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Onion Sausage Toothpick Things

When I took my trip to Ireland, I ate a lot. Like. A lot. 15 pounds and near diabetic coma a lot.

Quite a few things stuck out to me that I loved: black pudding, Lucky’s mom’s mashed potatoes and gravy (drooollllllll, sooooo good), the guiness, the TEA (Oh GOD it’s good!). Even the battered fish was so excellent. Fish in Ireland has no smell. I walked right up to the fish counter at the grocery store and stuck my nose in it, so did the Texan who HATES fish, and nope, not a scent. If you’ve ever been near a fish counter here in the US, you KNOW you can smell that briney, fishy scent about a mile away.

But I came back with a simple obsession. Perhaps it’s because all the ingredients are available here or because it was something I could actually eat without rocketing my blood sugar. Either way, I’m an addict.

One night when Lucky was having a party at his place, Lucky’s mother made these little snack things. They were a piece of ham (though it was more like sausage), with a single cocktail onion and a single cube of cheese on each toothpick. I.ate.the.hell.out.of.those.

They are surprisingly good. Lucky gave me guff because he says his mother has been making those simple things all his life and why I would choose something so simple to bring back with me with such fervor is somehow funny. But I can’t stop eating them. And  everyone here that tries them is really surprised how good they are. How simple and how damn tasty.

So, first thing I did is I went to the store. In Ireland they are jars of pickled onions. Here, the closest ones I’ve found are called sour cocktail onions. And the jars are freaking TINY! Think like maybe a dozen little onions in each jar for like $4. Ugh. The things we will do for an addiction.

I’d put those on a toothpick with some colby jack, cheddar, or pepper jack, and a chunk of venison sausage and it was heavenly wonder. I ate that every single day, if not more than once a day. And then I ran out of onions. I’d gone through probably a dozen jars before I decided I’d try to make my own.

I went to a local market here and bought a bag of fresh mini onions. That was the first mistake. Those things are a PAIN IN THE ASS to peel. It was only later I learned you could use frozen. Duh.

I tend to like the onions really crisp, so I opted to do a fridge-type cure instead of canning because I didn’t want them going soggy. I figured how hard can it really be? A pickled onion, or a sour onion? Vinegar and salt, big whoop. I added spices for good measure because I wanted a spicy onion. Now THAT sounded good! So I added some red pepper flakes. And a whole jalapeno to add some spice to it.

Then I poured vinegar over it and let it sit in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Then I tried one, so excited! YAY! A seemingly endless supply of cocktail onions.

Epic. Fail.

It had flavor alright. It was spicy and the onions were firm and it tasted like biting into a huge crispy ball of vinegar. No. This wouldn’t work. I was pissed. I was heartbroken. I was back at the store buying more $4 a jar cocktail onions.

I’ve since seen several recipes to can cocktail onions, but I fear it. Mostly because they call for frozen onions. And the problem there is the between being frozen and cooking them, there’s going to be a soggy factor. And I’m NOT about to sit there and peel a million tiny little onions.

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to TRY to make my own. Even if those fail I can always use them in cooking. But still. It sucks. I really wanted this to work. And it didn’t. It was actually AWFUL!

I won’t give up my onion sausage cheese toothpick things. No way and you can’t make it, but I’ll admit a fail when there’s a fail. And this was a HUGE one. See, Martha Stewart never tells you THIS sh*t!

Broccoli Be Damned

I love broccoli. I really do. Just not right now. Last year in my garden I planted broccoli. It was the third or fourth year I’ve done that. And we had SO much of it, it was REALLY good, but it was broccoli everyday for months. What was not eaten right away was frozen, so it lasted through for awhile.

Then the fact that I shop costco for produce during the off season. And all they REALLY have in bulk at the one by me is, you guessed it, broccoli. I’m so freakin’ sick of broccoli you guys, you have no idea. NO idea. I’ve tried to gussy it up. Adding cheese and the whatnot, but man, still, ALL the time. One woman can only handle so much especially when said woman is diabetic and her main parts of the meal and meat and veggies.

