If you’ve never been to San Francisco on July 4th, let me break it down for you: It’s freaking depressing. Cold, windy, and so foggy that we’ve never even bothered to go see fireworks in the 4 1/2 years we’ve lived here. But from the warm cocoon of our living room, they sound awfully festive! At any rate, the wintry conditions don’t hold me back from making treats suitable for the holiday, adding the perfect note to an afternoon spent grilling in an overcoat.
At first glance, these Kool-Aid Marshmallows might seem too bizarre to be a real thing. Believe me, I get it. And I wrote the recipe. But really, what we’re doing here is adding flavor to the mallows with the powdered drink mix, rather then just throwing in an extract or candy oil in the final steps of whipping. And the color is provided in powder, too, so no extra food coloring is needed to achieve a perfect candylike hue–hooray!.
While you can use any flavor of unsweetened Kool-Aid mix for these, the specimens you see in the photo above were made with Tropical Punch mix, which is one of my very favorite flavors for Kool-Aid Marshmallows. (Can you believe that I’ve experimented with this enough to have a favorite flavor This is my life, friends.) With all of their awesome fruit punchy-ness, they’re everything a marshmallow should be–fluffy, fun, full of Candy Land-esque novelty flavor. And as long as I’m on my way to Crazytown by flavoring a marshmallow with Kool-Aid, I tend to just go for it, take the scenic route, and roll the edges in Pop Rocks, which crackle delightfully upon serving. It’s all so hysterically whimisical, it almost makes you forget that you’re spending July 4th in long johns.
I’m going to give you the recipe for these gems below, but I also thought I’d give you a few more ideas for goodies for the 4th, suitable for summer get-togethers and picnics of all sorts. Enjoy!
Hi guys! So what have you been up to? Summer is in full swing now–are you sunning, doing some day drinking, searching for ways for your out-of-school children to not drive you bananas? I’ve just taken a mini-vacation of sorts around here, letting my writer’s brain turn off for a while. But I’ve not just been hanging around here watching DVR’d Barefoot Contessa episodes. First there was the business of getting cookbook number two to the printers (!!!). Then there was a bit of travel, a bit of life catch-up, Little C’s first ballet recital (so proud I literally exploded in a cloud of tulle and sequins). Also, puppy chasing and some much-needed reading of actual books with real paper pages in them. Grand!
To begin, first let’s pretend “riffable” is actually a word. Because truly, it appears so often in my personal lexicon that I would be mortified to learn that it’s not.
(Related: Let’s talk about people (note–not me) who use the word “orientated”. As in, “I am perfect for this job because I’m very detail-orientated” or “This map has me all disorientated”. I should add that if you’ve ever said either of those sentences, you probably A) did not get the job, and B) should know that’s it’s likely not the map’s fault.)
Anyway, regardless of the legitmacy of the word, I’m all about recipes that offer high a riffability factor. In fact, some of my favorite back-pocket sort of recipes aren’t really recipes at all, they’re more like ideas that open you up to a whole bunch of different variations. That’s part of the reason that I’m so bananas in love with marshmallows that I actually wrote a whole book about them and stuffed every available bit of white space with variations and ideas for riffing on the basic recipe. Homemade mallows are the perfect building block for some serious confectionery creativity and giving you all kinds of ways to blow minds and take names.
But with mallows, no matter how simple the process and how large the payoff, there is most definitely a recipe involved it takes some doing. So say you want the glorious, candied blank canvas, with even less effort. Well, I’m picking up what you’re laying down and I’ve got just the thing for you. Like most things in life, the idea begins with a slab of good chocolate. I don’t see how this could not go well.
