How Not To Flambe’ Plum Pudding

Plum Pudding plate

It all began when I discovered a plate I’d tucked away several years ago. As I recall, I got it at a thrift shop and only paid a quarter for it. With visions of Plum Pudding dancing in my head, I rescued it from the recesses of the cupboard, gave it a gentle washing, and set off to learn everything there is to know about making the classic Christmas dessert.

Plum pudding plate maker(By the way, if anyone knows about the plate or its maker, please give me a shout; I’d love to know more about them.)

Plum Pudding has a long and fascinating history (feel free to Google it) and requires a lot of advance preparation. Suffice it to say, I assembled the thirteen ingredients (representing Christ and His disciples) on “Stir Up Sunday” five Sundays before Christmas, steamed it for six hours, and sprinkled it with rum (my choice of liquor out of many possible candidates) regularly until Christmas. When it comes to cooking, there’s no detail too daunting and no ritual that goes unremembered.

Except holly.

First, there was the matter of finding a sprig of holly (to represent Christ’s crown of thorns) to garnish dessert in progress, and secondly, I guess I should have waited until closer to “flambé day” to pluck the aforementioned garnish from its native bush. But, I was anxious to have everything at the ready and I happened to be driving by a friend’s house early in December with said bush in their front yard…

Fresh sprig in hand, I drove home and plopped it into a ramekin, making a mental note to keep it watered until Christmas.

(Insert a very busy couple of musical weeks here.)

Flambé Day had arrived.

After re-steaming the Plum Pudding a final two hours, I nestled it on its plate and adorned it with the not-quite-as-fresh-as-it-once-was holly. Then, I set up my tripod and enlisted The Man Of Few Words’ help to fill the ladle/hold the ladle/light the ladle/pour the ladle while I took pictures (quick aside: the ladle contained warmed rum) and prepared to delight him with this new-to-us traditional dessert.

Here’s what happened.

How Not To Flambé Plum Pudding:

1. Plum 1

2. Plum 2

3. Plum 3

4. Plum 4

This is why folks don’t ask me to water their houseplants.

Not to worry though…

After the flames died down, the Plum Pudding was just as delicious as I imagined. (Shown here topped with Zabaione.)

Plum Pudding serving

Happy Boxing Day!

And… do not try this at home.

Enjoying heartwarming traditions (literally),

~ Kim

Before & After

A global thank you

Before blogging, I lived an interesting life, although somewhat rather local in scope.

After blogging, I found myself having conversations with folks around the globe!

(Have I told you lately how much I appreciate conversing with you?)

Our favorite game

Before The Man Of Few Words, I thought I knew what true love was.

After The Man Of Few Words, I discovered I didn’t.

(He proposed to me via Scrabble board twelve years ago and I still feel like a “bride.”)  Sigh…

Oklahoma sunset

Before Oklahoma, winter consisted of shoveling snow, scraping windshields, and “layering up.”

After Oklahoma, winter consists of watching sunsets or star-gazing on the deck in the dead of December — without a parka!

(I love this State.)

Year Round Christmas Tree :)

Before writing this post, I had a point to make.

After I started writing, I forgot what it was.

Some days (or nights) are like that… Happy Holidays anyway! :)

Enjoying before and after moments,

~ Kim

Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Roll With It (Cantaloupe with Cannoli Cream)

Half the fun of cooking is trying something new, whether it works out or not, right?  (At least that’s my motto.)

“Experiment!” I proclaim from the rooftops.  Or deck…

After cannoli recipes started making the rounds last year, I decided to try canta-loni. :)  (Not to be confused with cantelloni or cannelloni — the cheese and/or meat stuffed noodle version.)

Thus, I set out with my melon ball scooper and an idea… plus a hearty dose of laughter.  Be forewarned… these little suckers are slippery!

Not only did I make the above-pictured version, I also got out the ol’ cheese-slicer-in-lieu-of-a-mandoline and attempted a “cantaloupe cannoli” — wrapping paper-thin melon slices around cannoli cream that tasted so good, there’s no photographic proof of the evidence.  (Ahem.)

