Sour Raisins (Watermelon Flavor)

It’s been a while since I posted and even longer since I was in awe over something bizarre that came through the food pantry. But this week…

There was a huge box of Easter candy and some other odd things. There were Easter toys, colorful grass, Star Wars Nerd ropes in the flavors red and blue, and the item that was most bizarre. The Sun-Maid Natural Raisins-Watermelon Sour Raisins.

They sound awful and I like raisins. But maybe they are trying to get people who don’t like raisins, but have people tried plain golden raisins? They are very different from regular raisins.

I tried them. They aren’t as bad as they sound. But they taste like fake watermelon, so they arent great.

I Made Fondant

From Scratch.

A lot of sources says that it’s really hard, but one of my mom’s childhood friends said that it’s really easy and she did it all the time as a kid. My attempt turned out fine and we thought we had made a number of mistakes.

The recipe is down below. I got it from The Joy Of Cooking (Except for the part in bold)

Bring to a boil in a large heavy saucepan: 1 Cup Water

Remove from the heat and stir until dissolved: 3 Cups Sugar (We struggled to do this and ended up dissolving the sugar over a flame)

Return to heat and have ready: 1/16 Teaspoon Cream Of Tartar (We dropped some of this)

Just as the sirup come up to a boil, add the Cream Of Tartar to the mixture by tapping it from the spoon on the edge of the pan. Be ready to stir, as it will tend to make the sirup boil over (We didn’t put it in right as it boiled)

Cover until the steam can wash down the sides of the pan

Cook this mixtures uncovered without stirring, until it reaches 238-240 F. Remove pan gently from heat. Pour sirup onto a wet marble slab or platter (It makes quite a lot, have around two square feet or more ready to receive it)

Do not scrape pan

Let the sirup cool thoroughly (Or just until it’s a bit cool. We did both, they both turned out fine)

Work it with a candy scraper or a wooden spoon by lifting and folding always from edges to center. When the sirup loses its translucency and begins to become opaque and creamy, knead it well with the hands. Dust them with confectioners sugar if necessary (Don’t bother with that last sentence, just keep working it until it hardens, it will look like the pictures)

After kneading fondant, put it in a tightly covered container. Allow it to remain in a cool place for 24 hours to a week or more (We skipped this step)

To prepare fondant for shaping, put it in a double boiler over-not in-hot water. Heat it slowly, with the water at 170 to 180, until you can shape it then put it on a slab (We also skipped this one)

My thermometer might not have been super  accurate.

Chocolate Pudding For Breakfast

I have a couple of controversial opinions about food. One of them is that I don’t like chocolate milk. I don’t like hot cocoa. I do love chocolate ice cream. And chocolate pudding is the best. But just to drink it? No.

Naturally this causes some controversy. Not much, because it is well known, I have never liked it. When we were little I would have half a mug of hot chocolate and most of it would stay in the fridge for weeks. I wanted to like it, but it didn’t happen.

I think it was my tenth birthday, I went out for a birthday breakfast and for my drink I ordered hot chocolate. Having matured I finished it and for the next five-six years I tried my best to pretend like I liked hot chocolate. (but whenever possible I was as likely to get apple cider or tea)

Recently I’ve just come to accept the fact I don’t like hot cocoa. I don’t like chocolate milk.

So when from the food pantry yesterday we got 18 bottles of chocolate milk, I didn’t want to give up my share. So this morning was cool and Mom got one of the bottles heating up on the stove*. I did so much whisking that be the time I gave up on it thickening it was more like mousse.

Recipe

1 cup milk

2 Ts Cocoa

2 Ts Sugar

Pinch Salt

1 Ts Cornstarch

Or 1 Cup Chocolate Milk

Pinch Salt

1 Ts Cornstarch

While heating most of the milk be sure an stir in the flavoring. Once they are well incorporated in a bowl mix together the remaining milk and Cornstarch. Stream the mixture into the cooking pot and stir. (Brisker stirring will result in a more mousse like texture) Upon achieving thickness remove from heat and serve.

 

*The reason Mom only heated up one bottle is the plastic wrapping the bottles came in said that is was nearly a month out of date. A dozen people had drunk some of it the day before and no one got sick. So…

Also this was apparently a taste test of some sort. The label said 2% Natural Chocolate Milk. The Ingredients were Milk and Vitamin D3. So we were also uncertain as to what was actually in the milk.

pink hair

 

Sustainable Tuesday; Off Grid

This will not be my classic Sustainable Tuesday post.

Since Thursday, September 12, I have been off grid.

Minimal electricity, no running water, and spotty phone service. I enjoyed my time off grid, it inspired me for my blog, my sewing, and my future.

But I realized something.

Being off grid is hard and it may not be as “green” as we would like to think. I’ve said I don’t really worry about my van emissions or what type of fuel I use, and that is true, but I live in the country. Here in the country there are lots of plants to soak up the excess.

