Friday, May 20

The Good, the Bad and the Crunchy

I've done some experimenting in the kitchen recently with mixed results, and I thought they might be worth sharing.

First, my success - homemade cornmeal! Last summer, we got a massive over-abundance of fresh corn on the cob from our CSA. There was far more than we could eat, so I dehydrated it with a plan to use it over the winter in soups, casseroles, etc. It was a good plan as far as it worked but, this being my first winter trying such an arrangement, I did not do a good job of budgeting things. I ran out of pears and peaches early but still had several quart jars of dried corn on the shelf! I've discovered several great polenta recipes recently, so I threw what remained of our corn through my amazing grinder and got this:

I wish blogs came with smell-o-vision so you could understand how intensely this smells like fresh corn! I'm very pleased with the result and will plan on doing this again with this year's CSA bounty.

Next up on my list of experiments was dehydrated snacks. Eating Real food, we don't tend to have a lot of travel-ready snacks around; the shortcomings of that practice being made very obvious to me a week or so ago when we took a day-long road trip on short notice.

Although I took lunch with us, there was nowhere to stop for dinner and we ended up just waiting it out until we got home and could eat a fast, very late, meal. Clearly, having shelf-stable and travel friendly snacks would be a wise investment in the future.

For my first round of recipe testing, I tried Peanut Banana Treats, Apple Oat Snacks and Brown Rice Snacks.

The Peanut Banana Treats turned out the best; I was able to use the powdered peanut butter and got what amounts to peanut butter banana fruit roll-ups. If I liked bananas, these would be a cheap, practical option. Since I really don't, I plan to repeat the process using applesauce instead of mashed banana in hopes of finding a more appealing alternative.

The Apple Oat Snacks taste like apple cinnamon pop-tarts. Really, they do. Unfortunately, they don't look terribly appealing (on the left in the picture). They are wafer thin and chewy, but since I was hoping for crunchy I was disappointed. I'm hoping to combine this recipe with my granola bar recipe in the future to make crunchy apple-ly granola bars more along the lines of what I had been hoping for.

The real losers in this endeavor were the third option, the brown rice treats. I'd been expecting something like rice cakes, but that wasn't the result at all! These have no texture or crunch - they're just hard! The flavor isn't bad, but they definitely aren't worth making again.

(Incidentally, my counter is not dirty in the picture above. The random flecks are part of the design which, apparently, was considered attractive by someone several decades ago. That or everyone else agreed flecks in counter-tops were hideous and the apartment builders were able to get a great deal on them because no one else would buy them.)

I look forward to trying some other snack alternatives and hope to eventually find some mainstays. Eating Real food is no reason not to be prepared and have solutions that fit your lifestyle!

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