Dearest Boo, remember being in high school youth group when Chad was our director? And remember his introducing us to “Veggie Tales”? How we all so loved watching them during the lock-ins. It helped us all get in touch with our inner child.
“VeggieTales” is a series of children’s computer animated films featuring vegetables with faces, but without arms or legs. The main theme of each video conveyed Christian moral themes and taught Biblical values and lessons. The animated feature involved stories told by a group of recurring vegetable characters who lived on a kitchen countertop. The videos generally follow a standard format where a moral issue is discussed in the opening scene followed by one or more “films” that address the issue, with a silly song in the middle. I just loved the characters: Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato, Archibald Asparagus, Junior Asparagus, Frankencelery, Madame Blueberry, Percy Pea, Annie Scallion, and so many new ones since we stopped our perverse passion for the veggies. All this explains the embedded video. It’s from “Bob and Larry’s Campfire Songs”.
And campfires remind me of S’mores and S’mores remind me of marshmallows and marshmallows remind me of Peeps. One of your all time favorite candy. I would always make sure that you had some for whatever gift giving occasion. Red hearts for Valentine’s Day, yellow chicks in your Easter basket, pink tulips for your birthday, white ghosts for Halloween, green trees for Christmas and this year snowmen! That must be in honor of the Great Blizzard of 2009. Three days of 50 – 60 mph wind gusts and falling snow, drifting snow, blowing snow, and the dreaded snow plow snow that buries in your driveway hour after you spend back breaking hours shoveling it out. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I’ve just been! I know that there is a hot, dark place in Hell reserved for those plows.
It took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to pee. By the time I got undressed, finished the bathroom job and dressed again. I was too tired to shovel. Reminds me of my favorite scene in the movie “A Christmas Story” where Randy’s mom bundles him up for the walk to school. The poor child has on so many layers of clothing he cannot put down his arms. It just is not Christmas until I have the chance to watch it once during the holiday. And of course, we cannot forget the part when Ralphie’s friends Flick and Schwartz were fighting over whether a person’s tongue will stick to a frozen flagpole. Schwartz ultimately issues Flick a “triple dog dare” and Flick’s tongue gets stuck to the pole, much to his terror. Aw, the memories that brings back to mind of some dumb kid in our neighborhood, when we were growing up, who decided to try this same trick (long before the movie came out). This big dummy used a metal trailer instead of a flagpole, but the end results were the same. The first layer of tongue was painfully ripped away and left on the side of the trailer. I have it on the best authority that it was a painful, embarrassing episode that was never repeated but often told with great glee by all the nasty, horrible siblings who took great joy in being able to recount the only time this poor, creative youngster ever made a mistake. Yes, that poor, tortured soul was indeed me and the nasty, horrible siblings were your aunts Rose, Margaret, Bev, Charlotte, Teri and brothers Al and Mike.
Once again, I have “rabbit tracked” away from the theme of the blog – Peeps. When you were young you would actually eat the Peeps, even the stale ones. As you grew older we would “play” with the Peeps. We first started just putting the entire package into the microwave for two minutes to see what would happen. Peep guts everywhere! Fun to do, but disgusting to clean up. The next progression was to “Peep Joust”. To have a Peep Joust, simply stick a toothpick in two Peeps, place them facing each other in a microwave, and fire that sucker up. Soon enough, the two Peeps will swell and one will stab the other one with its toothpick jousting lance. And finally we had the “Mortal Peep Fight”. With that we would put two Peeps on a plate in the microwave for a pre-determined length of time. The winner was determined by which Peep was the largest size when the timer rang. All so much fun.
That had to stem from your sheer joy of taking things apart. The best gift ever when you were young was when something broke and you were able to take it apart. The joy on your face as you got out the screw drivers, hammers and what ever other tool you could find was total joy for me. You were so curious to see how something was put together and how long it would take for you to dismantle it. Of course, cleaning up your mess was a whole other story.
Again, “rabbit tracks” from Peeps…..this year, since I had tons of extra time to cook and bake I went nuts. By the middle of December the only thing left in the cupboard that was “bakable or cookable” was some sugar and corn syrup. Much like Old Mother Hubbard, my cupboards were bare. Staring at your Christmas stocking and the little snowman Peeps, it hit me. Eureka! I could make marshmallows. I had heard of homemade marshmallows, but have never tasted them. A little bit of research on the web and I had tons of recipes to try. And they all looked easy. I made one batch and loved the little darlings. Imagine my surprise the next day to watch one of my favorite shows, “The Bonnie Hunt Show”, only to see Brian and Michael Voltaggio (Top Chef cast members) making marshmallows!! Oh my gosh! Could we be on the cutting edge of the next food craze – marshmallows?? Again, apologies for the camera work. Some day I will be better, I promise.
In honor of Peeps and homemade marshmallows and with deep apologies to Willie Nelson I bring you my version of “To All the Peeps We’ve Know and Loved”. Truly Joy Rising!
To all the peeps we’ve loved before
Who traveled in and out our door.
We’re glad you’re not a frog
We dedicate this blog
To all the peeps we’ve loved before
Hand Loved Marshmallows
Recipe from Alton Brown
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: approximately 9 dozen marshmallows about 1” square
- 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 1 c water, divided into ½ c and ½ c
- 1 ½ c. granulated sugar
- 1 c light corn syrup
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ c powdered sugar
- ¼ c cornstarch
- nonstick spray (Pam)
- Place the gelatin in the bowl of a stand mixer along with ½ c of the water.
- In a small saucepan combine the remaining ½ c water, sugar, corn syrup and salt.
- Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.
- Once mixture reaches this temperature immediately remove from the heat.
- Turn the mixer on low speed and, while still running, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture.
- Once you have added all the syrup, increase the speed to high.
- Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. The mixture will look just like thick, melted marshmallows.
- Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping.
- While the mixture is whipping you can prepare the pan.
- Line bottom of pan with parchment paper, making sure to cover the bottom and sides. This will help remove the marshmallow from the pan when set.
- Lightly spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray. This will help with the stickiness of the mixture at removal time.
- Add the cornstarch and powdered sugar together and move this around the pan to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. The same procedure you would use to coat the bottom of a cake pan.
- Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
- Add the powdered sugar and cornstarch together and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan.
- When the mixture is ready, pour it into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan.
- Dust the top with enough of the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest to coat your pizza wheel at the cutting time.
- Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
- Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1” squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the powdered sugar/cornstarch reserves. You can, also, use mini cookie cutter. Be mindful to use one with straight sides to ease in the cutting.
- Once cut, lightly dust all side of each marshmallow with the remaining powdered sugar mixture, using additional if needed.
- Store in airtight container for up to three weeks.