I also imagined they’d be spectacular served with a slice of prosciutto and garnished with a slice of… basil?  mint?  cilantro?  (Such are the places my food imagination take me…)

My message is this:  Have fun in your kitchen this summer!

Don’t let your next great idea (and/or quest for the perfect food photo) reign you in… and for Pete’s sake, remember that food blogging isn’t “War and Peace.”

While I highly respect the passion and nutrition and well-being that’s put into everyone’s food, photography, and blog posts (thank you!), bear in mind:  it’s summer.

Have fun!

For a delightful cannoli filling, click here.  (FYI, I left out the cinnamon, allspice, and chocolate chips and substituted mascarpone for half the ricotta, but that’s not to say I won’t try the Alex Guarnaschelli‘s delectable original on a more “serious” day next time.)

For further proof of my kitchen flops (and fun), click here and here.

Then… get creative.  Get eatin’.  And for heaven’s sake, get out there and celebrate summer!

Enjoying experimenting, trial and error, and FUN,

~ Kim

P.S.  I sat on this photo (and idea) for almost a year.  Don’t waste precious time…

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Sweet Apologies…

Dear Readers,

In a previous post, I told you the Baker’s Company dropped the “apostrophe s from its German Chocolate bar.  I was wrong.

Cruising through the long-neglected baking aisle at the grocery store this past weekend (in anticipation of cooler weather, lol…), I spied the familiar brown and green package.  To my chagrin (spelled out before my very eyes), it said:  Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate.  Oops.

I immediately rushed home with bar in hand to amend the error of my ways.  But first, I checked Wikipedia to make sure I’d read things correctly.  I hadn’t.

(Small consolation:  I was only half-wrong.  Which is better than being all wrong.  But I was still wrong.)

Wikipedia did indeed state that the “apostrophe s” was a thing of the past, but it pertained to the cake recipe, not the product.  (Apparently, German Chocolate Cake was easier to say than Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake.)

I’m sorry for misquoting you.  Please consider this my retraction.

As for the Baker’s Company (with profuse apologies for misrepresenting your fine product), I present a peace offering (in familiar brown and green):

Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Pie…

With Creme de Cacao added for good measure.  (One cannot apologize profusely enough.)

Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Pie

4 Tbsp. butter

4 oz. Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

1-1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. flour

1/8 tsp. salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. Creme de Cacao (or vanilla)

1-1/3 c. shredded coconut

1/2 c. chopped pecans

unbaked 10″ deep dish pie shell

1 pt. heavy cream, whipped with 2 Tbsp. sugar and 2 tsp. Creme de Cacao (or vanilla)

Whole pecans for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt butter and Baker’s German’s Chocolate, stirring until blended.  Remove from heat.  Gradually whisk in evaporated milk; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour and salt; set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs and Creme de Cacao (or vanilla) and add to dry ingredients; mix until well-combined.  Gradually whisk in the chocolate mixture until blended.  

Combine coconut and pecans; sprinkle them over the bottom of the pie shell and slowly pour in the filling.

NOTE:  Be forewarned, this makes a LOT of filling.  I used a shallow pie plate and ended up with more filling than pie.  (If this happens, simply pour the remaining filling into a buttered bowl and bake it alongside the pie; in the event it bakes faster than the pie, consider it a taste test.)

Back to the recipe…

Carefully transfer the pie into the oven – it’s very sloshy!  Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until filling is set and top is golden.  Cool 1 hour on a wire rack before cutting.  Garnish with Creme de Cacao Whipped Cream and whole pecans.

Refrigerate unused portion; bring to room temperature before serving, if desired (although it’s great cold, too.)

Adapted from a recipe I wrote out 30 years ago – most likely from a Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Bar box!  (Thank you.)

Enjoying the sweet sound of “I’m sorry…”

~ Kim

What I Eat When Nobody’s Looking

I’m no slouch in the dietary department.  I’ve studied nutrition right down to the molecular level and I know what’s good for me.

Most of the time, I snack on healthy treats.

