Tuesday, September 14

The weekend journal

Two weekends ago was so jam packed with food (my Indian cooking bonanza with Val!), I could not even consider posting it all in one post; hence, the second post for the weekend. The second part of that weekend, was dominated by grapes: First, a wedding at a fine vineyard in Illinois (Jill's sister was married!) and then foraging for wild grapes with my mom on Monday (still the weekend, since it was Labor Day).
Jill's sister's wedding was hosted at the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard in Illinois. The main gazebo was on a dock, surrounded by a glass-like lake and a dome of black sky filled with crystal stars. It was really a beautiful place and Kelsey and I were so pleased to be there with Jill for the evening. Following suit, Monday was filled with grape picking and later, grape juicing! My mom and I foraged along the roadside near our house, harvesting over a gallon of grapes, which I later juiced into about 40 ounces of sun-kissed, wild grape juice. Delicious! Their season is just about over, so if you have time, head out to your local bike trail or the curb along a country road and search out the wild grape! They are free and plentiful and with two grocery bags full, I was able to juice about 3/4 of a gallon of juice. It is pretty tart so I will probably use it to make jelly or sherbet later.
To juice the grapes, I used my moms steam-juicer and steamed the grapes for about an hour. Another method you might choose, would be to boil the stemmed grapes and simmer until the desired concentration is met. Then strain and compost the juiced berries! As with any foraging adventures, be sure that you are properly identifying the wild grapes. There are many wild berries in season right now, and if you accidentally pick the wrong one... it would be not so good!

Then this past weekend, Jill, Kelsey and I plus Lauren and Lou, ventured to the great Kettle Moraine for some camping and outdoor time. Along with some day hikes and nights by the fire, we made sure to eat like queens! When you are car camping, there is just no reason to eat poorly. Our menu spread included Jill's specialty pumpkin pancakes and pita (both of which recipes will hopefully soon be making an appearance on the blog!), red beans and rice, and my contribution of homemade marshmallows.

To make your next camping trip extra special, pack some homemade marshmallows. They are so simple and just delicious.
Homemade Marshmallows
3 packages of unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 cup of light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of vanilla
Powdered sugar for coating

1. Combine the gelatin with 1/2 cup of water, in a bowl and set aside.

2. Next, combine the sugar, syrup, salt and an additional 1/2 cup of water. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then, raise the heat to high and cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Remove from heat.

3. With an electric mixer on low, slowly pour syrup into the gelatin. Then, put mixer on high speed and whip until very thick, or for about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix.

4. Powder coat a 9 inch by 9 inch pan with the powdered sugar (using a small sifter works wonders for this step!). Pour in the mixture and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let stand until stiff, about an hour (but sometimes more, depending on the weather! This sounds silly, but I'm completely serious... It just might take a bit longer if its humid)

5. When cutting into pieces, use the knife to separate the marshmallow, while simultaneously coating with powdered sugar. You can be generous with the sugar, as any excess can be scooped up and re-sprinkled elsewhere.

* If you are taking these camping, I would cut them up before hand... its a bit messy and takes a little patience, but it is completely worth it!
Trust me, our camping experience was just lovely, and making more than plain 'ol pb&j (which don't get me wrong, I love a good pb&j) made the trip even more of a delight!

Happy eating (and camping), from the girls in the garden unit!

1 comment:

  1. love the posts with these wonderful pictures, ali :)