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February 7, 2013

Snowpocalypse ’13
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:01 PM * 128 comments

weather map

Looks like the New England states, New York City, Long Island, and places south and west of there will get kinda clobbered this weekend. As in, starting Friday night. Up to two feet of snow; blizzard conditions, coastal flooding. We’re doing the storm-from-the-south meets storm-from-the-northwest thing again.

So, in preparation, here’s a list of Making Light posts that dealt with some of the issues we’re going to be seeing:

This storm looks like it’ll be backed by hurricane-force winds, so all the posts about hurricane preparedness stand: Hurricane Lantern.

During a snow event, a major killer is carbon monoxide. Snow blocks vents. Snow makes us keep the windows shut tight. And, when the power fails, sometimes snow makes us do silly things involving open flames or charcoal indoors. Check your carbon monoxide detector and recall that anything that has a flame is producing CO: Stop, Drop, and Roll.

So, stay safe, everyone. Don’t travel if you don’t have to. And remember: Weather disasters mean it’s time to make French Toast! (NOTE: While stocking up on bread, milk, and eggs, don’t forget the butter, bacon, and syrup. What kind of savages are you, anyway?)

French Toast:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Dash salt
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 10 to 12 slices rye bread
  • Sufficient butter
  • Genuine New Hampshire maple syrup from Hick’s Hardware Store, Main Street, Colebrook.
  • 1 pound Hickory or maplewood smoked bacon

To make:
Break eggs into a pie plate; beat lightly with a fork. Stir in salt, cinnamon, and milk.

Fry up a pound of bacon in a fairly large skillet.

Soak the bread slices in the egg mixture, two at a time. Put the bread into the skillet where you’re frying the bacon (after pushing the bacon to one side).

Cook until the bottom of the slice is golden-brown. Turn and brown the other side. Serve hot with butter and syrup and bacon.

Comments on Snowpocalypse ’13:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 12:12 AM:

I'm glad my elderly parents are wintering in Florida.

My sister and brother on Long Island and my older sister up in Westchester are old storm-pros, so I trust they'll do OK.

Y'all take care!

#3 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 12:23 AM:

I have never encountered this variant of French toast before. Rye bread? It might be very like seed-cake! Or do you get rye without the seeds?

French toast lends itself to challah or brioche, but the best version I've eaten is made with cinnamon swirl bread and orange juice as part of the egg-and-milk mixture, and it's cooked in butter. The bacon is done on a baking tray in the oven, which is much simpler and less inclined to spatter bacon grease all over you.

woe is me, my household is vegetarian and I am not, and I am not suffered to cook bacon in the house. Thoughts of bacon made me think about saving the bacon grease, which made me think of southwest corn chowder with crumbled bacon and chipotle chili, with the onions wilted in the bacon grease, and I WANT some...

#4 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 12:30 AM:

The rye bread (with seeds) is from the recipe that my father learned during WWII from a Russian officer who was serving on his ship.

It's really good.

#5 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 01:11 AM:


Alternate French Toast recipe (warning: highly decadent):

1 small loaf brioche, pain de mie, or challah

4 eggs
2-3 cups buttermilk
1 tsp fresh-ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp fine-ground black pepper (yes, really)
2 Tbs grated orange zest

Maple syrup
Bacon, Sausage, or snausages*

Beat together all ingredients except bread until homogeneous.

Slice bread 3/4" thick. Place in large baking pan in one layer. Ladle batter over the bread until soaking. Soak for 15 minutes. Turn over bread slices, moisten further, and soak for 10-15 minutes. Bread should now be soft and difficult to handle without coming apart.

Heat griddle. Slather with butter. Fry bread 1 batch at a time without crowding. Cook for 5-9 minutes on each side, until browned but not scorched. Should puff up a little at when done.

Serve with syrup and bacon, sausage, or snausages.

(* snausages = vegetarian not-sausage. Named after the 1980s dog treat)

#6 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 06:30 AM:

See, I have never understood this American heresy of putting syrup on French toast: French toast is supposed to be salty and tangy! (No bacon though, at least not if you grew up in a Jewish household.)

#7 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 06:57 AM:

Charlie, 6: Syrup is excessive, but not heretical; the French put powdered sugar on theirs. I've never heard of tangy French toast before. What do you put in it?

#8 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 07:17 AM:

TexAnne @7 -- The way I've seen it done is to use little if any milk when beating the egg(s), and to salt and pepper the eggs. Otherwise, normal procedure. It's hearty, but without syrup my reaction is the mirror image of Charlie Stross's -- That's not French toast!

#9 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 07:39 AM:

Baked French Toast. Google it, for goodness' sake, and don't try to get instructions from me, or the blizzard will be the least of your troubles!

#10 ::: Jim Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 07:47 AM:

My aging parents have begun to cook their bacon in the oven. I cannot abide this. I mean, it's fine, but that's exactly the problem. It's fine. It's not good.

If I can't risk bacon-grease burns on a Sunday morning I'm not sure I want to get out of bed at all.

#11 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 07:48 AM:

TexAnne @ 7... Syrup is excessive

My wife usually *drowns* her French toast in syrup.