So when I saw cauliflower on sale, I jumped at it. Usually cauliflower is pretty expensive during the winter months here, so I was THRILLED. I can make it into soup, salads, toss some butter and bread crumbs with it, some heavy whipping cream and salt and it’s like mashed potatoes that don’t kill your blood sugar. I love it with just plain butter on it too. I love it. But, we will see how long that lasts.

I went ahead and decided to buy a ton of it and freeze it. It saves money and time because I can just yank and pull from the freezer and into the pot it goes. But I can tell you a couple of things:

1. Do not attempt to vacuum seal it. It’s too moist. It won’t seal.

2. Make sure you have good steamer bags.

3. Make sure it’s as dry as you can get it before you freeze it so you don’t end up with freezer burn from the water.

So, this is how you do it:

First, get some water boiling, enough to cover one batch of cauliflower. Add about a tsp or two of salt to this water and get it to a nice strong boil.

Now chop up your cauliflower into florets. They say to do this in 1″ wide pieces, but honestly, I don’t think it matters and I’m lazy so…


Once your water is boiling, go ahead and add enough cauliflower to it so that the water is covering it.

Return that baby to a boil and start a timer for 3 minutes from the point at which it starts a full boil.

Right, like you really needed to see a picture of my microwave timer.

ANYWAY.

After the three minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon or use a colander. I used a slotted spoon AND a colander because I wanted them to drain totally between batches and still save the hot water in the pan.

At this point you want to dunk them in super cold ice water to stop the heating process. I didn’t have ice so I used super cold tap water run over them for a few minutes. Make sure to toss them if you are doing this so it cools all of them.

Now that that’s done, let them drain for a bit. Shake them off and pat them with paper towels and stick them in a freeze bag, flat, and store in the freezer.

Then when you need cauliflower you can just dump it in the old steamer and you are good to go.

I don’t know if anyone else is a cauliflower lover, but I have to tell you, I’m THRILLED about it. Mostly cause it’s NOT broccoli.

Adventures with the Aerogarden: Herbal Vinegar

If you don’t know what an AeroGarden is, it’s a pretty damn cool little contraption. It’s an indoor hydroponic gardening kit. And I know what you are thinking when you think of hydro. Dirty hippie.

My house is old, and drafty. Although I have a big window on the south side of the house, herbs and indoor plants don’t grow well for me. Except Pothos. Also known as mother in laws tongue. That grows great. But I have that sitting in a pot of water so that’s probably why. And it needs next to no light.

I got totally tired of watching my little plantings die. Something about this house is cursed with plants. Not outside, no, just inside. So the Aero Garden was a little tool I always wanted. Gadget. I know.

When Mr. B came home with one he’d gotten for Christmas, I knew it’d be my responsibility. He’ll eat what I grow in it, but he’s not gonna take care of it either. That’s ok. I’d be more than happy to take over.

I decided to grow herbs first. Herbs because I want to get started making herbal vinegars for Christmas next year. The longer they brew, the stronger they are. They make wonderful everything’s from marinades and additions to salsa to facial and hair rinses.

So I started the little pods up on Christmas day. Herbs are one of those things you need to use as they grow. If you let them get TOO big they’ll die, they go to seed. Pick too much of them and they’ll die. Usually you want to take no more than a third of the plant.

I noticed my Lemon Basil was going to town. I’ll only be able to take a few leaves because the plant is still young, but I can start the vinegar and just keep adding fresh plant matter as I go along. These things don’t take long to replace what you’ve taken.

So, here it is. My little pride Lemon Basil.

She’s getting to be a big girl!

I picked off a few leaves. Mature ones. Remember, never more than 1/3 of the plant. I put these in an 8 oz jelly jar for now. I’ll increase the size of the jar as more leaves are added.

