Recipe break: campfire cones

Cookout anyone?

Count me in.

Especially for one of these:

Yes, please!

Tapioca break

The news all stinks. So let’s retreat into the kitchen, shall we? (Drown out the bad news with sugar! Great game plan, eh?!)

Few things besides my mother’s tapioca pudding inspire glee.

Creme brulee is one.

Bruleed tapioca pudding? Yes, please. That’s made in the oven so I don’t have to stir for-ev-er?

Yes, please! Courtesy the NYT, which at least doesn’t ruin recipes with politics. This time.

3 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 cinnamon stick

1/3 cup small pearl tapioca

4 large egg yolks

85 grams granulated sugar (about

1/3 cup)

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

45 grams Demerara sugar (about 3 tablespoons)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, cream and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Whisk in the tapioca. Simmer until the pearls are completely tender, about 20 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, granulated sugar and salt. Whisking constantly, pour in a third of the tapioca mixture. Whisk yolk mixture into the pot of tapioca; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-proof spatula, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

4. Transfer pudding to a buttered 1/2-quart gratin dish. Sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar and cinnamon. Bake, uncovered, until the pudding is firm around the edges and jiggly in the center, about 30 minutes. Put under the broiler until top is bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. (Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.) Eat warm, or chill and serve cold, removing the cinnamon stick while serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Chocolate break: Baked Hot Chocolate?

Yes, please.

[SWEETS]

F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas

Oh. Who said the WSJ was all work and no play?

Here’s the article. A taste:

With only four ingredients, it couldn’t be easier to make. Cooking these simple kitchen staples results in three layers of differing texture: The top layer is slightly crispy; the middle, a warm, silken pudding and, at the bottom, you’ll find the most unctuous hot chocolate imaginable.

Oh my. More important, here’s the recipe. It’s on our to-do list. I  have everything save the cream, and yes, it looks necessary.

BAKED HOT CHOCOLATE

Total Time: 40 Minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

9 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes

4 large eggs

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Lightly sweetened whipped cream, to taste (optional)

What To Do

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange four 1-cup ovenproof coffee cups, mugs or 8-ounce ramekins in a baking or roasting pan.

2. Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler set over barely simmering water. Whisk occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Stir eggs and sugar together in a mixing bowl, then set bowl over simmering water. Stir until warm to the touch.

4. Remove from heat. Beat egg mixture with an electric beater until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Gently fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture.

5. Spoon batter into cups. Add enough very hot water to baking pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until the tops lose their glossy finish, 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan.

6. Serve warm or at room temperature with a generous dollop of whipped cream, if desired. Puddings may be refrigerated for up to one day. To reheat, bring them to room temperature and then set in a 350-degree oven until warm, about 5 minutes.

Oh.

“Shoppers running out of money”

Wal-mart shoppers, but really it’s all of us. From CNN Money:

Wal-Mart’s core shoppers are running out of money much faster than a year ago due to rising gasoline prices, and the retail giant is worried, CEO Mike Duke said Wednesday.

“We’re seeing core consumers under a lot of pressure,” Duke said at an event in New York. “There’s no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact.”

Wal-Mart shoppers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, typically shop in bulk at the beginning of the month when their paychecks come in.

Lately, they’re “running out of money” at a faster clip, he said.

“Purchases are really dropping off by the end of the month even more than last year,” Duke said. “This end-of-month [purchases] cycle is growing to be a concern.

It’s not just end of the month. It’s difficult not to notice the breathtaking prices of what used to be everyday items.  Have you noticed this?

A woman at Costco wondered aloud to her husband about the Kirkland brand bacon earlier this week. I vouched for its tastiness. She thanked me, adding that bacon at Wal-mart was now over $5 a pound. “At Wal-mart!” she exclaimed. I nodded and said we felt the same pinch.

I heard much of the same this morning at a handful of yard sales while hunting for clothing and book bargains for pjToddler. “We can’t afford to buy new clothes anymore” is a common refrain.

An Instapundit reader reports:

As a PA resident I can attest to the sea change in attitudes towards Barack Obama here.

