Thursday, September 29, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

You read that right. Homemade marshmallows! I saw this recipe originally on Good Eats with Alton Brown and I really wanted to make them but it seemed really complicated and over my head culinarily speaking.

When Sarah announced Vanilla as the ingredient for this round I knew I wanted to use it in bean form since I've never used vanilla beans but knew how to work with them based on what I'd seen on the Food Network. I did a quick Punchfork search and after mulling over several recipes decided I'd take a leap of faith and chose the Pieces of Heaven (homemade marshmallows!).

I read the recipe at least once before I started. This is a good practice, but not something I do regularly. With this recipe I knew things needed to be exact so I made sure my mise en place was ready! I even went to the store for the 2nd time that day to get kosher salt just to be sure everything was as directed.

Here's how I made them:

I started by putting 3 packets of gelatin and 1/2 c of cold water in the stand mixer bowl. I later decided this could be done while the sugar/corn syrup concoction was cooking, but I'm not sure it makes a difference.
I combined the other 1/2 c of water, 1.5 c of granulated sugar, 1 c of light corn syrup and 1 tsp of kosher salt in a sauce pan and placed on medium-high heat, covered, for about 3 minutes. Then uncover and place thermometer in pan and cook until 240-degrees exactly. (At about 225-degrees the temperature stopped increasing, so I went ahead and increased the heat on the stove and soon got to 240.)

While the sugar mixture was cooking, I split 2 vanilla beans and scraped out the seeds.

Once it reached 240-degrees, I removed the pan from the heat and poured it along the side of the stand mixer bowl with the gelatin and water, whisking on low. Once all the sugar mixture was in, I added the vanilla bean seeds and turned the mixer to high for about 12 minutes.

I won't lie, when I looked in the bowl and saw marshmallow fluff whirling around I may or may not have let out an evil cackle! I was doing it! I was making marshmallows in my kitchen!!

Once the fluff reached room temperature and looked adequately fluffy, I scraped it with a lightly oiled scraper into a pan prepared with pan spray and a mix of equal parts corn starch and powdered sugar. I then covered the top of the fluff with more corn starch and powdered sugar.

I let mine sit overnight, but as little as 4 hours will work, too.

After that, I flipped the marshmallow over onto a cutting board and removed the foil.
 Using a pizza cutter I cut the marshmallow into strips lengthwise.
I then cut the strips into little marshmallow cubes. I tossed each of the cubes in the corn starch and powdered sugar mixture to cover the stickiness.

So Mike teases me for eating marshmallows just, but I know for a fact there are others that snack on plain ol' marshmallows, too! Otherwise, why would they make those little 100-calorie packs of mini-marshmallows?! I used to love those back when I thought a calorie was a calorie! (Says the girl who just made a tray of marshmallows...)

Anyway, to keep peace in the marriage (Me: Did you try a marshmallow?! Mike: No, they scare me.) I agreed to make S'mores with the homemade mallows. It's sort of a pain to get the charcoal grill going for just a few marshmallows, so Mike pulled out his blow torch. (If you know Mike, you aren't surprised.)

OMG, we're so classy. It worked pretty well and I was happy with the results. I mean, who doesn't love S'mores on a Tuesday night?!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Family Affair!

In support of my appearance in Happy Days: A New Musical, my mom, dad and our family friend, Terry, all came down to San Antonio for the last weekend of the show. Of course, South Texas has a lot to offer, so we made sure they got to see plenty of other things while they were here!

Mom got in Thursday and Rhonda and I took her to lunch before an afternoon of catching up on housework (Mike and I) and work work (Mom). Thursday evening we all went out for Korean food and then came home to sit on the beautiful new screened in patio and enjoy the cooler weather.

On Friday, Mike had to work so Rhonda, Mom and I headed up to San Marcos for the afternoon. We had lunch along the San Marcos River at the River Pub and Grill.
Our view at lunch

Rhonda and I enjoying the fresh air

Mom and Rhonda in front of the San Marcos River

After lunch we headed to the Texas State Aquarena for the glass bottom boat tour around a spring-fed lake. It was very cool!

When we returned to San Antonio, Dad and Terry arrived and they all went to dinner while I did the 3rd performance of Happy Days.

