Treacle what??? Treacle Tart

So I have a confession to make, and honestly, it’s one I don’t mind making, I love the Harry Potter series, the books, the movies, even some of other stuff surrounding it. I can’t wait to go to Disney someday to see the Harry Potter world theme park there. I’ve read the books countless times and watched all the movies several times. Now what does this have to do with a food blog you might be wondering right now. The answer is simply:

Treacle Tart.

If I had never read the books, I would have most likely never learned about this tasty desert that I have been deprived of the majority of my life. Even if I didn’t enjoy the books as much as I do, I still would have been curious about the food in them. You see, my grandmother is from England, so being part English myself, I am naturally curious about their culture. So after reading about this desert, I eventually did some Googling to try and find out what it is, then find a recipe for it, and then attempted to make it. Now, the key ingredient in the dish is Lyle’s Golden Syrup, and I will say this, there is no substitute for it, none, and it is not something you can find locally, at least not in my neck of the woods. I have to order it from The English Tea Store on line which stocks it for a reasonable price (shipping is what kills me, costs just as much if not more than the ingredient). There are a couple of other places that have it as well online. Now, for those of you who have never heard of Lyle’s Golden Syrup (don’t feel bad because I hadn’t either) be sure to go order some right away. It is fantastic. The flavor is something like maple syrup combined with honey and still something else that is hard to place. It goes great on pancakes and other dishes as well.
Here is my dilemma though, and it’s not a huge one, in getting the recipe off the internet for the treacle tart, and in making it myself but never having been to England to eat it or known anyone else who makes it, I am not sure how close mine is to what it is supposed to be like. My grandmother who is English says she likes it, my wife and I love it, but I don’t know if it’s right. So, if any of you out there know exactly what it is supposed to taste like, look like, and want to share a piece (I know that can be hard to do) let me know and I would be glad to sample some and compare it to mine.
Now that I have come out and admitted to the world my deepest darkest secret (well, not really, but I can pretend for writings sake) I feel much better. Be sure to be curious with what you read, don’t feel bad to look things up you don’t know, and by all means, don’t be afraid to try something new, especially anything with Lyle’s Gold Syrup on it or in it.

Fish Tales

Image

The first rule of being a good fisherman, and my god father will attest to this, is that you have to be a good story teller. I took my daughters to the Fishing Derby in Danville the other weekend and I was lucky enough to see my youngest catch her first fish ever. After getting over the initial shock of it and a bit of fright over seeing it flop around, she decided it was really really neat. To see her smile and how proud she was of herself made it a awesome day.

Now it wasn’t the biggest fish in the world, but it was a good 9 and 1/2 inches, and was a very pretty brook trout. So after we landed it and put it in the bucket, she decided to name it Caroline, and I was worried I was in trouble right then and there. The last time we brought home a fish it was from the pet store, cost 25 cents, was named Dorothy and lived for two years. This time I knew for sure the fish wasn’t going to live out the evening, it was destined for, well, dinner.

On the way back to the car she asked me what we were going to do to the fish. I hesitated for a second before answering her honestly saying we were going to take it home, kill it, clean it, and cook it. I waited for it, worried about the tears to come, a balling 4 year saying please don’t kill my fish, and then it came ” can I watch. ” I exhaled thanking God quickly and heard my oldest daughter say ” that will be disgusting.”¬†

At home, with the fish swimming around in the bucket, my youngest comes out to check on it just as I am getting ready to snap its neck with my hands. Perfect timing, of course. The long and short of it is she watched me dispatch of the fish without any problems, and before I know it, they were both in the kitchen watching me get ready to take a knife to the fish.

And then, as quick as a French Revolution, it was off with the head. Again, I waited for screams of horror, only to hear from my youngest daughter, ” that’s cool.” It was the complete opposite of what I was expecting to hear, and I couldn’t have been happier to hear it because I can still take them fishing knowing they aren’t traumatized by the whole incident. When the fish was all cleaned up and ready to be cooked I got lunch ready for them. A simple peanut butter and jelly, nothing fancy, and as I watched them eat away happily, it was all I could do to finish my sandwich without throwing up just thinking about what I had to do to that poor fish. I was never much for dissecting things in science class and I guess I still am not, but it at least provided a meal for my family that night, although I couldn’t bring myself to eat any of it.

Testing 1…2…3…

Image

I have a confession to make. I am cheap. I don’t like to spend more than I have to, I always look for the best deals, love coupons and the words On Sale. Being cheap is not always easy mind you. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices on things you like for things you like not quite as much. Lately I have been trying out some new ingredients in my cooking, and they aren’t of the cheaper variety I am sad to say. With that said however, I have been very pleased with the results.

I recently read a couple different articles in a cooking magazine about cocoa powder and their recommendations. They felt that Scharffen Berger cocoa was the best rated and had it listed at a hefty $7.5 – $8.5 a canister. Now, when you are used to Hershey’s cocoa for baking at $3 a canister it can be a bit of a shock to your system. At a recent shop though to Wegmans I came across some of the Scharffen Berger cocoa and also a canister of Ghiradelli cocoa powder and picked both up, despite the fact they cost more than I would have liked to pay for them.

So I proceeded to try them both out the next day in a cake and did a bit of taste testing by bringing them into the office and seeing which one was liked best. To my somewhat pleasant surprise the Ghiradelli won, hands down, and I happened to agree with the findings of my colleagues. Not only did I like it better, it was cheaper as well. That is not to say I didn’t like both of them because they were both very good. The Scharffen Berger was a bit heavier of a chocolate flavor, still sweet enough though, while the Ghiradelli has a nice rich chocolate flavor and was sweet, but not overly. They both beat Hersheys in my opinion easily though, so you can’t really go wrong either way, just a matter of taste.

