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Candy Striper

July 23, 2010

Hey guys! The cleaning frenzy continued today, along with some fun errands. 

I stopped in at Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy a candy thermometer (more on that later), and found a cute tablecloth for four bucks!

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Score! You say “old lady,” I say chic.

We also went to Home Depot for some plants.  We haven’t bought any plants this summer because of our traveling plans, but now that we’re going to be home for a while, I wanted to get some flowers for the front yard!

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We also picked up a plant and planter for our vintage shopping cart.  I like this okay:

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I think it’s still too small, but I’m worried that the cart can’t hold much more weight.  What do you think?  Should we try for an even bigger pot?

After a few hours of errands, we returned home for lunch:

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Avocado, hummus, tomato and cheese on wheat, plus a nectarine.  Yum!

And then….it was time for a super fun project!

Tomorrow, Food Buzz is hosting a Gulf Relief event—for every gulf-inspired post created tomorrow, Food Buzz will donate $25 to the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

As a Louisiana girl, you KNOW I had to get in on that action.

This is actually perfect timing, because Ryan’s parents are always asking about Louisiana cuisine—tomorrow, we’re going to cook up a Cajun feast!

I’ll reveal the menu tomorrow night…but let me just say that for the dessert, pralines were needed.  Now, in Louisiana, you can basically buy pralines anywhere—Walgreens, the gas station…I’m not kidding.  They’re a Louisiana staple—they were first introduced to Louisiana when the Ursuline nuns arrived in New Orleans in the 1700’s.  The nuns had a great knowledge of pastry making, and introduced the praline candy to the city of New Orleans. Pralines were originally made with hazelnuts or almonds, but due to the abundance of pecan trees in Louisiana, pecans became the nut of choice.

So yeah, they’re not hard to come by in my home state.  

But, here in Pennsylvania, there is nary a praline in sight, which only meant, of course, one thing: we were going to have to make them ourselves.

I have never made pralines before.  My grandmother makes a mean praline, and sometimes is generous enough to drop a batch off at our house.  I now have a newfound respect for her, because let me tell you—making pralines is hard!!!

For the pralines, I followed a recipe from this book:

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This is actually the first time I’ve cooked out of this book before!  We use it as a coffee table book, because the pictures are beautiful!  The book is also HUGE—over 800 pages long.  It weighs over ten pounds.  Seriously.  It is a Creole/Cajun Bible.

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Now, looking at the recipe, I figured making pralines couldn’t be that hard.  The ingredients are very simple.  I had my nifty new candy thermometer.  You simply combine the ingredients, bring to a boil, remove from heat once the candy reaches soft-ball stage, and stir until thick.  Easy, right? 

Uhhhh….no.

Things were going okay at first:

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I was getting my Willy Wonka on:

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Ahhhh, nothing like standing over a boiling pot of sugar on a hot July day, am I right?  So refreshing!

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The candy reached the desired temperature…I removed it from heat…and things started going downhill.  Quickly.

It seized up!!! 

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There was a lot of shouting going on.  I yelled at the candy.  I yelled at Ryan. I yelled at my grandmother for always making it seem so easy.  I might have yelled, “Damn you Ursuline nuns!!!!”

Then…on a whim, I decided to add a little more milk, just to see if we could cool things down. 

My instinct was right!  The candy returned to its silky, creamy state, and we were able to drop it by the spoonful onto buttered parchment paper:

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Not bad! They’re too thin…the final batch was the best, so I guess I needed to keep stirring it a little more.  Still, I’d say for my first go-round, these are pretty good! Plus, for the dessert we’re making, they’re going to end up being crumbled up anyway, so as long as they taste good, we’re golden.

Kind of a random activity for a Friday afternoon, but I have to admit, even with the mayhem, it was fun!

And what are they for?

I guess you’ll just have to tune in tomorrow to find out! 😉

Hope you’re having a great day…our guests are supposed to arrive early this evening!  See you tonight!

