There are few things I hate in life, very few. Some topics are indifferent to me. Others I’m fairly more passionate or opinionated towards. When I hate someone or something, there’s no turning back. Redemption is not an option, for my hatred flows strong through my veins. Three notable hates are Lil’ Wayne, Zooey Deschanel, and the city of Alexandria. Those hates aren’t food-related, though; the next one is.
SUGAR FREE CARAMEL
Do you know what caramel is? Any clue what it’s made from? Ever wonder how the verb caramelize came to be? Do those words seem to have something in common at all?
Caramel in its most basic form has two ingredients: sugar and water. Caramelization is the oxidation of sugar. By warming a sugar and water mixture, the water releases as steam and the sugar breaks down. This results in a nutty flavor and brown color. Caramel is literally hot sugar water. Sugar free caramel should be (hot) water. Yet, scientists screw with how food should be and make the abomination that is sugar free caramel. If you’re worried about your sugar intake, you shouldn’t be eating caramel or you need to learn portion control.
If you don’t believe me, watch America’s Test Kitchens make caramel. The cream mixture she makes is optional, it’s to add vanilla flavor to her caramel. Notice that after she’s mixed the corn syrup, water, and sugar, it is called caramel before the cream is added.
- P2P comrades: Something something dutch ovens.
- Me: OH MY GOSH!!! I love dutch ovens! I want one so bad.
- P2P comrades: *silence and stares*
- Me: What?
- P2P comrade: Do you know what a dutch oven is?
- Me: Yeah! The ceramic pots that you can braise and make soups in. They come in pretty colors and you can put them in the oven. They're so expensive, though.
- P2P comrade: ...A dutch oven is when you fart under the covers and hold someone under them.
- Me: Oh....
— The box, read your labels people.
I needed to eat something while at Target and nothing around me sounded appetizing. Wendy’s sounded gross. So did Famous Dave’s. The thought of Pizza Hut was revolting. Chipotle wasn’t worth the effort. Red Lobster was not happening. Chik-fil-a was eh.
To solve my dilemma, I wandered the aisles of my beloved Target. My goal was to find S’mores pop tarts. Alas, none were found. While perusing the selection, I figured I’d give Peanut Butter a shot. It’s kind of healthy, had the fats I need in my diet (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), and seemed to have a bit of protein to me by. The pop tarts were purchased, walked to the car, then sampled.
Like Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, I immediately regretted my decision. These pop tarts DO NOT TASTE GOOD. They are the worst pop tarts ever. THE. WORST. They are supposed to be “the perfect toaster pastry for peanut butter-lovers. Crunchy peanut butter-flavored crust enveloping a filling made with real, creamy peanut butter and sprinkled with sugar.” They are not. Peanut butter pop tarts are disappointing if you love peanut butter.
Let’s break down the description, shall we?
- "The perfect toaster pastry for peanut butter-lovers."
My mom buys Costco sized twin packs of peanut butter to eat by the spoonful, loves Reese’s peanut butter cups, and chows down on peanut M&Ms like it’s her job. She did not like the pop tarts.
- “Crunchy peanut butter-flavored crust”
It was cardboard with a hint of peanut butter that had the consistency of a pop tart crust.
- "a filling made with real, creamy peanut butter"
Crunchy AND creamy peanut butter together? That’s blasphemy. You pick one or the other. Also, they’re kidding about the peanut butter part. At the bottom of the ingredient list is almond butter.
- "sprinkled with sugar."
Sprinkle me unsatisfied. You can’t taste the sugar on top and it certainly isn’t enough to save you from the assault on your mouth from the rest of the pop tart. I think the brown sugar frosting would have been better topping. The flavors would complement each other well and they’d toast better. Oh, about that…
They taste less horrible if you toast them. Warning: they will curl in your toaster. Perhaps it’s due to the heat even though the toaster is already on the lowest settings and you’ve never seen pop tarts curl before. Maybe they curl since there’s no frosting to give them structural integrity to make up for the filling and add a new dimension of taste. Who knows, I’m not a pop tart scientist, just a disappointed customer.
I’ve learned my lesson: stick to s’mores, brown sugar cinnamon, and wild berry.
What do Rapunzel and I have in common apart from our irresistible charm?
Cast iron skillets!
Williams-Sonoma was having a sale so I took advantage of the 20% discount. The 10.25” skillets normally go for $24.95 before tax. The discount took close to $5 off, which is brag worthy since they NEVER go on sale.
You may wonder, ‘Why are cast iron skillets so awesome?’
First of all, cast iron is stovetop and oven safe. I don’t know about any other skillets with that kind of versatility. Dutch ovens and Pyrex dishes can go through the same conditions and more but they aren’t skillets.
Second, they’re already seasoned. When you get a cast iron skillet, or at least the brand I got, it’s ready to use. The more you cook in it, the more it gets seasoned with delicious bits and love. Yes, you do have to throw some butter in before you go crazy but it’s worth it. Non-stick skillets can scratch easily and their coating will wear off over time. Also, even though food grade substances are being used to create the non-stick surfaces, things get recalled all the time. Cast iron has basically existed since before time, which leads me to the next point.
Third, cast iron lasts FOREVER. Cast iron is literally centuries old and little has changed. Cast iron skillets, like a good set of knifes when properly cared for, will stand the test of time and last for several decades at the minimum. You want to know what they cook with in Game of Thrones? Cast iron.
Fourth, it’s a weapon. Rapunzel had the right idea. If you need to work the tricep/bicep area, it becomes a kitchen dumbbell for your exercise needs.
Fifth, cornbread. That’s all I need to say.
Sixth, it makes you look impressive. Cast iron skillets emit this cozy, homey, rustic vibe that brings things together. Cast iron doesn’t care about how fancy your food is, whether your appliances match, or if your guests can distinguish between a salad fork and a normal fork. It just wants to bring people together for the sake of a good meal. Like dutch ovens and Pyrex dishes, a cast iron skillet can go from the kitchen to the table. It serves as cookware and a table piece.
A future of frittatas, cornbread, focaccias and home protection awaits me.