without snacks for children… that’s taking your life in your hands, my friend! Snacks in airports are outrageously, sinfully expensive. Bring a carry-on with healthy food items to get you through your travels and hold you over for a first meal of two (if needed) in a foreign country. Use the carry-on to bring foreign foods back home!

granola barsHere’s what we pack:

Homemade granola bars (dense and satisfying, these pack well)

Cereal bars (these are a great way to use up open cereal boxes before you travel)

Vegetable chips (provides crunch without making you feel icky on an airplane)

Fruit pockets (ever popular with kids)

Whatever you decide to pack in your carry-on, make sure it can stand up to a bit of jostling and squashing. Also, avoid foods that are too fragrant – the people seated around you may not appreciate your love of curry or aged cheese! Finally, make sure not to pack foods that can be considered liquid (applesauce, gelatin, etc.) – these will be confiscated by airport security.

The world is your oyster. Enjoy your trip!

Rum Caramel Corn

WIN_20160528_161718While I look forward to summertime and love my garden, I’ll confess to enjoying a bit of air conditioning and an indoor breeze under a ceiling fan after playing in the dirt under the hot sun. I’ll also confess to feeling hungry after working in the garden, and unfortunately there’s nothing to harvest from the garden just yet!

Today I sated my post-gardening sweet tooth with this easy recipe for Rum Caramel Corn. I used a banged up old pot to cook the caramel. Boiling caramel may (or may not) cause a harmless, slight discoloration inside of a pan. To clean the pan in which you boiled the caramel, here’s an easy tip: fill the pan about 2 inches deep with water, and bring the water to a boil on the stove. When the water is boiling, add about 2 tablespoons of baking soda to the pan. Immediately cover the pan and remove from heat. After about 15 minutes, when the water is still warm but comfortable to touch, scrub the inside of the pan. Voila! The caramel residue will wash away.

WIN_20160528_155729Ingredients (Makes 15 cups)

15 cups air popped popcorn

1/2 cup real butter

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons light molasses

1 teaspoon rum flavoring

WIN_20160528_160950Directions

Step 1) Combine butter, brown sugar, light corn syrup, and molasses in an old saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Step 2) Allow caramel mixture to boil gently for 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in rum flavoring.

WIN_20160528_161707Step 3) Spread popcorn on baking sheets lined with waxed paper. Carefully drizzle the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Use a metal spatula to gently lift the coated popcorn. This spreads the caramel onto more of the popcorn, and also helps to prevent sticking.

Enjoy when cool!

 

Shrimp Spring Rolls

WIN_20160502_173224Here’s to second chances! The first time I tried making spring rolls, they were a disaster. I swore I’d never attempt them again. Well, I’ve learned a few things since then and as it turns out, spring rolls really aren’t difficult to make at all! My loss is your gain – thanks to my mistakes, I’ll be able to help you avoid a few pitfalls and make delicious spring rolls on your very first attempt.

Fun fact: spring roll wrappers and vermicelli noodles are made of exactly the same thing… rice flour. Many spring roll recipes Continue reading