Gingerbread mischief

December 10, 2011 at 17:54 | Posted in Desserts, Experiments, Tried and True | Leave a comment
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This is Rapunzel's Tower!

Hansel and Gretel caused a cranky old woman to come to a bad end by enjoying a life-size gingerbread house. Despite the bad precedents, gingerbread houses are a traditional holiday food craft enjoyed by many modern Americans.

This is my favorite. It appears to be from Alice in Wonderland.

The smell of spices is an olfactory hit of holiday nostalgia, taking many of us back to childhood and rolling out gingerbread dough, using Lifesaver candy as windows, and an abundance of frosting to hold the thing together.

Every December the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner hosts a Gingerbread House Contest. The community embraces the opportunity to display their creativity with candy, frosting, baked goods, and an abundance of patience. Thematically most embrace the holidays, though some are simply exercises in imagination.

A delicious Mt. St. Helens.

I love judging. I have been known to look down my nose at things like gingerbread house kits, but they are a good idea for the family that isn’t comfortable in the kitchen, but wants to participate in a tradition.

This is a storybook castle. Regular. Run of the mill awesome.

Why didn’t I enter the competition with an Occupy North Pole offering?

Maybe next year.

Solving the sausage gravy secret

November 5, 2011 at 15:38 | Posted in Experiments, Main dishes | 3 Comments
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A biscuit cutter is one of the most useless kitchen gadgets ever. I just use a glass.

I grew up in South Carolina. We didn’t get much, if any, snow there. Black ice sure, but not snow. Since I’ve been here in the interior of Alaska, land of snow, I’ve been learning that the comfort foods for a snowy day are always warm, usually edible with a spoon and often cream or milk based. Sausage gravy fits all these categories so I affectionately deem it: comfort food. I’ve been working on trying to make sausage gravy for awhile.

Biscuit dough is not sticky like yeast roll dough. See how there's none stuck to the bowl? Damn right.

I know what you’re thinking–Gravy is so simple! How is she screwing this up? (In my defense I want to point out that screwing up is much easier than getting it right. It’s also how you learn! Especially in cooking. Everything isn’t always spelled out in the recipe.) I feel like it’s always simplest things that can go the most wrong.

The biscuits turned out pretty. I like when they look sort of spotty like this.

I screwed this up all last winter, much to the chagrin of my husband. I sent him an email today about the damn gravy because, finally, I figured it out. WINNING! It seems that the key to it all was putting the flour directly onto the meat, stirring it up and then adding the milk. Finding a recipe (which is linked above) that explained it to me in a way I understood was great. Thank you corporate America. This is a revelation to me. Sort of like when I figured out the Quaker Oats man was a Quaker and not a pilgrim. What a day that was.

Yum sausage gravy. I don't know how some places make it off white. Maybe they use more milk. Another mystery.

I made the biscuits from scratch. Biscuits really are so easy that even I haven’t been able to really mess them up. I thought about just buying some canned ones, but I gave in. I used Paula Deen’s recipe from the Food Network. I did not use her 1/2 cup of butter she called for though. I used butter flavored Crisco. Crisco makes better biscuits. This is my belief.

Biscuits and gravy are one of my favorite foods. I’m pleased I can finally make them at home. With this entry I’ve earned a trip to the gym. Hello elliptical.

Get in the kitchen and make me a…

October 29, 2011 at 21:35 | Posted in Desserts, Experiments | 1 Comment
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PIE! SANDWICH!

i should be i the kitchen!

Should I?

I don’t need a watch… there’s a clock on the stove!

In other news I made an egg custard pie. I’ve never used that recipe before. I took a ton of photos so I’ll make a snappy little movie to illustrate the endeavor and whether or not it turned out well. My dear husband Joshua does NOT like this pie, but I do. It makes me think of my Grandma because she and I used to go share a slice at the local cafeteria when I was small.

I’ve been a little off my game lately (throwing out a LOT of food) and I aim to fix that with this pie. I hope. I even followed the recipe! I’ll have that movie up on Monday.

It was kismet

September 9, 2011 at 12:12 | Posted in Desserts, Experiments, Pies | 4 Comments
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Lemon curd is amazing. It is, by and far, my favorite curd.

It’s tart. It’s yellow. It’s curd-tastic.

This particular batch of lemon curd came to be last weekend. Using this recipe, I preconceived what I would bless with this lemon curd, but as many concepts go, it didn’t work out. I was trying to make lemon financiers. That experiment didn’t turn out so well (failure) and I had a lot of lemon curd leftover.

Artsy filter shot of the final product: 24 bite sized lemon meringue pies. Born on 9/8/11.

For the duration of its life, lemon curd patiently lived in my refrigerator, awaiting a time when it could follow its fortune as a filling.

That day was today.

It may have been happenstance that my tryst with financiers had failed, but a rendezvous with lemon curd was meant to be, as the filling for a lemon meringue pie. I was setting up in the kitchen when it came to me! To do something different, I decided to use the mini-muffin pan and mini-cupcake papers to bake many bite sized pies. Oooooo. Fancy.

I pressed the crust, dolloped the lemon curd to its destiny and scaled the stiff peaks of meringue.

There may have been some kind of providence associated with this pint of lemon curd. That any destination this particular batch arrived, was to have a disastrous end. The meringues fell. I’m not sure if this was because I didn’t let the pies cool long enough before putting them in the refrigerator or if I didn’t let the meringues cook long enough. Either way, they are perfectly preserved in pictures.

Fortunately for me look doesn’t always equal taste. Despite the deflation of the meringue, in my opinion, the pies are still del.icio.us.

All for what? For tasty little snacks.

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