Christmas in July

 

With the kind of start to the month that my family had you would definitely understand why I titled this post, “Christmas in July”. Our lives were rocked by an incident that  caused my family to be separated from each other temporarily at the beginning of the month. The things that we were going through made me empathize with the many families who have been separated by the border patrol agents, the justice system and even medical ailments and diseases.

Our reunion this month truly felt like Christmas came early. With joy in our soul and love in our hearts, it was just the pick me up we all needed to remind us that the love of God is real and ever present. Feeling like I had witnessed a miracle happen before my very eyes I was soaring like an eagle spiritually when my birthday sailed around on the 14th of this month.

My birthday wish this year was simply to have my family be together and not disjointed. I got exactly what I wanted so it was certainly time to celebrate.

Circumstances each day are beyond our control but how we get through these situations are the true tests that life throws at you unexpectedly. My family and I aren’t strangers to hard times as we have survived and overcome many obstacles placed in our way. Celebrating my 37th birthday was a welcomed reflection of all that I have experienced, endured or overcame in my lifetime thus far. I am proud of the woman I am today. I am hopeful for the woman I will be tomorrow. The food spread was amazing and catered by yours truly. Yes I cooked my own food. I like my food the best. I’m just saying. The final spread included a Family Variety Feast from Bojangles that contained chicken, chicken tenders, mac and cheese, dirty rice, french fries and sweet tea. I prepare and cooked 2 racks of BBQ ribs, cheeseburger sliders, a crawfish boil, steamed and spiced shrimp, guacamole, hot dogs and crab dip. Of course there was tons of food to last us a couple of days and it was all delicious. I ate so much crawfish and shrimp on my birthday that I didn’t even get a chance to eat an actual plate after that. It was cake to top it all off and that was all she wrote. I was stuffed.

The crawfish were so fresh and juicy. I found a new home at Captain Greg’s Seafood on Mechanicsville Turnpike. The ladies there were friendly and knowledgable. I picked up the crab dip here too and a few sleeves of Ritz crackers too.

Today I woke up and got right back to the things that I have been working on because this is important to me. I miss working on my blog. I miss the excitement and intrique of engagement. Seeing the notifications and comments, watching the numbers rise slowly each month. It’s not a science that I have yet perfected but I am invested enough to keep giving this my best shot.

I jumped back on the bandwagon today and found a new recipe on Pinterest. I was looking for a recipe to use my overipened bananas in. I remembered pinning a Jamaican Banana Fritters recipe a few week ago, so I pulled it up and confirmed I had all of the ingredients or a suitable substitute before immersing myself back in blog life.

This recipe was great right off the bat because of it’s ease and convenience. How many times have we braved the kitchen to whip something up magical and realize we are short an ingredient or two or three? I dread the shame walk back to the store to retrieve additional items. Proper planning is key to reducing these dreadful trips back to the supermarket.

The Jamaican Banana Fritters recipe that I tried today is courtesy of http://www.cookingmaniac.com. The ingredients needed are 3 super ripe bananas, 2 eggs, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, flour, milk, molasses, sugar, salt and oil to shallow fry fritters.

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My super ripened bananas to be used in the Jamaican Banana Fritters.

The recipe boasts five steps and is not exactly clear as to when the molasses should be incorporated into the mixture. I figured this out when I was ready to fry and I realized that the recipe didn’t address it. So I added it into the batter/mixture  before beginning the frying process.

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Jamaican Banana Fritters being shallow fried in a cast iron skillet.

This recipe is super simple and it came out light and delicious. I found the final product to be very light in sweetness overall but the confectioner’s sugar helped tremendously. So long story short, if you like them barely sweet keep this recipe as is. If you want more sweetness add in more sugar to the batter or coat generously with confectioner’s sugar after fried and cooled.

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The finished product Jamaican Banana Fritters coated generously with confectioner’s sugar.

So far 2 of my four children have all tasted and approved the Jamaican Banana Fritter’s recipe. I ate 3 so far myself so that’s got to mean something good right? I’d interested to see if my daughter will like these, she’s a big eater but sometimes she just doesn’t gravitate to certain things. I think my husband will tell me it’s good regardless but I definitely don’t think these are his cup of tea. I’m interested to see how similar New Orleans beignets are to these fritters. Maybe I’ll try that next.

Either way I’m back, and you can see what’s going on around this side of the woods by following me on Twitter @PleasantsMomof4.

