Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Throwing Mother Nature under the bus...

Read this article, laughed and had to share... They're building a giant snow-santa in China.

My take away: That it's OK to throw Mother Nature under the (diesel) bus now that we're in an economic downturn.

The Reuters reporter sites that the effects of global warming are taking their toll, making the build process more hazardous, and admits that snow had to be artificially made (gasoline powered snow-making machines I'm sure).

He then wraps up the story by siting a tourist who says it's all worth it to "stimulate the economy and consumption".


If you're on the man-made-Global Warming, hydrogen-powered wagon, aren't consumerism and fuel consumption claimed to be the primary causes?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? No - Be patriotic! Buy, Spend, Use!

Catch-22. I give up.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

But what to call them...?

I created a new cookie last night... and am now at a loss for what to call them. I think cookie names should be descriptive and fun. It should give people an idea what they're about to bite into; but the name itself shouldn't be a mouthful.

Help me out if you would (and make a batch to enjoy for yourself too).

Yummy chewy, oatmeal, cranberry, orange-y with chocolate chips, cookie yet-to-be-named...

1 1/4 cups oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

8 tbsp (1 cube) butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup orange flavored dried cranberries
(sub.: 1 t orange zest and increase regular dried cranberries to 1 cup)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Add oats, cranberries and chocolate chips, toss to coat.

In a large bowl or food processor, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract (and orange zest if using).

Add to dry ingredients and stir until blended. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons on to cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 24 cookies.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Marshmallows

Powdered candy canes add extra zip to these melt-in-your-mouth mallows!

If you don't own a stand mixer, borrow one... You'll be happier making this recipe if you do!

Servings: 90 mallows (approx)

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot tap water
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 envelopes (or 2 T plus 2 1/2 t) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

2 large egg whites*
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
*if egg safety is a problem in your area, substitute powdered egg whites reconstituted according to manufacturer's instructions

Sift together:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup corn starch
3-4 candy canes, powdered in blender.

Oil bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 x 2 rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with confectioners' sugar blend. You can also line with parchment paper, dusting bottom only.

Preparation:First, in a large bowl, or in bowl of a standing electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand to soften. (add an extra tsp of water if necessary to wet all gelatin)

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt over low heat, stir to combine then increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, 10-12 minutes.

As sugar mixture comes close to temperature: In a medium bowl, beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they hold stiff peaks.

Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Removing any un-dissolved bits before whipping.

Beat sugar and gelatin mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 5 minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. Be careful this taffy-like mixture doesn’t take over your hand mixer!

Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and sift 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar blend evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert onto a large cutting board. Lifting up 1 corner of inverted pan loosen marshmallow with fingers and let drop onto cutting board. With a pizza cutter (or large knife) trim edges and cut marshmallow into generous 1-inch cubes. Sift remaining confectioners' sugar blend in large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat.

Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1-2 weeks.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Brother, the Chef

This is my brother Charles. He is a chef. It took him a while to find his passion, but it certainly is that! He's so happy... happier than I've ever seen him in his life. He's working hard and doing well for himself.

Everyone at the restaurant where he works wanted to come meet his family - so you know they like him, that they wanted to see where he came from. (well, that or they think he's crazy and wanted to see the loons he grew up with... but I'm gonna stick with the story that they like him)
The food at The Wilshire was amazing. I could go broke eating there and be happy doing it. I've never had such AMAZING food. Now I understand why people make lives in the culinary arts. There is a whole world of food out there I never even knew existed! And my little brother is a part of the club! How cool is that?!
And then he made the gravy for Thanksgiving. I think our friend Marilyn said it quite appropriately "I just want to pour it all over my fingers [so that I can lick them clean]". It was truly awesome. And then he made pot d'creme... let your tastebuds imagine with me: the best hot chocolate you've ever tasted, rich, smooth, creamy, not so sweet that it overwhelms you but just right - turn that into the tastiest chocolate pudding you've ever had and you're close to what Charles made. And he just whipped it up! :) He's so comfortable in his skin. I'm so very happy for him. (and sad that we don't live closer to enjoy his culinary musings more often!)

Hooray for Charles. For coming and spending time with us, for sharing the passion that is food, and for being my happy, sweet brother again. It's so good to see you doing so well!!! I love you kiddo. Even if I do have to look up to you nowadays! :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Family Thanksgiving

This is my family!
Richard, Charles, Ben, Papa
Stan & Alex, Me, Mama

This is an outtake of my family:

I don't even remember what Alex did but Richard's girlfriend, Debi, was snapping the photos and doing her best to be a loon and get Alex's attention for a good picture!

It's the first complete Yoder family photo since Alex was born! He'll be 3 in January... you'd think we were all cameraphobes. Isn't it a great looking picture though!? I'm so happy we all got together - and that we have proof!

*and if my brothers are listening... I'm calling dibs on Raindrops! :)