Screw You “Handcrafted” Marshmallow

This is the time of year when I 1a1c7fece33977b0f9d70a02bd4a0737usually have to take a break from social media. And no it’s not the gratitude posts causing me to flee the Internet. I usually find those go one of two ways. They’re either heartfelt or a not so humble brag wrapped around a Bible verse.

What’s making me retreat from my digital life is the Thanksgiving themed cooking tips. I was actually feeling like I was letting my family down by not handcrafting marshmallows or cooking a pie where I butchered my own pumpkin. Yeah, that’s right I said butchered and I know what I’m talking about because I shamelessly caved and let myself be the victim of kitchen peer pressure.

Embolden by the experience of watching on-line cooking videos that made it on my Facebook newsfeed I, with gusto, grabbed a handful of dish towels and attempted to embrace a 100% homemade Thanksgiving. Well, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. It’s more accurate to say I decided to try a few new recipes. This resulted in me (in no particular order) crying, my oven catching on fire and gooey candy sugar doing, at best guess, at least $200 in damages to assorted pots and pans.

It all started with the oh so innocent sugar pumpkin. It’s a cute, little thing that sugar pumpkin. Who knew that cooking it would it would release a demon spirit that would not only slime my kitchen, but make the oven spontaneously combust.

Now, in case you’re wondering why I was cooking for Thanksgiving a week before the big day my answer is simple. It’s because I’m not an amateur. Anyone with a few deep-fried turkeys under their Williams Sonoma holiday botanical print apron knows you don’t try out new recipes the day before or (are you crazy?) Thanksgiving morning. No, you do any experimentation ahead of time.

This explains why I was slaughtering a pumpkin in my kitchen several days ago. The hint that things were going to go terribly, terribly, wrong was when the first line item in the recipe was an ice pick. In fact, thinking back the whole recipe sounded like an inventory for a dungeon. There was the pick, the serrated knife, the cleaver. Was I cooking a pumpkin or time traveling to the 8th century to be part of a murderous Viking rampage?7f62068a-bc33-4619-9233-e9e435bbe49e

The ice pick was used to pierce holes in the pumpkin before it went into the microwave to “soften.” When I took it out after 10 minutes it looked like a before picture for Proactive. All the holes I had poked in the pumpkin were oozing white stuff like plump zits that had just exploded. If that wasn’t bad enough I then had to cleave the thing in half and scoop out it’s guts.

Yes, I know everyone does the scoopy thing when they carve their Halloween jack-o-lantern, but you don’t do it to a hot gourd oozing pumpkin pus. After I had gutted the pumpkin it went into my oven for 30 minutes to continue “softening.”  The softening ritual was cut short when the stem of the pumpkin (Yeah, I left the stem on. So? The recipe didn’t mentioning any de-stemming.) caught fire. This wasn’t just a petite, ladylike blaze easily put out with a delicate sprinkling of baking soda. Oh no, this was an inferno that engulfed the entire oven. The good news I finally got to use the fire extinguisher my husband had purchased five years ago.

Still shaky from almost burning my house down I summoned my inner Martha Stewart and continued cooking. Next up was Martha’s marshmallows that required, thank God, zero oven time.

I would now like to go on the record and say homemade marshmallows are the wb4423781-271c-4e65-9ff4-523433e104a9orst idea ever. The recipe looks easy enough. Loads of sugar, Karo syrup and a gelatin pack or two and you’re good to go. The one thing Martha doesn’t tell you is that the combination of those ingredients might create marshmallows, but it also produces a space age polymer with a bonding quality so advanced it could cement the cracks in the earth’s inner core.

I couldn’t get this goo off of me, my pots and pans, and (sniff, sniff ) my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer. I was like Edward Marshmallow Hand.  I literally was unable to even let my dog in the house because my fingers were stuck together prohibiting me from opening the sliding glass door. Finally after using fingernail polish remover I got my hands clean and then began the harrowing and futile attempt to wash, chisel and otherwise rid my kitchen of sticky marshmallow muck.

Today, I’m still picking marshmallow out of my hair. So please, I beg of you, heed this cautionary tale and realize that somethings, like pumpkin, are best out of a can and that mass-produced marshmallows should be hailed as one of the great culinary feats of the last century.

