So there was this storm, you might have heard. Wind, water, live wires, and explosions. People lost power, homes, and lives. Even lost children. As a former New Orleans resident who had just left the city two days prior to Katrina, who had to watch on a television from the living room floor through hiccuping tears as the levees broke and the place my heart called home was ripped apart from the inside out, Sandy has brought back a lot of memories. A lot of sad memories. But when the waters receded, there was only one thing to do: rebuild. And that’s what there is to do now after Sandy.
Barbara of Culinary Creative and Jenn of Jenn Cuisine proposed that today food bloggers post comforting recipes & encourage our readers to pitch in to help the victims of Sandy. And that’s what I’m doing. Nudge nudge. I mean, oak flavored marshmallows… that’s gotta be worth something right?
So why s’mores? I chose them because they bring back childhood memories of campfires, times when roughing it was fun. These indoor s’mores are something you can make inside, something cheerful to keep your chin up when the weather outside is roaring, something that would hopefully bring some levity in the eye of the storm. Made with charred homemade oak marshmallows (yes, I’m on an oak kick!), when you bite them if you close your eyes your really can imagine you’ve just roasted the marshmallow over an open fire. They kind of take you away.
The shock wears off for us, the unaffected in our cozy homes, the emotional jolt from the news stories does fade. But the reality abides. People all along the East Coast need help, all the help they can get. So here’s some arithmetic for you, some formulas, some math-e-matics: if everyone gave a little, that would be a whole, whole buncha dollars. Let’s be rad. Some triumph of the human spirit stuff. Let’s show our gratitude for having the luxury of being able to care about things like oak marshmallows by clicking below to donate.
The global community the internet has created is a powerful tool, and I hope we can use it to help our neighbors up and down the east coast. Let’s suck the poison out of the wound and spit it back into the sea where it came from. Joy can abide even in suffering, it’s one of those miracles of humanity, the way we adapt and survive, not just physically but psychologically and spiritually as well. I leave you with this, an excerpt from a piece I wrote when I was dealing with my grief for New Orleans after Katrina, but it seems apropos and I think some New Yorkers might be able to relate in some way now, maybe.
Photo by Bebeto Matthews/ AP
… I am home. And this is home. This is home. It is perfect. It is the hot, molten center of the universe. Mythological creatures still exist here; and if not that parades of men in assless chaps, they exist here, and it’s only wonderful. This is Oz, the Rock Candy Mountain, Never Land. At all hours there is a celebration; there is, I mean, a desperate last gasp that lasts suspended in the air. This is the widening gyre. This is the maw…This is our land, and it begrudges us nothing…The swamp reclaimed our streets, and the dead reclaimed the rivers. They float side by side like lumber and have heads like cabbage. It’s a new parade. I saw a black man with a tuba walking up the interstate and thought that he should play Amazing Grace because this is idiotic. And we can only, and we know that this is, and we can’t say anything. We clean up. And the record plays, “pentagon, tetrahedron, which side are you going to be on?”, and I walk everywhere. I walk in the rain, because I don’t own an umbrella…
Have a food blog too? You can post and link up all through out November! Visit Barbara & Jenn’s blogs to link. Tag posts #FBS4Sandy so they can see your posts! Don’t have a food blog? Other Ways You Can Help:
- American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, and other forms of support to hurricane victims. You can donate directly to the Red Cross or you can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
- The Salvation Army is also focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims, and takes donations for storm relief.
- Feeding America is providing food, water and supplies to those who need it as part of their disaster relief program
Homemade Oak Marshmallow S’mores
makes about 24 2″ marshmallows or 20 s’mores
• Nonstick vegetable oil spray
• 1.5 cups water
• 1/2 toasted oak chips (can be ordered from home brewing supply companies)
• 3 1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
• 2 cups sugar
• 2/3 cup light corn syrup
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
• 1/2 cup corn starch
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 1 box graham crackers
• 1 bag dark chocolate chips
• candy thermometer
• standing mixer
Line a 13x9x2 inch pan with parchment paper or foil. Coat lightly with nonstick spray. Bring the 1.5 cups of water to a boil and add the oak chips. Remove from heat and steep covered 30 minutes.
Strain thoroughly through a paper towel lined mesh strainer. Measure a 1/2 cup of the oak water into a bowl and chill until very cold. Measure another 1/2 cup of it into a heavy medium saucepan. Discard extra or save for another use.
Once the oak water is chilled, pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.
Combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, and salt with the oak water in the saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Attach a candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 235-240º F, about 8 minutes.
With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down side of bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract if using and beat about 30 seconds longer. It will be voluminous & white, begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl, and will fall very slowly in a thick ribbon when the whisk is lifted when done.
Scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan with a wet spatula (or you can coat spatula lightly w/ non-stick spray), work quickly as it gets harder to work with if it sits. And by harder I mean almost impossibly stringy and sticky. Smooth top with wet spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until set, about 2-4 hours or over night. (note: if not toasting them you can then mix 1/2 cup corn starch and 1/2 cup powdered sugar, dust the top with the mix, turn them out, slice into desired size with a wet knife, and then toss the individuals with the powdered coating and store in an airtight container up to a week at room temperature)
Put rack in highest position in oven. Turn broiler on high.
Turn marshmallows out of parchment or foil into the baking pan. Place directly under the broiler for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Sometimes it catches fire a bit. This is fine, just be careful and blow it out. If you like yours less charred (I always liked to set my marshmallows on fire as a kid…) place the rack a little lower and watch the marshmallow until it’s browned to your liking. I remove it, stir the char/toasted crust into the marshmallow, and then repeat for maximum toasty charred bits. Toast them to your liking.
Place a generous dollop of charred marshmallow on to one graham cracker, top with another. Repeat with all the graham crackers and marshmallow fluff.
Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Dunk one side of s’mores into chocolate and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. They’re messy. They’re supposed to be! Either eat gooey and melty or place in fridge for a few minutes to let the chocolate harden. Leftovers can be individually wrapped once chilled and stored in the fridge and be either eaten straight from the fridge or, for a softer texture, allow to sit out for about ten minutes before eating.