Hope to see you soon!

Peace and Blessings,

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4

 

 

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Debunking the Recipe: Magic Custard Cake

photogrid_15176351402271643825378.jpg     I was feeling good about my last post on “Debunking” the Hasselback Puff Fried Chicken recipe even though the results went in another direction. I was definitely disappointed that I wasn’t able to achieve the blossom effect of the chicken but I shall attempt the chicken tender blossom again one day. Yet it was time to move on to the next recipe and I was looking for a good follow-up recipe to debunk.

Mind you this whole debunking idea fell out of the sky into my lap. How many times have you tried a recipe to have it go horribly wrong? That’s happened to me more than I care to admit costing me a lot of frustrations, wasted money and food. If it’s one thing I hate…it’s waste. I don’t like seeing anything get wasted much less time, food or money  – all very precious commodities needed to rear a growing family. So I thought how awesome would it be to have someone available (namely me) who could try out these questionable recipes and confirm whether it’s the recipe, ingredients or user error? There are times when these recipes are misleading or just flat-out wrong in their attempt to instruct us. My goal is to offer valuable information or tips to help the recipe come together or salvage a potential disaster by improvising confidently in the kitchen.

Imagine my surprise when I was doing one of my favorite pastimes…you already know I was on Pinterest…when I found the Magic Custard Cake recipe. When do I have all of this time to browse Pinterest? It’s called multi-tasking. I found this recipe while I was chilling on the couch with my oldest son and my hubby while they were playing against each other on NBA 2018. The other 3 bambinos were fast asleep as it was past their bedtime. So again I was multi-tasking and initially when I looked at the recipe I wasn’t sold on it. I moved on still looking for the perfect follow – up to the hasselback puff fried chicken and somehow I doubled back the the recipe coments. There were a lot of mixed results in the comments. Some people reported having a good final result that was similar to the picture. Others flat out failed at the attempt. There were lots of commenters who also thought the cake lacked general flavor. I was intrigued. Upon review of the ingredients – all items I normally have on stock I decided it might be worth the try. What grabbed me was the fact that this recipe required separating eggs and whipping egg whites into peaks – all that seemed possibly challenging. Separating eggs is not that complicated but it does require a certain amount of patience if you’re not very comfortable handling raw eggs. Thankfully they sell gadgets that will make separating eggs easy if you want to make your life super simple. The whipping of the eggs was something that I didn’t do often in the kitchen. I’ve never made a meringue of any sort. We don’t eat a lot of casseroles or souffles for that matter. So as I ramp up my skills and experience I wanted to master whipping egg whites.

I’m a much more confident and comfortable cook and future chef these days. I live in the kitchen and I love to cook. I wasn’t always confident or comfortable enough to try new foods and new techniques. All I want to do is learn more and grow. The dream is to get to culinary school and I’ll be back on track with that soon. In the meantime I’ve enjoyed learning through the many videos, recipes and books that I’ve read. Let’s not forget the countless episodes of “Chopped”, cooking shows on the Food Network, “Top Chef”…I could go on and on. Still I’m proud of the transition that I have made in my skill level and drive and passion for food and cooking. Always trying to help out when I can, this “Debunking the Recipe” series is homage to the old Tameka who struggled to find confidence in cooking and needed a little help or guidance a long the way and all of the gracious and patient cooks who served me some grace with their tips, suggestions or guidance. One of those people was my grandmother, Viola who would always be willing to share what she knew to help me. I can’t remember how many times I asked her about a cooking flop I was experiencing and she would always tell me what to do differently to get the result I was looking for. She would love this series. (RIP Granny)

I’m happy to report that this recipe went very well. I did have to make a trip to the store for unsalted butter since I unknowingly had run out of it. I had margarine but I couldn’t deviate from the recipe – the result could definitely be skewed. Since I had to make a trip for the unsalted butter I decided to purchase a disposable pan – one less dish to make. The recipe called for an 8 x 8 pan but I opted for the 7 x 7 square aluminum pan because all the other pans were too large. (In hindsight – this recipe makes enough for a 9 x 13 because I ended up with 2 of the 7 x 7) Once I had all the items necessary I returned to my kitchen/lab to debunk how magical this custard cake is. I prepped for this by allowing the unsalted butter to melt in a glass measuring cup atop the oven while it was pre-heating. I also measured the milk and allowed that to warm atop the oven. A good tip I’ve since read about whipping eggs would have you use room temperature eggs as it is a better temperature for whipping.