#12 ::: Affenschmidt ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 08:21 AM:

Charlie Stross @6, we do have our culinary quirks--for example, Australians (maybe you in the UK as well) are astonished by our tendency to combine peanut butter in a sandwich with jelly, jam or honey. Whatever Anglophilic tendencies I may have, though, I agree with TexAnne and Debbie: French toast must have maple syrup. Maple syrup. None of this "pancake syrup" dross.

#13 ::: Dwight ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 09:19 AM:

French toast made with cinnamon raisin bread and a splash of vanilla extract in the egg mixture is divine. While the bread is less versatile for sandwiches, it's well worth the specialization (IMHO).

#14 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 09:26 AM:

Charlie, Americans put maple syrup on everything we eat for breakfast.

I like sausages with my french toast, when I have it, which is pretty much never. Because it'll kill me. But maple syrup on sausage and bacon is really really good.

I've never tried rye bread for french toast, but I would like it.

#15 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 09:52 AM:

If you can get it (or are willing to make it), French toast is amazing made with day-old pan de muerto (a sweet egg bread with aniseed in the dough and sesame seeds on top).


You'd probably have to make the bread, though, because I've never seen it in stores except right before Dia de los Muertos.

#16 ::: Adam Ek ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 10:07 AM:

French toast is what you make on Sunday morning from any leftover Challah from Shabbos.

#17 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 10:18 AM:

Adam Ek @ #16

Amen. And you should probably just pick up a second challah anyway, so nobody goes hungry.

Ess, kinderlach! Ess!

#19 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 10:52 AM:

Ahem: French toast is made with challah. And I prefer sugar and butter on mine, not syrup. French toast and bacon, OMG. However, I live in cardiacland, so I enjoy both of these only in memory and imagination. The rest of you, dig in! And please, if you are coping with snow/blizzard conditions, stay safe.

#20 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 11:26 AM:

Because we are urged to keep food on hand in case we have to shelter in place while a tsunami masticates the downtown area again, I've put some thought into what, exactly, to keep on hand.

Now, we have a woodstove. It's not set up specifically for cooking, but my husband has tested it and it will eventually bring a pan of water to a brisk simmer. This greatly increases our options for food when the power is out.

But if you know that you won't have a safe way to heat food if the power goes out, skip the eggs and milk. Look for things you can eat at room temperature. Sure, you could keep the milk fresh for a while by picking a spot that wasn't too cold to keep it in, but you would be consuming a chilled food while you were trying to keep warm. Not a good idea.

Write out your usual food groups and pick familiar items from each one that you can keep in your cupboard. Sheltering in place is not the situation in which you want to try new foods unless there is no other option. If the food won't keep after opening, don't risk trying to keep it fresh on the porch. If it doesn't spoil, it may freeze. Instead, look for a container that your household can use up in one sitting. The unit cost is going to suck, but ignore that.

FWIW, our with-a-woodstove shelter-in-place food stash includes a lot of cans of chunky soup. We already know we like these varieties and they are an easy hot meal.

And don't forget to rotate your emergency stock through your weekly meal plans before it goes off date.

#21 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 11:38 AM:

Charlie@6: That is because your side of the pond is tragically bereft of the miracle that is a Canadian Sugar Maple. We have strong cultural drives in North America to put maple syrup on things.

(That said, I do like me some savory toasts and crepe-variety things. Depends what I'm in the mood for.)

I have all the french toast ingredients in my house! Including a slightly stale baguette, which I think makes the best french toast.

Challah is excellent, and honestly, pretty much any bread is good. But to me the important point is it must be STALE so that it soaks up the egg/milk mixture without getting soggy.

#22 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 12:35 PM:

I go through phases of liking savory French Toast:

Eggs beaten with milk, salt, pepper
Soak the bread

Cook one side. Flip over and lightly coat the toasted side with mustard (Durkee's* is even better). Then lay a slice of provolone on top, cover, turn off heat.

Breakfast when I wander back in several minutes later.

*and a clone recipe

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 12:37 PM:

Meanwhile, I have laid in a small stock of bammy (Jamaican cassava bread) and am sautéeing rather than frying it (using oil spray rather than cooking oil). Granted, I am far from the Snowpocalypse. Yet I am fully in sympathy as I have a son being buried under the snow.

#24 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 12:51 PM:

#6 ::: Charlie Stross

(No bacon though, at least not if you grew up in a Jewish household.)

I grew up in a Jewish household. We had bacon. We didn't keep kosher, except in the vestigial sense of not putting butter on meat sandwiches.

My grandparents didn't keep kosher, except to the extent of a more or less kosher Passover meal, and I'm not going to swear that the brisket was kosher.

There have been more-or-less secular Jews for a long time.

#25 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 01:04 PM:

Thank you for the inspiration -- I was wondering what to fix for breakfast, and also what I was going to do with this starting-to-get-stale cranberry-walnut bread. The answer is of course obvious, and very tasty with maple syrup.

(And, yes, genuine New Hampshire maple syrup, purchased by the half-gallon at the Strawberries and Art Festival on the Westford Common last year, and carefully brought back to California in checked luggage.)

