Posts Tagged "Smores"

Indoor S’Mores | Don’t Mess with a Good Thing

Dear Kid,

When you have a good idea, go with it.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And if it’s raining when you’d planned s’mores, bring out the candles for a repeat performance of indoor s’mores.

Last night we had a horde of teenagers for dinner. Pasta salad, corn and black bean salsa, burgers, and (wait for it) s’mores.

(Sorry if I’m making you hungry. Go eat breakfast.)

But the rain and the wind made the idea of sitting outside around a firepit less than appealing, so we set out candles and everyone had a wonderful time.

Hope you’re staying relatively dry.

Love, Mom



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Marshmallows, Oompa Loompas, Gladiators, and Peeps. Really.

Dear Kid,

“You is tough. Like marshmallow.” Actual Quote

Marshmallow plant. DearKidLoveMom.comOnce upon a time, there were no marshmallows. Then the Oompa Loompas visited Egypt, and bam! mallow plants growing in the marshes were harvested. Back then, it was a honey candy that was flavored and thickened with marsh-mallow sap. So basically it was exactly like today’s marshmallows. The same way that mastodons are like parakeets.

Because the ancient Egyptians made the marsh mallow candy for gods, nobles, and pharaohs, it was a crime for anyone else to eat the treat. The Greeks and Romans were crazy about the mallow. Hippocrates swore by it (get it?), and it was used to cure everything and s’more. (I am hilarious today.) Gladiators used to rub sap from the plant onto their bodies before fights. I have no idea why, but it’s a cool fact.

Until the 19th century (I remember it well), doctors cooked marsh mallow root juice with eggs whites and sugar, and then whipped it into a frenzy, or at least a meringue. Marshmallows were considered medicinal and used to cure sore throats.

Then modern manufacturing got involved and got rid of all the mallow in marshmallows. (So the only medicinal thing about them today is the chocolate used in s’mores). Marshmallows are now made of yummy goodness like corn syrup (or sugar), gelatin, gum Arabic, a little corn starch, and flavoring. And air. Lots of air. Delish.

Marshmallows in its natural habitat.
Amur-cans eat a lot of marshmallows (primarily stale peeps). To be specific, we eat about 90 million pounds of marshmallows each year. And when you think about the amount of air in each marshmallow, that is a freakin’ boatload of marshmallows.

You is tough. Like marshmallow.

Love, Mom

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Lighthouses Part I | The History (Sort of) of Lighthouses and Old Jokes

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, there were no lighthouses. This was very bad for the shipping trade but very good for plunder-the-wrecked-ship trade, because there are always tradeoffs.

Americans: “Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.”
Canadians: “Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.”
Americans: “This is the captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.”
Canadians: “No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.”
Canadians: “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”**

Not only were there no lighthouses, there was no GPS (can you imagine!?) so people built fires on top of hills to guide ships. Unfortunately, it can be hard to distinguish ship-guiding-fires from s’more-making-fires, and more than one Girl Scout Troop inadvertently caused ships to take a wrong turn.

Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. DearKidLoveMom.comThen people decided maybe fires could be used to warn ships of dangerous areas and lighthouses were invented. To make sure there were no problems, the Girl Scouts were sent off to sell cookies.

The Egyptians—who were generally first to the engineering party—built Pharos of Alexandria in 280 BCE. This First of All Lighthouses stood until an earthquake destroyed it in the 1300s. Which just goes to show that the Egyptians could have benefited from following the California building codes.

The most important person in the lighthouse was the lighthouse keeper whose job it was to keep the lighthouse. He generally had assistants whose job it was to help keep the lighthouse. The assistants were often paid in Girl Scout cookies and glasses of milk. When they weren’t busy having cookies and milk the keeper and his assistants made sure the light shone out into the night. This worked best when there was night to shine the light into. (See tomorrow’s blog for more information about this.)

Most of the early lighthouses in the US were made of wood. Most of the early lights were made of fire. This made for a somewhat unstable relationship. It was considered “job security” for lighthouse builders.

Eventually someone got the bright idea to build lighthouses out of stone and brick. The rebuilding industry slowed down considerably. This is generally known as the Great Lighthouse Recession of Sometime in the Past.

The world’s most famous lighthouse is (wait. This requires A Moment. It requires A Moment for you to think about what the World’s Most Famous Lighthouse might be. It requires A Moment for you to appreciate the gravity of “World’s Most Famous Lighthouse.” It requires A Moment for us to pause and respect the palpable awe that “World’s Most Famous” inspires. It requires—fine, fine, I’m getting to it.). The World’s Most Famous Lighthouse is the Statue of Liberty. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

The Statue of Liberty was illuminated in 1886 and was an active lighthouse until 1902 when tourism and huddled masses yearning to breathe free took precedence. TSoL’s light was its torch which used an electric light that was visible for 24 miles.

