Knowing When to Say When

A tension exists between making food that is healthy and food that tastes good. it gets especially complicated when you throw in the effect of texture, and cravings a specific taste or texture. Today’s kitchen time brought two attempts that were less successful than last night’s dinner, and served themselves as one of my “learning experience” days.

I may or may not have mentioned before that “candy” was one of the first words that I learned how to spell, due to the fact that my parents would speak over my head at dinner as a child, “Hey, maybe we should go to the store and get some C-A-N-D-Y later.” Gotta tell ya, it was a good word to know how to spell, and every time my parents started spelling, and it wasn’t the “W-A-L-K” or “B-A-L-L” that was spelled out to avoid getting our dogs excited, I would immediately jump up and be ready to head to the store for some sweet satisfaction. Given my early love of hardened sugar, and my recent exploration into culinary combinations, I found myself reading late into the night last night with my nose stuck in Anita Chu’s Field Guide to Candy Chu has recipes for over 100 sugary dishes from around the world, explaining how to make them all, and tempting readers with images of all of the desserts ranging from Turkish Delight to Sugar Plums to Truffles to Peanut Brittle and Marshmallows. It was fun to read the recipes, and the selected winner today was for the recipe that is said to be like a tootsie roll. I used cocoa powder and butter instead of unsweetened chocolate, and even after melting it together with the other ingredients in her recipe, my chocolate candies were a bit too gritty.

The second recipe attempt for today was for a healthier version of a Lemon and Zucchini Muffin recipe I found on Pinterest. Much like the mother this week who has gotten so much attention for her overly tanned appearance and the accusation that she took her child into a tanning bed, I overly modified this recipe as i dragged it into my kitchen exploration in foods that are both healthy and classically sweet. I had a friend help me out with the baking while we caught up on life, and when I mentioned that we could use whole wheat flour, I forgot to add the caveat that only half of the flour should be of the subbed whole wheat. Oops. I was out of eggs, and didn’t have the buttermilk that the recipe called for. So, I did a vinegar trick with some milk to make buttermilk that didn’t turn out quite right, and added ground flax, water, and applesauce to replace the eggs that should have gone into the muffins. I reduced the sugar and amount of glaze for the muffins, and looked at the little cakes as a finished product. They’re moist, and they’ve got all the signs of health, but they’re not quite right. Though my proportions were right for all of those substitutions, when the muffins came out of the oven, they tasted healthy. Filling, but confusing. Usually lemon is such a delightfully light flavor, and the ground flax and whole wheat flour take that away. There’s not a lot of sugar in them now, and it takes a bit of effort to eat them down. Maybe I won’t be so liberal with my recipe modifications for my next baking project.