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Archive for the ‘Taste Buds’ Category

alpenhaus

I’m republishing this because the Super Bowl is just around the corner, it’s winter, fondue is available and we seem to be going through a 70’s resurgence.  I have even seen fondue pots in Walmart.  Go to Pinterest and type in “fondue”, recipes abound.

 

I know very few people who own a fondue pot, and those that do have never put it to proper use,  Oh, they’ve used it once or twice to keep cocktail weenies warm at a church buffet, or maybe meatballs in grape jelly on a buffet, but never to sit around with friends, dipping crusty bread into gooey, slightly winey, luscious, warm, melted cheese.

I have four electric fondue pots.  I thoroughly recommend an electric fondue pot over the candle or sterno variety. They provide much better temperature control and can expand the fondue experience to vegetables and meats and of course dessert. Although homemade is almost always better, at this time of the year, packaged cheese fondues are available in the specialty cheese sections of most supermarkets. They are actually very good.  The packages store easily and many brands don’t require refrigeration.   Alpenhaus and Swiss Knight are two of my favorites.

Fondue does not need to be reserved for parties. Fonduing (sic) is a great way to engage your family and friends.  It requires little more than active participation and a loaf of crusty bread, though I do like to turn my crusty bread into toasty garlic bread cubes and toss a fresh green salad to complete the meal. My kids grew up with fondue (children of the 70’s) and a childhood friend of my now 40+ yr old daughter recently spoke to me of her fond memory of her first ever fondue at my home. Fondue can be the basis of a very romantic dinner for two also. Remember, it’s said if you lose a cube of bread in the cheese, you must kiss the person sitting next to you;)

And of course, there is homemade. Even better. A very good one from Emeril

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for almost fifty yearstable1
the table has held testament
to the celebrations of family
and the love within

the table’s small stature
is disguised as a buffet
and belies it’s enormous heart
much like it’s original owner

mother bought the table
when she downsized to her little home
afraid there may be times that
her little kitchen wouldn’t hold us all

daughters and spouses and grandchildren
one by one
friends and family all welcome
to share the occasions of life

and service the table has given
Christmas’ and Easters
weddings and baby showers
birthdays and funerals

The table throws wide its secrets
to seat twelve
an amazing little piece
of furniture

and as another Thanksgiving
draws to a close
I applaud the little table
and give thanks

for another great Thanksgiving
and the 3 generations it held
and pray it will hold our
generations to come

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It’s been a while since my last post, which if I remember correctly was written during a down moment, just prior to the tailgaiting, partying, playful Super Bowl came to pass. And if I remember correctly I was feeling down, But not today! Nope, not today.

20130209-220430.jpgIt’s funny how doing things for others, creating love, can bring you up and into the clouds. That’s just where I’ve been, floating into the clouds. If you follow my post at all you may remember my marshmallow dream post. I’m back at it, creating super sweet, fluffy little clouds of sugar for valentine’s day.

I have so much fun making these simple, inexpensive, delicious and abundant treats. I have enough to send away to my two young grand-girls in New Hampshire and still have plenty for my favorite teenage granddaughter here in SC. Then I’ll pass out to some of the neighborhood children. I made a two batches, one of fresh strawberry and a another of coconut.

I even cut doilies out of parchment papers to line my boxes.  I fondly remembered the hours I spent as a little girl making these pretty little  pieces of paper.IMG_0134

Nope, no tears today.  Just lots of little puffs of of luv.

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Charley Brown Christmas Tree

006

My daughter and granddaughter have put up the craftiest, cutest, Christmas tree ever.

CThey gathered twigs from the yard and wired them together to create a Charley Brown tree.

Lots of white lights and a sparse amount of just very special ornaments completed one of the cleverest trees I’ve ever seen.

022

019

Cookies

Yesterday my sisters baked multitudes of the best ever chocolate chip cookies.  She packaged them up into bags of 4 or so each and while they were still warm, I joined them in driving the streets of Myrtle Beach and passing them out to the homeless.

