Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Sticky Situation

It’s incredible what a storm can do.

It was Wednesday at 4:30 a.m. At least I think it was 4:30. It’s a little fuzzy now. At any rate, I heard a sound like a bomb exploding and woke up confused. I had no idea what it was until a flash of light lit up the whole room, followed by a second explosion. I realized it was a storm, not an invasion.

Actually, it was both. Immediately we were set upon by three kids and a cat. The other cat made it through under a bed somewhere, and the dog stayed in her kennel but the rest of our motley crew tried to crowd in the queen-sized bed.

As the storm raged on our situation on the bed deteriorated until beanbags were brought in and thrown on the floor and only three of us (and a cat) were left on the bed. At one point we had a mom, a cat and a kid on the bed with a second kid perpendicular across our feet. On the floor was a dad and a third kid, squished on two beanbags each while the dog whined in the kennel. Good times.

At any rate, by the time school was out and work was through, there was little energy for creative endeavors in our home. The next day, too, our project plan was drowned out by the continued rain. So gears had to be switched and we decided on a sweet, indoor project instead. We decided to make marshmallows.

Who doesn’t think the world needs more homemade marshmallows? I am certain you were just saying to someone the other day, “I wish I had some homemade marshmallows but I’m stuck with this old store-bought bag that only cost $1.50”.

I’m pretty sure Williams Sonoma makes some called artisanal marshmallows, so henceforth, I will refer to ours as very-artisanal. I even pre-read the whole recipe and saw where it said, “chill for three hours” before we started. Ha! Take that cake-pop recipe!

Time to call the kids, who bailed on me! That’s right, two of the three decided to go play with friends!

My darling youngest child, referred to here for the rest of the post as “The Favorite”, declared that she would love to make marshmallows and ran to wash her hands.

We started with the unflavored gelatin. It had to “bloom” while we mixed the rest of the candy. The Favorite added ingredients to the pan and started stirring.

At this point, one of the deserters and her friend ran through the kitchen to check out the progress. They tasted the corn syrup and declared it “ewwwww, too sweet!” Impressive, coming from eight year-olds.

Once we got the sugar boiling I took over the stirring. I didn’t want an ER visit, just marshmallows. I added the candy thermometer and turned up the heat. The Favorite asked how hot it was supposed to get and when she heard 240 degrees, she asked, “is that Fahrenheit?” A kindergartener.

We added the sugar mixture to the gelatin and The Favorite was back to stirring again. I put the bowl on the stand mixer and turned it on. We set the microwave timer to six minutes and started watching the mixer.

“Not long until six minutes is over,” she said.

Then, “It’s turning from yellowish-beigeish to white!”

And, “The timer is in the twos now!”

Also, “Since we have a bag of marshmallows (yes, store-bought) we can eat one of those and then one of these and see how they are different and how they are alike,” she said. “We already know one way they are alike without tasting them,” she giggled. “They are both white!”

We turned up the speed and The Favorite nearly lost her mind. “Let’s kick it up, let’s kick it up!” she danced around. “What happens if you turn it up to 10?” I was thinking, “what happens if we turn it up to 11?” I probably would have gotten a blank stare. I don’t think she’s seen Spinal Tap yet.

The timer beeped and we stopped the mixer. In another bowl (starting to get the picture of how many pans and things we used for this?) we put egg whites and started whipping those. Another amazement ensued: “It’s all fluffy, whoa! Egg whites are fluffy, fluffy white and marshmallows are fluffy, fluffy white,” she said. “But marshmallows are fluffy white cylinders.” Yup.

We added the egg whites to the mixer then poured the mix in a pan right when deserter two and her pal buzzed through again. The Favorite was licking a spatula and said, “This tastes just like a marshmallow, you guys should try it!”

They started to act very friendly and saying nice things to me…yes, I was suspicious. “Oh, now you want to be involved,” I said. I caved. I let the other kids try some. They had such big sweet smiles until I told them it would be three hours until we had full marshmallows. Gone again.

Three hours later…

We actually had marshmallows. Very artisanal, oddly shaped and vanilla-ey marshmallows. The kids all got some (even the deserters and the friend who now may think we are crazy) and they declared that, “They taste like really vanilla-ey marshmallows!”

Now for homemade graham crackers.

Or maybe not!

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