Not slacking

Despite the apperance of my blog I have not been slacking lately.  Well, ok.  I have been slacking about updating my blog.  But the reason for that is just about every other aspect of my life I haven’t been slacking lately 😀  That and It just feels wrong to me to blog without photos…but I haven’t had time to take and download any photos of the stuff I’ve been up to the past couple of days.

So I figured I should take a few minutes to slip in a little text only update.  Mainly work has just had me swamped.  I’ve been working on a couple of big projects that are gobbling up every spare minute they can.  I did manage to make a few new food treats lately, and food is something I’ve really been wanting to bring into the blog.  So let’s talk about those.

First, and most exciting for me, I made homemade marshmallows.  I always just kind of assumed that marshamallows were some chemical concoction that was beyond the capability of a mere home kitchen.  At least any home kitchen that has more pans than Erlenmeyer flasks, and all 6 of mine aren’t even in the kitchen right now (They’re in storage until I restart my yeast bank, which will probably be happening sooner rather than later – unless we stop brewing for the summer.)  I’m a HUGE Alton Brown fan so even though I don’t have cable I still check the food network site and Good Eats Fan Page (Crashes Firefox, IE only) to stay up to date on what I’m missing out on.  When I saw I had missed a show on making marshmallows I had to dig up the transcript and recipe ASAP and give it a try.  It turned out to be remarkably easy (thanks to my Kitchen Aid!) and the resulting marshmallow squares were pretty good.

Except neither Amy nor I are big on marshmallows for marshmallows sake.  Unless of course they’re roasted over a fire.  So as soon as they were ready for eating Amy and I fired up the fire pit and with graham crackers and chocolate in tow as well we gave them a try.  Amy being a fan of the well burnt marshmallow was somewhat disappointed to find that these will melt long before they will burn.  Me being a fan of the melty but not burned found that to be quite the bonus on the other hand!   We both agreed that they made wonderful smores and are looking forward to another batch so I can try making rice crispy treats with them.   I also melted down some chocolate and dipped a few – which was very enjoyable!

At the same time I cranked out 3 loaves of Challa – the first of which I posted but spent all my time talking about photography instead of the bread!  This is one of my favorite egg breads and just screams Easter to me.  So 1 loaf for us, one for brew night and a 3rd that Amy took up to Mesa to share with her Cousin Anne and her family.  All three were a big hit.  I also found a recipe for Italian “Grissini” bread sticks in Amy’s Bread cookbook  – several batches of those later they’re now going to be a regular in our kitchen.  Quick, easy and super delicious with or without sesame seeds.

With Amy out of town visiting Anne last weekend I tried to catch up on work … and spent a little bit more time in the kitchen whipping up a batch of my famous 4 chip cookies.  The cookies themselves are nothing special – standard Toll House recipe – it’s the mix of milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, butterscotch and peanutbutter chips in just the right proportions … and a family secret in the dough seasoning that makes them special.  This time though I went a little crazy and modified my long perfected chip mix.  I was inspired by a bag of pre-crumbled Andes mints, and had to try them.  I was worried that I may have been adding too many flavors – but my neighbor Rich  supported the idea saying “They’re cookies, you can’t put too much good stuff in them!”  I think he was right.  Though maybe melting down more milk chocolate and pouring ribbons of it over some of the cookies was going a bit too far 😀  They were delicious … but I couldn’t give them away fast enough and ate way too many!

And finally to end my food experiments on Sunday I got a new kitchen toy that I’ve been wanting for awhile.  A new ice cream maker.  I have one of the old school ones that needs ice and rock salt … but hate it.  Too loud, too messy, too slow…and the ice cream never comes out that good.  I’ve wanted one with the gell filled base that you freeze for a few days first for a long time, but they’ve always been too expensive.  But last Sunday I spotted one at Walmart for just under $30 and couldn’t pass it up.  I whipped up a batch of mint chocolate chip (using the rest of the andes pieces for the chips) sunday night – and by monday evening the base and mix were cold enough so I churned it on.  After a few hours in the freezer to harden the results are outstanding!  Hands down the best ice cream I’ve ever made.

Tonight I’m going to whip up a watermelon sorbet  for a little healthier frozen treat.  Though the watermelon we picked up looks almost too good to not just eat outright instead.  And on the other hand of the spectrum I’ve finally given in and decided to start experimenting with Coffee.

I’ve never been a coffee fan.  Only even sipped it a few times since the smell is usually enough to give me a sour stomach.  When I had a cubical next to the coffee machine for a few years I used to hate going to work – I’d pop Tums before going in just to offset the way I’d react to the smell that would permeate my work space.   Tea I love, hot or cold – green or black and everything in between.  But Coffee while intriguing to me was just never something I could get into.  I liked coffee ice cream and other coffee flavored things…but the beverage itself just didn’t appeal to me.  But lately I keep getting pulled to it.  I keep coming across info on how to roast your own green beans and with the sheer number of variables that the home roaster/grinder/brewer can now control in a cup of coffee I figured maybe there’s a way to find a cup I can enjoy.

Well, tonight I gave in.  I picked up a cheap french press and grinder – and Amy and I picked out a medium roast fairly mild breakfast blend.  I gave the beans a fairly fine grind and went with the water right from our instant hot water dispenser (right about 200 degrees F) I only gave it about a 2 minute brew due to the fine grind and both of us wanting to keep it mild.  The results I must say have me thinking I just may be able to enjoy this stuff after all.  Amy still isn’t big on it even after cream and sugar were added in large amounts – but I find myself wishing I had given it an extra minute or two in the press as the flavor is quite enjoyable but perhaps just a little thin.  For a first attempt though I’m quite happy and am looking forward to more experimentation in the future.  Maybe I will convert our old hot air popper into a roaster and order up some green beans to really try and hone in on a perfect cup.  It appeals to my lust for gadgets, cravings for caffeine, and love of experimentation.

So that’s quick update on the latest culinary experiments going on around here.  I have photos of some of the breads and will try to get them up sometime.  But for now I need to get a few big projects done so I can get the tax man off my back and still afford to put food on the table next month!

Besides my first mug of coffee is now empty so my excuse for an update is gone and windows full of code are calling me back for a few final hours of work while Amy prepares a tasty Pad Thai for us inside.  Hope the smell wafts back here to my office soon!

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  1. I miss your cooking. You helped me with bread since you were 18 months. Somewhere we have slides of a pregnant with Sarah me with a most helpful Jason the toddler. That was the day dad surprised me with the KitchenAid mixer that I still use. Gosh they are built! I once dropped a small glass in mine and it ground it up. I sent it to Hobart in Troy Oh to be fixed and got it back-it’s still working!

  2. I love our KitchenAid. I really need to send it in but can’t bear to be without it. Ever since I made the triple size batch of pizza dough (enough for 6 pizzas) it hasn’t been the same. I was within the guidelines for how much flour it can kneed…but just barely…and with a stiff dough.

    Mine has never sounded quite right to me though…a little “dryer” sounding than I remember yours. And it seems sluggish. I chalked it up to design changes over the years but now I wonder if maybe mine wasn’t properly lubricated or had some other defect. Then again 6 pizzas is a lot of stiff dough and I’ve made a LOT of stuff in there since you got it for us!

    I should send it in. But unless it stops working entirely I suspect Amy will have to pack it off when I’m not looking for that to happen anytime soon.

    I still need to send dad that Audio gear. I have it sitting here but just can’t find a box that’s not way too big or just barely too small.

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