Archive for berries

Tuesdays With Dorie – Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

Posted in baking, food, tuesdays with dorie with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2008 by uglydudefood

I’m learning to bake through the power of Internet bloggery.  The gist is, every Tuesday I will post about a different baked good from Baking:  From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  This is all part of the wonderful Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll.  You’ll see my disasters and far-less-frequent triumphs at the oven.

I started out by picking up a few kitchen items I didn’t own–namely a food processor and a pie plate.  My parents have all of this stuff, but I’m imagining someday I’ll be gainfully employed, out of the house, and in need my own versions.  As that annoying guy from Rage Against the Machine says, “What better place than here?  What better time than now?”  I get most of my baking advice from Rage Against the Machine, by the way.  With a pocket full of shells.

I didn’t see any 9″ pie plates at Target (which was the extent of my lazy shopping), but a 9.5″ pie plate would fit the bill just fine, right?  RIGHT?

I had some free time while my girlfriend was driving into town, so I made the crust on Thursday evening.  Pretty simple ingredients–vegetable shortening, butter, flour, sugar, salt, water.  Food process the beast, wrap it, and stick it in the refrigerator.  Easy peasy.  I was given a little boost in confidence when my dough actually came out looking like dough.  Is this baking?  Baking is easy.  All of those Keebler elves need to stop their bitching, because they are living the life of kings!

After refrigerating the dough during a dinner date, I came back and rolled it.  The recipe had a suggestion of freezing the dough into the pie plate, and that appealed to me.  That way all I’d have to do was fill the crust and bake.  Simple stuff.

Here’s where my stupid, oversized pie plate came into play.  Apparently 0.5″ is a lot of room when it comes to pies, you see.  I was supposed to have a fair amount of overhang with my crust, but my crust barely came up to the top of the plate.  I tried to make up for it by squeezing the crust a little thinner, but how thin is too thin?  Something told me that having a nearly translucent layer of pie crust holding a pound of sugary-sweet blueberry goo wouldn’t exactly work out.  Furthermore, the second half of the dough (the top of the pie) probably wasn’t big enough to drape atop the pie.

All the same, I didn’t have the time or ingredients to make another crust, so it would have to do.  I froze my crust and went on to do weekend things with weekend people, fancy-free of all the pie woes that would later befall me.

Flash forward to Monday evening, where I was free to pie the pie that must be pied.  I had bought a 2-quart container of blueberries at Costco earlier, so I had enough berries to fulfill the recipe and gorge myself while I waited the hour for the pie to finish baking.

I mixed the ingredients together (as Dorie says, “gently stir”), but my pie filling didn’t look too much like pie filling.  It looked like salt and sugar piled below a bunch of berries.  It didn’t come together until I started smashing a few berries.  “Gently stir” must have a wide variety of interpretations, because you’re going to want to mush some of your berries to get a decent filling.

I filled my frozen pie crust with unflavored breadcrumbs and the sugarberry mix.  I placed the frozen top atop my pie.  It just about fit over the whole thing, which I took as a small victory.  With some fork-smashing, I managed to seal the top of the pie (although the “crust” looked pretty dismal).  As a result of having to finagle the crust, the pie wasn’t necessarily the prettiest thing in the world.  Thankfully, my website had the word “ugly” in the title twice.  Paydirt.

OH CRUD.  Twenty minutes into the hour of baking, my crust was brown and soon-to-burn.  Too thin.  Way to go, Mike Spoodles.  Way to make a pie. I moved the pie up to a higher rack in the oven, and I turned the heat down to the “second thirty-minutes'” temperature early.  I tented some tinfoil loosely over the pie, as Dorie recommended.  I had no idea what this would do, but I was flying on my feet.  I had to use all the instincts I had honed through twenty-three years of microwaving everything I’d ever eaten.  Oh dear.

I finally swallowed my pride and went to my mother for help, who told me to put the pie back on the bottom (where it is less likely to brown, apparently), and to stop running around screaming like a little ninny.  Apparently pie is pie, and pie is good.  One of life’s lessons.

I crumbled off a lot of the offending crust.