I covered it with some white vinegar. You can use high quality rice and champagne vinegars if you want, but for me, white vinegar is old faithful. It marinades beautifully.

Cap it with a NON METAL cap. That means either using the plastic freeze caps Ball has for their jars OR putting some plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar THEN putting on the 2 piece band and lid. You don’t want vinegar touching metal. Metal+vinegar=corrosion. You don’t want to eat that.

Now, it’s time to label it. You can date it if you want, I don’t, because I’m going to keep adding to it. I found dissolvable labels at Menards for canning jars.  You’ve NO idea how wonderful a thing these are going to be for me. Getting labels off jars is a serious pain in the ass that requires, most of the time, that you boil them off. Urg!

The only issue I’ve got with these is that they are kind of flimsy. They also come in a roll, making writing on them BEFORE you put them on the jar impossible. They are also a weird material, so when I used a sharpie marker on it, it kind of bled. Not very pretty. Next time I’ll use pen.

Lemon basil vinegar is going to make an awesome marinade for fish and chicken. Hmmmm.

Just shake it once a day or every other day, store it somewhere cool, dry and dark, and keep adding as you keep getting more, until about half the jar is full. Keep in mind the basil will kind of wilt as it goes along, so use your best judgement as to how much is in there. You don’t want it so strong it’s going to overpower the food. Once I think I’ve got enough lemon basil vinegar to satisfy gifts and needs, the rest will get dried and crushed and stored as a spice.

So, if you’ve got indoor plants or an aerogarden collecting dust (I’ll BUY IT FROM YA IF YOU DO! I want several of these things!!!), this is a great way to make it work for you. Plus knock out some christmas gifts and tasty meals in the process.

See, I’m NOT anal. There really IS a use for everything!

Jalapeno Vinegar Goodness: So Simple It’s Evil

One year I had a buttload of jalapenos come in from the garden. They aren’t so good canned, and I didn’t want to dry them, and I couldn’t possibly use all them quick enough so I decided to make jalapeno vinegar.

Since that fateful year, I ALWAYS have at least one gallon going at a time. This year, I’d run out. It’s only January! I won’t have jalapenos again until summer. Rather than do without, I went ahead and found some super cheap on sale and made a couple of gallons.

This stuff works WONDERFUL as a marinade for chicken, fish or even beef (hmmmm, soak a roast in it, hmmmm, so good). It’s spicy, but it’s good, and although it does have a vinegar zip in the meat, it also makes the meat flavorful and super tender. And it’s SO easy to make.

First, grab a couple of containers. I use gallon glass cider jugs. You can use mason jars just make sure you either have a plastic lid for it or cover the band and lid that comes with them with plastic wrap so that the vinegar doesn’t corrode the metal.

Wash them out and sterilize them.

I’m always excited at the thought of jalapeno vinegar! I’m equally as excited to use my cider jugs. I don’t know why but I love these things!

As you can see, my dog shares in my excitement. Always eager to help.

She’s my girl and she’s also elderly, so I cut her a break. She does a very good job of holding down the floor and she’s proud of that. I love her so much!

Anyway!

Now I’m going to give you a tip that you MUST NOT avoid. Do NOT skip this step!

Wear. Gloves.

Yeah, I thought it was BS too. Until one year I chopped jalapenos for fifteen minutes and didn’t feel the burn until an hour later. Burning, BURNING. Like FIRE burning, like a grease burn. It was under my f(@king nails! I used water, soap, cold water, ice water, aloe, tried soaking my hands in milk and nothing worked. I tried to sleep with ice packs on my hands, but for a full 24 hours, it BURNED LIKE HELL.  And NOTHING gets it off, trust me. I searched the internet for HOURS for remedies and NOTHING worked. So please for the love of God and everything holy, WEAR FREAKIN GLOVES.

Ok, pretty sure I got my point across.

