I have a new toy.
A Nesco FD-75PR 700 Watt Food Dehydrator.
I saved up my Stuff Money (yes, that's a budget category, Greg and I each get cash each week to spend on whatever we want) and bought the best one I could find that wasn't ridiculously expensive.
I was originally motivated by the veggie chips at Fresh Market. I can eat them all day. I bought them hoping to increase the variety of veggies Kaycie would consider. And yes, she loves them too. Yummy yum yum. However... they aren't dehydrated. They are "vacuum fried," whatever that means. It gives them a tasty texture that I know I can't recreate. But in the meantime I started researching dehydration and decided to buy one anyway!
One of the biggest resources I found was the Well Preserved blog. This guy will dehydrate anything. And find a way to use it. Mushrooms, dried and powdered as a thickener. Spices and spice blends - onion, garlic, and celery powder. Tomato powder - rehydrated with different amounts of water to make paste or sauce or soup. Spinach and kale chips, along with squash and root veggie chips. Fruit rollups! I've made apple already and have grape drying as we speak. (I'm also munching on Fresh Market chips as we speak, but...) And of course I'm going to experiment with beef jerky. Cause I like it.
My first experiment went a bit wrong, but it was my own stupidity. I put several trays of root veggies (carrots, sweet potatoes, etc) on to dry overnight, since the book said 8-12 hours. I figured by the time I got up it would be around 8 hours, so it'd be the low end and I could leave it on longer if I needed to. The pup woke me up at 3:30 begging to go out, so I went ahead and checked it. They were already overdone... Whoopsie. Guess by 8 they meant 4?? It's ok. It's all an experiment until I figure out the best way to use it.
I'm pretty stoked about my new toy. Unfortunately, dehydrating takes a lot of time. Not so much energy, but it has to run for a long time and you kinda have to be nearby to watch it until you get it figured out. I'm afraid that circumstances over the next several weeks will be such that I won't get a lot of chances to use it, so I'm doing as much as I can while I have the chance. I'm even thinking about taking it with us to my parents' house this weekend!