#26 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 01:05 PM:

Nancy @24: I am told that our local kosher restaurant has the best bacon/lettuce/tomato sandwiches ever. Made with mutton bacon, rather than pork bacon.

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 01:07 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #24/Charles Stross #6

It has been my observation that there are two schools of thought among Jewish people on the subject of bacon. One school are those who keep kosher and therefore reject bacon as treyf (though they may try bacon substitutes made of beef or turkey, or even "vegetarian bacon" in order to approximate gentile convention). The other school thinks that bacon is so tasty that it ought to be kosher (this is also known as the "shrimp have scales" school).

As I'm merely half-Jewish and relentlessly secular I'd fall into the second camp if I still ate meat.

#28 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 01:29 PM:

Josh Berkus @5, I thought it was only my household that called the vegetarian sausage links "snausages"! And, yes, after the '80s dog treats. Those commercials were EVERYWHERE.

#29 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 01:39 PM:

Charlie, #6: I shall have to remember not to order French toast if I'm ever in England. Salty French toast, EEEWWWWW!

Jim K., #10: We cook our bacon in the microwave. There's a special accessory tray for this, with ridges to allow the fat to drain off, and we also put a paper towel over it to control splatter. The result is indistinguishable from pan-fried. (Note: we have discovered that cooking bacon at a reduced power level, or in the lower-wattage second microwave, improves it.)

beth, #14: Not all Americans put maple syrup on everything remotely breakfast-like. IMO, it's good on sweet pancakes or waffles, but not on savory ones, which require butter instead; tolerable on French toast, although I'd rather have powdered sugar; and Right Out on meat of any sort. Also, maplewood-smoked bacon tastes weird and wrong.

#30 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 01:41 PM:

Fragano, I grew up in the other kind of Jewish household. No shellfish or pig products, but the whole parve/non-parve meat/milk thing was viewed as excessive and unenforceable. Reform Jewish, natch. (Which is not quite the same in the UK as in the US.)

#31 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 01:52 PM:

HLN: Woman drives in sleet and DOES NOT DIE. She was also surprised to discover that apparently 34F isn't all that cold when the wind is calm.

#32 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 01:55 PM:

Oh, come, my friends. Do we really have to twit Charlie because he left the word 'observant' out of 'observant Jewish household'?

I didn't think that was such a sensitive issue. If it is, I apologize. It just seems like...I dunno.

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 02:21 PM:

I remember having a discussion at work with a more-or-less observant co-worker, on whether turkey ham was acceptable. He said no, that the intent mattered. And the turkey package is, I noticed, not indicating anything along that line.

#34 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 02:34 PM:

Stepping sideways from Jewish cooking, there's a bit of a fuss in the UK about mass-produced processed meat products not always being the meat they are claimed to be. Things like beefburgers having rather a lot of horse meat replacing the beef.

And a company supplying Halal meat pies to the Prison Service happened to include pork. In compliance with the law of predictable "humorous" stereotypes, the companies involved have been in Ireland, and the source of the wrong meat seems to be a company in Poland.

But it seems to be moving up from Supermarket own-brand to more expensive branded products, and the most recent case involves a French company.

Despite various people saying there isn't a health risk, it turns out that some of the medications used for horses are dangerous for humans. Whether they would be found at dangerous levels is a whole new question, which I doubt anyone in politics or the media is competent to ask.

Nobody has yet mentioned any of the well-known fast food operations, but in the case of one Supermarket, they were quite specific that the beef in their burgers had to come from particular countries, via approved suppliers, which obligation the company producing the burgers totally ignored. Si I would be reluctant to trust anyone who says their suppliers are told what to use.

30 years ago, the racehorse Shergar was stolen in Ireland. One wonders if any particular brand of beefburgers was favoured by Olympic athletes of that era.

#35 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 02:48 PM:

I just discovered that in Boston, Nemo may drop more snow than the storm of February 2003.

I flew out of that storm after Boskone 40. And I'm flying into Boston on Tuesday for Boskone 50. The last couple of years I haven't really needed the cold-weather gear I was hauling to and from that convention. This year, I think I'm going to double-check my kit, on the off chance that the flight isn't cancelled ...

If you live in Mass., good luck!

#36 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 03:43 PM:

Am I the only one who thinks the name 'Nemo' should have been reserved for a storm they can't...quite...find?

#37 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @24: We didn't keep kosher, except in the vestigial sense of not putting butter on meat sandwiches.

This is the same last-vestige-of-kashrut that my secular Jewish family held to. Also, we didn’t drink milk with meals. Except maybe breakfast, when we were kids. I’ll happily eat a cheeseburger, but the idea of washing it down with a glass of milk still seems bizarre to me, like putting ketchup on ice cream.

#38 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 03:50 PM:

Xopher @36, or a storm that appears out of nowhere and sinks ships, then fights a giant squid.

#39 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 03:59 PM:

Xopher... Or a clown fish?

#40 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 04:02 PM:

Xopher @36: 'Little Nemo' frequently had vivid dreams. Hopefully 'Big Nemo' won't be a nightmare.