It’s public, it’s palpable and it’s entirely due to inflation.

It’s astonishing to me that a bunch of guys who are supposed to be so smart think that women aren’t going to the grocery store and leaving in a state of shock, disbelief and, occasionally, panic.

And a Democrat who frightens women cannot win anything. Period.

I just started playing a sort of instant citizen poll at stores. It began a week or so ago at Sams’ Club:

I was in one of THOSE lines and ended up chatting with a well dressed middle aged woman with a cart half full of grocery items.

I made mention of the fact that while I didn’t normally make the hike to Sams’ that with prices going up I figured I had to make the effort.

She exploded: Prices are sky high, she’s feeding three kids, eating store brands and sale items but can’t afford to stock up, on and on.

Then the lady in front of HER piped in: if prices keep going up she doesn’t know what she’ll do, their budget is already at the breaking point, trying to keep a daughter in college, off she goes.

Then a man in the next line over heard them and HE jumped in: this is ridiculous, Washington is killing us, economy broken, he’s off to the races.

I thought maybe this was just a coincidence, so I’ve started the same conversation in store lines twice more in the past week and it’s exactly the same: people are frightened and EVERYONE wants to talk about it out loud.

The interesting thing to me is that everyone used to be very reluctant to speak out in public against Obama. You were always afraid some leftie whackjob would hear you and tear into you. You know what I mean.

But now the gloves are off, people are freaking out and Obama can raise FIVE billion dollars for his campaign and organize until the cows come home and call everyone in the country a racist until he turns blue but it’s not going to convince anyone that they’re not paying an arm and a leg for half a cart worth of food.

There is no more basic thing to people, and it’s off the hook.

I don’t see how the Republicans could possibly mess this up. Then again, after a lifetime of watching them do just that, if there’s way they’ll find it.

Ain’t that the truth.

Do you have grocery line conversations? How do you extend grocery dollars? If you’re one of those for whom beans don’t agree, try kombu and longer soaking times. I had read kombu (a sea vegetable, look in the Asian aisle) helps aid digestion before, but I never knew why: it contains the enzyme to help digest a sugar found in beans we’re incapable of digesting on our own (oligosaccharides if you’re a geek and need to know). Cool beans, eh?

A Break from News: Breakfast (or in this case, brunch)

Enjoy your Sunday. Make something yummy.

Pancake Mix, adapted from Alton Brown

6 c. flour (I use 3 c all-purpose and 3 c white whole wheat)

1.5 t baking soda

3 t baking powder

1 T kosher salt

2 T sugar

Mix in ziplock. Store in cupboard until you’d like some fabulous pancakes.

To 1 c mix (enough for my family of 3 plus a few left over or easily double, triple, etc), add:

1 egg

1 c milk

1 T yogurt or sour cream

2 T melted butter

2 tsp vanilla

Mix liquid. Add to dry. Don’t overmix. Will be a little lumpy. Pour ladelfuls onto hot greased griddle. Flip when surface bubbles break.

We like ours with maple syrup. Or berries and jam. Bacon not optional. (Shh, don’t tell Michelle!)

FLOTUS forces school kids to go hungry. Bonus recipe!

Because they’d rather starve than eat steamed-till-it’s-mush-broccoli without the benefit of even a faint sprinkling of salt. Better beware, since we’ve heard for years that hunger has a negative impact on test scores,  hence the “It’s for the children” chorus demanding more money for lunches.  Via the Chicago Tribune:

“They want us to eat healthy food, but the food has no flavor,” sophomore Jacob Hernandez said as he picked at unsalted rice and beans at North-Grand High School. “Last year, they had a yellow Puerto Rican rice. But this year it’s all dry, and you can tell they put a lot of stuff in there, but what’s the point if there is no flavor?”

Someone, please tell young Jacob that the nanny state dried out his rice.

Louise Esaian, who oversees CPS’ food service program, said introducing new concepts is always challenging, but officials want to help students start to realize they can make healthier choices at mealtimes.

And the healthier choice for all the fatties across the land is abstaining from food according to Michelle, who likes her own short ribs spicy.