The final product?  Ugly, of course.  The taste?  My mom says, “Mmmm!  This is good.”  She specifically liked the crust.  I liked it just fine, too.  The fact that it came out tasting like an actual dessert damn near brought a tear to my eye.  My dad and brother did not eat it, but they probably would have if I had replaced the blueberries with ground beef.

A bit of a madcap first week of Tuesdays With Dorie for me, but I can only imagine that things will get smoother from here (they won’t).

So, things I bought:

Black and Decker PowerPro II Food Processor ($40)
Pyrex 9.5″ Pie Plate (“Grip-rite”)
(approx. $10)

Things I learned:

Use proper-sized dishes, or adjust recipe accordingly
How to make a pie crust
How to use a food processor
How to make a dang pie
Pie crust tastes good before you bake it

Here is nutritional information for 1/10th of the pie (which is less than Dorie’s recommended 6-8 servings, but COME ON LOOK AT THOSE CALORIES.  Haha.

Serving Size 212.2g
Amount Per Serving
Calories

593
Calories from Fat

279
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

31.0g
48%
Saturated Fat

16.8g
84%
Cholesterol

80mg
27%
Sodium

482mg
20%
Total Carbohydrates

74.9g
25%
Dietary Fiber

3.7g
15%
Sugars

35.3g
Protein

6.4g

Tuesdays with Dorky (and the temple of chocolate)

Posted in baking, food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2008 by uglydudefood

Gold, I tell you! Everything I touch turns to gold! I’ve been winning grand awards left and right!

I recently won a contest at Tuesdays with Dorie, giving me a free baking cookbook (and a seat among the hallowed TWD blogroll). TWD is a baking event. Every week, a recipe is picked from the pages of Baking:  From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Then, every blogger and their mother bakes their own version of that recipe.

I’ve not done a particularly good job of baking in the past. Most of my baking is f’aking, and then there’s some that just kind of falls apart (Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper Cupcakes, Amazing Black Bean Brownies).

Until I receive the book in the mail and get to babble endlessly about my failures as a baker and as a human being, here’s a mega-update about my adventures in chocolatey things.

I’m a…hungry girl?  That can’t be right!

In my neverending quest to eat delicious treats that somehow don’t bust my gutline, I stumbled across a newsletter called Hungry Girl. Is it run by a hungry girl? Is it a site for hungry girls? Either way, I’m emasculated by e-mail messages five days a week.

Now that we can put aside all of that macho posturing, I’ll inform you that Hungry Girl is the real shizz. I’ve been perusing years and years worth of bizarre recipes and bookmarking almost every page. The recipes are fast and easy; frequently they are made with junk you have laying around.

My first completed recipe was Yum Yum Brownie Muffins (click that link for the recipe). It’s pretty simple–a box of dry cake mix and a can of 100% pumpkin. I used Pillsbury Reduced-Sugar Devil’s Food Cake Mix, which is sweetened with a mix of sugar and Splenda. In the end, the muffins were each 153 calories. That, my friends, is a drop in the bucket. The muffin bucket.

The muffins were dense, and fudgy. Nothing in the flavor indicated that they were “diet muffins.” They were subdued enough to eat as a breakfast treat, but substantial and chocolatey enough to frost in cupcake form.

Reactions weren’t glowing, but generally positive. My mom and sister scarfed them down, and coworkers enjoyed them too.  For a quick-fix recipe, that’s really all you can ask for!

More photos of Hungry Girl’s “Yum Yum Brownie Muffins.”

Mano Amano

You may remember that I blogged about $21 of free Amano chocolate that I received.  I asked for suggestions as to what I should do with the bars, and I received some interesting ones.  While I considered Conor’s suggestion of intravenously feeding myself, I ended up following Joli’s advice and letting the shizzle dissolve in my mouth.  It’s about as close as I’ll ever get to snooty “chocolate tasting” given my level of patience.

Amano creates chocolate in three forms–Madagascar, Ocumare, and Cuyagua.  All three bars have 70% cacao content.  Texturally, these chocolates were heads above “similar” items from both the mass-market brands and the more widespread organic options.  When it comes to flavor–eh.  Some were better, some were worse.  The Madagascar was revelatory.  Amano says it “includes hints of citrus and berry,” and I’ll be damned if my untrained palate actually found them!  This is by far the best dark chocolate I’ve ever eaten.  The Ocumare was pretty good.  Although the tasting notes mention “hints of plums and other red fruit,” this one tasted (to me) pretty close to a generic dark chocolate bar.  Cuyagua (including “notes of spice”) was my least favorite of the three.  The spice seemed to be nonexistant.  The chocolate seemed somehow blander than the other products.

