Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Your Air Fryer Questions Answered

Last year I got a gift for Christmas that I didn’t ask for. A gift I didn’t know I wanted. A gift I couldn’t do without now. I’m talking about an air fryer. It’s changed how… and what I cook.

As I’ve become more familiar with air fryers I’ve shared my experiences with friends and family on my Facebook page… and on this blog’s Facebook page. Some have called me an air frying expert… but I prefer the term air frying enthusiast because I’m still learning.

I often get questions about air fryers and my experiences… so I thought I’d combine them all in one place as a resource for those that want to know more.

What is an air fryer? Isn’t it basically a small convection oven?

Air fryers are kitchen appliances designed to cook food by circulating hot air all around it. The food sits in a colander-like basket that allows grease to drip off and be collected in a pan below.

As the name implies, with air fryers, you to cook with hot air and considerably less oil than traditional fryers… yet you get similar crispy results. And, yes, air fryers are basically small countertop convection ovens.

What can you make in an air fryer?

Pretty much anything you can make in an oven you can make in an air fryer. Steaks, chops, chicken, fish, shrimp, baked potatoes, roasted veggies, garlic bread, tater tots, cheese sticks, chicken, eggs, banana bread… the possibilities really are only limited by your creativity and willingness to try new things.

What size should I get?

In my opinion, when it comes to air fryers, bigger is better. My current air fryer has a 5.8 quart capacity and works great when cooking for my family of 4. I’d want this size even if I was only cooking for myself because it expands the amount/kinds of food you can make.

What air fryer do you recommend?

I started out with a Power AirFryer XL. It’s the “As Seen On TV” one and I used it pretty much daily until it died after 10 months. It only had a 60-day warranty so I went searching for a well-rated air fryer with a longer warranty.

That led me to the Cosori brand. It checked all the boxes; large cooking capacity, 4.5 star Amazon rating, and a 1-year warranty that gets extended to two years if you register your air fryer within 10 days of purchase.

In the short time I’ve used the Cosori air fryer I have to say that I absolutely love it. There are lots of little reasons that make it better than the Power AirFryer brand.

Where should I keep my air fryer?

If you have room, I always suggest finding a permanent spot on your kitchen counter for your air fryer. When it’s in operation, you’ll need to make sure you leave space around it. My current model suggests 5 inches. It does have warm air that comes out the back so you would definitely not want it pushed up against a wall.

Having it out and on your counter will increase the chances of you using it more… and finding creative ways to use it.

Do you leave it plugged in all the time?

I don’t. There is an outlet on the wall behind where it sits. When not in use, the air fryer is pushed to the back of the counter. Having to pull it out to plug it in ensures I’m always making sure it has the space it needs to safely operate.

Does the outside get hot? Do I need to set it on a heat resistant mat or on the stovetop?

The outside of the air fryer does not get hot so there is no need to set it on anything other than your regular countertop. I would not recommend placing it on your stove. I’ve seen pictures and heard the horror stories of other air fryer enthusiasts that have used theirs on the stovetop… only to have a burner accidentally get turned on, melting the bottom of their air fryer.

Are they hard to clean?

Not at all. I typically set the air fryer basket in the sink to soak in some Dawn while we eat, then wipe it out and rinse it off when we’re done. I haven’t done it yet, but the basket on my Cosori air fryer is dishwasher safe.

I just got a new air fryer. What’s the first thing I should make in it?

I recommend everyone make tater tots first. They are inexpensive and will give you an idea of how air fryers work and how fast they can cook things. I’ve seen others make an expensive steak first only to be disappointed because they ended up overcooking it.

What are my favorite things to air fry?

This is a really long list (and I’m sure I’ll forget something) but here goes… chicken thighs, whole chickens, fries (both homemade and frozen), garlic bread, meatballs, O’Brien potatoes, egg sandwiches, cookies and candy bars wrapped in crescent roll dough, doughnuts, grilled cheese sandwiches, leftover pizza, hard-boiled eggs, steaks, pork chops, asparagus, and tater tots. I love tater tots!

I’ve seen recipes that say to spray your food with oil. Will Pam work?

I recommend using extra virgin olive oil with a pump-type sprayer. Some types of Pam, and similar sprays, contain aerosol and this can stick and build up on the cooking basket… making it harder to clean and potentially harming the non-stick coating.

How did you learn so much about air frying?

This is an easy one. I joined several air frying Facebook groups. They are filled with other air fryer enthusiasts that want to learn… and share what they’ve learned through their own experiences with others.

Got any tips for an air frying newbie?

To answer this one… I enlisted help from my favorite air fryer group on Facebook. Here are some of their tips:

  • Times and temps in recipes are just guidelines. They are not absolutes! Be attentive to what you are cooking until you learn how your air fryer cooks.
  • Besides cooking great meals you will save money. Reheating leftovers taste as good as fresh. Leftover french fries and takeout leftovers that I used to throw away are now a great new meal.
  • Preheat your air fryer. This gets the basket hot and helps produce the crispy results you want.
  • Read the instruction manual that comes with your air fryer.
  • Tape your preset & shortcut sheets on inside cabinet door near your air fryer. At one glance you can scan settings for what you are cooking.
  • The presets are just recommendations. Get to know your air fryer and how it cooks.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your food is cooked to the proper temperature.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of water to the bottom before cooking fatty foods like bacon. This will help prevent your air fryer from smoking.
  • Get some accessories for your air fryer, like pans, to expand the options of the things you can make.
  • Keep a cooking log with times and temperatures of food you make often.
  • Let breaded or floured meat sit in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to air frying. That allows the coating to look right after air frying.
  • Don’t be discouraged by one bad result. Keep trying!