Next I sprayed my aluminum pan with baking spray and began to separate my eggs. By this time I had gotten the attention of Cassius my youngest son who wanted to help with the Magic Custard Cake. He questioned what custard was but decided that it looked interesting enough. After separating my eggs I used my electric mixer to whip the egg whites on a medium speed. It took roughly 12 minutes to get the stiff peak the recipe called for. During the 12 minute whip window we moved on to Step 4 that involves beating the egg yolks and powdered sugar together. I opted to hand whip this since my electric mixer was in use and I really hate using tons of dishes so I didn’t bother pulling out the hand mixer. Whisk in hand I took on the egg yolks and powdered sugar that crumbled and clumped together in my whisk wires. It looked dry. During the egg separating some of the yolk may have been lost in process so I cracked another egg, separated it and add the yolk. I removed the contents from the wires and started to whisk again this time creating a smooth like paste almost batter. Things continued to go well through Steps 5-7 when you’re incorporating the melted butter, water, flour, milk and vanilla extract. It was at Step 8 that I flubbed my good streak and dumped more than 1/3 of the egg whites into the flour mixture. After I realized I poured too much I began using my spatula to fold in the egg whites quickly. The batter now had a bubbly airy look to it. I folded in the last of the egg whites in halves and was satisfied with the shiny batter that reflected in the bowl. I then poured the batter into the pan, realized I had too much batter and sprayed another pan quickly to bake the remainder. I put the cake pan in the oven directly on the rack – no tray required and set the time for 40 minutes. I then threatened children with bodily harm if they even dreamed about running anywhere in the house till my cake finished. Time went by kind of fast because before I knew it I was breaking my own rule and running down the steps to save it from the oven.

Eager eyes awaited as I sat the hot cake on the counter top and placed the second cake in the oven. It was just their luck that this cake needed to be completely cooled before it was dusted with powdered sugar. I went back to what I was doing and almost forgot about the cake until the timer for the second cake went off. It still needed more time so I had convinced the helpers that they may have to wait till the next day to try it. About an hour after that I remembered some gummy bears in my cabinet and went to retrieve them and was reminded of the cooled cake. I grabbed my powdered sugar and sifter and began sifting powdered sugar atop the cake covering it completely. I then cut it into 9 cute squares. I removed it from the pan and it looked good. I thought I achieved the custard and cake layers superbly. I tasted it and it was okay. The custard consistency was dead on. I could taste the vanilla. The top layer had a small bite to it underneath the powdered sugar but it was a very underwhelming dessert overall. My husband liked it. He usually hates stuff like that but he thought it was refreshingly light. He was drawn to the bread pudding like effect it gave him. He suggested adding raisins on top in the future. Duly noted. In an instant my middle son King had appeared from out of nowhere with a smile on his face the size of Texas. He got his slice which he devoured and claimed to like. The real test will be when I offer him a piece the next day. He will either accept it quickly or he will reluctantly accept it – the latter meaning he didn’t like it last night.

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Next on deck to try the Magic Custard Cake was my oldest son, Fredo – on first taste – the face he made said it all. He got the disclaimer, “you can throw it away”. And he did. He still said it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t his thing. Thirteen year olds right? I know. My helpers didn’t outlast the cooling of the cakes and had fell asleep watching television on the couch. I gave them their respective slices today once they realized they had missed out on the late night cake tasting. Cassius was not a fan and would only taste a corner of what was on his fork. Praise took two bites and resorted to saving the rest for later. Me, I’m about to try another piece that has completely chilled and set. It’s good. It’s very light. It has a delicate vanilla flavor. I could taste the textures of the three distinctive layers with this cake. The bottom is more of a skin like crust – the middle is the custard – and the top is the cake layer. In my mind this recipe would benefit from some white chocolate perhaps or maybe even raisins.

All in all I am delighted with the results and even more delighted that I gave this a second taste today. I think the recipe was easy to read and follow – and it garnered a great result based on the picture and instructions. Cooks that attempt this recipe should ensure eggs are whipped long enough to achieve the same result. Also keep in mind environmental conditions like altitudes and things that could slightly skew results. Otherwise Pleasant Cooking!!!

#DebunkingtheRecipe

#Pinterest

#averypleasantlife

 

 

 

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