Confession time. I have blown that tight budget I was talking about a few days ago.
With everything being so strange and out of sync with my normal routine
with my MIL passing and all the funeral arrangements and trying to
coordinate accomodation and travel arrangements etc. for my 5 grown kids
and their partners from Dover and Basingstoke to Bridgend for the
funeral next Wednesday, I've been rather out of sorts for the
past couple of days and fell into the trap of feeling I needed a treat
to perk me up...so I succumbed and bought one of these.
It cost £69.99 from Aldi, half the usual price of similar ones by Tefal or Phillips (although Argos have a Tefal one for around £94 at the moment) and a more versatile machine, I think. With only 4 of us to cook for now it's 1kg capacity is just the right size, although it can cook larger quantities using the wire racks and extension ring.
I have wanted something similar for a while so I can cook things like real chips and fried chicken but with virtually no fat. Usually we have oven chips but they really are not the same as fried ones, and with this machine I won't need to heat the whole oven just to cook a few chips and some chicken grills. In theory I can cook a whole roast chicken in it with the roast veggies underneath and I will be testing that at some later date.
Last night I just tried chips. I made proper ones with real potatoes, soaked them and rinsed and dried them a few times, and added just 1 tablespoon of oil to the fryer. They took 10 minutes longer than the suggested time but then I had made them quite thick. They didn't go as golden as I expected but they were paler, more like chip shop chips and very tasty. They were certainly more like real chips than oven chips are, and only took about the same length of time to cook. I think I might buy frozen 'fry' chips next time and try those. With the high price of potatoes, buying frozen chips, already peeled and prepared for me, is possibly even more economical than using fresh spuds and certainly more time-saving.
Today I'm going to be trying bacon, sausages and fried onions in the machine. I'm hoping to put the bacon on the top wire rack, the sausages on the lower rack and the onions in the base with the stirring paddle to keep them moving. We'll see how that goes and I'll report back. If this is a success then I'll be able to make a whole host of meals using just this machine, my slowcooker, microwave and soup maker, without ever having to turn on my main oven. There are even recipes in the book to make cakes in this machine, and I might give it a try.
We'll be away most of next week, back down in Wales. The funeral is on Wednesday afternoon, but DH and I will travel down on Tuesday and will probably stay until the end of the week. He's been marvellous sorting everything out, feeling it was his responsibility as an only child to deal with all the arrangements, but I want to try and get him to relax over this weekend as he's been running around all over the place since Monday. He says everyone he's had to deal with has been amazingly helpful and understanding but its obviously been a stressful time and he needs a rest. He's taking all next week off work but might have to take it as unpaid leave...thank goodness for those rainy day savings so we can ride out a reduction in next month's salary.
I think that's all I have for now. I'll report back on the successes (and failures) with my new toy.