#41 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 04:11 PM:

Avram @37, those were my family's vestiges as well, with the additional note that, while we enjoyed bacon and deli ham for sandwiches, my mother never cooked ham as a roast, nor was she able to successfully cook a pork chop.

The only thing available to drink with school lunches was milk, either plain or chocolate. I didn't like plain at ALL, but I can still remember how icky the combination of chocolate milk with spaghetti was.

#42 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 04:13 PM:

Didn't Odysseus trick the Cyclops by calling himself te Greek equivalent of 'Nemo'?

#43 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 04:28 PM:

Stale bread is okay, but slices of bread dried in the oven is better -- it really soaks up the milk 'n' egg.

#44 ::: Affenschmidt ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 04:37 PM:

Oh, and then there's stuffed French toast. There are a couple of ways of doing it, but my usual method is to chop up some pecans or almonds, mix them with soft cream cheese, make a sandwich with that between two slices of challah and proceed with the usual egg-mixture-frying-pan thing. Nom, as the kids say nowadays.

#45 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 05:30 PM:

A travel ban is in effect for all "nonessential personnel" on Massachusetts roads. Our Governor takes weather events like this very seriously.

Anyone driving up here had better pull over and find a motel now.

#46 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 05:39 PM:

A similar travel ban went into effect on Connecticut roads at 4PM. I figured that'd happen; I made sure to go to the gym early, and got out just as the first flakes were beginning to fall, and I ventured out to pick up a prescription (and cheesy poofs) around noon, when the conditions were already getting icky and I felt much more secure on the slippery roads leaving the car in second gear. I'm not going anywhere until it's over!

Hope everyone else is staying safe.

#47 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 06:18 PM:

The pictures of this storm are impressive. I hope you are all warm, dry, off the roads, with plenty of food (for yourselves and pets) and blankets in the house. Oh, and storm lanterns. I live in earthquake country, and I have storm lanterns (small and large) All Over The Place, for when the Big One happens and the lights go out. 'Course, if you don't have them by now, it's probably too late to run out and pick some up.

Be safe, my dears.

#48 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 06:25 PM:

#32 ::: Xopher Halftongue

I wasn't intending to twit Charlie. It's just that I have non-Jewish people who try to be careful about me not eating tref, and they don't seem to remember it when I say I don't keep kosher, so I'd really rather if Jewish people don't spread the idea that all Jews keep some degree of kosher.

#49 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 07:13 PM:

New Hampshire's governor shut down the roads at 1900 (7:00 pm).

This ... is interesting. I don't recall that ever happening before.

#50 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 07:41 PM:

A former coworker described his dietary restrictions as "not glatt-treif". So bacon cheeseburgers were out, but he didn't worry about whether chicken broth in soup was kosher, didn't keep separate dishes, etc.

As far as putting maple syrup on breakfast food goes, definitely. Pancakes, waffles, and French toast especially, and back when I ate meat, if there was bacon or sausage with them, it got syrup on it also. And scrapple got syrup.

I haven't tried making French toast with rye bread. I think whole wheat works well with it, and sourdough really doesn't. Diners around here seem to think they should use double-thick bread that doesn't soak up the eggs and milk adequately (blah!), and it's often a yellow color to make up for the yellow it's not getting from the eggs.

#51 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 08:06 PM:

A habit I got from my mother: Put your sausage between your pieces of French toast or pancakes, cut it up en masse, and eat the resulting bite-sized "sandwiches" by spearing them with your fork. With maple syrup on top, of course.

A cook on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry Tustumena introduced me to Raisin Bran French toast, which is made with slices of whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread. Tastes exactly like what it's named after and is very soothing to the tum after a night spent pitching and yawing and rolling along.

#52 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 08:22 PM:

Jim McDonald @49: Governor Hassan's press release says that she continues "to urge all residents to stay safe, limit their travel and be off the roads by 7 p.m. ahead of the heaviest snowfalls", but it's not the mandatory shutdown that Governor Patrick ordered in MA.

#53 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 08:35 PM:

For using up stale bread: bread pudding is slower, but less work, than French toast. I recently discovered that you can also make savory bread puddings, featuring cheese and the like. Look for recipes for strata.

#54 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 09:09 PM:

Edmund@52: Well, this is New Hampshire we're talking about -- a state that has a real problem with the idea of "mandatory."

#55 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 09:52 PM:

Nice whiteout in Boston

#56 ::: Rush-That-Speaks ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 09:58 PM:

This far in the thread and no one has yet mentioned the best thing you can do to French toast?

For every two eggs in your batter, take one tablespoon strong honey (clover will do if it's what you have, but buckwheat, or apple blossom, or any variety with a really noticeable flavor will do you better). Melt in the microwave for thirty seconds on high, or on the stove on gentle heat for about three minutes. The honey should be liquid and pour easily, but should not boil.

Add a pinch of salt for every tablespoon of honey. This is crucial. It brings out the taste.

Beat salted honey into batter. It won't be hot enough to cook the eggs. Add a large dash of vanilla. Proceed with French toast.