And eat balanced meals.

Or transform leftovers into meatless entrees now and then.

All good.

And good for me.

But…

I have a weakness.

Yup.  Froot Loops.  (Gasp.)  Sugar laden, full of dye, and absolutely delicious.  Sometimes, nothing else will satisfy.

Blame it on the kid in me.

What do you eat when nobody’s looking?  (Remember – nobody’s perfect, least of all moi.)

Enjoying life one covert bowl at a time,

~ Kim

P.S.  If you don’t want the world to know, just put “confidential” at the end of your comment — your secret’s safe with me. :)

Close Encounters Of The Kimby Kind

I’ve had a tough time getting back into a routine since we got home.  The halcyon days of summer keep lingering in my mind…

You’d think I was abducted by aliens or something.

Wait!  What was that?

There it is again!

Oops.  Bridge got in the way.

Honey, check it out.  It looks like it’s landing!

It’s hovering over the freeway!!!

It’s…

it’s…

…a chip in the windshield.

(Insert Twilight Zone music here…)

~ Kim

P.S.  Just “funnin’ ya.”  Have a great weekend!

A Mixture Of Incongruous Elements

Mélange.  In a word, that describes my life… how I cook… and this post.

I love dining alfresco, don’t you?  The best picnics I’ve ever been on have consisted of nothing more than ripe peaches at a fruit stand in Georgia (with juice dribbling down my chin), barbecued ribs “hot-off-the-smoker” in a parking lot in rural Mississippi, freshly squeezed pineapple juice from a food truck in Miami’s industrial district, crab cakes “to go” on a beach in Maryland, white Cheddar cheese curds at a truck stop in Wisconsin, hand-breaded jalapeno “poppers” eaten two steps away from Mexico (and 100° in the shade!), buttermilk biscuits wrapped in a paper napkin for “later,” chocolate-covered cherries (filled with Cabernet) on a stroll through Washington state’s wine country, Chicago-style hotdogs procured from a now-defunct deli next to a steel plant on the South side, coffee and donuts anywhere, and — my favorite – champagne and fresh strawberries in front of a sunset.  (Bologna sandwiches and a candy bar at a roadside rest run a close second.)  Picnics don’t have to be fancy to be fun.

One recent afternoon I pondered the metamorphosis of two grilled pork chops begging to be reinvented (aka leftovers) and my thoughts turned to flavors and textures…  Creamy avocado and succulent pork.  Crisp tortillas with a whisper of cheese.  Coarse sea salt and zesty lime.  Freshly ground pepper offset by an icy Margarita.  Thus, Avocado Tacos became dinner and all of the above became a picnic!

The goblet in the photo has been with me for a long time.  (If it looks like it’s leaning, it is — she’s a little off kilter, like me. :))  I’ve never been one to own a complete set of stemware (or china for that matter), just “one of a kinds” added along the way.  Thankfully, the hubby settled for my meager dowry:  a fishing rod, a tackle box, a piano, and a barrister bookcase.  (And “the goblet.”)  It was high time she had a suitable companion.  Meet the newest member of our stemware misfits…

Though I’m not in the habit of naming inanimate objects, my friend Tammy (proprietor of Steel Daffodils – greatest little gift shop/coffee bar in the whole wide world) giggled when she saw me with that glass in hand (I had an iced mocha in the other…) and promptly recounted a sitcom episode about a woman who referred to her oversized Margarita glass as Big Daddy.  I knew he’d found a home.  And a name.  Laughter has a way of overcoming habits.

Last, but not least, I’d like to share Fish Curry with you, which I spied on Sing For Your Supper Coconut milk.  Curry powder.  Catfish…  A mélange.  But, I was out of Garam Masala, so I had to make a batch.  (You don’t need to go to that extreme — look for it on the spice aisle at your market.)  The aroma of toasted spices is worth the effort if you’re feeling adventurous!

Here’s a peek at the results…

And here’s a peek at the Fish Curry…

Definitely a flavor picnic!

Enjoying life one incongruity at a time,

~ Kim