Monday, July 21, 2008

Flip and Flops in the Kitchen

Well, 10 lbs of raspberries later and I am afraid that I do not have much show for it except a lot of lessons. I have had more flops than flips in the kitchen this weekend. The custard, the jam, the muffins, the almond-raspberry pudding never made it through my harsh criteria of blog-worthiness. Some of it was okay though, but none was excellent. I could blame it on the kids, the dog or my husband, but the truth is the dog can't be blamed because we don't have one, and the kids and husband are just perfect.

So here goes:

The custard was made with soy milk and agar agar. The end result was too thin and too blend. The raspberries which had simmered in the soy milk, honey and other flavorings were not enough to carry the taste through once the mixture solidified. Then, I mixed some of the homemade jam with fresh raspberries and poured it on top of the custard. That part was kind of nice, except the seeds got in the way and the abundance of flavor from the jam pointed an accusing finger at the custard. There was no chemistry between those two. The judges voted them out. Sorry, there is no room for mediocrity here. Thank you for playing. Harsh, I know.

The jam was pretty good, a little runny which was fine for my purposes-- but those seeds... I couldn't forgive. When you have to lean over for the floss every time you bite into your jam infested bread there's just no point. Note to myself: use a sieve next time before sealing those pretty jars.

The muffins were not bad if you like to have bricks for breakfast-- I don't. The flavor was very nice, not too sweet. The raspberries came through nicely showing off their beautiful perfume but the texture was just too dense. When my teenage son, who's growing like a weed, declined to have a second one, I knew I was in trouble. Usually he'll eat the whole pan and ask for more. No wonder he's sprouted a full 6 inches in just the last six months... No thanks to this morning's muffins, though. So here is the thing about gluten-free or wheat-free baking: it's a tricky, fickle beast. A mixture of flour that works for one batch of muffins might turn into a load of bricks the next, when you cleverly try it with different ingredients. It's all chemistry, which I can't remember if I flunked or aced in college. I am having brick-muffin induced amnesia, now. Anyway, I did some reading up in my chemistry of cooking books and I think I might know where I went wrong. Seeing how I can get pretty obsessive about these things, I'll have to try them again. I am going for fluffy this time, hold the mortar.

The almond-raspberry pudding, what can I say: I ran out of floss...


Katie said...

Bummer. My mom has been telling me I need to read up on kitchen chemistry. I like to just throw some stuff to together and pop in the oven & I think it makes her nervous...I want to grow 6 inches! I am 5'6 & I want to be taller.

What kind of goodies do you get from your CSA? We used to belong to one but my parents said that it was too much produce. I want to join again, though.

Alexa said...

Hi Katie,
It does help to understand how things work... but part of the fun for me is the detective work involved in trying to figure out what went wrong. I just like a good mystery.

In the Summer, we get a huge array of vegetables:
peas, chard, kale, salad, green onions, scapes, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes and so much more. I love it. We use it all but we are big on our veggies in our family. It takes some prep work when you first receive the produce and then you're good to go for the rest of the week.

Hope this answers your question :-)

rachel said...

Hi Alexa,
I just checked out your blog, and I think it is completely charming, very informative, and completely accessible. Keep up the good work! And keep up the kitchen experimentations - you never know when you're going to hit it.

Y said...

hehe with the floss.. I must say, I kind of like the seeds, but it IS annoying when some of them get stuck in your teeth! Too bad about the flops. It's still fun to experiment though, isn't it. Especially with a bounty of raspberries!

Alexa said...

Hi Y,

It's always fun to experiment and I had a great time doing it. Thanks for your visit.

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