What a rewarding and heartwarming feeling.

God Bless all of you, and very merry and blessed Christmas.

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alpenhaus

I’m republishing this because the Super Bowl is just around the corner, it’s winter, fondue is available and we seem to be going through a 70’s resurgence.  I have even seen fondue pots in Walmart.  Go to Pinterest and type in “fondue”, recipes abound.

 

I know very few people who own a fondue pot, and those that do have never put it to proper use,  Oh, they’ve used it once or twice to keep cocktail weenies warm at a church buffet, or maybe meatballs in grape jelly on a buffet, but never to sit around with friends, dipping crusty bread into gooey, slightly winey, luscious, warm, melted cheese.

I have four electric fondue pots.  I thoroughly recommend an electric fondue pot over the candle or sterno variety. They provide much better temperature control and can expand the fondue experience to vegetables and meats and of course dessert. Although homemade is almost always better, at this time of the year, packaged cheese fondues are available in the specialty cheese sections of most supermarkets. They are actually very good.  The packages store easily and many brands don’t require refrigeration.   Alpenhaus and Swiss Knight are two of my favorites.

Fondue does not need to be reserved for parties. Fonduing (sic) is a great way to engage your family and friends.  It requires little more than active participation and a loaf of crusty bread, though I do like to turn my crusty bread into toasty garlic bread cubes and toss a fresh green salad to complete the meal. My kids grew up with fondue (children of the 70’s) and a childhood friend of my now 40+ yr old daughter recently spoke to me of her fond memory of her first ever fondue at my home. Fondue can be the basis of a very romantic dinner for two also. Remember, it’s said if you lose a cube of bread in the cheese, you must kiss the person sitting next to you;)

And of course, there is homemade. Even better. A very good one from Emeril

Read Full Post »

006I didn’t need any more. I have my gift baskets all ready for their bows. I really didn’t need anymore biscotti. But, like so many others, I needed something to redirect my thoughts from the insanity in Connecticut. Creativity can do that, whether it’s in the bright green hat I’m trying to knit with the stitches I must relearn, helping my Granddaughter build a styrofoam submarine for her school project, or bake another 96 biscotti. I kept very busy.

Orange Pomegranate Biscotti

2 Cup AP flour
1 Cup Sugar
2 Tbl Grated Orange Zest
1 teas or more Orange Extract
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
3 room temperature lg eggs
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries/Pomegranate flavored
1/2 Cup Walnuts
1 Tbl Blood Orange Olive Oil (any good grade olive oil can be substituted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet, spray lightly with cooking spray.
Place dry ingredients in mixer bowl and mix on low speed. I used freshly grated orange peel that I dried last summer so the flavor was very rich. You may need to adjust the amount of orange extract based on the flavor imparted by your orange zest. Stir nuts and fruit into dry ingredients. In a separate bowl set over very hot water, beat eggs and oil until thick and fluffy. Slowly fold egg mixture into flour mixture until well incorporated. Dump onto readied baking sheet and with wet hands form into a long loaf, about 12 in long, 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 325. Remove loaf from pan and cool for 15 minutes. Carefully slice loaf into 3/4 inch pieces. Place on ungreased cookie sheed and bake another 10 minutes, turn and bake 10 minutes longer until lightly golden and crisp on each side.

