Glazed Carrots

Well everyone, Christmas is only a handful of hours away. Pretty soon you’ll be spending time opening presents, singing carols, and doing your best to tolerate those family members that you absolutely cannot stand.

Perhaps this year you will be bringing your top secret mashed potatoes to dinner, or your award-winning deviled eggs, or even your patented fight-inducing egg nog.  There may be pots and pans simmering on your stove at this very moment.  This year, I will be bringing cranberry sauce, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole.  It seems every year I add another dish to my Christmas dinner repertoire.  Usually that decision comes after a revelation that I don’t like my mom’s (fill in the blank) and can’t believe I’ve been eating it for the past 30 years.

I always wondered when children decide to take over the Christmas dinner responsibilities from their parents.  I guess it’s when you have compiled a complete spread of recipes that exceeds the ones you’ve been eating for decades.  I will be there soon, apparently.

Today’s dish, just in time for your familial feast is Glazed Carrots.  This recipe comes from the Special Surprises section of the book.  This section has the most non-dessert, entree or side item-like dishes. We’ll see more of those in the New Year.  (We’ll also be getting to this recipe’s two alternate preparations: one for beets and one for yams!)

So, Kool-Aid and carrots.  What to say?  This is one of the few recipes I’ve made so far, where the Kool-Aid gets dominated by another flavor.  Here the carrots are obviously the most assertive.  Also, the salt and butter really cut the sweetness of the Kool-Aid, so what you’re left with is a weird mélange of carrot slices floating in a salty, sweetish, orangey translucent syrup.  Sounds enticing, right?  I’d love to say it works, but it doesn’t.  I’ve mentioned before that Orange is by far the most heinous of Kool-Aid flavors, and this dish is another reminder of that.  The medicine taste of the Orange Kool-Aid comes in at the end of the chew, and therefore is the last flavor you’re left thinking about.  It’s not a good flavor to end on.  You’re already going to have a bunch of horrible thoughts going through your head; you don’t need to add Orange Kool-Aid rage to that.

This year, if you are in need of a last second item to bring, say, if you absolutely hate preparing food and want to be sure you will not be asked to do so for future Christmases, then this is recipe for you.  Show up with these carrots, stain the tablecloth and everyone’s insides orange, and you can be sure you’re holiday cooking days are over.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

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Flavored Fruit Candy

Some people play fast and loose with the term “candy.”  Certainly it is a very broad term that can encompass a lot of foodstuffs, but sometimes it’s about upholding the spirit of the law and not the letter.  And with Halloween just around the bend, this issue becomes more pressing than ever.

A beautifully engineered Snickers bar with its delicious caramel and chocolate and peanuts in just the right ratio is candy.  It brings joy.  It tastes good.

Candy Corn is technically candy.  But in name only.  We all know Candy Corn is just candle wax drippings from all of the churches across this great country of ours.

A Reese’s Peanut Butter cup is a beautiful thing.  A masterpiece of the peanut butter arts.  Candy.

But we’ve all felt the disappointing sting that comes with looking into your trick or treating bag and seeing one of those globs of peanut butter goo wrapped in nondescript orange or black wax paper.

I put gum drops in the “Ok It’s Candy, But Come On” category.  I bring this up because this week in the Kool-Aid-O-Rama Dome, we’ve essentially created a batch of non-gumdrop-shaped gum drops.  These came courtesy of the Flavored Fruit Candy recipe in the Special Surprises section of the book.  It’s our first foray into this section, if you’re keeping score at home.

The recipe was simple.  Sugar and pectin and Kool-Aid.

The hard part was keeping two pots boiling at the same time, making sure neither one got out of control and killed me.  I learned something about myself.  I am terrified of boiling sugar.  I know it’s just sugar, but in my head I know that if I splashed some on me, it would eat through my flesh and bone and then into the floor below and through it.  Possibly killing my downstairs neighbor.

Fear of sugar coating myself to death aside, these were fun to make.  When I was pouring the mixture into the pan, I actually felt like a candy maker.  It’s the kind of thing I always see on the Food Network or at candy shops in cutesy outdoor shopping places.  Pretty exciting, I have to admit.

I did jump out of the 1976 timeline because I used Watermelon Kool-Aid.  It’s only my second timestream violation, so don’t judge me too harshly.  I can only take so much Strawberry and Cherry.

These tasted pretty good.  Like Watermelon Jolly Ranchers.  But their texture is weird.  They’re too soft to be chewy, gummy candies.  And although they‘re jiggly like Jell-O, they’re firmer and denser.   My brain couldn’t handle it.  Especially after I rolled them in sugar.  I’m hardwired to not like gumdrops, and these fly really close to the gumdrop sun.  But since they’re homemade, they get a pass.

Also, everything about them feels so 70s. And that makes them cool.  You could easily find these on a candy dish at a party full of high-waisted jeans and harshly patterned knitted tops.

And a party with high-waisted jeans and harshly patterned knitted tops is a party I definitively…don’t want to go to.

At all.

Not even a little bit.