Now grab your peppers.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Now, you CAN roast them. I believe that most people will TELL you to roast them before making vinegar. I don’t. I’m too lazy and I don’t have a proper broiler so, I’ve always done them raw. Just make a slit on each side of the pepper with a sharp knife to allow the vinegar to really get in there. I also pop the stems off them.

Now stick them in your jug or jar. I usually fill it nearly half way because I like it strong, but do it to taste.

Then, fill the jug with vinegar. Just plain old white vinegar is what I use. The cheap stuff that comes in huge gallons.

Now, label it. Or I do. I found Ball makes dissolvable canning labels, which are awesome. Only problem is they come in a roll so they are really hard to write on and you can’t really use marker because it kinda bleeds.

Now you’ve got yourself some jalapeno vinegar. Wait at least a month before using it so it really soaks up the jalapeno flavor. Soak your chicken or beef in it for a few hours to overnight and just cook. Usually it doesn’t need much seasoning after a good soak! I’m so excited!

So is the dog!

Ok, well I’m sure in her dreams she’s totally excited for my jalapeno vinegar. That she can’t eat. And would probably turn her nose up at.

You get the picture ;)

Orange Dried Pineapples

I dry a lot of food. It’s easy, stores forever, reconstitutes well especially when you have one of those “I ran out of fresh” whatever moments, and they make great snacks and mixes.

They had pineapple on sale. My only regret is I only bought two. I love pineapple. My blood sugar doesn’t.

I also had some left over orange juice in the fridge from New Years. Orange juice is only a diabetics friend when you go hypo and need a quick boost.

Pineapple. Orange Juice. You get the picture.

I’m always looking for new and creative ways to dry fruit. Thank you Mary Bell for all your ideas! Man, that woman is wonderful.

I decided to try soaking some pineapple in orange juice overnight and drying it to see what it came out like. Cause really? Orange and pineapple. Heavenly.

In case I haven’t bragged enough, here’s my big bad dog dehydrator.

And the easy peasy slide out drawers.

So I soaked the pineapple overnight. I had to test some to make sure it was good before I dried it. Ok, I had to test several pieces. Can never be too safe. It was delicious.

Then line them up on the trays.

It took about 10 hours on the setting I had to make sure it was totally dry. There should be no moisture in it, but not be dry and brittle.

And into my little plastic tubs they go. You might remember these tubs from an earlier blog. They are endlessly useful.

If you cut these into rings and dry them, they look like flowers and make GREAT decor for the tops of cakes. They also make great every day snacks. You can reconstitute them for different recipes, for plain eating or drop them into some iced tea or lemonade for some flavor. They are so good, and stored properly, they’ll last forever.

I’m gonna have to keep myself away from these too. Although they are a nice primal snack, I can’t go overboard because of the sugar content. Be warned, they are hard as HELL to stop eating!

Pain In The Arse But So Worth It Home Made Pasta

There are a few things that I make that aren’t, technically, “worth it.” By worth it I mean that the cost of doing it myself is not really saving anything when you consider the time it takes to make it. Pasta is one of these things.

Is it because I can’t actually eat pasta or my diabetic beta cells will attack me and make me go blind with high blood sugar? Surprisingly, no.

Is it because home made pasta is more expensive than store bought? No, it’s not, it’s cheaper, but marginally. When you consider the time it takes, it’s not really cheaper since pasta is SUPER cheap. Ok, maybe mine doesn’t have all the chemicals in it either.

It’s pretty much because it’s SUCH a pain in the ass to make, even with my little gadgets, that I’ll still go and buy pasta before I make it. But making it is SO worth it. And I’ve promised myself one day, one great awesome day, when I have the entire day to kill, I will make enough pasta to last this family a year. For now, though, I made enough for just two meals.

I used my handy dandy pasta attachment for my kitchen aid. Yes, man has made such things. I can’t even imagine the pain in the ass it would be to make this without it. I once used a regular hand crank pasta machine, and I’m just too damn lazy.