I don't order French toast in restaurants any more, because I haven't had anything that works better than that.

#57 ::: Bruce Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 10:04 PM:

I was raised in a very unobservant Jewish family, so pork and bacon were never a big deal, nor were shellfish or steak pan-fried n butter. But despite being born & raised in the US, I'm with Charlie in thinking that French Toast should be savory, not sweet. Bacon goes well with it, but even better is hot pastrami.

#58 ::: Bruce Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 10:04 PM:

I was raised in a very unobservant Jewish family, so pork and bacon were never a big deal, nor were shellfish or steak pan-fried n butter. But despite being born & raised in the US, I'm with Charlie in thinking that French Toast should be savory, not sweet. Bacon goes well with it, but even better is hot pastrami.

#59 ::: Bruce Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 10:16 PM:

Sorry for the double post; I fat-fingered style iPad virtual keyboard again.

#60 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 10:40 PM:

Update from the outskirts of Boston (just inside 128) at 10:35PM. There's 9-12 inches on the ground. The only vehicles I've seen on the major road are heavy plows. They are keeping up, just barely. Beards are great; if you don't have one, consider growing or buying one. I hear makes good ones; I dunno. Ski goggles are very useful; I now know how people can get lost in the snow within yards of a familiar place.

#61 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 11:25 PM:

Rikibeth @28: are you sure we're *not* from the same household? I have a lot of relatives ...

Dave @34: the only food law in Britain seems to be "whatever you can get away with". It's not a coincidence that both Mad Cow and Hoof-and-Mouth originated there. I'm not a big fan of the USDA, but gods, I'm glad to have them around.

Affenschmidt @44: I like to make a mixture of softened cream cheese, cinnamon liqueur, and homemade jam. Then I stuff oversized slices of bread using an iced-tea spoon. Lots of work, but showy. And you only need one per person.

#62 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2013, 11:48 PM:

Josh, you'd have to be one of the ones my family lost track of, at about the third-cousin level or further, because your last name doesn't show up in any of the family lists I know about! But eerily similar nonetheless. How do you feel about lobster?

#63 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 01:06 AM:

Rikibeth: I can take lobster or leave it. I didn't eat it most of my life because, y'know, treyf, and now I just don't find it that exciting. I'd rather have crab, especially dungeness. Anyway, link to blog at my name so that you can contact me if you want ...

#64 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 01:30 AM:

I'm from the maple syrup capital of the world, where Maple Syrup Goes With Everything. Seriously. I've had it in coffee.

I was out driving this afternoon, and I again noticed a familiar pattern: all the people fishtailing and spinning out were in 4WD vehicles. Not that all 4WD were doing it, just that I didn't notice any 2WD in the same state. Why do some people think that having 4WD trumps the laws of physics? Slippy is Slippy, no matter how many powered wheels you have.

Stay safe, everyone.

#65 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 01:33 AM:

Lee @ #29, we have one of these bacon racks for microwave cooking. It cooks six slices at a time.

#66 ::: Linkmeister, captive of gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 01:34 AM:

For unknown reasons. One URL, no funky spacing I know of.

Here, have some bacon.

#67 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 01:41 AM:

Somebody mentioned Pan de Muertos up above. If you're like me and don't know what it is, here's a recipe. I think I'll give that a try.

#68 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 01:44 AM:

Cheryl @64: some people seem to be unaware that 4WD's advantage over 2WD only applies when you're trying to apply engine torque to accelerate the vehicle; when you're braking to decelerate the vehicle, it doesn't matter how many wheels are driven (aside from 2nd-order things like what kind of tires the vehicle has).

#69 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 02:07 AM:

beth meacham @14 - I have never put maple syrup on scrambled eggs. Nor eggs sunny side up. Nor any eggs not in intimate contact with milk and bread in the French manner.

I have never put maple syrup on grits. They might fight - Civil War in a bowl.

I have never put maple syrup on oatmeal, although I will occasionally give it a splash of molasses. My usual condiments on oatmeal are butter and salt and pepper.

Now, on French toast or pancakes or fried mush - pass that jug of syrup down here, please.

#70 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 03:01 AM:

I actually have a recipe for maple fondant, but I've never had enough of the right kind of maple syrup to make it.

Nancy 48: Fair enough.

#71 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 03:32 AM:

@70 Xopher

I actually have a recipe for maple fondant, but I've never had enough of the right kind of maple syrup to make it.

What kind of maple syrup is it asking for? And how much?

#72 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 04:19 AM:

I was thinking about all you guys back east tonight.

-- oatmeal and maple syrup go together fine. But I wouldn't put maple syrup on everything, and I never eat "breakfast" foods for breakfast anymore (I get them for dessert, sometimes, either when I have been very good or when I'm being very bad).

The best breakfast is yesterday's dinner leftovers, I do bellieve, depending on yesterday having been a nice day for dinner.

#73 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 04:35 AM:


I don't know how Charlie's family did it, but making French toast from sourdough bread will give you tangy toast.

Using buttermilk in the egg batter probably would as well, though I haven't tried that one.


