Saturday, August 27, 2011

love and food and pictures.

oh HI!

You were starting to think I was gone for good, weren't you? I mean, the last time I think I wrote to you, I said I was off to Alaska, right? And you probably just figured I decided not to come back...which makes sense. And I definitely thought about staying, let me tell you. But it's too soon. Maybe someday. I'm totally going back, though...I'm thinking next year would be good. Alaska changed my life. Like really. But maybe I'll tell you about that another time. I have other things to write about today.

Like this, first of all--GUESS WHAT I got for Christmas?!

I know it's August, but Santa made an exception for me this year. It's cool, we're pals.

But wait, did you guess??

I can't wait any longer--I'm going to tell you...

I got a CAMERA!!! (three exclamation points and all caps = really freaking excited, if you didn't know)

 This is like a real that has different lenses and so many different settings that it makes your head hurt. And I've wanted it for SO long. It's time to explore a new form of art.

 So now I'm going to start being that annoying person who goes around taking pictures of dirt and stones and walls just because I can...just so you know. Like if we ever go hiking together, you should definitely bring snacks, because it's probably going to take twice as long. Hopefully this doesn't discourage you from inviting me to go hiking with you...

Okay, time to change the subject--to food, of course, you were expecting this. So I don't think it will at all surprise you, but one of my favorite things to do with people is cook. I think there is just something so great about spending time creating something with another person and then getting to sit and enjoy it together. And I'm pretty sure one of the ways I show people I love them is through food. This works well.

sharing is the best
What I really love is to involve others in my cooking experiments. So yes, make them be guinea pigs. I think they tolerate me well, most of the time. Come spend an evening with me, and you'll very likely be subjected to some kind of interesting food. Don't be so intimidated, it usually turns out well. And it's always much fun.

This week's adventure:  homemade MARSHMALLOWS. That's right. I'm going to go there.

 I'd been thinking about these ever since I made my own graham crackers last week (so so good)--and, I mean, you get where my mind was going here--homemade smores. It was going to happen. And no, you're right, I didn't make the chocolate, but come on, do you know how to make chocolate?

the inspiration
So we made marshmallows! And it wasn't actually that difficult--but it was really cool to transform sugar into white fluff--you know you want to try, right? We really did it. And then there was, of course, marshmallow all over everything. But not just any marshmallow, homemade marshmallow--so it was fine.

 And then, then there were smores. Best smores of my LIFE--and we didn't even have a fire. We may have resorted to using the broiler to make them brown and toasty on top. And the marshmallow may have gotten all over our faces and fingers...and we may have slathered peanut butter on them as well...just saying, it was fabulous.

you so want to come over, don't you?

 Homemade Marshmallows
adapted from Alton Brown

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment ready.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Don't stir too much, or this will take forever. Also, be patient--it is very important for the sugar to get to this temperature! Once the mixture reaches 240, immediately remove from the heat.

 Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. It will get all white and fluffy and glossy--very sweet. Add the vanilla during the last minute or so of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows:  combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Butter or oil a 9x13-inch baking pan. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

at the beginning
sugar magic
When ready, pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. (We may or may not have done this)

 After they have had time to sit and firm up, turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Make some people happy.

we'll talk again soon.