Thursday, March 25, 2010

The best fudge ever

I made a bunch of fudge yesterday using a really easy recipe from my cousin's grandmother. I think that the marshmallows are what makes it special (though I'm a vegetarian, I have given in and I eat gelatin. Shhh don't tell). Give it a try:

Creamy Chocolate Fudge

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk
16 large marshmal
1/4 tsp. salt

Cook and stir over medium heat until marshmallows melt. Boil and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add:
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips

1 tsp. vanilla
Beat until blended. Spread in 9" square pan (sprayed with cooking spray). Refrigerate until served.

A few tips for getting the fudge to turn out perfectly:
~make sure you
use a big enough pan (I used a 4 quart one) because the marshmallows expand as they melt
~ don't skimp on the boiling part. I decided once that about 3.5 minutes was plenty of time. It wasn't
~make sure your chocolate
chips are room temperature. I had them refrigerated in the summer and then they didn't melt enough when I added them, so the fudge didn't look smooth.

The fudge was a huge hit at work today. The consistency gives the perfect resistance to your teeth as you bite into it; they just sliiiide through and release a creamy hunk of not-too-sweet chocolate onto your tongue.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Looking and tasting good

Before I tackle the fudge tomorrow (or potentially cupcakes instead), I really have to figure out this food photography thing. I've been looking at How To pages and tips for beginner photographers (though I think I'm even at an earlier stage than that), and I'm hoping my food will look a little more appetizing in photos. I could blame my 5-year-old Sony Cybershot, but I don't think even the best camera could save me. Apparently I need to set it to macro and adjust the white balance. Hmm. Whatever that means. If it's not so cloudy tomorrow maybe I'll get some decent natural light.

I think food photography is pretty awesome in that you can focus all of your energy on conveying the sugary/creamy/artery-clogging goodness that is a cupcake (or your dessert of choice), but I was disappointed to learn that the food isn't always real (or parts of it aren't). I feel sort of cheated, just like I did when I found out Betty Crocker never existed. Don't show me something that looks so tempting I want to climb into my computer screen to get it and then, come to find out, even the best cook couldn't recreate it because it isn't real. I'll just pretend for now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Feminism in the kitchen

Since coming to college, I've begun to think of myself as something of a feminist. I'm appropriately outraged when I hear about incidents of sexism and I hate the figurative pat on the head that I sometimes get from men (such as: "Don't worry about it Sweetheart, I'll take care of it"). But as I was reading the first chapter of The Feminine Mystique on Sunday, all I could think about was how much I wanted to be in the kitchen baking something. Imagine my guilt as I read the words, "kitchens were once again the center of women's lives."* Bad feminist. Bad.

It's not uncommon for me to struggle with my f
eminist side and my domestic side. I was shopping with my grandmother some time in the past year and found myself staring wide-eyed at all the gadgets that I dream of having in my kitchen some day. She laughed and made some comment along the lines of, "Oh Aubrey, you're so domestic." I'm not exactly sure how I'm supposed to feel about that. Can I want to bake more than I want to do almost anything else and still be a feminist?

Well anyway, I wasn't torn up enough about it not to bake the other day. So I decided to try making cinnamon buns, something I've done before but only with the help of a bread machine. I never realized before how tiring it could be to knead dough.

Things did not start off great. First of all, the
recipe told me that the yeast-water-milk mixture should become foamy. It didn't. I panicked but decided to keep going because I was almost out of milk and didn't want to use more. Then as I began kneading the dough, it was waaaaaaay too sticky and got all over my hands. But of course I couldn't just add more flour because I had run out. So my boyfriend kindly went to the mini mart and bought some for me. I got the dough to be the right consistency, kneaded it (very good arm workout), and hoped it would rise. It did! I guess the yeast worked after all.

Everything else went pretty smoothly, and the result...

Okay, so they were kind of odd shapes and sizes, but they tasted good. Anyway, I think I'm going to hold off on baking anything else that involves kneading for a while. Next project: fudge.

*Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997. 60. Web.