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Local Food Matters

by Mary Rosewood

Edd Enders Show at the Frame Garden

If you haven’t heard of an air fryer, you’re in for a big treat, literally. On August 13, JL Fields, author of The Vegan Air Fryer cookbook, will demonstrate how to make delicious low-fat fried foods and share samples.

JL will be demonstrating the GoWISE USA air fryer at the Live and Let Livingston vegan potluck, and a lucky attendee will take the air fryer home for free.

Bonnie Goodman, the organizer of the potluck, tested recipes for JL’s cookbook and is enthusiastic about what the air fryer can do.

“I love the air fryer so much,” Bonnie said. “I was out of town for a week, and I took it with me. You can cook in your motel room very easily and save a ton of money. I spent $16 on food and just cooked in my room.”

Bonnie tested recipes for french fries, biscuits, doughnut holes, tofu “egg” sandwiches (“Oh, my gosh, that one was delicious.”), and a variety of vegetables.

Her favorite? “Without a doubt, the Mongolian tofu. That one recipe alone is worth the price of the cookbook. But JL has a page on how to make crispy air-fried tofu, and then there are various sauces she added.”

Bonnie’s only disaster was the Brussels sprouts test recipe. She had just gotten her air fryer and was not aware that when you smell food burning, you should remove it. “You need to use common sense,” she said with a laugh.

Her Brussels sprouts emerged with burnt exteriors and raw interiors. Lesson learned: Air fryers differ, and sometimes you must adjust recipes.

Bonnie said the air fryer is especially helpful in summer. The machine itself gets hot, but the heat stays inside, and it uses less electricity than an oven. The air fryer also cuts cooking time in half and is easy to clean.

Cooking frozen food in the air fryer is “phenomenal,” according to Bonnie. These foods cook in about half the time listed on the package and come out perfectly crispy.

Bonnie said testing recipes for The Vegan Air Fryer was like a cooking class. “Never in my life had I made biscuits. I never made breaded stuff before. I think there was some Southern influence here, and it was really delicious. The only thing that I really noticed – but see, my family is just a bunch of wimps –

oftentimes the recipes were too spicy for us, so I just learned to cut the pepper in most of the recipes.”

In 2010, the first air fryer was the Philips Airfryer. It works by pushing hot air at high speed through the interior, “frying” foods using 80% less fat than by conventional methods.

JL Fields bought her first air fryer just a year ago. Living in a small space meant that frying foods would be messy and smelly, so she just never did it. But as soon as she tasted her first air-fried french fries, she set off on more culinary adventures.

“I was looking for a cookbook,” JL said. “I wanted a vegan one because that’s how I cook. The manuals certainly tell you how to make fried chicken, but they don’t go into depth about doing something with tofu.”

Since she already had two cookbooks to her credit, JL soon had a contract for The Vegan Air Fryer. She wrote it for “regular folks.”

“My approach really is as a home cook,” JL explained. “I didn’t go vegan until I was 45 years old. I had not been doing much cooking up until that point, so suddenly I needed to learn how to cook, and I fell in love with it and changed my career. So I write recipes for people who, when they’re in their kitchen, can go, ‘Oh! I have those five ingredients right here in my cupboard.’ So that was the kind of book I wanted to write.”

Although she lives in Colorado Springs, JL teaches a variety of cooking classes throughout the country, and now offers a personalized live in-your-home online option.

You can learn more about JL Fields and her classes and books by visiting jlgoesvegan.com.

You’re welcome to attend the Live and Let Livingston vegan potluck on Sunday, August 13 at 4:30 p.m. at the Park County Senior Center, 206 South Main St., Livingston. You can bring a vegan dish (no animal-derived products) or a donation. (Look for more potluck information on this page, in the column to the right of this article.) As organizer Bonnie says, “You don’t have to be vegan, but the food does.” On August 13, you’ll sample some delicious and creative foods and perhaps go home with a new air fryer.

To get inspired to use your air fryer, join JL’s Vegan Air Frying Enthusiasts at facebook.com/groups/TheVeganAirFryer.