For all intents and purposes, pasta is super easy to make. You can find a slew of recipes online for it. It requires two or three ingredients usually and comes out, amazingly and shockingly, very very good.

So, the first thing I did was dump the ingredients in my kitchen aid. I believe it was flour, eggs, and some salt. What’s hilarious is that the instructions say you should make a well, put the egg in it, blah blah blah. Yeah, whatever, I just dump it all in there together. I really don’t know what difference making a well would make. But, then again, I’m no chef.

So I dump it all in the kitchen aid with the dough hook attachment

It takes a little bit for it to smooth out. But it does eventually smooth out, not totally silky smooth, but enough like dough.

It starts to roll in on itself and gather up the bits and pieces as it does this. It’s exciting isn’t it!

The dog certainly looked excited.

Ok, maybe not. But it’s imperative she’s in the kitchen with my while I do this. She’s my good luck charm.

Now, I attach the pasta do-hicky to the kitchen aid. Ain’t it cool?

And I start hand kneading the dough. It just kind of helps it form a little better cause it can be a little dry.

The first attachment I use is just a flattener. No, that’s not a technical term, it’s just what I call it. It rolls the dough flat. It has various settings on the side, 1-6. 1 being the thickest, 8 being the thinnest. Depending on what kind of pasta you want, you can roll it thick or super thin. I wanted spaghetti, so I’m figuring on rolling it to a 5. 6 would be like angel hair.

First you’ve got to roll it through #1 quite a few times, folding it half, then reinserting it. This makes the dough silky smooth and pliable, stretchy even. This is what you want. It helps to dust it with a little flour every few times to keep things running smoothly.

Eventually, it’ll become the width of the attachment, which is what you want.

A little ball of dough will eventually stretch to several feet long, so don’t go all happy on how much dough you initially put in there. Usually a palm full is enough.

Once it’s gone through #1 a few times, then it goes through each successive flattener size once until we reach 5. At 5, the sheets are pretty long and look like this:

I’ve got the kitchen aid book open right there! Tips for perfect pasta! Yah right! Perfect pasta=someone else coming in my kitchen and doing it.

Anyway, I lay the sheets on pieces of wax paper that I’ve sprinkled with flour until I’ve done the entire recipes worth of dough. This takes awhile, don’t fool yourself. One recipe worth of dough can easily take 30-45 minutes just to flatten into pieces.

So I go back and flatten some more pieces

See! It even LOOKS stretchy!!!

The dog still isn’t excited at this point. But, she sure did get way more excited when meat sauce was being poured over the cooked, finished product.

Now that all the sheets are flattened I proceed to cut them into spaghetti sized noodles and set them in a “nest.” I was never good at the “nest” thing, the way they’ve got them all nicely nested in the store. Here’s my version of a nest:

It REALLY helps if you have two people doing this because the sheets can get LONG and ANNOYING.

I wasn’t going to be drying this particular batch because it was all going to be used within a couple of days. If you want to keep them long term, you can always nest them, after dusting them with some flour, and freeze. OR if you have the room and patience, go ahead and dry them and stick them in bags or jars for long term storage.

Cooking home made pasta CAN be a little tricky, mostly when it’s fresh. Here’s how I do it:

Salt the crap out of the water. I do that any way, no matter if it’s fresh or dried. I once heard an Italian chef on PBS I think it was say that pasta water should be “salty like the sea.” I agree. The taste is so much better.

Then, get the water to FULL boiling and dump a little bit of olive oil in there. Then put in your fresh pasta and cook it, no kidding 1-3 minutes. I’m so not joking. It does NOT take long and there’s nothing worse than overcooked pasta.

And let me save you a little hair pulling: It’s gonna stick together. It’s not store bought, chemical laden pasta. It’s gonna stick. Learn to live with it. It doesn’t detract from the taste. The worst thing your family is going to do is take bigger bites. And that could be just cause it’s so damn good.

