Slimo

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Don’t be afraid of the title.  I promise you that this is really good.

My grandparents used to have a home on the banks of the Ottawa River, and every summer that we could, we would go and visit, for a few weeks of swimming, sailing, and general adventuring.  And on especially hot days, my grandmother would make up a recipe that she had supposedly gotten from her own grandmother, a tasty citrus-y drink guaranteed to refresh.  She called it SLIMO.  To this day we are not sure why.

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My grandmother passed away in August, and at her memorial service, which was oriented towards her relationship with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, I thought it would be appropriate if we served her signature drink.

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It’s relatively easy to put together, but two of the ingredients are a little hard to find.  One is citric acid, which, if you can’t find it in your grocery store, you can get it in many Asian specialty shops, or natural food stores.  The other is tartaric acid (not to be confused with cream of tartar), which can be found (sometimes) in health food stores, but if you have a store nearby that sells beer brewing and wine making supplies, they are guaranteed to have some (or they’ll know where to get it).  Both of them look exactly like sugar, but if you put them in your mouth, be prepared for the sour!

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You need 5 oranges and 3 lemons, ones with a decent amount of rind and lots of juice inside them, so make sure they’re pretty fresh.

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Grate them to remove the rind.

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Then juice those suckers.

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I found that if I poured the juice through a strainer it got rid of the seeds and some of the pulp.

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Add to that 2oz citric acid (~60mL) and 1oz tartaric acid (~30mL).  A kitchen scale will help you with this.

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And 2lb granulated sugar (~1kg).  Yes, that’s a lot of sugar, about half of the 2kg bags you get at the grocery store ’round these parts.  But it’s necessary. Stir all that stuff together.

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In a large kettle or with a spout, boil up 2 quarts water (~2L).  Pour that over your rind, juice, sugar, and acid and stir until the sugar and acids are dissolved.

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You’ll find that the rinds with a lot of pith attached to them will float to the top and get all scummy, so I scooped them out with a small sieve.

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Allow that to cool in the fridge.  Sorry for the dimness of my photos here — despite this being a summery drink, the weekend I made it was dark and rainy.

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When you drink it, use a ratio of 1:2 slimo and water, so 1/3 of your glass is slimo, and the other 2/3 is water.  Adjust it to your own taste, of course.  Feel free to mix it with soda water, as well, or even add a splash of vodka for a more adult version of the beverage.

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Sip it and enjoy memories of summer!

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

I had to fill in (on rather short notice) for one of the members of my Sweet Treats group at work, and so this is what I came up with.  I LOVE (love, love, love) meringues.  Always have.  In fact I think they’re the first thing I ever baked.  And so every time I make something with egg yolks I take advantage of the extra whites and whip up a batch.  The Pie isn’t a huge fan of the crispy, chewy, sugary goodness, but that hasn’t stopped me yet.  I’ve even branched out and made different varieties of chocolate meringue, one of which I posted about here.  But I keep seeing fruity versions, so I thought I’d give that a go.  Most of the recipes call for food colouring and raspberry or strawberry extract, neither of which are particularly yummy to me.  I mean, I understand why you would use them in this case — the fluffy egg whites are pretty delicate and would collapse if you put too much heavy stuff into the mix.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

But I think we can give this a bit of a go, with some real fruit.  We just have to be very careful.

What you need is some egg whites, at room temperature.  I have some pasteurized egg whites that came in a carton which has been sitting in my freezer since Cait and Jul were here, so I might as well use that. Then you need some cream of tartar, which is your stiffening agent. And some sugar.  For sweetness.  Obviously.  You can use any sweetener you like, but I prefer the ease of good old regular sugar.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

And you need some fruit.  I’m going to use about a cup and a half of frozen raspberries here, which I thawed, and I’m going to gently stew them for a little bit with 1 teaspoon corn starch.  To prevent lumps of corn starch forming, mix the spoonful of starch with a small amount of the raspberry juice first, to form a slurry (this technique works really well when adding thickener to gravies, too).  I added in a tablespoon or so of sugar, just to get rid of the bite of the raspberry acid.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Then I’m going to strain them (and by that I mean shove the mess through a sieve with a spoon), and come out with a nice little coulis.  Let that cool for a bit.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Now you can start your meringues.  Preheat your oven to 250°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

The regular proportions I use come from The Joy of Cooking, and involve 4 egg whites1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon vanilla (which I made from rum!) and 1 cup sugar.  You can multiply or divide this recipe however you wish.  In my carton o’ egg whites the label says there is the equivalent of 8 egg whites, so I’m going with that proportion, which is a double batch.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Of course, I didn’t learn until after I’d put it all together that pasteurized egg whites (such as those that come in a carton) do not lend themselves well to making meringue.  So I had to start all over again.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues
SO very much not what I was aiming for.

So you have your room temperature egg whites, and you chuck them in the bowl of a mixer with your cream of tartar and your rum/vanilla, and you beat the crap out of it with your whisk-y thing.  When you’ve got nice foamy peaks, you can start adding your sugar in, a little bit at a time.  Keep beating until you have nice firm peaks.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues
That’s more like it!

These peaks not only hold their own weight, but they can support the weight of the heavy metal whisk as well!

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Once the egg whites form stiff peaks, you can gently fold in your coulis.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

I spooned the meringue stuff onto the baking sheets in decent cookie-sized heaps, and ended up with 42 of them.  Bake them for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (maybe a bit longer if they’re still squishy on the bottom, and make sure to rotate your sheets if you’ve got them on two levels), and let them cool inside the oven after you’ve turned it off.  If you cool them too quickly they’ll collapse.  Store them in an airtight container and make sure to eat them all within a few days of baking.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues
Greetings from inside the oven …

These are strongly reminiscent of those fruit-flavoured hard candies that they hand out in restaurants, that you suck on for a while and then you chew and the inside is all squishy and sticks together.  That’s what biting on these is like.  Taste is very similar, too.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues