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The work of months is coming to a head this week. As much as I thrive on a certain amount of pressure, this project has got me biting my nails, nawing my lip and starting awake at ungodly hours in a sweat, brain cranking into overtime about all the things that could possibly go wrong.
In the meantime, I haven’t been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, so there isn’t much that’s new and interesting for the purposes of food blogging 🙂 Hence the boiled eggs for breakfast today. Although you can’t beat a good, soft-boiled egg with piles of hot buttery toast. Mmmmmm. Toast. [Stops typing and wanders off to make more.]
So, in substitute of a recipe, here are my answers to the Six Random Things meme that Rachel of Fairy Cake Heaven recently tagged me with. I’ve done something similar in the past but thought it would be fun to write up some food-related facts, what with this being a food blog and all:
1. One of the first things I made in Home Economics class at the age of eleven was macaroni cheese without the cheese as I’d forgotten to bring any with me. So macaroni with white sauce then. I received a mark of 6/10 for it.
2. I hate coffee. Bleurgh. But I have a drawer full of tea and hot chocolate:
3. My grandad was a baker by trade. You couldn’t tell him you were going round to visit, otherwise you’d come away with more bread than you could possibly eat before it went stale. And it was great bread, so it was a shame to see it go to waste.
4. My favourite meal as a student: crappy white bread, Philidephia cheese and Frazzle crisps. I haven’t had one of those in years… I wonder if I tried one again whether it would be absolutely revolting. Perhaps it’s best left in the drawer marked ‘fondly remembered’.
5. My favourite food-related word of the moment is ‘spudnut’. Go on, try saying it without a smile cracking across your face. Spudnut. See?
It’s a type of doughnut with mashed potato in it and I’m itching to try out the recipe I’ve found to see if the taste is as good as the name.
6. The two books that really got me cooking as an adult were the MooseWood Cookbook and its follow-up The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, both by Molly Katzen. Somewhere in my early twenties, I realised that I couldn’t exist on a diet of Frazzle and Philidephia sandwiches alone (dammit) and a veggie friend recommended Molly’s books. It also helped that, at the time, I lived in a flat with an enormous kitchen and people willing to eat my experimental offerings of Green, Green Noodle Soup, Spinach-Ricotta Pie and many, many others. I still stand by her challah recipe as being the best I’ve ever tasted next to my grandad’s.
OK – would you like to do this meme? I’m throwing it open to anyone who wants a go – but particularly if you read this blog and have never commented before. Why not stop by in the comments section, say hello and tell me a little bit about yourself? 🙂
Sometimes I want to make a recipe more because I’m as curious about the production process as I am about eating the final result. In the case of this marshmallow, that was a process that saw a lot of gooey mixture being splattered all over me and the kitchen. I’m still picking bits off the wall.
Folks – if you’re going to make this, use the biggest bowl you’ve got because otherwise it is going to go everywhere. I was just too lazy to drag the mother of all mixing bowls out of the cupboard. But nothing else will do when you’re whipping up hot syrupy liquid into puffy clouds of sweet nothing.
After that kind of warning, I suppose that it’s going to come as no suprise that I had to carefully prise the pages of, wait for it, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey open to type up this recipe because, oh yes – I also managed to splash that with molten marshmallow as well.
Homemade marshmallows from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor
Makes 20 large marshmallows
1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons unflavoured gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla
Cornstarch and icing sugar for dusting
1. Pour 1/2 cup of the cold water into a large ixing bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Sprinle the gelatin evenly over the water, 45 to 60 minutes.
2. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cold water, the granulated sugar, the corn syrup and the salt. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
3. Increase the heat to high and let the mixture come to a boil. Cook the syrup, without stirring, until it reaches 240F on a candy thermometer. Do not allow the syrup to go past 244F or the marshmallows will be rubbery rather than tender.
4. Remove the syrup from the heat and slowly beat it into the dissolved gelatin with an electric mixer set at low speed. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue beating until the mixture is very thick and white but still warm – about 15 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
5. Generously dust a 9/13 inch baking pan with cornstarch. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula and dust the top liberally with icing sugar.
6. Let the marshmallow stand, uncovered, for 8 to 12 hours to firm up. Turn the marshmallow from the pan on to a sheet of greaseproof paper liberally dusted with icing sugar. Cut into 20 large squares. Dust each square with more icing sugar. Store in a tightly covered container until ready to serve.
Next time, I’d ease off on the vanilla essence a little bit. It was just a touch too strong for my tastes.
And, next time, I’ll play with some food colouring for variety.