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    Entries in gimme some sugar baby (25)

    Tuesday
    Sep042012

    You Jelly?

    This is a mesquite tree.

    Mesquite trees have thorns. Be careful.

    Mesquite trees also make beans.

    Lots of them.

    Beans can be made into jelly.

    Beans?? Yup. Beans.

    When they're "ripe" you can hear the seeds rattling around inside them, but a couple green ones isn't going to hurt anything.

    Bean Jelly. Not Green Jelly, the hilarious 80s band that did a cover of "Three Little Pigs" metal style.

    And the best part is that the beans grow wild across the street from Recipe Guy's house.

    Mesquite Bean Jelly

    • About a gallon of mesquite beans
    • Water
    • 2 c sugar
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1/2 package of dry fruit pectin

    I hate using the "package" measure, but I'm not sure how much that was... the package says 49 grams, so I guess around 25? It looked like maybe 1/6 of a cup... I think.

    Kinda.

    Um, I forgot to do an Ingredients pic with this one, so I'm just going to keep typing like I know what I'm doing.

    The best way to rinse the beans is in a sink full of water.

    This also encourages any critters who have been munching on your beans to vacate them. Yes, there will be critters. This is wild food which means it's someone else's link in the food chain, and you're going to have to out compete them if you want to eat.

    Pick through the beans and remove any that have holes in them or look like they've been nibbled on. We had about a 50% recovery: we picked about 2 gallons of beans to get 1 gallon of usable ones.

    Break the beans into pieces, cover them with an inch or two of cold water (above the bean level), and bring them to a boil.

    After about 5 minutes, it starts to smell kinda sweet, almost like chamomile tea. Once it's boiled for 5 minutes, turn the heat off, cover it, and let it steep for another 30.

    Definitely tea.

    There's a distinct floral aroma, that you wouldn't expect from beans.

    Strain the beans. You can pause here in the process and refridgerate or freeze your bean tea if you've done enough for the day.

    When you're ready to make jelly, dump the tea back in the pot and bring it back to a boil. Keep boiling until you have 1 1/2 cups of tea. The colour definitely darkens as you concentrate it. This isn't the best light, but it's a lovely reddish gold colour.

    (you can check your level by either pouring hot tea into a pyrex cup to check and then back into the pot to continue, or: before you start, put 1.5 cups of water in your pot to get an idea of what that level looks like then dump it out and put the tea in to boil)

    I think this is the point at which we made a mistake.

    Not a cataclysmic one by any means, but the end product wasn't quite what we were expecting.

    We didn't let our tea cool.

    This messed with our pectin, which needs to start out cool and then be heated, not poured into a pot of boiling tea.

    Oops.

    So, let your tea cool. Completely. Like until it's not hot.

    Neither of us have ever made jam or jelly before and had no clue ... Taneasha is laffing at us, I know.

    Okay, so with your cool concentrated tea...

    Put the tea back in the pot and add the lemon juice, sugar, and the pectin.

    Stir this gently as you bring it back to a boil. The recipe we found at Edible Austin said to boil it one minute, but looking at the pectin package... I'm seeing slightly different instructions. So, in addition not to starting with boiling tea, read the directions. (freaking engineers, think they know how to do things without instructions... )

    Keep it at a full rolling boil (this means that the boil doesn't stop or slow if you stir it) for one minute.

    Pour your supposedly thickened jelly into a large clean jar.

    You can actually see the tiny beads of solidified pectin stuck to the sides of the pot in this pic. That's where some of the missing "jelly" went, I think. Wouldn't have happened if we'd started with cold tea.

    We aren't properly "canning" the jelly because we only made a tiny test batch, and we're pretty sure it's going to be eaten quickly.

    Because although it has the consistency of syrup,

    it tastes fucking awesome.

    The floral aroma totally stayed, and there's a distinct flavour of wildflower honey. Amazing on biscuits and with late season peaches.

    This was my first attempt at using pectin to gel anything. What have you canned?

     

    Tuesday
    Jun262012

    nuts to that

    Is it chocolate or is it a nut?

    I had a request for cookies with white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts in them. I've heard of this combo before but I'm not really fond of chunky bits of nuts in my cookies so I've never bothered with them. But they asked, and so I make.

    I figured though, if I'm going to fill a cookie with these pale bits of stuff, it needs to be something other than a typical drop cookie. So I decided to make a super chocolately brownie style cookie.

    Reverse Chocolate Macadamia Nut Chip Cookies

    What you need:

    • 8 ounces unsweetend chocolate
    • ¼ c butter
    • 1 ½  cup sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups. DON'T do that; it's too much)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoons salt
    • 1 cup white chocolate chips
    • 1 c chopped macamadamia nuts

    What you gotta do:

    Okay, first off, I used too much flour. I made mine with a full 2 cups and they didn't spread at all as they baked, and they were a little crumblier than I'd hoped for. So, I'm thinking that if you reduce it to 1 1/2 cups, they should have a better shape and texture.

    Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave. Start with a minute and a half at 50% power, stir, and then a minute at 50% power, stir. You don't want the chocolate to melt entirely in the microwave. Don't worry, the residual heat will get rid of the rest of the chunks.

    In a big bowl, mix the eggs and sugar together.

    Add the vanilla and the melted chocolate to the big bowl. Stir until it's lovely and dark and glossy.

    I had thought I'd be able to bash the macamadamia nuts in the bag they came in with the bottom of the baking powder jar to break them up. Didn't work.

    So, chopping them with a knife. They're a much softer nut than say an almond or a pecan, and they seem to shave better than they chop. mmm shaved nuts.

    If you feel like sifting the flour, baking powder, and salt before you add it to the big bowl, go right ahead. I didn't. I just piled it all on top (srsly, don't use this much flour) and gave it a bit of a premix before I mixed it all in.

    Yay, flour. I was having a seriously spilly kinda of day.

    Yup, definitely too much flour.

    It all mixed in though... there are times when chocolate really just isn't very photogenic.

    Add the nuts and the white chocolate chips to the dough.

    Now, if you only used 1 1/2 cups of flour, chilling the dough before you scoop it onto the baking sheet will probably work well to give you a nice soft cookie. Mine though retained their shape a little too well after chilling. So, I left the dough on the counter after the second round.

    It didn't help much. There are some things that just can't be fixed, and too much flour in your cookie dough is one of them.

    Good enough. They're chocolate, there's lots of them, and though the texture is a little less than ideal, they don't taste half bad. You could do this with bittersweet chocolate, but then they'd be too sweet to eat more than 3 or 4 at a time.

    Bake them at 325 for 10 minutes and let them cool on a rack before you pack them up to take to work. Or pile them onto a plate to eat in bed.