The other ingredient I have been trying out is King Arthur’s unbleached regular flour. Ok, so it costs almost double the generic brand and other cheaper flowers, but I will say it right now, it is way worth the cost. My cookies have never been as good, my cakes and pancakes have more volume, are fluffier and just seem to hold up better. The fact that it is a unbleached flour is a added bonus to me. I am not the biggest person in the world when it comes to being all natural ect… but having bleached flour when there is a alternative just sounds, well, not so good anymore considering I know what bleach does in our house for cleaning.

I will try and keep you all updated as hopefully I get to test out more ingredients¬† as my budget allows and let you know the results, but on a whole, it’s good to try new things sometimes, just don’t go to crazy when you do.

Taking requests

cake

So the other day (now like 2 weeks ago really) I had made a couple loaves of banana bread and decide to bring one of those loaves into the Sunday school class I teach. Now to be perfectly honest, I thought the bread was delicious, and so did most of the class, except for two sisters who said they didn’t like banana bread.

Let me repeat that: they do not like banana bread. I couldn’t believe it, I though surely everyone liked banana bread, but I guess I was wrong, not the first time, nor the last I am sure. So after we got done with our lesson I decided to ask what they might like for a snack next time.

The answer came quickly: Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. Simple, right? Well, actually making it turned out to be pretty simple, but I had to chuckle to myself that it wasn’t a simple item they wanted, not rice krispy treats or chocolate chip cookies. I guess when you know what you like and you’re given a choice you should ask for what you want. That’s what I love about kids, they’re honesty.

My youngest daughter asked me not to long ago why mommy is in charge. I answered her because that’s just how it is. It’s true, I will admit it, my wife is in charge, but I love my wife and don’t mind really, the house stays cleaner that way and everyone is happier, but it was funny to me that my 4 year old picked up on it so easily and had no problems asking about it. Life is simpler that way, ask for what you want, don’t hint at it or expect someone to just know, just ask for it, you may not always get it, but at least you will have a clear answer in the end. Now that I stop and think about it for a second, I guess that’s why my wife tells me exactly what she want’s for birthdays and Christmas every year, hmmm… Maybe I should start doing that….

Anyways, I was off of work for a couple of days last week and before I left, was told that because I was off for a couple of days, I was expected to come back with not just one, but at least 2 different treats for the newsroom. Now, this was said in a joking matter, with a hint of seriousness that if I didn’t bring in a anything I better not show up, but I didn’t mind really. I like my co-workers, even if they just like me for my bake goods, at least I am appreciated for something. So what did I bring in you might wonder? Banana bread and lemon tart and I am proud to say it was all gone by the time I went home.

AAAAHHHHH

Ok, Sorry for the delay in keeping up with my blog posts, but in order to write, you need to have something to write about, and then the time to write it, and I have things now to write, and a bit of time to do it, so here goes. Inhale……. Exhale……

Grow Your Own

Admittedly I do not have much of a green thumb. I know enough to read the directions on the back of the seed packs and that I have to water them, but that’s about it. I am really excited this year though and I am trying to do better. I did a better job weeding the garden for starters. I put up material for the peas and beans to climb onto and grab hold of for support. Also, I put up a metal fence around the garden this year to keep out my enemies, those cute little hippity hoppity creatures my daughters love. Don’t get me wrong, they are cute, and they have families to feed to, but not at my expense is all.

Our garden is not big by any stretch of the imagination, nor has it ever really produced enough of everything we like to keep us from going to the grocery store for items, but it helps. It also helps to teach our daughters lessons that they wouldn’t get otherwise. Also, as the saying goes, it tastes better when you grow it on your own, is so true ( or at least you believe it is).

My other arch nemesis the weeds had better watch out this year. It is still engrained in my memory how they defeated my efforts and over ran my garden last year. This year though I have two secret weapons against them, my 4 and 6 year old daughters. I will send them out like Thing One and Thing Two, (under a watchful eye) and we will wage a victorious campaign on them. So hopefully this year we will be able to fill our table with a few salads from our garden, and enjoy the fruits of our labor, and if not, well, there is always next year, and a new game plan.

Pulling No Punches

 

ImageI recently watched the movie “Fearless” starring Jet Li in which a couple of fight scenes in the movie featured fighters who pulled their punch, and for good reason. I can’t say I am in the mood to do that right now, but just because I could be mean, doesn’t mean I am going to be either.

I stopped for lunch at Wendt’s Pork Palace the other day while on my way to a assignment with high hopes of a very tasty lunch. I like pork bbq, no, love pork bbq. Now I realize there are many different ways people cook their bbq depending on where you live in the country and who makes and what you like. With that in mind there are a couple of things that are essential, and that mainly comes down to the seasonings you use and the time you take to cook it. In this case, the slower the better, until the meat just falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. After that is where personal taste and preference comes greatly into play. Me, personally, I like sweet things, so I like my pork with a nice thick, rich, heavy sweet bbq sauce on it. Some like theirs drier, some like it a bit more vinegary.

So, lets get down to it. I ordered the pork bbq sandwich and some fries to go with it. It looked pretty good when I got it, although I was hoping for a roll rather than a hotdog bun. I took a bite, and was immediately disappointed. The sauce was a bit runny, the seasoning wasn’t quite there, and the amount of grease soaking into the bun made me think of my arteries.

Now the flavor may not have been to my liking, but I will give them credit because the meat was cooked right. It was tender, moist, not chewy, and fell apart like it was supposed to. And yes, I did finish my sandwich, I hate to waste food, and I will say, I did not go away hungry, just disappointed.

I give Wednt’s Pork Palace bbq 3 out of 5.