You know what’s yummy and kitchen disaster free? My Snarky book series. If you haven’t experienced a Snarky book yet may cover_1-3-21I gently suggest you give it a try like right now. Yes, my friend just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

 

Summer Bites

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What is it with summer that brings out all the culinary kill joys?  The elitism associated with summer food is ridiculous. I love a good Farmers Market and heirloom tomato right along with everyone else. But, I’m exhausted by all the sound and fury that now goes into preparing dinner. Grocery shopping or dining out shouldn’t make you feel like an idiot.  People have asked me this summer if I’m a localvoire or if I’m embracing the slow foods movement.  Localvoire just sounds scary.  Like you’re a member of Hannibal Lecter’s supper club and I thought slow foods meant using the crock-pot.   The pretentiousness has even invaded that scared backyard experience known as grilling.  Pimping out your grill, I think, reached an apex this summer with introduction of the $35,000 Talos outdoor cooking suite.  I could remodel my entire kitchen for $35,000 and besides grilling is a pretty fundamental experience.  Put raw meat on top of fire.  Fire cooks meat. Eat meat.  Now, grills look like stainless steel edifices with searing stations and enough BTU’s to launch the Space Shuttle.  (Dare I say, the bigger the grill the smaller the you know.) Then there’s the grilling pizza stone, slider burger press, jalapeno pepper roaster, meatball grill basket (Really, meatballs on the grill?) and all those fancy rubs and “finishing” salts.  You know the cooking contest I want to see?  My father with his Weber charcoal grill, lean ground beef and pepper grinder versus a Cookout Czar with his massive grill and assorted accessories.  Winner – my dad.

Cupcakes: I’m also sick of the on going, I thought it would be over by now, cupcake craze. Let’s be honest about what a cupcake really is – a sneaky form of portion control. While you can cut yourself a gianormous piece of cake and call it one slice no such luck with a cupcake.  I figure to equal my one “self cut” or “custom” slice of cake I would have to eat at, the very least, a half-dozen cupcakes.  Hmm, what statement sounds like you are less in need of lap band surgery –  I enjoyed one slice of cake or I just inhaled six cupcakes?    In my neighborhood three cupcake bakeries have opened with a single chocolate cupcake going for almost $3.00.  That’s crazy. I can buy a box of Duncan Hines for 88 cents that makes two dozen cupcakes and I can lick the bowl. Advantage – Mr. Hines. Last night I found myself watching Cupcake Wars on the Food Network featuring salmon cupcake. Yeah, you read that right, fish cupcakes.  Aren’t fish cupcakes a direct violation of the bakery code of conduct?  I believe it’s item 419, sub section 3:  “Thou shalt not add meat, poultry or fish to a baked good that requires frosting.”

Cake Dudes:  The Cake Boss and all other cake guru’s are also starting to bother me.  First, those cakes “iced” with fondant are not exactly a taste sensation.  Buttercream, as any chunky girls knows, is the only frosting that really matters.  Fondant is made from sugar and gelatin.  Once again, people – it’s not frosting if it doesn’t contain butter. Plus, it seems like the cakes are baked way too far in advanced and then hermetically sealed with fondant?   We’re not talking just baked freshness here.  Also, have you noticed that they put the cakes in their vans without any kind of saran wrap or anything.  Think of the carpet fibers, insects, spewing saliva, and sneezes that must float around and land on the cakes.  One time, Duff, the Ace of Cakes guy, drove from Baltimore to the West coast with a wedding cake in the back of his van, totally, uncovered. Ick.  By the time it got there it probably had a whole assortment of gas station and roadside rest stop smells embedded in the fondant.  Tasty – maybe not.  Aromatic for all the wrong reasons – definitely.

 

McDonalds: Everyone needs to back off and leave McDonalds alone. Lawsuits aimed at McDonalds because we are a nation of fatties is just so wrong.  No one is forcing us to shove those yummy, greasy, salty french fries into our mouths.  It’s called free will and our free will wants to repeatedly experience frygasam.  I have a long, intense and complicated love affair with McDonalds. This summer it really heated up when I began emotional cheating on my husband.  My affections and down right lust have been directed at the Reece Peanut Butter Cup snack size McFlurry.  It’s like I’ve fallen in love all over again. Remember when you first fell in love?  The unfettered happiness. The giddy feeling you would get when you saw each other.  The excruciating loneliness of being apart.  That’s how I feel about my snack size McFlurry.  It’s a cold, crunchy, kind of love wrapped up in smooth creamy goodness.  We have clandestine meetings, usually at night, in the McDonalds parking lot.  I make up some lame excuse about needing something at the store, eagerly drive to Micky D’s, my heart rate climbing as I get closer to my beloved. I order my snack size McFlurry in a kind of sexy rasp, then drive to a secluded area where no one can see me making out with that one-of-a-kind spoon.  Sure, I feel bad and ashamed afterwards.  Sure, I tell myself, as I’m wiping off peanut butter cup residue off my face, that it will never happen again.  But, the emotional pull is just too great.  I’m afraid I have found my soul-mate and its name is McFlurry.

**For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new Spring/Summer  Snarky line of clothing and accessories. Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.) Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.