JWF

If only they got to live large like the Obamas and scarf down cheeseburgers whenever they want. Or if it’s not cheeseburgers, it’s pizza, wings and ice cream. But hey, all those yummy foods are for the elitists. You kids just better shut up and eat your taste-free whole-grain goodies

The sale of school lunches had dipped so dramatically that the cafeteria managers brought back their best seller:

Yet last month, in response to sagging lunch sales, the district brought back a processed spicy chicken patty sandwich as a daily offering in all district high schools. The sandwich contains dozens of ingredients, the first three being chicken, water and “vegetable protein product.”

The Tribune watched recently as about 90 percent of the students in the lunch line at North-Grand chose the spicy chicken patty for their meal “because everything else tastes nasty,” said junior Mariah Crespo.

Many students said the sandwich is the only entree they eat, most often with thick layers of ketchup or barbecue sauce and pickled jalapeno pepper rings.

If eaten with 0.5 ounces of jalapenos, a tablespoon of ketchup and a whole-wheat bun, the chicken sandwich contains more than 1,100 mg of sodium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most Americans should eat no more than 1,500 mg a day.

Shhh! Don’t tell Michelle, especially since her Vail short ribs have 301% of the daily value of saturated fat! 

In all truth, the problem with institutionalizing healthy food is, well, the institutionalizing of it. If you’re not permitted to use any salt on vegetables to enhance the taste, what kid is going to eat it? Heck, I wouldn’t. I salt and pepper my Brussel sprouts before I roast ‘em in the oven. But no salt on veggies in cafeterias! It’s bad! Yet the salt in processed food stays. So of course the kid will pick the processed food. It tastes better. We eat pretty healthy here at Chez PJ–because we make it all from scratch. We like food. But we know how to cook. And the lunch ladies across America… well… don’t. 

Speaking of Brussel sprouts, it’s been a while since we’ve had a recipe! So here goes:

Preheat oven to 400 F

Have toddler wash and dry 1 lb of sprouts. Admire the inherent cuteness of both veg and toddler.

Cut sprouts in half. You with the knife, not toddler. If the sprouts are huge, quarter ‘em.

Have toddler stir sprouts in large bowl with wooden spoon while you pop more in. Just stirring. It’s fun. Toddlers like to cook.

Drizzle in olive oil** (2 TBSP). If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance to Wegmans, make it Wegmans Basting Oil. Oh, how I miss you.

Have toddler stir to coat.

Pour onto a sheet pan. Foiled if you must, but the sprouts brown better on the bottom sans foil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Garlic if the mood strikes. Or even a drizzle of Balsamic.

Roast at 400 F 20-30 minutes until fork tender. It took me 20 at sea level. Takes 30 at altitude.

Admire your handiness when your toddler asks for more and begs for Brussel sprouts on a weekly basis.

**Even tastier with Bacon fat. Don’t send the food police. Best: bacon fat, finely diced onions, and bacon cut into lardons. Swoon.

***If you only know Brussel sprouts as stinky little slime balls, try roasting. They do get stinky if you add liquid: it’s called sulfur dioxide. No liquid, no sulfur dioxide!

UPDATE: linked as a Recommended Read by Pundette. Thanks!

Recipe: La Bete Noire

Doesn’t it sound fabulous?  It is.  Every wickedly fattening chocolate bite.  (Take that, Michelle).

We made it last year for our Christmas dessert, and I regret to say that I’m … afraid to try it at altitude.  For Christmas.  With in-laws.  I have yet to break the news to my darling husband who declared it the best chocolate dessert evah last year. 

What to make instead ponders the procrastinator?

If you’re at sea level, I dare you to try it.  And please tell me how delightful it was!

What’s cookin’ good lookin’?

The first time my husband and I had Thanksgiving together complete with all of my family favorites (“You mean, it’s … real cranberry sauce? Not from a can?”), my darling proclaimed it the best meal of the year. 

We were married the next fall.

In time for Thanksgiving, by the way, but predictably enough, he deployed to Iraq that year.

