Archive for the 'Failures' Category

Persimmon pudding!

I think I’ve eaten persimmons once in my entire life – when I was a kid, I remember walking down the road with my dad (they live out in the boonies) and eating a persimmon straight from the tree (or from the ground, I guess, if it was ripe). I don’t remember its flavor, but last week during downtime at work I was surfing food blogs and kept seeing PERSIMMONS. I figured if the foodbloggers were using them, they must be in season, so I commissioned my dad for help.

Today we drove out to the lake and found a few persimmon trees. Either people or raccoons had already scavenged most of them, but we managed to gather enough for me to get a cup of persimmon pulp to use in a recipe I found for persimmon pudding. I’m sure it was a comical sight. I followed my dad around with a big bucket while he whacked at high branches with a stick. Eventually we gave up that mode of operation and he just started throwing sticks at the highest branches. Whatever – it worked. Great father-daughter together time!

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Aren’t they wonderfully ugly? I picked out a bunch of persimmon seeds with sticky hands until I had enough pulp.

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I’m not sure if this was more or less difficult than normal… seeing as how I used wild persimmons, or native persimmons, or whatever you want to call them.

I looked up this recipe for Gram’s Persimmon Pudding earlier this week. I chose this one because it focused mainly on the sweet flavor of the persimmons – I didn’t want to add raisins or walnuts or anything else that might detract from their flavor. However, when I made the pudding, I added more cinnamon than it called for, because I’m a cinnamon freak.

The result?
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Even my niece Cheyenne (pictured to the right of the pudding above) liked it – and Cheyenne normally lives on a steady diet of macaroni and cheese and “white milk” (she feels the need to specify whenever she wants a glass of milk. it’s adorable).

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This persimmon pudding is sweet, moist and wonderful. It’d be perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas, depending on when the first frost is (down here in Tejas, it took until last week for the first real freeze). The recipe suggested you bake at 300 for about an hour, but I lopped almost half an hour off the cooking time because it had already set and browned. The middle’s a little moist, and maybe it isn’t supposed to be, but I have a history of underbaking things because I like cookies and such just a mite underdone.

Last night, when I was a bit inebriated in various manners, I attempted to make a sticky toffee pudding and failed horribly. However, the results were still edible and, according to my dad, quite good.

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I know exactly what I did wrong, though, and I’m going to try to make it correctly when I’m completely sober. First of all, it called for dates, but I didn’t have any. I had some frozen dried cherries, and I soaked them in hot water while I mixed up the rest of the pudding and used those instead. As an afterthought I threw in some dried cranberries. When I was preparing the pudding mixture, I didn’t whisk the brown sugar and butter together for a long enough duration. And when I was preparing the sauce, I forgot to add water at first, so the topping you see is crunchy toffee. Still yummy, even if it’s a horrible mistake!

As a side note, I made an interesting grilled cheese Friday night. I used fresh Italian bread, havarti with dill, sliced tomatoes and fresh basil. Now THAT’S a grilled cheese, dammit! My roomie pulled the tomato and basil off hers, but I forgive her.

And I’d provide you with a photo of the DELICIOUS RASPBERRY OATMEAL COOKIE BARS I made last night, but I had a few friends over and, well, they gobbled them all up. I’ll take that as a compliment. I didn’t expect them to be as popular, because instead of using raspberry jam, I used the black currant jam I’ve been saving for a special occasion. I know I’ve never eaten any black currant-flavored baked goods, so I expected my friends to be a bit wary. They weren’t. It was great. Luckily, I have enough to make another batch of those yummy cookie bars. They’re uber simple, you can use any damn kind of jam you please, and apparently people LOVE THEM.

After all our father/daughter togetherness time today, my dad and I went to the grocery store to pick up the sweetened condensed milk I needed for the persimmon pudding, and he said, “Get whatever you want.” He should know better – get whatever I want in the grocery store? I’m young and don’t make a lot of money and am single, so I don’t always have as much money to spend on cooking stuff as I’d like. I did contain myself, but I ended up with some Nutella, baking chocolate, almond and butter and vanilla and lemon extracts, some almond filling, hazelnuts, powdered sugar, dark brown sugar, puff pastry and buttermilk. Oh boy!

Until next time, my friends.

– Cheese on a Stick

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Pretzels and cheese and chai – oh my!

I did go grocery shopping yesterday, and though I spent a good bit of time preparing for the brutal shopping scene that usually occurs in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, it really wasn’t that bad. For the first time ever I stocked up on my own basics – flour, sugar, etc. – instead of buying the extras and heading to my mom’s house.

Thus, last night I decided to attempt to make pretzels. In my own kitchen, at that. Now, I am somewhat of a novice cook. I’ve never tried to make anything involving yeast and/or kneading. Keep that in mind, and cut me some slack!

I have great memories of big, soft, salty pretzels. When I was a kid, we didn’t go to the mall very often, but when we did, I could usually con my parents into treating me to a big soft pretzel and a little cup of nacho cheese to dip it in. A well-made soft pretzel almost always brings me to instant foodgasm. I buy them whenever I get the chance now that I’m an “adult” – at the college football games I used to attend randomly (even though I hate football – I had friends in the band, you know the drill), at the Target food court, wherever. What could be better than making them myself?

I followed the recipe quite diligently (I would tell you where I got the recipe, but I copied it from a blog at some point yesterday and printed it on my work computer without making note of where I found it) and left my gooey pretzel dough to rise for an hour while my boyfriend and I goofed off and watched crappy television.

An hour later, the dough hadn’t risen.

I didn’t feel like giving up, though. I rolled out the unrisen dough and shaped it, then dipped it in the sugar/butter/water mixture, then sprinkled kosher salt on the measly little pretzels, then baked them anyway. I ended up with 6 decent-sized pretzels, and by the time they were done, my guy and I were so hungry we didn’t care that they weren’t going to be light and fluffy.

And they weren’t light and fluffy. They were quite dense and chewy, as you might expect. Except the dense chewiness is what I love about big pretzels, so I ate 3 of them. My guy ate the other 3.

“You know,” he said, “these are kind of like old cowboy food. Chewy bread made out of flour, some salt and some water, for long trips-”

“Quit making fun of my pretzels,” I said.

As an ode to the cheesy pretzels of my past, I microwaved some Velveeta (auuugh! cheese-food of the devil!), some prepared yellow mustard and a dash of cajun seasoning to make a spicy cheese sauce. Oh boy, I love cheese sauce. And all cheese. It was good with the overly chewy pretzels.

I’m going to try the recipe until I get it right. And once I master the simple pretzel, I’ll do something yummy, like top them with asiago cheese and garlic, or sugar and cinnamon.

My aunt is cooking most of our Thanksgiving dinner, but I like to contribute, so I’m thinking about doctoring a white cake mix and some fluffy white frosting with something wonderful. I have the black currant jam, and I’ve been wanting to cook with my spiced chai latte drink mix (though I do enjoy a simple spiced chai latte – even though I have to microwave my milk rather than using a steaming wand, oh how I miss working at a coffee shop). I’m thinking a white cake with some sort of pudding and a few tablespoons of chai mix, topped with a glaze flavored with – you guessed it – chai. We’ll see.

Boy, I wish I had a way to take some photos of my deflated pretzels. I shall photograph some creations this weekend, though.