So, there you have it. Home made pasta. Enjoy it! Actually, you BETTER enjoy it because there are diabetic, urban homesteading, pasta making bloggers that CAN’T enjoy it because their body rejects carbohydrates in any form! (That’s my version of “there are starving people in china.”)

The Bad Boy Dehydrator

About ten years ago, I had read an article about dehydrating food. Mind you, at this point I was living in the middle of an upscale suburb in what was known as the ugliest house in the neighborhood. I have barely any usable yard, my landlord was an ass, and nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, would grow in that garden.

I was in love with the idea of homesteading and food storage even at that point, and I have never seen a dehydrator. I just thought that was an awesome way to store food and dry stuff. I think at that point I thought more herbs, which I was trying to grow in the house, but I still loved the idea. Then I saw the price of the damn things. Yikes.

I didn’t know there was anything but a round-style tray dehydrator, but $60 at that point was enough to scare me out of the idea of getting one in my young life. I wanted a gadget, but I was broke as hell and couldn’t justify it.

Then I moved into my own home a couple of years later and was still pondering the dehydrating idea. Sounded so cool. Dry your own food! Thousands of thoughts crept up in my head from whether or not that food was anything like the dried stuff in the stores to how the hell you would make your own jerky. It was at this point something I had put on my “to do” list to learn, and search for a deal, but nothing I was terribly serious about. My garden was still small and we were eating everything from it. I had nothing but the basic tomatoes and maybe a few cucumbers.

That winter I went to Kmart. I don’t even remember what I was there for, mind you. I went to the evil cooking gadget aisle, at that point full of Martha Stewart crap. (Mind you, this was before her great fall.) And there I saw it. One of those circular dehydrators with the trays. For $11 on clearance. I snagged it so fast I think the box dissipated in mid air.

I dried damn near everything in that thing. Boy did it get it’s use. It lasted me through a couple of growing seasons as my garden expanded, made me dried herbs and apples and other things. Some came out awesome. Some sucked. But it lasted quite a few years before the trays started falling apart and it started to break down a bit.

It was a weird style one, even for a round one. Instead of the heat source being on the top it was on the bottom and I hadn’t mastered the art of rotating trays. Ok I never mastered that art because I’m lazy. I had bought another “spare” one when they were on clearance there for the extra trays and ended up using the spare heating part too.

I finally, about 3 years ago, broke down and bought a new dehydrator. Just a nesco, which if you can believe it was a step up. I started to master jerky. But since I’m a lazy ass I never rotated the trays. It had a nice little temperature control which was SUPER fancy compared to the one I had had before, which had no such thing. I kinda just had to guess.

I found myself at this point frustrated by the thing. It was a bitch to store, and since the heating element was on the top, it didn’t really heat even so the temperature thing was still kind of a guess. My stuff ALWAYS came out crispy, not “bendy” like some stuff was supposed to be (jerky included). If I didn’t want to stay home all day and rotate and check it I was screwed.

When you become comfortable with something, your standards go up. That’s why to this day I recommend anyone who wants to get into drying food to try a crappy one first. If it sticks, and it’s something you like, you can always upgrade. You can’t “downgrade” once you’ve spent a million dollars on something.

Nonetheless, my frustrating with the Nesco grew. It worked fine enough for what it was but the trays were breaking, a bitch to wash, even the glory of the jerky gun wasn’t enough for me to like my new little purchase. But I dealt with it. What could you do?

Then I started gawking at the wonders of the stand up, pull out, box type dehydrators. Everyone who dries knows what the Excalibur is. They also know the kind of investment it is. I daydreamed. I pondered. I couldn’t justify 300 for the size I needed, but that didn’t stop me from wanting it.

Then one day at Cabella’s a few months ago I noticed they had a rip off version of it. 10 trays and digital to boot. The reviews weren’t bad, they weren’t as good as the Excalibur, but they were pretty good. One day it would be mine, oh yes.

