Sunday, December 17, 2006
The Huz and I started our marriage with the idealistic view that we would share chores equally, and that whatever chore needed doing would be done by whoever was available and able to do it. In other words, gender wasn't going to determine OUR roles, nosiree!
But, of course, the heavy lifting really needed to be done by the Huz, and his interest in cooking was just about nil but I enjoyed it, so things started to shift and settle a bit. When we were both working full time, at the same workplace no less, we ate out most weeknights, and quite a bit of our weekend meals as well. And our deal was, if one person cooked a meal, the other did the cleanup. It was a fair deal, and one we mostly lived by. Not particularly onerous, because if either one of us didn't care to shoulder our portion of the deal ... out to eat we went. No problem.
But gradually over the years, things shifted and settled more. He did the outdoors work, I did the indoors work. He took out the garbage, I did the grocery shopping. He grew the food, I grew the flowers. And before we knew it, we had a nearly perfect traditional division of labor. It's really pretty funny.
But there's one way in which our roles are reversed of the traditional, firmly and apparently permanently: he's the chocolate lover in the family. The only dessert that will tempt him away from chocolate is a creme brulee/caramel, with the occasional exceptional fruit pie or vanilla ice cream ... but even the ice cream usually has chocolate sauce on it!
As for me, give me a sugary treat nearly every time. I love jawbreakers, plain sugar cubes, sugar cookies, and, yup, meringues. I do make the occasional chocolate detour, usually to something that includes salty peanuts. But my heart's just not in it in the same way the Huz's is.
I discovered meringue cookies when I saw a package of these beauties from Miss Meringue at our local cooperative food store. At about 8 or 9 calories per cookie, they're a dieter's dream, IF you're the sort of person who can stop at just a few. I had to stop buying them, though, because I couldn't stop myself eating a 5-oz tub of these light & lovelies in two sittings (or less)!
(That's my solution to all my addictions: they're not allowed in my house. If we receive them as gifts, they go to work with The Huz. If I make something that I realize is likely to be impossible for me to resist, it goes to work with The Huz. Fortunately, we no longer share a workplace! I don't know what I'll do if he ever retires. Perhaps by then I'll have matured enough to have some will power!)
Anyway, when I was looking for something yummy to put in Christmas treat bags this year, I decided to try my hand at meringues. And lo, they were good, and I ended up taking them to parties, too (along with the pictured incredible chocolate Soho Globs, which I will find time to blog very soon, work and holiday schedule permitting).
Not having made them before, of course I set about searching the web to learn the scoop, and I found a wonderful article at JoyOfBaking.com. Because the article is so comprehensive, I will just link to it here, and add a few comments. Please go read The Article now!
Are we back? Then here's what I learned that I can add. As you've just read, the basic approach is to whip up the meringues, put them on a baking sheet, and bake them very slowly, with several hours more drying time at the end. I discovered that you can extend the baking time slightly to cut down on the drying time quite a bit. I had these largish meringues and baked them for an extra half hour, so that rather than leaving them overnight I could just leave them for about four additional hours of drying at the end.
I also discovered that the larger size is not great for eating out of hand, because the cookies are so crumbly. My second batch was made bite-size. I added a bit of pink food coloring to the second batch when I was about halfway through pressing them out onto the baking sheet, so I had a lovely combination of pink ones and white ones. I'm sorry I don't have a picture of that batch.
And, finally, feel free to place your meringues cheek-to-jowl, as long as they're not actually touching. They don't spread, and it doesn't increase the drying time as far as I can tell.
Making these meringues was simple, but amazing pleasurable. Following the directions carefully, you end up with the most beautiful, glossy mixture to put into your pastry bag for piping. It was a pleasure to watch it develop in my mixing dish. I don't know, there was just something so beautiful and pure about it. And with only three ingredients, any kitchen except one resembling the Huz's bachelor kitchen will most likely have the ingredients on hand. It takes time, but not a heck of a lot of effort. Give it a try and let me know if you enjoyed the process too! (Not to mention enjoying the end result, which looks as if you worked a lot harder than you actually did!)
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