Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy National Onion Ring Day


Today is National Onion Ring Day, or depending on how many you eat, National Onion Rings Day. So get out there and celebrate by having some of the second favorite fried side, onion rings!

Some of the best I've tried are at Red Robin, Manny's, Sonic, Bahama Breeze, Zaxby's, Red Lobster, Square 1, Long John Silver's, and the much-missed Little Shanty. Where will you be celebrating?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Onion Rings at Square 1



Thursday (tomorrow!) is National Onion Ring Day, so Square 1, who every Wednesday has a $4 special on their fabulous onion rings, is extending that special through another day to celebrate. Well worth a visit, these onion rings are among the best I've had.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fries - Deadly or Not?


Last week there was a bit of controversy, and several folks sent the articles my way, about how French fries can kill you. Can they? Apparently I'm still alive and kicking, but might I be gone by next week?

First there was this article from WSOCTV, a 'news' station in Charlotte, South Carolina. I put 'news' in quotes not because of any political 'fake news' nonsense, but because they got this article on fried foods killing us, with a title that includes key words like 'could' and 'suggest,' from a content farm, these sites are usually click bait and of low research quality and veracity. Just saying. The WSOCTV website also includes a 'news' story about people who believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. I think that should say all we need to know about WSOCTV news and their audience. Again, just saying. Feel free to read the article (both!) and enjoy.

Then there's this article, almost a direct rebuttal to the first about how potatoes won't actually kill you. This one is from some magazine called Popular Science, for those unaware, it's a science and technology magazine/website/network that has been around in some form or another for about a century and a half. They don't say fries are great for you, but they explain how data can be manipulated as in the article they refute. Fries are delicious, and great in moderation, and in combination with healthy diet and exercise.

So don't panic, folks, science is still on our side, as long as the current administration allows it to be…

Monday, June 19, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

French Fry Diary 738: Power Air Fryer


I got my QVC addiction from my late and much-missed mother-in-law, but really we each watch for very different reasons.  Mom was a shopaholic, so the entire channel was a vice, but as a foodie, I find myself drawn more to programs like "In the Kitchen with David" with the delightful David Venable.  Recently from that show, and pitch man Eric Theiss, we purchased a Power Air Fryer, and we love it. 

I had always been wary of some of the air fryers I had seen on TV, shopping oriented or not.  They never seemed to cook the food all the way through, fries Looking soggy, etc.  The first time I saw Eric on David's show with the Power Air Fryer, there was a sound the fries made when they hit the plate out of the inner fryer pot - the same sound fries make when shaken to disperse salt in a metal bowl - the sound of crispy fries.  They had my attention. 

After seeing them and the fryer on QVC a few more times, we made the purchase of, for an excellent price, the Power Air Fryer XL Pro.  We passed on the cookbook by Eric, but we did also get the barrel pan and the grill rack with the package.  In a few days the Fryer arrived, and we have been thrilled ever since.

Of course the first thing I made was French fries, Nathan's, which have been an air frying favorite ever since.  Following the simple picture touch screen directions - 400 degrees for 18 minutes - for fries, they came out perfectly golden brown.  I thought at first maybe a bit too brown, and that I had actually made charcoal, but no, they were perfect, crispy outside and soft and hot inside.  Near perfection. 

Over the next few days, hell, the next couple weeks, we had a whirlwind of experimentation, seeing what we could and could not cook in the Air Fryer, and there's really not much that you can't.  I learned that with those wonderful Nathan's fries, if you shake them halfway, and use more uniform sizes (I cut the longer fries in half) so they cook more evenly.  You can also adjust time and temperature as you wish as opposed to using the touch screen options.  These techniques are good tips for almost anything you cook.

I tried many different frozen fries options - shoestrings, steak fries, potato wedges, curly fries, waffle fries, tater tots, crinkle cuts, regular cuts - and also tried onion rings, as well as other stuff not usually covered in this blog like hot dogs, biscuits, hot pockets, motz sticks, scallops, shrimp, chicken, steak, burgers, hush puppies, cakes, and corn on the cob, that last one a particular favorite. 

There is of course a learning curve. As opposed to food being underdone as I assumed would be a problem, it's very easy to overcook, so keep an eye on what you're cooking.  Onion rings especially are easy to overdo.  You can even do handcut fries, which come out amazing.  So far the handcuts are the only item to which I've added oil, and then only a quick spray if at all.



The Power Air Fryer has been one of the best things we've purchased since we've been down here in Florida, besides of course the grill, which is my baby.  That said, I love my Air Fryer.  I don't miss our deep fryer, which we left in South Jersey, at all.  Thank you, QVC! 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Random Tater Pic of the Day #272



This one comes from The Bride, a half-eaten potato salad from Zoe's Kitchen. What that says about it I will leave up to you...