Are any of these products worth $7 for a bar?  I don’t think so.  I can appreciate the amount of work and care that went into each of these bars, but when you can get a (larger) bar for $2.50 in the organic section of your supermarket it seems like an awful waste to pay triple that for similar quality.

More Free Chocolate Crapola

I received a free sample of Betty Crocker Warm Delight Minis:  Molten Chocolate Cake.  It’s the Easy Mac of cakes!  Just add water, stir, microwave, and you have fresh, steamy cake.

The pack comes with a small packet of cake mix, a condom wrapper filled with fudge sauce, and a small plastic bowl.  Prep was fairly easy, requiring only two minutes of work.  The end result wasn’t bad.  It was cake-mixy and clearly not baked from scratch, but the fact that it was fresh from the “oven” improves the little cake’s value tenfold.

At 150 calories, it’s a nice (albeit expensive) calorie-cheap dessert.  It has trans fats, with partially hydrogenated oils in both the cake mix and the fudge.  Despite its caloric value (which is more a measure of its diminuative size and not its “healthiness”), this is not for the dieter.

More photos of Betty Crocker Warm Delight Minis:  Molten Chocolate Cake

In the near future, you’ll be seeing a lot more failed baking (and, presumably, a little bit of success)

And…well, maybe everything I touch doesn’t turn to gold. I have a feeling there will be a lot of baked goods that turn to black before this strange, mystical journey is over.

Kashi Granola – Mountain Medley

Posted in food, personal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2008 by uglydudefood

Kashi Granola - Mountain Medley

I love Kashi. I can attribute a great deal of my 130-lb. weight loss to their GoLean and GoLean Crunch cereals. They manage to make tasty cereals that are packed with essentials (protein, fiber, whathaveyou). For my three-plus years as a vegetarian, they were one of my favorite protein sources. Additionally, their instant oatmeal is the best instant I’ve ever eaten.

Oooh la la! I received a package in the mail from Kashi recently. I’d like to revel in the fact that I receive free review samples from companies due to my super-popular Internet web site, but really I just signed up for their mailing list a few years ago.

The Package asks: “Ready to get off your rump?”

I reply: “No.”

The paper inside the box confuses things even more: STEP 1: Eat Granola. STEP 2: Get off your rump.

Using this handy chart, it is now possible to see how one can “get off of their rump” the Kashi way!

Using this even-handier chart, it is possible to see how one can “get off of their rump” and cut out that pesky, delicious middle man!

Kashi Granola - Mountain Medley

In the end, though, I did decide to get off my rump. A week later, I took Kashi Mountain Medley Granola where it was destined to be consumed–an overnight on a local stretch of the Appalachian Trail with my friends Brad and Tom.

Kashi Granola - Mountain Medley

Kashi Mountain Medley Granola is okay. Don’t get me wrong–in a lot of cases, granola is granola and that is that. Mountain Medley is a quarter-step above your run-of-the-mill granola. The raisins and c’raisins are plentiful and the grains are as tasty as the rest of Kashi’s oeuvre. I guess maybe I’m just spoiled by the goodness that was Dingeldein Bakery’s homemade granola, which is some of the finest I’ve ever sampled.

According to Kashi’s official web page, there are three other varieties of Kashi granola–Cocoa Beach, Orchard Spice, and Summer Berry. The Orchard Spice (mixed with apples and pecans) sounds exquisite, and I’ll probably pick up a box sometime to taste.

Fresh granola–especially at exorbitant bakeries–comes at a price. Kashi’s is the best off-the-shelf granola I’ve had. If you are looking for a slightly-more-economical substitute in your granola life and you don’t have time to make your own, Kashi Mountain Medley is where it’s at. I’ve got two turn tables and a microphone.

Here are some pictographs of the gorgeous scenery I encountered.

Susquehanna River

Fire!

Another view

Tubular Twizzlers Tweeterz, Terrance!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2007 by uglydudefood

I was at the grocery store the other day looking at the candy section and shaking my head. And why? Limited Edition candies, of course.