That recipe is a bit different than the one I'm used to (it adds orange zest and eliminates sesame seeds), but it looks like it'd be yummy.

The bread dries out really fast once it's been cut (almost like biscotti), but that just makes it hold more egg for French toast.

#74 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 05:23 AM:

Bread-and-butter pudding made with pain au chocolat is marvellous.

I spent two weeks in the north-eastern USA as a teenager. Breakfast was a shock to the system. Soggy eggy bread, bacon so overcooked it shattered under a fork, dried-out scrambled eggs or else fried eggs that had to be specified by guessing what the code words meant. I had not realised that fried eggs came in types.
I did like the pancakes with maple syrup, once I got over them not being pancakes, but serving them with overdone bacon baffled me.

Cultural translation: Soggy eggy bread is more commonly known as French toast, and I'd never met it before. Scrambled eggs are served softer and less completely cooked in England. Bacon is a different cut and not crisped to nearly the same degree. A fried egg is a fried egg, which I think would be called sunny side up, and you take it how it comes. Pancakes are more like French crepes than American pancakes, but not very much like crepes. Bacon is not served with sweet.
Older and less ignorant, I would be less put off by American breakfasts now, but I think I'd still gravitate to the pancakes. Cooked breakfast is different in too many ways to be comfortable when I'm half asleep, and dessert for breakfast is always pleasing.

#75 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 06:08 AM:

Stephen @73: I never met sourdough bread until I visited the US. It's not a British thing; you can find it in specialist delis these days, but it's an exotic transplant.

#76 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 07:19 AM:

Dave Bell #34: I was talking to folks last night who actually watch TV, and they assured me that Burger King has in fact been dragged into the mess.

Josh Berkus #61: Don't sneer too hard -- we've had our own scandals over the years. And remember, our FDA's response to salmonella from our factory farms, was to decree that eating runny eggs or rare beef is dangerous and risky behavior. Also, warning labels.

Cheryl #64: where Maple Syrup Goes With Everything. Seriously. I've had it in coffee.

And why not, if it's locally plentiful? I've put all sorts of sweeteners and spices in coffee (the one I just drank had honey and five-spice powder).

I've tried it in bread too, though not recently. Back in college, I found it consistently had an interesting effect besides the flavor: The texture of the loaf became "smooth", that is finely textured and very even, with no "bubbles".

#77 ::: Dave Harmon, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 07:24 AM:

Dunno why, possibly insufficient attention.

#78 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 08:22 AM:

Maple syrup on grits is great. What are grits but an early stage of fried mush? It's also great on oatmeal.

Good morning, New Englanders. I hope you have power. I hope the snow stops soon so you can start digging out.

Out here in the land of flash flooding, we have many idiots who think that 4w drive makes them immune to high water. As the rescue teams say, it doesn't matter how many axles are powered if the tires aren't touching the ground.

#79 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 08:27 AM:

Jeremy Leader @68

The advantages of 4WD are a bit more than just being able to accelerate with power on all wheels. As you say, stopping is not improved.

Changing direction is acceleration too, and with all four wheels driven they are linked through differentials. Detail vehicle design is a factor, limited slip diffs for instance, but that can give you better control. Also, while there are 4wd sports cars, most 4wd vehicle have some much lower gears. In slippery conditions you can drive in a much lower gear, with the engine at a comfortable speed, which allows smoother throttle changes.

Disclaimer: I drove a Series III Land Rover, an ex-military model, which was over 30 years old when I sold it. I drove it in some tricky off-road conditions, and going slow is important. But low-range first has been known to break half-shafts. The only time I recall using that gear was when going down a very steep incline, about 45-degrees.

It looks steeper when you're hanging in the seat-belts.

4wd gives you the control of traction and engine speed you need to drive slowly and safely.

Some details of the sort of Land Rover I drove here.

#80 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 08:35 AM:

I have heat and Internet! And a *lot* of snow. It's almost up to the tops of the picnic benches. There's about 6" on my sheltered front porch, on the opposite side from where the wind was. Good thing I don't have anywhere to be today.

#81 ::: Brad Hicks (@jbradhicks) ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 08:51 AM:

Back during the 4WD fad around '80, the joke was that 4WD means that you only get stuck in places a tow-truck can't get to.

#82 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 09:04 AM:

Power, internet, etc. still working. Total travel ban still in effect. Snow is up to the rear bumper of my housemate's Subaru wagon. Shoveling out of this is going to be a multi-stage process, I think.

#83 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 09:06 AM:

With regard to horsemeat: I read a month or so ago that there was also a problem with the Canadian and Mexican supply chains. Specifically, that a lot of American racehorses were winding up in slaughterhouses, with their bodies still full of forbidden-for-humans drugs, and the current system makes it impossible to prevent this.

It's impossible to prevent because the rules say that an affidavit certifying "this horse has not had these medications in six months" must be accepted. It's not just that the slaughterhouses don't bother to check the affidavits, because it's easier not to. A hypothetical careful slaughterhouse that wanted to check wouldn't be allowed to. A hypothetical careful slaughterhouse that did its own tests and found dangerous drugs in a horse they bought from X, with an affidavit signed by Mr. Y, could of course throw away the meat. What they couldn't do was refuse the next affidavit signed by Mr. Y unless they wanted to get out of the horsemeat business altogether.

