by Sara Mead
I’ve never been quite sure i belong on this blog. I’m neither much of a cook nor much of a food connoisseur. Don’t get me wrong–I enjoy eating good food, especially when my boyfriend or other IFA members prepare it to me. I’m capable of appreciating a nice restaurant. But I’ve finally come to accept that I don’t actually like cooking, and am one of the sort of people who’d much prefer cleaning up the kitchen after someone else cooks me a delicious meal. I lack the patience to properly cut up vegetables, to watch things on the stove for more than a few minutes. And when left to my own devices, I just don’t find puting the energy into food particularly worth it. I have a hard time justifying shelling out for better quality meat, or organic produce, or fancy oils and vinegars when the other, cheaper stuff is adequate. I’d rather eat a sad quesadilla and use the time I save not cooking to go to the gym, or sleep, or read a book.
But I’ve always had at least one thing going for me here, and it’s that I fancy myself a pretty darn good baker. I make excellent chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. My homemade cupcakes are better than most of what you’ll find at the new, upscale cupcake joints. I enjoy making biscuits from scratch on Saturday mornings.
But today something happened that leaves me questioning all that. I f#*ked up rice krispie treats.
How is that even possible? you may ask. I found myself wondering the same thing. Rice Krispie treats have got to be one of the easiest things one can possibly make, and I’m still sort of uncertain how I managed to come to such grief over them. But come to grief I did indeed.
Now, in my defense, or more likely, further condemnation, I was not making just your normal, everyday Rice Krispie treats. No sir. I’ve got more pride than that. I was trying to make Rice Krispie treat bird’s nests, and Easter tradition in my family. Basically, you make Rice Krispie treats in the normal way, but before you add the Rice Krispies, you add green food coloring to the marshmallows, so you get green Rice Krispie treats. Then, you shape the treats into the shape of bird’s nests and place three small sized jelly beans in the middle of them, producing a Rice Krispie treat that looks like a bird’s nest or an Easter basket. Somewhere Alice Waters just died a little inside.
Everything started out just fine. As I was adding the Rice Krispies I realized I should probably have added a little bit more green food coloring, but, really, no big deal. The problem emerged as I started to mold the first bird’s nest. The Rice Krispie treats wouldn’t stick together. At all. The bird’s next devolved into a gooey mess. While I was trying to figure out what was going on, the Rice Krispie treats that were still in the saucepan started to burn. I turned off the burner and tried again with the bird’s nests. This time the Rice Krispie treats stuck to my hands, but not to each other. I sprayed some more Pam on my hands and tried again. At last I got a fairly decent nest shape, but it didn’t seem to hold–by the time I had made a second nest the jelly beans I’d put in the first one were sitting on top of a sort of Rice Krispie blob. I reshaped it and kept working. Eventually I wound up with about 10 Rice Krispie treat nests that were somewhat passable, although I did need to reshape the first several nests a number of times before they stayed set. I ended up throwing about half of the Rice Krispie treats away because they were too burned to use (interestingly, I did discover that burned Rice Krispie treat doesn’t actually taste bad. I couldn’t use or serve them, though, because they were brown and really nasty looking).
What did I do wrong? Well, for starters, i used a bag of generic mini-marshamallows that had been sitting in my cupboard for a few months, and I thing their sticking power might have been weaker than normal. Second, I used too high of heat when melting the marshmallows (this is my impatience getting in the way again!). Third, I should have let the treats cool a bit before I started shaping them. They needed to cool more to hold their shapes. Fourth, I left them in the pot while I was trying to shape the nests, rather than removing them to waxed paper. I did this because I was worried that if I didn’t keep the mix warm it would harden into a single blob before I got all the nests shaped. But leaving them in the pan resulted in burning, because I wasn’t paying attention and mixing them while I tried to shape the nests. And I think it also kept them too warm to shape. Fifth, I forgot to turn off the heat while I was shaping the nests, which led to the burning.
In the scheme of things, it’s not that big a deal, and it wasn’t a total failure–I did get 10 decent Rice Krispie treat nests, a few of which are pictured above. But I do feel like an idiot for being the girl who f#*ked up Rice Krispie treats.