Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pineapple Slicing/Coring Gadget--Beyond Use Recs

On and off throughout the years, I've been using my pineapple slicer and corer (mostly referred to as "gadget" for the rest of this article), along with a knife and plate. It was a great deal when I spotted it in a bargain bin—formerly $10, marked for $2 (woohoo!). Because I use it only sporadically, I didn't include it as one of my "Frequently Used Non-electrical Long-time Kitchen Items".

For online look-sees of pineapple slicers/corers, visit here, here, and here. (OK, I'm doing a rare violation of my aversion to "here" URL pointers.)

A week ago, I bought a pineapple for $1.97. Today, I saw them for $1.50! For several weeks, the store sold them for $2.77. Seems pineapple prices have collapsed over the years. I remember having bought a few at $6 each back about 2000. The same afternoon that I bought the $1.97 one, I spotted a newspaper grocery ad for a different store for 99 cents. That ad for those pineapples did not specify "personal" size; like ones my store had tried to push the previous week. (I wasn't buying; those fruits are not easy to process.)

Between standard dissection instructions on pineapple tags and "normal" spiral-cutting instructions. I've come up with a method for fruitful (ha) yield with less hassle. My pixstrip shows the following pineapple images:
  1. First row
    1. Whole fruit and implements
    2. In sink (knife)
    3. In sink (sprayer and brush)
    4. Three parts (base, 2 other sections)
  2. Second row
    1. Upper portion, gadget cutting start
    2. Upper portion, rind trimming start
    3. Upper portion, rind trimming finish
    4. Upper portion spiral-cut section and gadget in container
    5. Gadget upside down and core trimmed, pushed in slightly
  3. Third Row
    1. Lower portion, most fruit in container
    2. Rest of pineapple needing processing—base, core, chunks (other items shown for reference)
    3. Container with all cut up pineapple on kitchen scale—approximately 3 1/2 pounds
  • pineapple slicer/corer gadget
  • two large plates (a cutting board if you prefer)
  • various knives for cutting options
  • container and lid
  • item for loosening fruit core as needed (I used cooking spoon handle, not shown.)
Caution: Pineapples are unwieldy; maintain good grips while processing.
  1. Prepare the pineapple for slicing.
    1. Use the bread knife to cut off the top.
    2. Scour the rest of the fruit.
    3. Cut off the base for salvageable fruit from its core to the edge.
    4. Divide the rest of the pineapple at midpoint.
  2. Process the upper half.
    1. Center the gadget over the upper (smaller) half.
    2. Slowly rotate the gadget clockwise until the teeth grip the fruit.
    3. Continue motions for spiral-cutting the fruit as well as cutting around the fibrous core.
    4. Combine rotating the gadget while turning the fruit in the opposite direction can help. When the gadget reaches the bottom, it turns freely.
    5. Trim the rind away.
    6. Lift the gadget and fruit into a container, and use a paring knife to cut the section into slices or pieces.
    7. If part of the core is splayed at the bottom, use a knife to trim excess and push it toward the handle. Otherwise, remove the core and set it aside. (You CAN partially disassemble the gadget, remove the core, and reassemble the gadget.)
  3. Repeat steps a through g for the lower pineapple half. If the fruit does not slice as easily as the top half, you might need to slightly tip the fruit for better leverage in rotating the gadget. Be patient and careful as necessary.
  4. Remove the core as appropriate.
  5. Cut up the rest of the pineapple.
    1. Use a paring knife or comparably small knife to salvage fruit at the base.
    2. Slice the core into rounds if you want.
    3. Cut the rest of the pineapple into chunks.
For previous pineapple processings, I tended to use the gadget on the topless and bottomless pineapple (ooh-la-la), leaving rind on. Frugal as I am, afterward, I scavenged the fruit from the rind. The shape of the rind tended to be something of a challenge, even after cutting it into smaller pieces. With more recent past dissections, I concluded that spiral cutting was less laborious by processing two halves than the whole. YMMV for method preference.

Mmmm, fresh pineapple! Yummy, as it tastes fine for at least a week!

Don't have a pineapple slicing/coring gadget? Consult the fruit's tag. Also, Goggle for articles and videos about slicing pineapple.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sliced-Veggie Lentil Soup

Make an easy, robust soup that contains four veggies (1/2 pound each of carrots, celery, zucchini, and yellow squash), a 1-pound bag of lentils, and ~8 cups of water and seasonings (or broth). This recipe is a process that's a cross between making my veggie pasta and my short-cut, convenient veggie lentil soup.
  • The veggie pasta uses four kinds of fresh vegetables and other ingredients (pasta, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese).
  • The convenient veggie lentil soup uses a vegetable dry-soup packet and lentils.
My pixstrip shows the following image areas:
  1. Implements
  2. Ingredients (veggies, lentils, fajita seasoning) laid out
  3. Washed, trimmed, and sliced veggies
  4. Sliced veggies in soup pot
  5. Boiling pot of veggies in front, saucepan of lentils in back
  6. Soup, ready to ladle out
  • Soup pot and lid
  • Ladle
  • Kitchen cooking spoon
  • Strainer
  • Saucepan
  • Plate for veggie handling
  • Paring knife
  • Peeler for carrots
  • Temporary bowls for sliced veggies if you want (not shown)
  • 1/2 pound each of the following vegetables: carrots, celery, zucchini, yellow squash—washed, trimmed, and sliced
  • 1 pound of dry lentils, rinsed and drained
  • Seasoning (Fajita seasoning works well. Also ok to refer to lentil package recipe for info.)
  • 8 cups water for soup—YMMV for the amount you eventually use.
  1. Wash, trim, and slice the veggies. (My own favorite slicing device is my Presto Salad Shooter, which I've had since the early 90s.)
  2. Pour the veggies and water into the soup pot.
  3. Wash and drain the lentils, pour into saucepan with enough water to cover them. (OK, I'm squishy about the total amount of water.)
  4. Bring both pots to boil. If appropriate, watch to ensure contents don't boil over. Skim froth as necessary. Pour lentils into the soup pot; turn down heat to simmer. Season to taste.
Note: The heating process can take about an hour. The lentil bag instructions say bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 35 minutes until lentils are tender.

Post-recipe Thoughts
The veggie preparation (wash, trim, slice) can take longer than anticipated—maybe an hour in addition to another hour for soup boil and simmer. Natural stages to break up the recipe process:
  1. Preparing the veggies, lentils
  2. Combining, heating, seasoning
As holidays are coming around, omnivores can easily incorporate use of leftover turkey or ham—
  • Use broth that you make instead of just water (adjustment for salt as appropriate).
  • Add leftover meat (2 cups or more of leftover turkey or ham pieces—you know, mostly oddball sizes that you chop into consistent bites or nibble sizes).
Suggestion: Freeze excess soup in suitable serving size containers so you don't feel compelled to consume it in consecutive days till done.
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