Maple Marshmallows

This Valentines Day we did a cheese fondue, and for desert we of course did chocolate. To go in the delicious molten goodness we cut up some fruit, and Melissa made these marshmallows. They are sweetened with maple syrup, and upon entering your mouth, you suddenly realize how stale every marshmallow you have ever eaten really is. This revelation was similar to that of making crackers for the first time.

Maple Marshmallows

I know! How stale are store bought marshmallows? These things took all of 30 minutes to make and melted in your mouth like a puffy cloud of mapley-goodness. They only have 6 ingredients: Gelatin, maple syrup, water, cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla extract. I will admit I totally forgot to put in the vanilla. I don’t think anybody noticed though. Also looking back I really should have buttered the pan better. I thinly coated it and i’m thinking now it should have been like a thick globby coat, because they did stick to the pan a bit when I turned them out on my cutting board. So without further ado here is the recipe for maple marshmallows:

Maple Syrup Marshmallows
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Ingredients
  1. 3 tbsp gelatin
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 2 cups real maple syrup
  4. 1/4 tsp cream of tarter (optional, but helps consistency)
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Combine the gelatin with the water and set aside.
  2. Heat the maple syrup (and cream of tarter) to 250°. If you do not have a candy thermometer you can try the water teset this by dropping the syrup into ice water if it hardens completely its ready.
  3. Watch your syrup vigilantly! Syrup has a tendency to boil over so don’t leave the pan alone even for a second or you will be sorry later! Cleaning up hardened syrup off your stovetop is probably the worst to have to clean up. I’ll have to show you pictures of my stove after I make jam, eeeek!
  4. Once it reaches 250° remove from heat and slowly pour the syrup into the bowl with the gelatin. This is where having a stand mixture is awesome because you are supposed to be mixing it while you pour it in. If you have a hand mixer you may have to recruit someone to operate the handmixer for you while you pour. Also, be careful as the syrup is really hot! And sugar burns hurt!
  5. Use a whisk attachment on your mixer and start whipping. Add in the salt and vanilla and continue to whip until light and fluffy. After 5 – 10 minutes it will stop expanding and its done. Resist the temptation to put your finger in it, I know its hard, but its still hot.
  6. Pour into a buttered 9 x 13 pan, and remember really butter the crap out of it! Also you can use coconut oil if you want. I did and it worked about the same although I realize now you probably have to use more of the coconut oil then the butter when coating the pan. Let them set until they are completely cool, or a couple hours. Unless you are making marshmallow fluff and then obviously you can use it as soon as it doesn’t burn the crap out of your mouth.
  7. After they have cooled turn them out onto a well dusted cutting board. I used tapioca starch, but I think just about any type of starch would work fine. Dust the knife or cookie cutters like and start cutting. Some people use powdered sugar to coat them but I didn’t think my kids needed the extra sugar. I’ve also heard that these do well in cocoa but to be honest they didn’t last long enough for me to try that.
She & Him, Cooking http://cooking.parscal.com/

Smoked Turkey

Most Thanksgivings I deep fry our turkey. But last year my deep fryer died (and nearly ruined the meal) so I thought I would explore other culinary roads this time and got myself an electric smoker. The instant response by our guests was, “It tastes like bacon!”. While not as juicy as deep frying, it was still far less dry than roasting. The smoker is really more of a steamer, so it kept the poultry very moist throughout the long and gentle cooking process – while also bathing it in a generous amount of applewood smoke. I’m looking forward to this being our new tradition.

Smoked Turkey

When Trevor said he wanted to smoke our turkey instead of deep frying it, I was skeptical. The awesome flavor and moistness of a deep fired turkey cannot be replicated in the oven and I was worried that the smoker might be just as bad considering its just another form of dry heat right? Wrong! Our turkey resembled nothing like the smokey turkey jerky I waas imagining. It was moist and I kid you not really did taste like bacon! Hah we’ve beat the system, turkey that tastes like bacon no longer can our family doctor lecture us for the absurd amounts of bacon that we consume. But lets start at the beginning, because this turkey was lucky to ever have made it to our table. Trevor would you like to tell everyone about the turkey freezer fiasco?

Yes, let’s talk about that. First off, this was a specially ordered organic free-range turkey from a local farm where they massage the birds, give them names like “Collin” and let them roam free (slight exaggeration). It was about $50 for a 20 pound bird, and we ordered 2 weeks in advance. When it came in, we quickly picked it up from the local market where we placed the order and brought it home. Now this is a fresh turkey, so it’s never been frozen and we had no intention on doing so either – which meant we were supposed to get it in a brine bag, inside an ice chest, straight away. When I say we, I mean Melissa, but she also means me. So we both left the turkey in it’s box, in the garage, overnight. The next day, while I was at work, she asked me what I did with the turkey. When we realized what we had done, we felt sick to our stomaches. $50 down the drain – poor Collin died for no good reason, and now we were likely to be left with a frozen block of turkey from the kind of farm where the birds have low self esteem and live in squalor. Thankfully for $45 there was one 18 pound bird available at the local market. Disaster averted, but not without a cost.

Yes poor Collin, sigh. Thank goodness the market still had a few birds left so when I called ahead and reserved the second bird I only had to drive there at mach speed to get it in time. When Trevor got back with the bird this time, I took care of everything myself! No more, “sweetheart can you put the bird in the fridge?” garbage. I made my brine and set it up in an ice chest so it could absorb all of the mapley goodness before we cooked it. In the meantime, Trevor and I are still arguing over whether we should buy a new deep fryer or a smoker. I argued in favor of the known and he argued in the favor of something new, typical Melissa and Trevor argument. He won. So he went out and bought himself a smoker telling me what a good deal it was and how yummy the turkey was going to taste all smokey. I just grumbled and rolled my eyes telling him if it sucked he was gonna be eating some turkey jerky sandwiches for a while.

By the night before thanksgiving we were feeling pretty good about ourselves we had got everything ready and our house looked immaculate. We were patting ourselves on the back and relaxing thinking oh we’ll deal with the turkey in the morning it only takes eight hours to smoke right? Oh yes it only takes eight hours to smoke thats true, but the smoker has to be assembled and primed to burn off all of the yucky manufacturing junk before you can smoke anything in it. Of course we got up nice and early to assemble the darn thing and didn’t figure any of this out until afterwards when we were reading the instruction manual. I think Trevor almost cried as we counted up the hours it was going to to take to smoke the turkey and prime the smoker. I cleverly devised a plan to section the whole bird up so it cooks quicker. I got a kiss for being smart and then another for butchering the bird – something Trevor hasn’t yet mastered. Butchering is not one of his strong points but I love him anyways!