Some years ago, I ate and enjoyed cheval tartare in Quebec, figuring that I trusted the Canadian food safety system. I'm not going to do that again. It was good, but not that good.

#84 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 09:22 AM:

Charlie Stross #30: That's always struck me as a degree of purity too far (though as someone who has avoided milk ever since it made me throw up as a child, the availability of milk substitutes has been quite a benefit).

#85 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 09:22 AM:

Somebody mentioned Pan de Muertos up above. If you're like me and don't know what it is . . .

Self explanatory. Dead Man's Bread!

#86 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 09:29 AM:

Yup, it's snowing in Maine today.

We had about 8" over the day yesterday and another foot or so overnight up here in Augusta. Still snowing and probably another 5-9 before the storm is done. It's drifted over the cars. Intrepid souls are starting to rearrange it but nobody's going anywhere today.

I have power, internet, a warm cat affixed to my person, and writing I need to finish this weekend.

Could be worse.

At least I have an excuse for not getting to the post office this morning.

#87 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 09:31 AM:

Son and girlfriend are, I gather, okay up in Amherst, Massachusetts. Lots of snow, and chilly, but they have electricity. Number one son is engaged in unburying their car.

#88 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 10:22 AM:

#82 ::: Vicki

Whose rules say that the affidavits must be accepted?

It's sunny and snowless in Philly, but the nice folks on the radio said that there's a thin slick of ice on everything. The temperature is 28F, probably about -2C, so I'm not going out for a while.

#89 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 10:44 AM:

I got maybe an inch-and-a-half. Bah. My secret plans are thwarted.

#90 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 10:58 AM:

It looks* like about 6" here, but the first layer of that is ice. It rained most of yesterday before turning to sleet midafternoon. When I left work at 5:00, the air was warm enough that the stuff on the ground was slush rather than solid ice. But that will have changed when the temp dropped below freezing by mid-evening. When I went to bed last night, it had stopped sleeting but hadn't started snowing yet. So I'm not sure how thick and solid that layer of ice is, but it's definitely going to be there.

*I haven't been out yet

#91 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 12:44 PM:

Our snow was all powder, thank goodness, because it looks like we got about 27" of it. The link in my name goes to my tumblr, where I've posted some pictures.

#92 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 12:58 PM:

At least two feet in Arlington Heights.

#93 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 01:44 PM:

In re 4WD: when driving in the kind of conditions we had here yesterday, 4WD doesn't actually give you a benefit with acceleration and/or curves. Turns are where I saw most people fish-tailing.

The problem is that none of the wheels are touching anything tractionable (I know, it's not a word). It's all a build-up of several cm of snow. The best things you can do (other than "stay home") are "leave space" and "slow down".

#94 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 01:58 PM:

If anyone wants to discuss the horsemeat problem affecting Britain, I thing we had best go to the Open Thread.

#95 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 02:04 PM:

Latest word: 32-34" here. But the sun's out!

#96 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 02:43 PM:

Here in Los Angeles, a small storm went through last night. It was cold enough for there to be a light coat of snow still visible this morning at the 2000-foot level. (Where I live, it was 45F at 10:30am.)

#97 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Update: There was about an inch of slushy ice under 3-6" of snow* on my car when I went out to clear it. The sun is melting stuff off (although it's still slightly below freezing in the shade), but the temp is expected to drop into the teens tonight, so that's going to freeze hard and be very slick by morning. The biggest problem right now is that the entrance to my parking lot was reclogged by a snowblower after being plowed open. With the snowmelt, there's now a rather deep puddle between smallish heaps of snow. Urgh. I tried to clear it a little, but mostly failed. Fortunately I don't have to go anywhere before Monday morning, and it's supposed to be well up into the 30s by then.

(extreme south shore of Long Island, for those keeping track)

*it drifted a lot, so the depth varied

#98 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 03:09 PM:

Mary Aileen: the neighbor whose parking area is all of a piece with our driveway has a snowblower, and, in snowblowing around their car, created a wall of snow-throw on a part of the driveway that I need to drive on. Needless to say, I am not pleased about this.

Admittedly, there was 27" of snow on that part of the driveway already, but he added over a foot.

Our road is sort of a quarter plowed at this point. Sometime last night, the crews decided they'd only plow one half of the street -- the other half, naturally -- and sometime after they made their last pass, more snow fell, so that half of the street is covered to more than the depth of a corgi.

When the plows come through again, the plow-berg we're going to have to dig out will be EPIC.

#99 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 04:43 PM:

The newspaper my father reads is inclined to panic about the weather. Screaming headlines about Britain getting the worst snow for three years, that sort of thing. From the forecasts I'm getting, there will be snow, but it is forecast to be relatively light.

They are not so good at geography. There will be snow in Braemar, whether it snows in London or not.

#100 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 04:57 PM:

Rikibeth (98): Another foot on top of 27"? Wow. That's kind of impressive, in a maddening way. My snowblower-er was the super for the building, clearing the sidewalk; I'm just happy not to have to clear the sidewalk myself.