The candy companies have been releasing the things for years and years, of course, but slapping the words “Limited Edition” on them is a fairly recent phenomenon. We used to call it “test marketing to see if people will actually buy the new, shitty product.” Hershey’s Kisses come in any variety of flavors, for instance. Chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel filled, cream filled, peanut butter filled, cordial cherry filled, coconut cream filled, almond filled, dulce de leche filled, toffee filled, chocolate truffle filled, orange flavored, strawberry flavored, mint flavored. It’s fucking ridiculous. When I was a kid, we ate Hershey’s Kisses in one exciting flavor: milk chocolate. And you know what? Nobody ever once thought to say “this flavor is not good enough and I would like a wide variety of shitty flavors from which to choose.” There’s absolutely no reason for them to keep releasing more and more crap.

If they do, though, I have some suggestions that could make me very rich. Key Lime flavored Kisses. Flavor that bad boy with cinnamon! Hershey’s kisses filled with marshmallow! Or maybe a seasonal variant that is filled with pumpkin pie filling (or chunks of candy cane). Expand into the other varieties of nuts: pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, whatever. Put pretzels in there, and potato chips. Hell, even cheese doodles. Crunchy cookies. Nougat. Whatever the hell it is that’s inside of a Butterfinger. Rice krispies, or any other cereal for that matter! Salt water taffy! Molasses! Maple syrup! Honey! All of your favorite jams and jellies! Oh, cheesecake! Fat people love cheesecake! Coffee beans (or at least coffee flavoring). You’ve already hit orange and strawberry: now go with banana. Pineapple! Grape! Get some mixed berries in there. Apple pie filling? Certainly! I think Hershey’s owns Twizzlers: start coating those things in Kisses. Licorice of any sort will do, really. I bet they could buy out Pop Rocks for surprisingly little. Throw ‘em in! Charms seemed to have some success with their Blow Pops. Maybe it’s time to stick some bubble gum in there (in a variety of flavors, of course). And why stop at that? Fill them with essential nutrients and put them next to the Flintstones vitamins on the shelf. Or put toothpaste in there and use them as an alternative to brushing your teeth. Or sell them in your grocer’s freezer with bits of precooked meat in there! Or eggs! And of course, with that comes the vegetarian alternatives: chocolate coated soy meat and the like. Can you imagine the possibilities? Chocolate isn’t enough for today’s consumer. They need to supplement it with some bizarre and off-the-wall filling that has no right being involved with a delicious sweet. I’d be rolling in the dough (which reminds me: cookie dough!) if I worked for Hershey’s corporation. I’m sure there are tons more! Those are just the ideas I came up with while I was waiting in line at the checkout. Give me more time, Hershey’s!

But really, that’s neither here nor there. I’m here to talk about Twizzlers’ seasonal variant, Twizzlers Tweeterz. My sample came from Easter 2006, so there is no guarantee that you’ll ever see these things on the shelves again. However, luck may be on your side as a Google Search turns up results for a Halloween package that includes orange and grape varieties.

Tweeterz are bits of Twizzlers-brand candy (I hesitate to say licorice because the only true licorice is the tasty black stuff). The bluebird on the package is wishing you a happy Easter, unaware that you’ll be eating its eggs well into the next year. In fact, by the time this review is posted, 2007’s Easter candy may already be on shelves.

FAST FOOD FACTS: Serving Size: 24 tweeterz. Calories: 130. Fat: 0g. These are entirely vegan.

The Easter version of Twizzlers Tweeterz come in three fruity flavors: cherry (red), strawberry (pink), and blue raspberry (blue). Chances are that you know exactly what two of the three of these taste like. Cherry and Strawberry are two of Twizzlers’ classic flavors. Blue raspberry tastes like neither blueberry (which is not raspberry) nor raspberry (which is not blue). It tastes almost exactly the same as its red cherry brethren. The candy coating adds absolutely nothing to the treat. If the shell is also fruit-flavored, I’m unable to tell. It’s almost certainly pure sugar, adding nothing but almost-sickening sweetness to the equation.

So what does that leave you with? Little bits of Twizzlers. I wouldn’t pick these up if I were you, because Twizzlers are best enjoyed in whip form.