Got any air fryer tips or questions of your own? Leave them in the comments.

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What I’m Into Right Now – July 2018

Wow! It’s hard to believe another month has gone by since I’ve checked in with a “favorites for the moment” list… but here we are. See what’s keeping my interest these days and then feel free to leave a comment with some of your own.

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Pokemon Go – Yes, this mobile game is still a thing and yes, I still play it. Gives me something fun to do during downtimes. While I never stopped playing over the past two years, others have but are now returning because of some recent in-game improvements. Some of these would include friends lists, field research, and community days.

Live Free Or Die – Another in a long list of survival shows that I enjoy. This one follows the lives of several different people who choose to live a less materialist lifestyle in different environments.

New Cody Jinks Music – Cody Jinks has shown up in my monthly lists before and now makes a return appearance. He has a new album, Lifers, coming out July 26, 2018, and there are three songs from it available to listen to now. I’ve been listening to them on repeat whenever I get the chance.

What are you into right now?

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A More Practical & Less Inspirational Graduation Speech

A few weeks ago our Pastor asked if I would give a 5-minute talk during our graduating senior service. It’s where we celebrate & recognize the graduates from our congregation. This year we had four graduates; three high from high school and one from college.

Instead of going for an inspirational speech, I took a more practical approach, sharing advice from a previous blog post of mine and ideas I crowdsourced from friends on Facebook. What follows below are the thoughts I shared with our graduates and our congregation.

A More Practical & Less Inspirational Graduation Speech

When our Pastor asked me to give this talk to the seniors today I reluctantly agreed… not knowing exactly what I’d say.

There are plenty of great graduation speeches out there. I know. I watched some to prepare for today. Hit up YouTube and you’ll find’em… and lots of inspiration. Steve Jobs, Oprah… Even Matthew McConaughey all gave great, inspiring speeches.

I decided I’d take a different direction with my comments today. I’m not gonna give you high school graduates inspiration… I’m gonna share some practical advice… advice I wish I would’ve gotten 27 years ago.

Perhaps, Ms. A, our recent college grad can back me up on a few of these… Don’t worry though… I’ll have a few comments for you too.

First – Let’s talk class scheduling.

** Try not to schedule any classes before 10am on Mondays.  This will give you extra time if you’re coming off a rough weekend… or a weekend at home.

** Try not to schedule any classes after 3pm on Fridays.  This will get you a jumpstart on the weekend… and a trip home every once in a while.

** Yes. Enjoy your new freedom away at school… but come home too! It’ll be a balancing act when you come home dividing your time between your parents and friends… but always carve out a half hour to visit your grandparents. You’ll never regret sharing a cookie and conversation with them.

** When you do come home it’s OK to bring some laundry with you… but the key word is “some”… you don’t need to bring home every piece of clothing you own.

** My tip for laundry in college is this – Find a laundromat at school and figure out when their off hours are. You’ll be able to do multiple loads at once… and might be able to squeeze in some studying too.

** Stay active.  Join an intramural team.  Utilize the gym and workout facilities on campus.

** Take advantage of everything your college provides.  Your tuition covers more than just school. There are plenty of other activities that, as a student, you can attend for no extra cost.  Go to sporting events, plays, vocal performances, lectures, etc. Get a calendar of events from the campus activities board.

** Say “NO” to credit cards. Get yourself a part-time job, keep a budget, and use cash. It’ll keep you from spending money you don’t have on things you don’t really need.

** Speaking of money… do the math on the cost of each class… not per semester… but for every individual class. Trust me, the number will shock you… and will make you think twice every time you think about skipping.

** Do the same things with your books. Pay attention to how much they actually cost. Perhaps it will give you the motivation to read them when you’re feeling unmotivated.

** Find a balance between work, study, and play.  Work hard and study… but don’t forget to have a little fun too! The “real world” can wait. Enjoy these 4 years!

** Go to campus worship each week.  Campus worship services are fun. They’ll keep you grounded and get you through the hard, stressful times at college… Plus, if you meet someone to date there… you’ll know you already have your faith in common.

That’s it for you high school graduates… now a few tidbits for you Ms. A… as you enter the workforce…

** I know you’ll do this anyway… but whatever you do… work hard.  Show up 10 minutes early and stay 10 minutes late… It’s a little thing but your bosses will notice and it will set you apart from your co-workers.

** Treat everyone like they’re the CEO. Receptionist, janitor, someone in another department… doesn’t matter who they are… Remember that they are more than their position. They are people.

I’m paraphrasing Maya Angelou here, “People might forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how they made you feel.” Be kind to everyone. It’s the right thing to do… and because you never know who can give you a lead, a tip, or other insight to help further your career.

** Steer clear of office gossip.

** I’m not sure what you have for college loans but don’t wait on paying them off. Attack them! You’ve lived like a poor college student for 4 years. Keep that lifestyle up for a few more years and knock out your debt… then you can start saving money. You’re young enough compound interest will make you rich!

** Stay in Iowa. We’ve lost too much of your family’s talent to other states. We need your smile and expertise right here, close to home.

For the record… Your Mom didn’t ask me to include that… but if you do stick around I’m thinking she might hook me up with some cinnamon rolls for including it.

To all our graduates… and everyone, really… let me finish by saying… trust your gut… don’t sweat the small stuff (and 99% of life is small stuff)… make friends… be a friend…and remember that prayer is your direct line to God.  Don’t forget to USE it.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

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