Figures.

Today is baking day.  On  the docket while I listen to Rush: mini pumpkin cheesecakes, pecan pie and its myriad variations (pjHusband likes it with dark chocolate, I like the custard with walnuts and fresh cranberries, so now I bake the lot in muffin pans), Pundette’s cranberry bread (shh, don’t tell my mother), and these little guys for place markers

Are they not adorable?  My toddler keeps calling them “candy corn peacocks!”  Heh.

And if you’ve never checked out Our Best Bites, it’s my favorite food blog, hence the link on the sidebar.   Also gracing our table this year are their bacon green been bundles.  Yum.  Michelle would NOT approve.

To market, to market to buy a fresh…

Lamb?

I think my darling husband would leave me if I served lamb on Thanksgiving.  Iraq ruined lamb forever.  I don’t mind.  We make the best turkey.   Alton Brown rules the bird.  Brine it and roast, hot and fast.  Let it rest.  A thing of beauty.  (In all seriousness, I was never a fan of white meat until we started brining.  I prefer it now.)

Instapundit notes the higher cost of this year’s Thanksgiving grocery run.  I lucked out on turkeys this year by buying sales and stocking up.  I admit that we finally bought a deep freezer.  (That I find a deep freezer such an exciting purchase scares me.  Oh, how life changes.  Vacuum cleaners.  Steam mops.  Deep Freeze!)

More recipes and links to follow.  First. Must. Brave. Commissary.  Two days before Thanksgiving.  Stupid is as stupid does, no?

Laundry: O’Donnell and Obama. Plus a Paula Deen recipe bonus in honor of our stuck-in-hell FLOTUS!

The news that Christine O’Donnell won the Delaware primary stunned me.

Though not as much as watching Karl Rove act like a total asshat.  It’s quite telling that Mike Castle has yet (and likely won’t) endorse O’Donnell.  What a class act, no?  Ed Morrissey explores the ramifications of the Sore Loser Party syndrome while Michelle Malkin chastizes the Beltway-boys-club mentality of the GOP which fails to recognize the strength of the insurgent women.  They formed a circular firing squad with Sarah Palin two years ago (and still), then Sharron Angle, now O’Donnell.  O’Donnell isn’t a perfect candidate.  But Castle wasn’t either–by a stretch.  And as I told my mom Tuesday night, hell yes, I’d rather have a minority that believes in something rather than a majority with more RINOS.  Besides, she has a better chance than some estimate.

Pundette: Michelle Obama’s having a hell of a time.  I guess stealing everyone else’s french fries takes it’s toll psychologically.  No salt.  And now no butter or cream, either. 

When will the lectures for the grocery stores start?  For offering these bad choices?  If we’re so stupid as to be incapable of making “good decisions” when we’re dining out even if “fully informed,” how long until the knives come out for those of us who like to cook and use more than our government-allotted prescription of butter, cream or bacon?  Just sayin’.  Michelle Obama’s food police coming soon to a refrigerator near you.

In her own words:

But here’s the thing. Even if we give parents all the information they need and we improve school meals and build brand new supermarkets on every corner, none of that matters if when families step into a restaurant, they can’t make a healthy choice.
 
And the truth is that while restaurants are offering more options and families take advantage of them more often, they aren’t always the healthiest choices.

No wonder her life is such hell:  That wagyu beef  takes it’s toll.

(Quite a toll according to MOTUS Mirror.)

In honor of our esteemed First Lady, a recipe: my personal favorite Paula Deen.  Beware, it’s rich!  So heed our FLOTUS and lecture others about how much they eat while you dig in!

(NB: I’ve made this concotion–almost always for a potluck–with other cookies, too.  Chessmen are good.  So are Pecan Sandies.  I usually go with what’s on sale–shocking, I know.  Also, the mixing instructions are overcomplicated.  There’s no need for multiple bowls.  I mix everything in the stand mixer on low until it’s smooth then fold in the cool whip.)

Picture of Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding Recipe

UPDATE: linked as a “Recommended Read” by Pundette.  Thanks!

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