A Marshmallow World

I watch an awful lot of Food Network.  If I didn’t write about food, and could call it professional research, someone would probably stage an intervention.

I really enjoy the competition shows.

Chef Madison, and below, Chef Lance.  The two greatest Chopped competitors in the show’s history.  If you ever have the opportunity to watch the episode, It will be one of the best hours of your life, I promise.

I try not to miss Chopped.  Four chefs get a basket of four mystery ingredients in each round.  In the first they make an appetizer, then the least successful dish and its chef are eliminated.  The second round is main course, after which another elimination.  Finally, two chefs prepare dessert, and the best group of three dishes and their chef wins.

The Magnificant Melissa.

The Next Food Network Star isn’t quite what it used to be, but I’ll always be grateful for Melissa D’Arabian’s year; the woman is a culinary genius.  Every recipe she makes looks great, and we’ve never made one of hers that wasn’t a winner (So was Melissa.  She won the season.).

They also have seasonal baking contests, multi-week elimination mini-series for Spring, Halloween, Winter holiday, and possibly arbor day, they start to blur together.On one year’s Thanksgiving/Christmas/Chanukah super bowl, there was a competitor named Jason from Kentucky.  He has a large personality.  He’s also very country.  His accent is extreme, and he’s full of folksy sayings about his “mama” and various critters, with a whole lot of “Lord Honey’s” thrown in for good measure.  I felt it all seemed a tad studied and a little exaggerated for the non-Southern viewers.


Jason Smith Hanging with fellow Food Network Celebs.

At his more over the top, dramatic pronouncements and pronunciations I would sometimes emit a few “pronouncements” of my own.

But you’ve got to give the man his due.  That guy could cook.  He had knowledge, skill, and imagination.  He could give a little twist to a classic French pastry and make it new for the judges.  He also made almost perfect versions of Southern, down-home desserts like pecan tassies, coconut cake, and chess pie.He was in the final round and they had to make a big showy cake.  He made a clever Santa’s workshop with elf silhouettes in the windows set in a snow-blown winter scene.  One of the decorations were piles of fluffy frosting piped to look like snow drifts.

He made it with the second of my favorite non-spongy marshmallow foods: marshmallow frosting.  He called it by its alternative nomenclature; seven-minute frosting.  This stuff is not only pretty and compulsively delicious, it’s less sweet than normal frosting and fat-free.

Chef Jason and his prize-winning cake.

It won him the contest.

Marshmallow Frosting

4 large egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

Big pinch of cream of tartar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

marshmallow frosting 2018

Put mixing bowl over slowly simmering pot of water—double boiler style.  Whisk together eggs and sugar until sugar’s dissolved, and it’s warm to the touch.

Put on mixer with whisk attachment and beat until it’s glossy and holds a stiff peak (5-7 minutes).  Mix in salt and vanilla.  Immediately frost cooled cupcakes.  Piping the icing makes it go much quicker, and they’re especially pretty that way.

It doesn’t set up and form a protective skin like buttercream. If you’re traveling with the frosted item, either take extreme care, or use a kitchen torch or the broiler to toast and set it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a huge hit with the judges, Duff Goldman, Lorraine Pascale and Nancy Fuller.  Duff Goldman, a trained chef and owner of the fabulously successful Charm City Cakes said he had never had seven-minute frosting before but was a true convert.

Duff being a marshmallow frosting neophyte is odd, to say the least.  The recipe I use is based on Martha Stewart, who may be a lot of things but she sho ’nuff ain’t no Southern girl.

Martha, Snoop, and their homemade “brownies”.

Thanks for your time.

Tattoo You

I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo, but please don’t misunderstand me.

I shed blood with a disturbing regularity.  From kitchen knives to the zipper on my Levi’s, if something has an edge, I figure out a way to perforate myself with it.  But because I hate needles and shots so very much, I haven’t had a tetanus shot since the 11th grade, when I wrecked my friend Billy’s motorcycle.  And what is a tattoo, if not getting a few hundred thousand shots, one right after the other?I’ve been thinking about the act of a random human getting a tattoo.

The most important thing our random human must do is make an informed decision about the what and where of it.

Do you really want to be full when you’re faced with this?

It’s like a being at a buffet the length of a football field, and you can only eat so much before you drop dead.  What if there’s a lot of good stuff up front?  Your plate might be filled before you get to items that may be chocolate.  Or have frosting.

Yup, somebody did this on purpose.

So, what if you pick something ridiculous to have permanently inked on your body?  You think the internet has a long memory?  Think about the permanence of a portrait of Santa, Martha Stewart, and Churchill playing Yahtzee while wearing footy pajamas inked upon your tender flesh.  Or decisions made while under the influence of chemicals.  Or under the influence of the one, highly moronic buddy everybody has; you know the one with ideas that sound “Epic Bro!” late at night, but more like utter lunacy in the cold light of day?

Yeah, that guy.Maybe you don’t pick something dumb, or offensive, or pornographic.  But maybe, you pick one that screams. “Drunken sorority girl on spring break 2002”.  There are reputable tattoo shops who refuse to do tired clichés like butterflies, dolphins, and roses.

And you know there’s no Grammarly anywhere on your body.  Misspellings and grave grammatical errors can and do occur.  Do you really want to travel this road called life with “Daddy’s little angle”, “Never don’t give up”, or “You only live wunce”?

Keep looking…there’s a second one.

Okay, you’ve thought about everything that can go wrong, picked something totally original and meaningful, and there are no words to misspell.  It’s now time to figure out where it’s gonna go.

Will it be in a secret spot that only you, your physician, and the TSA know about?  Or will this art be for public consumption?  The tattooist will shave hairy areas before they’re inked.  But unless you want that spot-on Madonna portrait to look like the bearded lady at the circus, you’re going to need to keep on shaving.Don’t forget the thousands of needle pricks.  Unless there’s not an inch of sag or flab on your bod, there’s a troubling dichotomy; soft padded areas are tough to legibly ink and tight bony places are excruciatingly painful.  And some places are both soft and painful; like palms of hands and soles of feet.  Palms and soles also fade fairly quickly.  So, you’ve spent hours paying lots of your hard-earned money to someone to torture you, and it fades to illegibility in eighteen months.

It’s imperative that you make a considered decision when picking the body part to be decorated.  For most people, tattooed faces and hands signal the human canvas has given up on polite society.  Tattooist put this thought in a different, harsher statement; they call the locations: “everlasting job stoppers”.

Don’t call us, we’ll call…Hey! What are you doing with that knife?

But really, all joking aside, there are plenty of intelligent, thoughtful folks who choose to be tatted up (The Kid is one of them).  It’s not my bag, but hey, you do you.

My point and plea is think before you ink.  Like tattooist Craig Jackman from American Electric Tattoo Company in Los Angeles says, “I like it when people put thought into their stupid ideas.”Thanks for your time.