So this Christmas we were working on a serious budget. There was so much going on this year, so much tragedy, loss, emergencies, so many things to be exhausted over that by the time I got to Christmas I was damn well exhausted myself. I hate when that happens.

I opened all my gifts, happier than a pig in crap, and Mr. Super said to me “Oh, we forgot one!” and handed me a book sized wrapped up gift. I opened it. It was the Dehydrator Cookbook I had asked for. YAY! Finally! A cookbook about nothing but dried foods! I was anxious to get started.

Then he said “We’ve got one more for you up here.” My first thought was not honestly OH! The dehydrator I wanted. My first thought was “Dear God please don’t let it be something living. I don’t need more pets!” (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my pets, but at this point sheer exhaustion had taken over).

And upstairs was sitting a huge wrapped box. I knew immediately. I was both elated and pissed that they had spent that much. The Texan, Mr. B and Mr. Super were standing in anticipation as I opened it. I didn’t disappoint. I almost crapped my pants. The thing is bigger than me. No sh#t. I actually have to stand on a step stool to program the thermostat and timer (YES! IT HAS BOTH!) when it’s sitting on the counter.

I couldn’t WAIT. I was itching to use it. But I knew I still had so much to do so I stared at it. I played with the drawers. OH! The glory of having a dehydrator that had a BACK heating element AND digital temperature control AND a timer. I was ear to ear grinning.

It’s only been now that I’ve been able to kind of play with it, and not much even then. I just grabbed some mushrooms and green onions and half an onion out of the fridge and started chopping.

Now, nearly all dehydrator books will tell you to use the most primo produce ever to dry. Hogwash and bullcrap. Mary Bell, dehydrator queen, will even tell you that produce that’s starting to go, that might not be the freshest, sometimes make the best dried. I’m not saying that crappy, molded, totally wilted produce should be dried. No. There’s only a certain point at which it can be saved. But I will tell you that those mushrooms were started to get a little less firm and those green onions were starting to go wilty but they did fine. Look at the glory!

Who the hell knows the difference once the green onions are dried (use them like chives) if they’d gone wilted before you dried them? No one. They weren’t moldy or nasty, just not firm any more. Ditto on celery. If you wanted to rehydrate them, they might not be the greatest, and you probably don’t want to eat them fresh. But I know I’ve used celery that’s gone a bit bendy in stews and soups, and there’s no reason to toss them out of the running for dehydration for that same reason.

As I speak right now, there’s trays and trays of apples dehydrating in it. I bought them from the bruised rack at the grocery store for super cheap. I peeled them (you don’t have to), cored and sliced them (all with the aid of my handy dandy apple peeler which is another purchase I’ll NEVER regret). I didn’t dip them or treat them cause really? You don’t have to. That’s just appearance. Laid them on the racks and sprinkled cinnamon on them. Who the hell wouldn’t want to eat that? With the whole diabetes thing I’ve got to be careful with dried fruit, but it’s better than somethings I could eat and they definitely do something for the sweet cravings.

So here is the big bad boy so you can be jealous

Here’s the veggies from the fridge I was cutting up to test this thing out

And them all laid out pretty like. I’ve been using the screen from my old dehydrator because this one didn’t come with screens.

Some onions.

And of course some apple slices

And in roughly 6 hours I had this

This dehydrator dries much more evenly and slower than my last one. You might think slower is worse, but it’s not. It means it’s maintaining the correct temperture I set it at instead of cooking the crap out of the food and making it crunchy. My mushrooms were nice and dry, but not like mushroom CHIPS. Ditto on the apples. Dry but still a bit flexible, I wasn’t going to do apple chips this time.

So if you are a seasoned “drier” then you might want to make the jump to this kind of bad boy because it’s so worth it. Otherwise if you are just starting out, one of the round cheapy ones should do you just fine. Look at it as a test for your love of drying: if you can deal with those annoying POS’s then you know it’s for you.