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I swear, I can’t seem to do anything in moderation! What started out to be a gifty (is that a word?) thought for my Gluten-free granddaughters, has grown into marshmallow dreams. I had planned on getting my home ready for Christmas decorating this weekend with festive greenery and glitter and colored lights. Marshmallows, a snow-scene complete with drifts was not quite what I had in mind. But everyone, this is so much fun. It reminds me of playing in the snow as a little girl ohhhh so many years ago. My kitchen is white from one end to the other with powdered sugar and cornstarch. With trepidation I approached my first batch. Dealing with candy thermometers and blistering hot sugar was daunting. It was not nearly as difficult as it seemed and such fun watching that hot sugar syrup being beaten in billowing drifts. The visions of sugar plums set my head jitterbugging. Can I make a life out of this, I’m asking myself. I mean, I love marshmallows but there are just so many cups of cocoa to garnish. Just so many s-mores and sweet-potato casseroles, what will I do with these hundreds of gooey, ethereal, lighter-than-air puffs?
shall I become a puffy, fluffy grandma or..Gifts of course, gift baskets of this summer’s jelly, biscotti and homemade marshmallows.
005
My first batch was peppermint, I snitched the recipe out of Southern Living magazine. They are wonderful One warning though, if they will not be served within a day or two, fore-go the crushed candy cane and maybe just swirl some red paste food coloring through the mix in the pan with a toothpick. The candy softened quite a bit after storing, but still givable and delicious.

Batch two was chocolate, nice heavy dark chocolate flavor. No complaints. Perfect for a cup of hot chocolate.020

Now batch three was interesting. I decided to make Dulce de Leche marshmallows, following my basic recipe from Southern Living and working in some Dulce de Leche I made (used loosely) by simmering a can of condensed milk for several hours.
Directions coming. I let it cool while I prepared my simple vanilla marshmallows. When the marshmallows had fluffed up their stuff, I whipped 5 egg whites to soft peaks and folded in half the can of cooled Dulce de Leche.026
I swirled the remainder into my marshmallow mixture. That step was NOT a good idea. The caramel cream sank to the bottom of my pan. 025All was not lost, when I cut the marshmallows, I trimmed the bottom gooey caramel off and put it in a bowl for dessert. Yummy! 030037That left the marshmallows intact. These were luscious flavored but they stay very moist and weepy. Best to serve immediately or the whole doggone pan make for a terrific, rich dessert.

Basic Marshmallows

Spray shortening
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 envelopes plain gelatin
1 cup water, divided
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
flavoring (1 tsp vanilla, or peppermint, or lemon, etc)
1 egg white beaten until stiff peaks form
pinch salt

Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with Pam, line with parchment and spray again. Mix 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Sift half of the cornstarch/sugar mixture into prepared dish, coating well. In mixer bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup sugar. In a deep flat-bottomed pan, stir together granulated sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water. Turn heat up to medium-high and insert candy thermometer. Cook without stirring until temperature is 240 degrees. Remove from heat. Beat gelatin mixture briefly, add salt. Slowly pour hot sugar mixture into mixing bowl, drizzling down the side of the bowl (I don’t know why, but the recipe said to do this way). Beat at high-speed about 10-12 minutes or until mixture is tripled in volume and is fluffy and white. Mix in flavoring. Fold egg white into beaten sugar mixture. Turn mixture into prepared pan, sift remaining cornstarch/sugar over top. Set in a cool place uncovered for 4 hours or more. To cut, turn onto board that has been sprinkled with more cornstarch and or powdered sugar. I cut mine with a long serrated bread knife, pressing down in a straight cut rather than sawing at it and had no problems with sticking. Some recipes say to coat the knife with Pam or cornstarch or even hot water, but I didn’t need to. Toss cubes in a bit more powdered sugar to coat all sides.

Dulce de Leche

1 can condensed milk (not evaporated)

Place UNOPENED can in pan, cover with water. Bring water to a boil, turn down heat and simmer can for at least 2 hours. Allow can to cool before trying to open, as it can explode when very hot. This makes a terrific sauce poured over ice cream.

Chocolate Variation
When mixing powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture, add 2 Tbl unsweetened cocoa. This will coat your chocolate marshmallows with brown instead of white.
Mix 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa with water until it forms a thick paste. When sugar has been beaten until almost tripled, drop cocoa mixture into sugar by the teaspoon, beating well after each addition.

Other variations are endless. Coming up at my house will be cinnamon, hazelnut, cherry, and lavender. If there is an extract for it, I’ll try it. I wonder how Bailey’s would work, huh? Maybe I can make a life out of this.

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