22 Comments leave one →
  1. greensandjeans permalink
    July 23, 2010 8:08 pm

    Dang girl! I am getting on a plane and crashing your dinner party! Can’t wait to read about it!

  2. July 23, 2010 8:50 pm

    I only discovered pralines after I moved to Florida and omg, I LOVE THEM! I’m sorry for your misadventure but I am glad it’s difficult to make them or I would be in trouble.

  3. July 23, 2010 9:11 pm

    I’ve been to Louisiana, but I don’t remember pralines…I didn’t even know what they were! That probably breaks your heart, and it does mine too…now that I know what they are! YUM!

    • July 23, 2010 9:50 pm

      Gasp!!!!

      Just don’t call them pray-lines. Prahhhhhlines. 🙂

  4. July 23, 2010 9:27 pm

    Those pralines look SO GOOD. And, Um, for a moment I might have confused pralines with prawns. Whoops! At least I know what you’re talking about now.

  5. July 23, 2010 9:34 pm

    I recently read a tip for using the packing peanuts in the bottom of really large pots to help keep them lighter – so maybe if you did that you could get a larger pot.

    Love pralines – yum. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  6. July 23, 2010 10:17 pm

    I really love that vintage cart, Anna. Such an unusual, cool find! I think you’ll be okay with the size of the plant as it is if you change up the proportions in that corner a bit. You might try a much larger piece of art on that left wall and move the pieces on the right wall down just a tad. And you know I’m just loving that wall color..reminds me of a creamsicle!

  7. July 23, 2010 10:40 pm

    I’m weighing in on the plant. It is a sansivera (sp?) or “mother-in-law’s tongue”. It can thrive without direct sun, neglect as far as watering (but not too long) and grows pretty fast. It not only grows tall but will fill out. Don’t give it a bigger pot for a few years. The pot will add the most weight, not the growing plant. And Elyssa has a point about the art. There–aren’t you glad you asked?

    Best,
    Bonnie

  8. July 23, 2010 10:51 pm

    You officially have me hooked! Can’t wait to see tomorrow’s feast! 🙂

  9. July 23, 2010 11:08 pm

    I am so impressed with you!! My best friend in high school went to Nola for college and would always bring pralines back for me– OH so good! 🙂

  10. JenATX permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:25 am

    so funny you can’t find pralines in Pennsylvania! I’m from Texas and we love ’em down here as well 🙂 Its interesting to think about different parts of the country & the food staples that are found there

  11. July 24, 2010 12:11 pm

    That looks delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had a praline, so I’m not surprised you couldn’t find them in PA. They sound almost foreign to me!

  12. July 24, 2010 12:17 pm

    Mmmmm….pralines….

    And I think the pot is perfect!

    I bet if you were looking for chicken and waffles or a funnel cake, you’d have found it!

  13. July 24, 2010 12:28 pm

    I loooooove that tablecloth! Chic indeed! The tall flower arrangement really makes it look great!
    I’ve never had pralines! Only ever heard of them.
    I’m excited to see your Cajun menu! Have fun!

  14. July 24, 2010 2:28 pm

    OMG I can’t believe you have John Folse’s book! I actually know him – he is a family friend. But I have never seen anyone else to have his books. The recipes are awesome!

    • July 24, 2010 7:29 pm

      That is SO cool!!! This book is freakin’ AWESOME– I’m kind of in awe of it.

  15. July 24, 2010 5:14 pm

    Even though you didn’t think they came out perfect they LOOK perfect! I am so impressed that you made your own pralines! You are so creative…and never seem to have any fear in the kitchen! I love it!!!

  16. July 24, 2010 6:09 pm

    I love the old lady style! We randomly found a café in Sweden that was all about roses and English cuteness. It was amazing!

    Mmmm pralines! Would you mind sending me a batch? haha

  17. October 11, 2010 3:34 pm

    Candy making is so much fun. I had a ball making these homemade caramel apples by Martha Stewart. Perfect for Halloween!
    http://michaelbeyer.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/classic-caramel-apples/

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  1. Louisiana Saturday Night « Newlywed, Newly Veg!

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