Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Chickpeas, can openers, and other assorted nonsense

This is one of my favorite snacks. I have a new way to make them. More on that in a bit.

But first ... let me ramble.

As a food blogger, I get a lot of offers from companies who want me to write about their products. I say yes to some, and politely say no thanks to others.

Some offers are so bizarrely off-base that it's obvious why I say no. Car wax? Investment schemes?

But when it comes to food-related products, the products I choose to write about might not make sense to outsiders. I mean, this blog doesn't have a mission about organic food, or vegan food, or paleo food, or ... whatever. It's about what I cook and what I eat and what I like and what amuses, intrigues, or entices me.

And frankly, that can be a little ... non-rational. I love vegetables and salads and yogurt. But I've also publicly admitted my affair with Cheetos, my love of tuna noodle casserole, and my nostalgic fondness for White Castle burgers and for Twinkies.

So the things I write about might not seem consistent if you're looking for someone to make a stand about a food issue. But it's all logical to me. If I won't eat it, I won't write about it.

Well, mostly. Coconut has invaded my kitchen a few times, and although I'm not personally fond of it, I'm not morally opposed to it. So I might cook with it, if someone else wants to do the eating.

Recently, I got an offer to write about a certain product and my knee-jerk reaction was "Oh, hell no!"

And then I sat back and wondered why my reaction was that strong. I mean, usually if it's a no, it's eh, not really interesting, too busy, doesn't look fun ...

The product wasn't horrible junk-food, not-food, icky stuff. If someone served it to me, I wouldn't have a problem eating a portion. But it wasn't something I would buy for myself or serve to my husband. Just no. There's no way I was going to talk about it.

And then my second thought was that I was glad I got this offer, because every once in a while I like to think about the sorts of products I should and shouldn't write about. And why. Or why not. Because, to be perfectly honest, sometimes when someone's offering a sponsored post and my wallet is empty, the money can be tempting.

But so far, I've managed to avoid the temptation and only write about things that I really want to write about. I hope I'll always have that restraint, even if the offers get significantly enticing.

Or maybe that company that made me that recent offer wouldn't care if I took the deal and then said, "This is edible, but oh, hell no." What do you think?

But back to the snacks. I wrote about roasted chickpea snacks before, and I baked them in my oven. They were good, but getting them to cook evenly wasn't a whole lot of fun. So even though I like them a lot, I don't bother making them all that often.

But the other day, I got a can opener from Good Cook and I was on the phone with Carla, who works there, and she was asking me what I thought of the can opener.  I stalled. "Uh, it's white, and it opens bottles, and it's got this can ring beak-thing, and it's got this widget for opening bottles ... and uh ... *rooting around for a can to open* and it's got this spinning handle ... and uh ... chickpeas!"

I don't use a lot of canned goods. I'm not opposed to them, but it's not like back in the day when mom had an electric can opener on her counter because she used it all the time. But I had a can of chickpeas. I was planning to use them in a salad, but I figured I'd give the can opener a spin and then roast them instead.

The can opener worked fine. It's a can opener. It's one of those clean-cutting types that goes around the rim rather than cutting the lid itself. It's not the sturdiest can opener on the planet, but not the cheapest, either. For the number of cans I open, it ought to last a good long time, unless some tragic accident befalls it.

Then I decided to use my Phillips Airfryer to cook the chickpeas. I reviewed this thing a while back, and it's been on my counter ever since. It's great for cooking potatoes, and I've been trying other things, like roasted cauliflower (yum!) so I figured I'd toss the chickpeas in there and see what happened.

I rinsed the chickpeas, dumped them into the Airfryer basket, and drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil on top. Teeny bit of oil. I gave them a little shimmy-shake in the pan, set the heat for the neighborhood of 320 degrees, and set the time for 20 minutes. I checked on them a few times during cooking.

At 20 minutes, they needed just a tad more time, so I put them back for another 5 minutes and they were done. Crisp-crunchy and evenly browned.

Well, now. This was a better result than oven baking. They probably could have cooked in a little less time if I hadn't checked on them so many times, but since this was the first time I cooked them this way, I figured I should watch them.

The funny thing about the Airfryer is that it's one of those things where I get a lot of flack from people about how "no one needs it" or that I can't possibly like it, or that the can do the "exact same thing" with some other device.

Yeah, I can make chickpeas in the oven. But these came out better. More evenly cooked. No need to heat up the oven. And when I baked chickpeas in the oven, it took about 45 minutes, so this took about half the time, which is a bonus.

Would I buy an Airfryer just for making chickpeas? Well, no, it's not like I have a super-chickpea habit. But just like a lot of other kitchen gadgets that show up here, this one has been used a lot more than testing would require, and I'm continuing to use it, even after the review is done. There's something about potatoes cooked in this thing ... they're just really really good.

As far as that can opener? It opens cans. It's hard to get excited about that. But it does its (boring) job, so it will be hanging around here for quite a while, too.