Sunday, October 31, 2010

Time for Treats, Not Turning Tricks

Halloween is an opportunity to pull out the best of your creative skill and craftiness to make your favorite characters and fantasies come to life. I think every young girl, or sometimes not so young girl, goes through the slutty costume phase. It's really quite amazing how us chicks can wear little more than lingerie, don a pair of fake ears or wings, and call our porny excuse of a costume a cat, an angel, a fairy etc. I wore out of that phase after one Risky Business episode back in college. It's just boring. Halloween is fright and whimsy the personification of puns.

This year I didn't know what to be until my roommate announced she was dressing up as Finn from our favorite cartoon, Adventure Time. You need to watch this show, it's like a television writer wrote down the verbal diatribe of a 7 year old boy playing make believe on a sugar high, found an animator, and made magic. Inspired by the novelty of my smoking roommate dressing up as a little boy cartoon, I started to think of my own favorite cartoons as a child. I landed on Chuckie Finster from Rugrats, and thence came one of the best costumes I've ever created. There are two criteria: 1. how cheaply can you make an awesome costume, and 2. how accurate can you make it. It all came down the hair, I teased and sprayed and teased and sprayed, and I had an orange fro that I never knew was just dying to come out. Enjoy your Halloween everyone, and as a last minute throw in - enjoy these tasty pumpkin flavored pumpkin crisped rice treats :).

Pumpkin Rice Crispies Treats
8 Tbs. Butter
24 Oz. Marshmallows
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
12 C Crisped rice cereal
Food Coloring
Black Icing

Melt 6 Tbs butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 22 ounces of marshmallows (about 1 1/2 packages) until meted down, stirring continuously. Add red and yellow food coloring to create an orange hue. Add pumpkin pie spice and stir until combined. Add crisped rice cereal and stir until well combined. Set aside and let cool until able to handle.

In a separate saucepan heat an additional 2 table spoons of butter until melted and add 2-4 ounces of marshmallows. Incorporate green food coloring (this will be your stem!). Add 1 Cup crisped rice cereal and combine with marshmallow.

Form your pumpkins into baseball sized balls and set on wax paper to cool completely. Take your green mixture and form small stems atop each pumpkin. Once all your pumpkins are made take your icing and draw spooky faces on your treats. Makes 12-15 Pumpkins.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Have I Told You About My Pumpkin Obsession?

Oh it's big. I love pumpkin everything. Once Fall hits, I will buy the mega cans of pumpkin pie filling and absent mindedly scour the internet for pumpkin recipes in my free time. It's even lead to an exploration in other gourds and squashes. I take my cues from marketing on when the actual season begins (I know I should be able to avoid the advertising influence, seeing as I am in the industry, but it hooks me every time). It seems like once the pumpkin spice lattes hit Starbucks or the pumpkin pie flavor is being scooped at 21 Choices, my furor is unleashed and I toy with ways that I could subsist solely of variations of pumpkin.

When I moved in to my new house my mom bought me a mini deep fryer as a housewarming gift…I’m still not sure why. I had big dreams of locking my doors, closing my curtains and having a sinfully gluttonous day of deep frying anything I could get my hands on. It’s yet to happen but I haven’t let go of the dream of turning my kitchen into a county fair and creating deep fried Snickers, macaroni & cheese balls and corn dogs. A friend told me he actually took a piece of ham, wrapped it around cheese and tossed it gingerly into a deep fryer once, “It was like a ham wonton!” he exclaimed. It makes you both cringe and secretly salivate at the same time, admit it!

But I digress, I first christened my mini fryer over last Thanksgiving when I made a pumpkin doughnut hole recipe for dessert. The resulting little flavor bombs were sweet and spicy without being too greasy. The dough was dense and moist, remnants of sugar and cinnamon clung to my lips. The leftovers were good for days and I nibbled my way through the rest of the batch by the end of the weekend. It just so happens that this recipe is Vegan as well – a fact I tend to slip in quietly as I find many assume that vegan cooking will taste like pasty lentils or vegetable pulp. Not the case! Anyway, I thought this recipe would be perfect for a Sunday morning Halloween breakfast – something to stave off the oncoming work week and assuage the Monday blues. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Doughnut Holes
1 Tbs flaxseed meal
2 Tbs warm water
1/4 C soy milk
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tps baking soda
1/2 tps salt
2 Tbs pumpkin pie spice
1/2 C sugar
2 Tbs margarine
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C canned pumpkin (not pie filling!)

In a small bowl mix together flaxseed meal with the water, soy milk and vinegar. Set aside.
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
In a third bowl, combine ginger, vanilla and pumpkin.

Beat sugar and margarine together until well combined. Add the flaxseed liquid until creamy and then add the pumpkin mixture. Mix in dry ingredients gradually in shifts until dough is just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat several inches of oil to 365-370 degrees Fahrenheit. You want the oil to just cover your doughnut holes. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Dust your cutting board with flour and form 1/2-1 inch doughnut holes, they will expand upon frying. Fry 4-5 doughnut holes at a time, dropping them as close to the surface of the oil as possible to avoid splattering. If hot oil scares you, use a slotted spoon to gently place the holes in the oil.  Use the same slotted spoon or wire strainer to roll the doughnuts and ensure even cooking. Remove from oil after 2 minutes or a dark golden brown color. Place holes onto a wire rack or paper towels. Once they have cooled enough to handle, roll the holes in the sugar and cinnamon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Audrey II

  It's Halloween Month. Yes, Halloween is in fact a celebration I make last a month. I love whimsy, the fright fests, the communal celebration of being someone who you are not, just for an evening. But more than anything, I love the gaudy excess. We stuff ourselves with bagfuls of candy and smother our homes in faux cobwebs and ghoulish horrors, and it delights us. When I was a wee one at Christmas time I always begged my folks to decorate our house with the colorful lights and tacky lawn ornaments. No such luck. We had the wholesome and holy white lights with red ribbons on the lamp posts. It looks good in retrospect, but I'd still love me a plug-in glowing baby Jesus.

Halloween was the only time I got away with cheap kitsch and flair. So I spend the whole month of October drinking pumpkin spice lattes, filling my Netflix queue with scary movies and turning my house into a display. It is a fact all my roommates have come to accept, and I think secretly adore. In October, my spidey senses are heightened, unconsciously attuned to the next craft or decoration I can discover. So naturally, when I happen to spy a Venus Fly Trap out of the corner of my eye in the floral department at the grocery store, I pause. This plant is is a man eating inanimate organism. See "Little Shop of Horrors" for a more accurate description of how this plant is a badass. So I bought him. And in tribute to the Broadway sensation, I named him (or her, I guess) Audrey II.

This evening, I happened to kill a mosquito whizzing around my apartment. I was going to throw it away, and then a devious sensation crept in as I remembered my little leafy friend. Experiment: Will Audry II actually eat a bug if I feed it to him? The result, a resounding yes. It's kind of a sick satisfaction to see your carnivorous plant feed on a hapless little bug. Kind of like the satisfaction Freddy Krueger may have gotten from slaying teenagers. Muahahaha!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ikea Food is Artsy

I love it when artistry and food come together to create a dish that is as pleasing to the palate as it is to the eyes. But Ikea, believe it or not, has elevated the concept of eating with our eyes to a whole new level - with the help of agency Forsman & Bodenfors. Inspired by Japanese minimalism and high fashion, the partnership created a 140-page coffee table book, "Hembakat ar Bast," showcasing 30 classing Swedish baking recipes. The result is an artistic representation of ingredients, which are displayed in the forfront with such a beautiful and unusual manner, that they outshine the resulting pastry. Take a look.