If you take being off grid to just mean solar energy instead of the power plant. If you have a well insulated house. If you live somewhere sunny. Yes. You can pretty easily generate all the energy you could possibly use. But if any of these things aren’t true, it becomes super hard.

I’m boring. I spent two of the days with my best friend canning. We used a tank of propane. We had the generator running. Because of the canning we did, we weren’t very green.

DSC_1246

But.

Now we have quarts of canned meat. Gallons of canned pears. It no longer requires electricity to store this food. Come winter less will need to be bought from stores, meaning that less gas will be used to bring food to them.

This is the challenge of it all is what do we accept. Yes, we used lots of propane, but now there is less worry for winter, the food is stored…

When is it best to spend energy and where?

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It’s Not What It Sounds Like: Hail Merry’s

Recently I had the interesting experience of trying a couple Hail Merry snacks. The first ingredient may be Maple Syrup, but the chocolate ones aren’t sweet.

First off I tried the Chocolate Almond Butter Cups.

CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER (12 x 2-count Pack)

I would describe this as very interesting. The outer shell is almost unsweetened. The Almond butter layer almost certainly has no added sweeteners. Reports from some family members say that you can taste the maple syrup in the top layer, but I never noticed it.

I do enjoy the fact that these are all gluten free and vegan, but I do think that perhaps they should be a little bit clearer about the high calorie counts for the people who care about such matters.

More recently I tried the Dark Chocolate Bites.

DARK CHOCOLATE

These are a little more on the sweet side, but the most noticeable thing in my opinion was the color difference between the picture and the contents. It is like one of those Internet vs. Reality memes, but in reverse. They are so dark. The back of this packet says/said “Plus, they’re dehydrated slowly for a super moist, fresh taste.” I understand what they are trying to say, but I wouldn’t put it quite, that way. Dehydrating does not leave things moist except in very wet climates.

In case you were wondering, no they aren’t sponsoring me. I just ran across them and found it to be interested.

On The Advantages Of Gluten Free Thickenings.

When reading Gluten Free cookbooks a subject that always seems to be of concern is how do I thicken my sauces. I understand most people aren’t critical and creative thinkers or that they simply don’t know anything about cooking. This I find to be a little sad, because there are more gluten free options then not.

Perhaps the best known of the gluten free options is none other than Cornstarch (or corn flour if you live in a weird place like India) It is generally considered to be the best gravy thickener if you don’t have time to make a roux, because it has little to no taste and it leaves the gravy a more pleasant color.

On the subject of starches, I must next mention Tapioca. Perhaps most famous for the interesting, if boringly named Tapioca Pudding. I wouldn’t personally recommend this one, unless you were really in a pinch and watery gravy simply wouldn’t do.

Tapioca, Pearls, Pudding, Cinnamon
Image from Pixabay

Earlier I mentioned making a roux and it is still very possible with gluten free flour. I would suggest using rice flour, due to its mostly neutral taste. Rice flour in this case acts almost exactly like wheat, unlike some flours that will not be named…

Tony Chachere's Creole Instant Roux Mix 10 Oz (pack of 2)
I wouldn’t actually suggest going to Amazon and getting this, because it’s first ingredient is Wheat flour, but it was the firs picture I could find that showed what roux is.
Roux is leaning towards fancy so lets go all the way and touch on Eggs. I will admit if you are making ordinary gravy this is probably your second to last choice, but eggs are a classic in custards, puddings, mayonnaise, and rich gravies.

This leads us straight to the richest of thickeners. Cream. It’s a little bit finicky, a trifle high in caloric count, is made of dairy, but it’s good.

In honor of a number of things I’m going to mention a thickener that is used almost uniquely in creole cooking and that is Okra. It is a super slimy thickener, but is does work.

Gombos, Exotic Vegetable, Okra, Green
Image also from Pixabay

On the subject of slime, depending on what type of thickener you are going for might I suggest flax seed. But I should stop. We are getting into the weird and the wonderful. Let us review the gluten options.

To be realistic, which we kind of are, I would say that the only option you have for making a non-gluten-free gravy, is wheat flour. Perhaps you have another kind of flour on hand, but being gluten free is the gravy. 🙂

Food Truths

This summer has been as usual. The garden has been producing and that lead me to a thought.

bigtomatoTomatoes. Did you know in my family if you pick a tomato off the vine it is perfectly clean, but if you bring it inside it must be washed? Strawberries are the same way

Rehydration. If you are dehydrated you will actually be better off if you drink Coco-Cola and eat chips, than if you just drink plain water.

The Jews get there No Meat With Dairy rule from a verse in the Bible that talks about boiling a Baby Sheep or Goat in it’s mothers milk.

There is also a verse that says not to eat a bird with its young. That being said Nobody cares about eating fried chicken, which is dipped in eggs.

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