A Better Method:
Cold-Process Infused Simple Syrups

A Better Method: Cold-Process Infused Simple Syrups

Whoopsie, I disappeared for a little bit there! It seems that a weekend of baking and peddling treats makes me not want to think about food for a good stretch of time. But now that I’m back, I’d like to talk to you about something I started experimenting with a couple months ago. Something that kind of revolutionized my approach to creating simple syrup infusions.

It all started back in July, when I began making this shrub. I’d combined the fruit and sugar, let it sit, then macerated and covered it, as per ushe. As I walked by the plastic wrap–covered bowl a couple hours later, I looked at it and thought, “huh, it looks like a lot of that sugar has dissolved into syrup already.”

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Pizza Sauce

I hope everyone had/is having a wonderful 4th! This is the second year in a row that I’ve spent late June/early July house-sitting for my parents in upstate NY. And while spending the 4th of July alone might seem boring to some, I rather enjoy it. I still devoted my day to making a ton of food and indulging in an afternoon beverage or two, and the only thing that made me feel like I was kind of missing out on this year’s festivities was when J sent me a picture of a plate full of bbq and sides. And although I now have a major craving for mac and cheese, it’s going to be ok — pizza is a good substitute!

See, the thing about spending an entire day making food is that people need to actually eat it. And since I’m the only one here (and the only thing my parents’ cats seem interested in eating are vomit-inducing amounts of cat treats or the animals they proudly slaughter), most of it needs to be preserved for my parents to enjoy later. Which is why pizza is the perfect choice, since I can freeze a ready-to-bake portion and then bake up a tiny little pizza for myself. And while I can be pretty lazy when it comes to pizza sauce (using tomato purée straight from the jar or opting for alternatives like pesto or just plain white pizza), making it really isn’t that difficult. And it makes your pizza taste even better.

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Anatomy of a Really Good Grilled Cheese

So unless you’ve been living under a rock as of late, you probably know that it’s grilled cheese month. And if you think I’d pass up an opportunity to get in on the cheesy madness, you’d better think again!

I have some pretty strong feelings about what a grilled cheese should be.  And, at the risk of getting a bit up-on-my-soapbox-y, I’d like to share them with you. First: Butter that bread. No oils, especially if they’re “spritzed” on (good grief). BUTTER all the way! Second: Use a light, mild-flavored bread. Because the bread is just a crispy vessel that contains and delivers the delicious, melty cheese. Which brings me to my last, but most strongly-held belief: The cheese is the one and only star. I like a hot sandwich with cheese and other tasty things as much as the next person. But if you ask me if I want a “grilled cheese” and I reply, “yes!” (which I always will), I don’t want any of that extra jazz. No stringy greens smacking me in the face. No tomato chunks falling into my lap. And no, not even any delicious (but overpowering and tough-to-bite-through) slices of bacon. Just buttery bread and ooey-gooey cheese, please.

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Maple Cream

Hi, I’m maple cream. A.K.A. maple butter. A.K.A. spreadable maple sugar crack. A.K.A. the cause of at least one of Carey’s high school cavities.

Oh hello, maple cream. I’ve missed you!

For those of you that are unfamiliar with this substance, maple cream is simply maple syrup that is heated, cooled, then stirred until the consistency changes from a syrup to a thick cream. It’s awesome on toast, in frosting, off your fingers . . . in short: it rules. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s get down to business!

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Pizza Dough

A few years ago, my friend Adam and I decided it was time we learned how to make pizza. Every Wednesday we would convene at my apartment, eager to wreak saucy, cheesy, cornmealy havoc on my poor kitchen. Within only a couple weeks, it became apparent that there are five items necessary for an easy, enjoyable, and successful pizza-making experience:

  1. A pizza stone. (I had appropriated one left behind by a housemate in a previous apartment. Score.)
  2. A pizza peel. (I bought one almost immediately after we attempted to use a cookie sheet as a substitute.)
  3. Beer. (Duh.)
  4. Cornmeal, to keep the pizza from sticking to the peel. (Or parchment paper! A trick I didn’t discover until recently.)
  5. Plastic bags and rubber bands. (To cover the smoke alarms.)

And, at the risk of sounding like a braggart, we got good. Mega-delish things started happening, like spicy eggplant parm pizza (a lot of work, but worth it). Garlicky swiss chard and goat cheese pizza (my favorite). Bacon cheeseburger pizza (everyone else’s favorite). And as proud as I was of all our creations, I harbored a secret shame that kept me from declaring myself Queen of the Stone: I did not make the pizza dough from scratch.

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