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Food for Foolish Times

April Fool’s Day is coming up this week, and so I thought I would use that as inspiration to be a bit goofy. It could be cabin fever – the delayed arrival of spring has made me a bit stir-crazy. I don’t know about you, but I just feel that a little bit of whimsy is the best way to weather the storm.

Hopefully you will forgive the lack of nutritional value in this week’s recipes and take pleasure in knowing this topic give you water cooler fodder for the week to come!

Did you know that a real seasonal spring food is Peeps? They are a traditional sweet made by a company called Just Born, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; they come most commonly in the form of baby chicks. If you have never seen or heard of Peeps, check the Easter section of the larger grocery stores. If you’d like to see how Peeps are made, you can check out this factory video:

Peeps have a very loyal following, with some people taking their appreciation to quite imaginative heights! There are even such Peep pastimes as Peep Jousts (arm your Peep with a toothpick under his wing for a lance, then put him in the microwave with another combatant and after placing your wagers on the winner, push the ON button. The winner is the one that expands enough to engulf his unwitting enemy.) I could have posted a video on this, but I prefer that you imagine the fun…

There is Peep art – patterns of the charming little fellows glued on canvas that sell for hundreds of dollars. (Peeps do come in an array of colours, allowing for numerous permutations in design, so it’s not as silly as you might think.)

 

Simple indulgence in Peeps is ample goofiness, and you needn’t feel guilty eating them. They are only 32 calories each, and there are 350 million of them made each year, so they are certainly not endangered.

I suppose if you prefer natural foods, you could just stick to regular marshmallows. Did you know they have been around for 200 years and that originally the root of the marshmallow plant was what made them sticky and gooey? This plant was also used to soothe sore throats. I don’t know if you could attest to a marshmallow doing that but it arguably does make you feel better when you eat one.

Whether you like them pre-stuck to Rice Krispies in a square or roasted over an open flame will not diminish the smile that seems to get stuck on your face after eating them.

I have a few final notes for you if you choose to let whimsy strike and indulge in the spongy confection…

  1. Beware anyone brandishing a roasted marshmallow – flaming and sticky is not a very safe combination in the air.
  2. If you do get melted (or manhandled) marshmallow stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be, remember to remove it as soon as possible or it will become like Super Glue.
  3. The best remedy for unsticking marshmallow bits seems to be licking them off, so try to aim for something or someone you like. (If you use peanut butter, be sure to ask about nut allergies first.)

If you like your marshmallow inside something else, here’s a recipe that includes the other seasonal sweet – chocolate.

Chocolate-Marshmallow Brownies

3/4 cup Callebaut chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups white sugar
5 large eggs

Zest of 1 full orange, grated on a “microplane” (fine grater)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups small Callebaut chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips)
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Heat chocolate and butter in a pan slowly while stirring, until melted. Stir in sugar until melted and well blended. Cool the mixture 10 to 15 minutes.

Add eggs, orange zest and vanilla and stir until blended. Add flour, salt, and mix again. Add chocolate chunks and marshmallows, and pour into your pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until brownies spring back when touched in the centre of the pan. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut and serve at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar if you want to dress them up.

Happy April Fools’ Day 🙂 And if you’re saving yourself, Happy Easter!

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Learning S’more about ourselves

personality type cartoon Happy Gourmand

We like to put things, and people into categories. It seems we can be defined by just about any preference or value and food is no different. Are you a vegetarian, or into the Paleo diet? Maybe you eat gluten or wheat-free. But I’ll bet you never sat down and thought about what kind of marshmallow personality you have…

Summer arrives officially next week and with it comes the bonfires on camping holidays and on the beach as twilight fades and everyone settles in for the night. It’s a season for a bit of indulgence, and so it’s only fair that eating salad and fresh fish is then offset with a few s’mores around said campfire, don’t you think?

smores supplies

For the few deprived people out there who might actually not know what a s’more is, it’s the combination of a roasted marshmallow and chocolate in between two graham wafers, usually considered a campfire snack (i.e making them in the microwave doesn’t really count) They are so named because they taste like “s(ome) more” (imagine saying it with a mouthful of marshmallow, kind of like the “fluffy bunny” game).   Girl Guide campfireFull disclosure: As a Girl Guide leader for many years I have to tell you I consider myself a s’more specialist, but I am here to tell you there is plenty of room outside the box!  Here is what I can tell you about s’more habits and what they have taught me about people:

Do you like to burn your marshmallow? – You’re the impatient type, aren’t you?

Do you roast your marshmallow slowly to a perfect golden brown? – You have high standards.

Do you like to roast the end of the marshmallow, figuring out the angle needed so it won’t slide off the stick but will get toasty? – You will do well in physics 🙂

Do you have a special roasting stick you use, with extra features like telescoping or rotating knobs? – You might want to watch that obsessive tendency to make everything a project.

Is there a burning desire in you to parade around the campfire with your marshmallow ablaze, waving it to put the fire out? – You should be careful, you could traumatize someone for life if that marshmallow ends up in their hair (cousins can be especially known for this flamboyant habit, I have discovered)Flaming marshmallow

Do you like to stuff your chocolate into your toasted marshmallow so it melts more? – You will be a foodie when you grow up.

Do you prefer to use chocolate covered graham wafers instead of chocolate because you hate waiting for the chocolate to melt? – You burned your marshmallow, didn’t you??

Did you bring additional fillings for your s’more, like cherry pie filling or peanut butter, or change from the traditional graham wafer? – You will lead a life full of adventures.

In the Okanagan summer, it can be challenging to have a campfire once things heat up. But right now we have had some rain and you should be just fine to load up your s’more ingredients with the rest of the camping tackle. When it does get hot, you can try what we used to do at Brownies with the young girls and make mini s’mores over a tealight, using mini marshmallows roasted on a skewer and combined with chocolate chips and teddy grahams. (I know, too cute, right?) Regardless of the crazy habits of your bonfire buddies, you can revel in the sheer joy of summer indulgence. After all, a s’more is not an everyday normal sort of thing.

normal cycle

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