Hope today lights up your world.

Love, Mom

**Some people claim this exchange really happened. Not so. It is a joke. A very old joke.

PS. Pharos of Alexandria is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is important in case you are asked about Wonders of the World.

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Creativity in Dinner and S’mores | Innovation is More Fun

Dear Kid,

Friday night, Pi had a bunch of friends over for s’mores. That was the plan anyway.

She sent text invitations so we knew we’d have 8-10 people.

Then one of her friends asked if he could arrive a little early so we invited him for dinner. Then the dinner friend asked if another friend could come for dinner (since that was his ride). No problem. When they arrived, I put the boys to work stirring and slicing (new recipe—delish) and making salad.

As we were making dinner, Pi got a text from another friend who was coming to have s’mores but needed dinner. Sure, come early. We-Feed-People R Us. I found a new recipe: Gnocchi with Zucchini and Carrot ribbons. To be Slightly More Accurate, I found a recipe for Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons and then modified it in several directions. Yum.

It's not a campfire, but candles still work pretty well for making s'mores. DearKidLoveMom.comThe next problem we had was that it was raining. Not monsooning or even downpouring, but raining enough so that the idea of sitting outside was highly unattractive. So I did what any enterprising mom would do—we set up candles and let everyone cook s’mores on the porch over candles. Not quite the same, but no seemed to mind.

Some of the s’mores were the traditional toasted-marshmallow-chocolate-graham cracker variety. Others were a little more creative. There were Reeces and peanut butter and various other ingredients involved.

Here’s to innovation.

Love, Mom

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The History of Fire and S’mores

Fire Charles Dudley Warner quoteDear Kid,

Once upon a time, there was the first fire. Since there were no newspapers around to record the event, scientists who care about such things are busy arguing about when it actually happened. I’m not a scientist who cares about such things, so I am not worrying. My in-depth research shows it was a long time ago and that ever since then “don’t leave the fire burning when you go out!” has been bellowed by parents everywhere. At least until 1915, when the British song Keep the Home Fires Burning was recorded.

People began to actively use fire once someone figured out that steak tartare is quite delicious when served medium rare on a bun with various condiments, and that fish fries are considerably better when the fish isn’t sushi style.

There is lots of mythology about fire. The Greek god Hephaestus (the Romans called him Vulcan) was the god of the forge and volcanos, and Prometheus gave the gift of fire to man. (It is not clear if anyone ever wrote a thank you note.) Gerra is the Babylonian and Akkadian god of fire. Jacawitz was the Mayan fire deity. In Norse mythology, Logi was the fire god. There are lots of other cultures that have fire gods/goddesses; you are a Bright Young Thing and can look them up in the comfort of your own home if you are so interested.

As an aside, Prometheus and Hermes,  both have a claim to the gift of fire. Prometheus gave fire to people. Hermes is credited with discovering how to produce it. More importantly, Hermes is the god of business people and thieves (I love that) and the symbol for Columbia University’s School of Business.Hermes Columbia Business School Logo

The point is, we are fascinated by fire. It is a wonderful useful thing that can also wreak tremendous damage (just ask Shere Khan). For as long as there have been people (a date I leave others to argue about), we have controlled and been controlled by fire.

Fast forward to the early 1900s when Milton Hershey got around to inventing the Hershey bar, completing the triad of ingredients necessary for scouts to make s’mores around a campfire.

Since then (possibly before then too) people have been arguing over the proper way to roast a marshmallow. On one side of the football stadium we have the “Gently rotate the marshmallow until it is a rich, golden brown on all sides” group. On the other side we have the “Char the sucker!” camp. Each side shouts at each other (“Less filling” “Tastes great”) until someone’s marshmallow lands in the fire and everyone starts concentrating on the task at hand. Or at stick.

In my opinion, the only improperly roasted marshmallow is one that has dirt, pine needles, or ants on it.

As I mentioned, s’mores are the proper campfire food. S’mores and banana boats, but banana boats are basically bananas stuffed with s’mores and what can be bad about that?

In recent years there have been lots of variations on s’mores. Pi prefers them with a Reeces peanut butter cup rather than plain chocolate (although will happily use peanut butter and a Hershey bar if there aren’t any peanut butter cups in the vicinity). Pinterest has taken the whole s’more thing to an entirely new level with Peppermint Patti s’mores, s’more brownies, pretzel s’mores, s’more pancakes, s’more fudge…sigh. I love Pinterest. There was an entrepreneur on Shark Tank who made S’muffins which (presumably) were s’more-like muffins (although the sharks didn’t think they tasted like s’mores).

Thanks for building a great fire last night. A good time was had by all.

Love, Mom

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