Happy Monday, dear readers. For those of you following my madness on Twitter and/or The Facebooks, you might have already heard the latest from these parts over the weekend. WE GOT A PUPPY, OMG. He is delicious and high maintenance and we are drowning in a sea of cute and newspaper. I may become one of those bloggers that posts pictures of her puppy now, so just get prepared for some of that. To begin, let me justify such postings by offering proof of just how illegally adorable this puppy is. We’d been looking to add a pup to the family for a while, but have always looked at older dogs, and then we ran into this little guy at a sidewalk SPCA setup and BOOM–game over. His name is Jake, he’s a two month-old Spaniel mix and he’s TOO MUCH.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, it’s time to ask a big favor of all y’all. The other news is that I’ve teamed up with a really fabulous production company to produce a special baking-related project. It’s been in the works for a little while, and we’re finally close to shooting. Here’s where you come in, friends. If you happen to live in NYC or the surrounding area and are available Saturday, June 2nd (or the 3rd for a raindate), I’d for you to come visit for a couple hours and be part of the whole crazy experience, and round out a group activity that we’ll be shooting as part of the project. You may or may not be asked to bring a baked good as the date gets closer, but really, we just need some good people to come hang out for a couple hours who don’t mind appearing on camera. Selfishly, I also love that this could be an opportunity to finally meet some of you in real life and enthusiastically compliment each other’s skin and hair.
So what do ya think? If you’re into it, send me an e-mail at shauna (at) shaunasever (dot) com and I can provide you with more details. This is nuts, right?! I’m pretty pumped about it, and even more so having some of you be part of the action. I’ll be back soon with a cookie recipe that I loved so much, I ate the whole dang batch myself.
I’ll be real–breakfast time is rough around these parts. To be more real–I feel like I’ve been thrown into a flippin’ rodeo ring before I’ve even had a chance to put on a bra. I mean, COME ON.
If you read my last post detailing my growing dependence on coffee, you have at least one part of the puzzle, which is to say it takes me a heck of a long time in the morning to get my brain around the fact that we’re starting a new day. But if you’ve ever been woken up by a small child, you know that it’s the exact opposite in their little brains. I will never understand the sheer volume and quantity of words that come out of Little C’s mouth at 6:00 a.m., half of which are inevitably tied to “Where’s my glitter scarf?” and “What’s for breakfast?”. I-yi-yi, kid, I dunno–the couch, cereal, or something, I guess? Where am I? What day is it?
But occasionally, I don’t need to worry about figuring out breakfast and it is a glorious thing, indeed. Because sometimes, the night before, after the sort of very productive day where I’m so on point post-dinner that I’m actually thinking ahead to the next morning, I pull this recipe out of the arsenal.
A great many of us know the glory of using the slow cooker to assemble dinner at that golden hour of 9 to 10 a.m., when the morning rush has slowed but the rest of the insanity has yet to pick up, and it’s the perfect time to throw some stuff into said slow cooker so that when you’re ready to jump off the roof at 4:30, dinner is already well on its way to being done with no extra effort from you. Lawsie mercy, how I love the slow cooker. And when I figured out that you can use it to make breakfast to defray the morning fogginess as well, it was a pret-ty special discovery.
Know this: I often fear, with increasing regularity, that I am becoming a Cathy cartoon. Which is to say that sometimes I feel I am composed entirely of foibles. The most certain of these is my dependence on coffee. I suppose I’m well within the limits of what’s considered “healthy” in terms of my coffee consumption, but nevertheless, I am starting to get concerned about what can be described as sheer primal need for my first cup of the morning. I swear I can even hear Cathy-esque thoughts happening in my head as I stumble to grind the beans and fill the pot. “GIVE ME COFFEEEEE OR GIVE ME DEATH!! ACK!!”
It doesn’t exactly make you feel youthful, these Cathy thoughts. I’ll tell you that right now. But on the plus side, always having coffee on the in morning leaves a little leftover to play with, which is super fun when you’re a mad scientist baker like myself.
(Sidebar: Isn’t it also totally an Old Lady Thing to refer to coffee as being “on”? Gah. )
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So yesterday was a big day, folks. The sort of day that I’ve been giddy about for weeks on end. Yesterday I got up, mainlined about half a pot of coffee, and actually managed to shower and dress myself before dropping Little C off at school. Post-drop off, I drove to the KQED studios here in San Francisco, got settled in front of a microphone and tried to act like it was a totally normal day. Except it so totally wasn’t. Because I was there to talk with Lynne Rossetto Kasper and record an interview about marshmallows for The Splendid Table. Ohmahgah.
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