On Saturday morning we had breakfast at Panera in preparation for a day at Sea World. It was a great day to go and we were very grateful for Mike's military discount! 4 free tickets and the remaining 2 were discounted as well as 30% off food! What a great deal! Thanks, Sea World! (And Mike, for defending freedom!)

First we got to feed and pet some dolphins!
Then we went to the Shamu show.

Baby Shamu with his mamma!
Mike and I wanted to go on a roller coaster. After seeing it go by a few times, Dad and Rhonda decided they would come with us. Mom and Terry passed. We rode the "Great White" inverted roller coaster twice and the "Steel Eel" roller coaster once.
We went on the Great White twice!
The Steel Eel has lots of big drops. No loops though!
It was getting close to the time we needed to leave so we made our way to the exit. Along the way we stopped to say 'hi' to the penguins.
After that we all went home to get cleaned up for the show! I was so happy that everyone could come see me perform. It was a really great show, too!

Mom had to go home around lunchtime on Sunday. After that Dad, Terry, Mike and I went downtown to do some sightseeing. We checked out the Alamo,

And the Riverwalk,
That's us on top of the bridge!
After we all took a well-deserved nap, Rhonda came over to go to dinner with us. Before we left, we checked on the chickens. Dad wanted to give them something to eat so I found some blueberries in the fridge he could use. They ate right out of his hand!
 Of course then everyone else wanted to try it!
We all went to dinner with Geoff and Ellie to Mon's Thai. The original plan was to cook out, but it was over 100-degrees that day and everyone was pretty tired. Eating out seemed like the best option. For dessert, Ellie made everyone little cakes with "Happy Days" decorations!

What a great weekend! Thanks to everyone who helped make it special!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

These Happy Days are Yours and Mine: Reconnecting with my passion

Back in June I found out that the Lackland Performing Arts Group (on Lackland AFB, where Mike is stationed) was going to be holding auditions for "Happy Days: A New Musical." I had been meaning to attend meetings for the group for about 6 months, but just hadn't done it. A brush with being on stage in April reminded me how much I enjoyed performing so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get back in the game.

I reminded myself that this was just a hobby and if I got a chorus part that would be fantastic and if they didn't choose me for any part I would just be happy that I tried. I dutifully prepared my selection, "If I Were a Bell" from Guys and Dolls, a song I had performed on stage as Sarah some 10 years before. I downloaded the instrumental music and recorded myself singing on my iPhone camera (wow, technology has come a long way since I did this stuff!).

When I arrived for the audition, I saw several copied scripts. Women's roles included "Pinky" (Fonzie's girl), "Joanie", "Lori Beth" (Richie's girl), "Marion" or a Pinkette (Pinky's posse). I chose to read for "Lori Beth" and "Marion" (hey, I'm not in high school anymore and there will probably be a long of young 'uns doing this!). I didn't feel like a "Pinky" and "Joanie" felt like too big of a role at this point.

I stepped into the audition and gave them my CD. I began singing and all three directors started writing vigorously. They stopped my music after the first verse. They asked who I'd like to read for and when I told them they said "Go grab the script for Pinky, look it over and come back in." In the end, I was selected to play the part of Pinky!

Over the next 3 months I diligently attended rehearsals (with a 3-week break during my trip to Oklahoma). I was always excited to go to rehearsals and when I was there time went fast. I came home energized and chatty. I was full of stories of who did what that was funny and what song we worked on that night. It was great to be back.

A couple weeks before the first performance things got real. We had costumes and we were working with complete sets and props. This was going to be great!
Act I, Scene 4 at Arnold's
Pinky, Fonzie, Chachi, and Joanie

The performances were great. Nothing went terribly wrong in any of the 4 shows. We had great crowds that were very supportive.
The Pink is in Town!

"What I Dreamed Last Night" with Joanie and Marion

Elvis and James Dean remind The Fonz to keep his collar turned up

Final Bows!

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to participate in this production. I'm also blessed that over 20 people came to see me play Pinky.
Dad and me
Mom and me
Terry and me

Mike even came to 3 of the 4 performances!
Wah wah wah!

And, of course, after the last performance we had a rockin' cast party! Our pianist, Miss Gina, had us over to her beautiful house for some yummy food and karaoke!
LeVon and Ben


Fosco and Eric singing "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"

Laura and Kendra watch from the sidelines!