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Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Recipe: bourbon caramel popcorn

So Thanksgiving was last week, but it feels like it was more than a month ago. Jeremy and I spent the days leading up to Thanksgiving installing some temperature sensors around our place in Crested Butte and getting passes squared away for the mountain as well as the nordic center.

exploring the nordic trails

last light at the end of the day

The mountain opened the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and we went up to see what was what. It was our first time skiing at Crested Butte. All the while when we were looking for a place, our realtor (who also telemark skis) would ask if we were going to hang out and “play” (read: tele). And I always shook my head. We would ski AFTER we found a place, I told Jeremy. Promise kept.

glorious sun on opening day

thanksgiving corduroy

It was amazeballs. Good snow, great mountain, not crowded, and just up the road. We got a couple hours in on Thanksgiving morning before cleaning our place and heading home to Nederland. Once home, I realized that I had cleaned out the refrigerator before we left. I also realized that everything in our town was closed for the holiday at 7pm (rightfully so). Usually I can cobble anything together, but I had very little to work with. So I prepared instant kimchi ramen for dinner. And I ate applesauce straight from the jar (I was hungry). Then I made a big batch of popcorn. So that was our Thanksgiving dinner. The next evening, my parents had us over to their place for Chinese Thanksgiving dinner.

lots of seafood: lobster, shrimp, squid

my happy plate

The following night, it was our turn to host my parents (and my friend, Erin) for dinner. When they arrived, I had appetizers set out on the table for guests to enjoy while I finished dinner prep. I also set a bowl of leftover popcorn out from our impromptu Thanksgiving dinner. It wasn’t any old popcorn, but an addictive bourbon caramel popcorn. My mom sidled up to the bar to chat and watch me work. The bowl of popcorn was right under her nose, so she tried some. And she tried some more. And more. She really liked the popcorn. I set it out again at dessert. She adamantly refused a slice of cake, claiming to be too full, but as the conversation wore on, she kept picking bits of the popcorn off and popping them into her mouth. I love when I make something that my mom likes.

you’ll need: popcorn, vanilla extract, bourbon, sugar, butter, salt, baking soda

fluffy popped popcorn

**Jump for more butter**

brittle means good

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Recipe: macadamia orange brittle

The word brittle conjures up so many meanings. Brittle bones, brittle failure (okay, that’s a term in mechanics, but important for all sorts of materials studies), brittle personality. I’ll admit that when I hear the word brittle my mind immediately turns to brittle-ductile transition zones in the Earth’s crust. And yet my favorite meaning of brittle is the confection of a delicious nut meat suspended in the matrix of a caramelized sugary goodness, broken into delightfully dangerous shards that melt and crunch in your mouth. Swoon.

There are two camps of people when it comes to caramelized sugar. Those who love it and those who hate/fear it. I’ve been in both camps – twice. It was pretty easy to master at sea level although I did brick my fair share of pots of hot crystallized sugar when I got a little too cocky (read careless). What a bleeping mess. But in general it was a cinch to make. Then I moved up here, as in several thousand feet up. Caramelizing sugar became a little more finicky and I fell into the hate/fear camp. My pastry course at CSR helped with my “issues”. The introduction of acids like cream of tartar or lemon juice, and the addition of corn syrup helped to stabilize the mixture as it boiled to amber loveliness. Back into the love camp.

orange zest adds a subtle floral overtone

**Jump for more butter**

allow me my kitsch and kvetch

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Recipe: rice crispy treats

My left arm has been all jacked up since Friday, but I am slowly regaining the range of motion. It has been quite the pickle getting back to cooking and baking, but I can say with certainty that I am indeed back. It’s a good thing I am right-handed, no?

Every now and again I get a hankering to make something from my youth. Having grown up in southern Virginia, I am well-versed in the food classics made of cheese-food, sour cream, mayonnaise, instant onion soup mix, cream of *your choice* soup, and all manner of white-trash food. I don’t know if rice crispy treats should be classified under 1970s or white-trash or both?

rice crispies and marshmallows

**Jump for more butter**