"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."








Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Steve's Evil Kitchen vs. the Food Scientists

Okay, I'm a mass of contradictions. One of the more mundane ones is that I've pretty much eliminated sugar and saturated fat from my life, yet I'm obsessed with making fudge. Every resort area has a little shop that makes it and it's always disappointing. It's like making your own beer - you can make so much better than you can buy, but you have to buy the equipment and wait a few weeks, so you settle for cheap and available (wow, I left myself open for jokes there).

I've been working on four recipes and have mastered two of them and have almost nailed the third. The last one has me trying some interesting things to get around simple laws of nature. If you buy a strawberry fudge, it's made with artificial strawberry flavoring and if you look for a recipe for making it yourself, you'll never find a naturally-flavored one. First problem: soft fruits fall apart when cooked. Second problem: they taste cooked, rather than fresh. Third problem: the fruit acids prevent crystallization. Fourth problem: the fruit sugars also prevent crystallization. Fifth problem: to get the right degree of flavor, the amount of berries causes a sudden temperature drop if added after cooking. There are additional problems, but it should be apparent that this is not a simple thing to make right. I'm getting there, but with cherries, not strawberries.

At least I got the chocolate right. The few who've tried it have all said something along the lines of OMFG. It inspires profanity; it should - it comes from the evil kitchen!

I'll probably be bringing some to races this spring. Be prepared!

8 comments:

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Speaking as someone who brews his own beer, I would just like to say:

Yum. I lurve beer.

But it's true - you can make it (beer) better yourself and for less money than good beer would cost you at the store as long as you don't factor in the "cost" - in time and effort - of your own labor. Which I don't because I am not merely the single slave laborer in GQH Zymurgical Enterprises, LLC, I am also GQHZELLC's fat-cat, screw-teh-poor CEO and I won't negotiate wages with my workers because all they understand is BRUTE FORCE. Plus, I can always replace me with Ian because there are ways around the child labor laws. But I've said too much on that already.

One of these days I'm going to rise up against myself and establish a dictatorship of Teh Proletarian GQH but I'll have to get sober first and - pfftt! - I just don't see that happening any time soon.

Anonymous said...

You might want to reconsider eliminating all the saturated fat. Despite the fact that mainstream America has been brainwashed into thinking saturated fat = death, it's just not true. Check out www.heartscanblog.blogspot.com. For less scientific evidence on the subject, consider the fact that about half of the calories from Mother's Milk come from saturated fat. I'd hate to think we're killing our babies before they even get a chance:)

Psyche said...

So I actually am correct when I imagine you to be the evil-scientist (read: Pinky & the Brain)type. Good to know:)

Also good to know: I would say very, very bad things for free fudge.

Jean said...

Anytime food can elicit profanity, it must be a beautiful thing! I have never tried making fudge. I saw Alton Brown do it on his show, and it kind of scared me away due the the precision needed with the temperature. Good fudge is not only a work of art, but there is some amazing science behind it as well.

Clearly, you are doing some fine work in the evil kitchen! Keep it up.

wildknits said...

Steve - I am game to give the fudge a try! Used to make it every Christmas until the year that it solidified mid-stir (darn granite countertop). The fudge tasted okay, bit crystallized. But you could only have a piece if you used a hammer and chisel (aka straight edge screw driver).

True about beer too (said as chief brewing assistant).

And now I am tempted to make some fudge....

Colin said...

Ran across this contest and thought of you: forget about fudge, how about perfecting your Jerky recipe? $300 to the winner!

Talitha said...

I would be willing to run a 50 miler to get my hands on summa that fudge...

SteveQ said...

Anonymous: the "scientific" blog you reference states that there is no scientific literature to back up his claims. That's pretty damning.

As for infants, breast milk must be calorie dense, or women would have to have breasts the size of beach balls to supply adequate nutrition. Saturated fat is the only type that humans can manufacture (and we're pretty effcient at it), but breast milk has a higher density of unsaturated fats than found in adipose tissue and those seem to be important. Also, infant nutrition is simply different from adult nutrition; about half of adults can't process the lactose that is in milk.