Saturday, August 3, 2013

Do Not Try This At Home

CAVEAT: Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home. — Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens

You know those ads, the ones of those daredevils racing up a stone pillar in Arizona or athletes climbing down a cliff perched about a river. What does the ad always say? Do not try this at home. 
I do love the Mythbusters. But do I learn from their cautionary tales? No.


Apparently I didn't think this warning applied to me. As the GAL (Gluten-free Allergy Challenged Living) blogger, I make my own versions of comfort foods and basic ingredients. I don't try, I DO. What can I say, I am a big Yoda fan.


"Do. Or do not. There is no try." The gnome has nothing to add.


This week I was bound and determined to make my own version of sweetened condensed milk using coconut sugar and whole grass-fed cow milk.  It involves a very slow process on the stove of cooking the milk and sugar mixture to get the milk condensed, just like making an au jus or other condensed gravy from meat juices. But it wouldn't thicken.  Silly me. I thought I would cook it longer. Silly me. I ended up with a burnt pan. Silly me. I tried it again but it wouldn't thicken.  I decided not to risk another pan or package of sugar or gallon of milk.


Sigh. In a bad way.

Lesson: There is a reason Mr. Borden received kudos for his invention of sweetened condensed milk. Industralized canning has its place. Do not try this at home. 

If you look at Pinterest, there are plenty of recipes that start out looking like one thing and end up looking like another.  DIY blow pops. DIY Poptarts. DIY Thin Mints. Think of the possibilities. Now think of the disasters that could occur from sticking a piece of bubble gum on a stick and placing it in hot sugar water. Or trying to make sure both sides of a fake poptart don't come apart in the toaster. Or the fantasy of a homemade thin mint being thin!  Do you really believe they look like the pictures?

Lesson: There is a reason all those treats are perfectly formed when you take them out of the box or bag. Homemade reality isn't as pretty as fantasy or industrial production. Plus, do you really need more carbs in the house? Do not try this at home.

I think a lot of recipes for "look alike" foods are doomed to failure just like those commercials where someone has said "Get me someone who sounds like Morgan Freeman." People can tell it isn't Morgan Freeman. Saying "I want someone who looks exactly like Liam Neeson in Schindler's List or Love Actually" is just as impossible. Iconic people, just like iconic treats or ingredients or quick foods, can't be replicated.


Have I spoiled your dreams? Or relieved your guilt over that five piece set of pots you ruined trying to  recreate a restaurant's signature dish?  Have you had an epic fail? Or have you developed the perfect substitute for an ingredient or dish because you are way more proficient than I am at such things?  

 

23 comments:

  1. LOL. You are brave, Julie. I wouldn't even think of trying to make my own sweetened condensed milk. Okay, this week I decided to try making a layer cake since everyone at the café makes it look so easy. Mixed up my favourite chocolate cake recipe and put it in two pans instead of the usually long one. Easy peasy. Until it came time to put it together. Then I remembered why I never make layer cakes. It looked like a mudslide hand landed on my kitchen counter!!!! Not purty at all! I'm sticking to my one pan cakes from now on.

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    1. Remember Ruthy's cake pops from an earlier post on a pan of cake gone wrong? But I bet it still tasted great!

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    2. Kav! I bet it looked better than mine... http://www.yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com/2012/09/of-mice-and-men-and-cakes.html

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  2. Certain processes are meant for the factory for sure. And while it is slow, I'm glad that more food manufacturers are catching on to what people need, or should be omitted, from their food. Thanks for a great post (and Liam)!

    Piper

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    1. Liam makes everything better, Piper!!!

      And yes, they are catching on.

      Peace, Julie

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  3. for me nearly everything should be a do not try at home! I dont' think I've ever used condensed milk..blech...though seems like that's the stuff someone told me they made pies with -would put the can unopened in a pan of water and cook and keep turning it..not sure how long but they'd finally take it out and open and pour in a pie dish and said it was an awesome pie - cooking in the can caramelized it or something...coconut should only be in coconut pie..it's what it's made for - oh, and my aunt's date nut balls...
    Susanna

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    1. Yes, I have made that pie but don't anymore because I am leery of cooking things in cans due to reports I have read.

      And I am beginning to think you are right about coconut.

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  4. Julie, there's a reason I rarely deviate from a recipe. I'm always amazed by those people of Cupcake Wars or Chopped. How they can just come up with something, especially a new cake recipe, that actually tastes good. Of course, there is the occasional failure there too. In a recent Chopped episode, one of the judges actually told a chef, "That's the worst thing I've ever put in my mouth." Talk about a bubble buster.

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    1. Especially when you know the judge has tasted a lot of stuff.

      I have a bad habit of trying a new recipe for company. What am I thinking?

      Peace, Julie

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  5. Julie, I do the same thing (for company, I mean). I always think, "Let me show them how well I can cook!" I pick something really deliciously exotic... and fail.

    I loved this post. It had Liam. What else do we need!

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    1. Again, glad to know I am not alone with menu planning OR Liam.

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  6. I'm with Virgina, and Piper and everyone else who appreciated Liam. Um, what was the rest of the post about?

    Ah yes, Liam making condensed milk. Oh, no, Julie made it. Well, no wonder. *g* If Liam had made it...

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  7. I always tell myself that success only comes through failure.

    I usually say that when I'm looking at yet another failure :)

    But I'm with you - I love trying to make things that we'd normally buy. Like mayonnaise, or English muffins. And if they don't turn out? Well, maybe they're better than the original.

    Except when they burn. Never when they burn.

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    1. I make my own GF muffins. Yep, they are great unless they burn!!!

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  8. Oh, I've made this. And I've had pans look exactly like that. It's a patience game because we don't have evaporators which is what a BIG KITCHEN would use... so we simmer and let the water evaporate away the old fashioned way, and it does work, Julie!!!! But not every time, LOL!

    Hugs to you!!!! And yes, what if Edison stopped at 4000 times???? or 4957 times????

    We forge on because we're TOUGH.

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  9. Oh, you poor thing! I'm sorry for the burned mess!

    But I'm laughing just thinking of Myth Busters and all the fun things I've watched on that show. LOVE it! :)

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    1. Love those mythbusters. Wouldn't want to BE them, doing what they do, but love to watch.

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  10. I swear my home-made bagels are the best bagels I ever had.

    That's probably not true, but my husband loved them and that made ALL THE DIFFERENCE!!! :)

    Not the burned ones, by the way.

    :)

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    1. Glad to know Dave is human. I think of him as a Superman.

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