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Published July 01, 2009, 12:00 AM

Finger-lickin' good foods

Herald food editor Jeff Tiedeman, a finger food fan, is a happy camper when he can reach chips and salsa, a bowl of nuts or a plateful of assorted cheeses.

By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald

I’ve always been a big fan of finger food. Give me chips and salsa (or dip), a bowl of nuts or a plateful of assorted cheeses — and I’m a happy camper.

The thing about finger food is that there are thousands of kinds. They’ve become synonymous with parties. Foods such as popcorn, peanuts, cocktail wieners, tiny meatballs, bacon wraps, stuffed jalapenos, just to name a few, are some of the finger foods you might find at a get-together.

And how about those miniburgers, called sliders, which have become so popular these days?

What I like the most about finger foods is that you usually don’t feel stuffed after eating them.

It’s not that I don’t like full-blown meals that require the use of silverware. But I’m a grazer, and grazers like convenience and frequency. And that’s what finger foods offer.

Therese can attest to my penchant for grazing. She will tell you that one of my favorite things to do is watch television in the kitchen while preparing meals. And in between chopping veggies or cutting up meat or searching for herbs and spices, she’ll say that I like to visit the refrigerator, for a piece of fruit, a chunk of cheese, a drink of milk; or the cupboard, where the bran crackers, dark chocolate or pineapple slices reside; or the drawer, which contains the chips, peanuts and licorice.

I’m not constantly eating, mind you; but it’s not unusual for me to have a half-dozen or so snacks over the course of three or four hours. (In my defense, most of those snacks are healthy, perhaps more than half of it fruit.)

And from what I’ve read about snacking, it’s OK. Studies have shown that people who eat six small meats a day (some would call that snacking) have lower levels of LDL cholesterol than those who consumer one or two big meals a day.

The other day, while blogging about beef and pork kebabs with veggies (see these tasty recipes at www.areavoices.com/chefjeff/), I started thinking about cooking chicken on the grill.

To me, chicken is finger food. Even when I bake a regular or smoked chicken, most of it becomes finger food for me, either when it’s the star of a meal or as a snack — cold out of the refrigerator.

To put it bluntly, of all the ways I’ve had chicken, there aren’t very many where utensils were needed. Sure, there are times when a fork and knife are required, but how many people do you know who need them when eating buffalo wings, drummies, chicken fingers — even McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.

This gets me back to doing chicken on the grill. I’ve cooked a little bit of this type of fowl over flames (sometimes the beer-can method), but mostly it’s been wild game birds such as pheasants, grouse and partridge, with the occasional dove thrown in. The meat usually has been marinated (see recipe at www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/Features/tag/ food/) for at least a couple of hours, and in the case of the doves, it’s been wrapped in bacon.

But what I’m really thinking about trying is a recipe that I’ve come across for barbecued chicken, which is soaked in a buttermilk brine to make it extra moist and tender and seasoned with Mexican spices.

I’d like to let my fingers do the walking over that.

Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at jtiedeman@gfherald.com.

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