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

French Fry Diary 737: Robin Goes to Five Guys


Many folks here know my longtime friend and fellow creative Robin Renee, besides being a hell of a writer, and a terrific performer, she's also been a contributor here at French Fry Diary from time to time. She's also a vegetarian, and our collaboration on her current project Blog March 2017 indirectly to her trying Five Guys because of something I posted about President Obama digging the burger chain.

We texted back and forth after she had tried the Eagle Plaza location in Voorhees. She took lots of pictures, found the veggie sandwich just okay, but her fries were "…insanely salty."

I offered her some good advice for ordering fries at other places. Usually Five Guys doesn't count in this as they always cook them to order, but it might have helped in this situation. If you are worried about salt content, always order your French fries at fast food and other chains with no salt. First this will force them to cook a new batch, so they will be fresh and hot, and it also allows you the choice of controlling your salt intake but how much you put on yourself. It's a good tip and useful in these situations.

I of course felt bad and apologized to Robin again for making her go to yet another meat restaurant. I do this all the time without realizing it. The last time, I invited her to a steakhouse (The Pub), which luckily had a fantastic salad bar plus veggie selections. Sorry, Robin, I'm an idiot.

In her own words, "The good thing these days is that there's something veggie just about anywhere now," which is a good thing, because as I mentioned, I'm an idiot.

Please check out the Blog March, it's important. And if you feel so inclined, please join and/or donate to ACLU, vote, or register to vote if you haven't already, support People for the American Way, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, Lambda Legal, and Public Television.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Can You Eat Just Potatoes?



I love potatoes. I love potato chips, I love potatoes - mashed, baked, fried, even nuked – and I loooove French fries. But could I only eat potatoes? I might be happy for a bit, but even I'm not sure if I could eat just potatoes. I mean what about burgers and chocolate, right? You gotta have a balanced diet.

In all seriousness though, the website Digg, with their semi-regular feature What Would Happen If, asks the magical question - What Would Happen If You Ate Nothing But Potatoes?

Inspired by the astronaut character in The Martian who did in fact survive on just potatoes, the Digg team took a good scientific look at the prospect. Here were their results, right here.

Monday, June 12, 2017

French Fry Diary 736: The Garden Grill, EPCOT


Every time I've gone to The Land in EPCOT in Walt Disney World, I have always heard the same thing, that the food served in the restaurants at The Land is where possible grow and prepared right there at The Land. For those not in the know, The Land has an amazing horticultural, agricultural, aquacultural community. They grow everything there onsite.  And since I see potatoes on the Living with the Land omni-mover boat tour, one might assume, ya know? 

First things first, the Garden Grill is a revolving restaurant, set on a dais that turns ever so slowly as you eat over top the aforementioned Living with the Land.  The restaurant, like many in Walt Disney World, also features character meals, or more appropriately, a character breakfast.  Those in question here included Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Farmer Mickey.  For the uninitiated, a tip, Chip has a black nose and Dale has a brown one. 

What initially attracted me to the restaurant for breakfast, besides the promised "Hash Brown-style Potato Barrels" which I wrongly assumed to be fresh from the garden potatoes of The Land, was probably the ham, the bacon, the Mickey waffles, and cinnamon buns.  When we received our family style skillet full of breakfast, we were surprised, and not for the better.

Don't hit him, Jenn, it's probably not his fault...
The ham steaks had mysteriously vanished from the menu, and our skillet.  And while the warm and gooey cinnamon buns were to die for, not much else was.  The mini-Mickey waffles had done their time under a heat lamp and bacon was much too burnt and crispy for my taste, but that's okay as that's how The Bride likes it.  None for me though. 

And the hash brown-style potato barrels?  They were tater tots.  Frozen Ore-Ida or Ore-Ida knock off tater tots.  Disney had tricked me.  Not only were they really crappy heat lamp tater tots, they certainly were not grown in The Land.  At least Mickey, Pluto, and Chip and Dale were fun, but I don't think I'll be coming back. 

Monday, June 05, 2017

Red Lobster Potato Chip Shrimp


Currently at Red Lobster, they're celebrating Lobster & Shrimp Summerfest. One of the dishes featured in this extravaganza is the new Coastal Lobster and Shrimp including "tender shrimp crusted with Cape Cod kettle chips to add a little extra crunch."

Potato chips also star in the new Cape Cod Shrimp and Chips, and that last one comes with fries.

You should always get the fries anyway, but don't forget the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, the real reason to go to Red Lobster at any time. Special thanks to Marni for hipping me to these meals.