#101 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 05:25 PM:

About 8 inches here.

I mean of SNOW. In HOBOKEN. Geez.

Cheryl 71: I want the real thing, not MAPLE flavored SYRUP. Also, I understand that the "lower" grades of maple syrup have the most maple flavor (because the grading system was set up to rate the plainest sweetening the highest), so I want the lower grade.

There's another problem, which is the same every time I make fondant: I have to go over to my friends' house, where they have a granite countertop.

And, of course, I also lack the spoons at the moment.

#102 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 05:53 PM:

Xopher, I think we can get you any kind of maple syrup you want.

#103 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 06:20 PM:

Somebody mentioned Pan de Muertos up above. If you're like me and don't know what it is

Bread of the Dead.

I haven't tried maple syrup on grits, but I'll have to, if for no other reason that it will make people twitch even more than sugar and milk on grits. An old friend from Minnesota was introduced to grits at West Point. He ate them with sugar and milk and they called him The Northern Barbarian.

Vanilla ice cream on oatmeal.

#104 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 06:32 PM:

@101 Xopher
I want the real thing, not MAPLE flavored SYRUP.

Ah. Yes, I've tasted that once, and just... ew.

Also, I understand that the "lower" grades of maple syrup have the most maple flavor (because the grading system was set up to rate the plainest sweetening the highest), so I want the lower grade.

Yes; I prefer the Medium grade myself (US grades are different, I'm using the Cdn grading system) for pancakes, etc., but sometimes Dark is good for baking.

Alas, but for the shipping costs, I'd be happy to pick up a couple of cans for you. As Jim says above, someone closer to you might be willing to help.

Can't do anything about the counter. I have a granite topped 'kitchen trolley', which wasn't exorbitant to purchase; could your kitchen accommodate such a thing, space-wise?

#105 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 06:40 PM:

Jim 102: Thanks! I'll let you know when the spoon situation improves.

Cheryl 104: My kitchen won't accommodate much of anything, space-wise! Someday I will have my counters replaced (when someone mails me the winning Gigabux ticket for no reason).

#106 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 06:47 PM:

Xopher, would a marble "cheese board" do for fondant? Of course, this presumes that you have both the space to store a cutting-board-like object, and are making fondant in quantities that can be confined to something about 11x17".

Another dodge would be to stick an ordinary metal baking sheet in the freezer ahead of time. Been there, done that.

#107 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Recent weather is putting me in mind of KSR's Science in the Capitol trilogy.

We got a dusting of snow (entirely different storm system) which is inadequate to what we and everyone downhill needs. Here's hoping for a wet spring, but breath is not being held.

Glad everyone so far seems to be warm and safe.

#108 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 07:10 PM:

Rikibeth, I have one of those. The problem is that the 140°ree;F sugar syrup runs right off the edges onto the (plastic) countertop, unless you make so small a quantity that it really isn't worth the effort.

I'm not sure a refrigerated cookie sheet would be a big enough heat sink.

#109 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 07:15 PM:

Meanwhile, over here in Perth, Western Australia, we're looking at 41C today and tomorrow, and 40C on Tuesday.

We'd probably be quite happy to accept deliveries of snow, if they can be arranged, since this is also in the middle of our dry season here. I'm more than willing to try and figure out a way of packaging up the heat to send you all for your snow-melting needs.

(What was that about climate change again, Lord Monckton?)

#110 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 07:16 PM:

Oh, eek with the runoff! The only kludge I can think of is to put the marble board inside a rimmed baking sheet, if it'll fit, to contain the runoff... but granite counters are much easier.

I used to just use my stainless steel workbench, but as that had more surface area, it was a bigger heat sink than just the part in contact with the sugar.

#111 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 07:24 PM:

Tracie, 103: The kitchen here makes cinnamon grits, which are as dark as cinnamon-roll filling. They also put cranberries in at Thanksgiving; it looked about like grape jelly. The other three Southerners (a Georgian, a Virginian, and a New Orleanian) agree that the kitchen is guilty of abominations before the Lord, but the kitchen staff just laugh at us.

On the other hand, they make us garlic knots! So I forgive them. In a just world, garlic knots would be world-famous. Little strips of bread dough, tied in a knot, drenched in garlic butter pre-baking and sprinkled with parmesan after baking.

#112 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Xopher, your fondant-creation problem has me thinking...

(note that I've never made fondant before, so these ideas may be more or less useful)

The best way I know of to get an absolutely ridiculous amount of heat shifted off of a baking sheet is to take a slab of dry ice (often available in grocery stores, but totally depends on state law), place it under the baking sheet and work with that. This is also known as the DIY anti-griddle in the modernist cuisine world, and is likely too much heat transfer for fondant making.

Another idea would be to get a slab of steel the right size (I'd take a good look at the Baking Steel project, which had a successful kickstarter last year) - they make 1/4" thick slabs of steel as pizza stones, but the increased mass might help, without the freezing inherent in the antigriddle approach (and hey, pizza stone that actually works and is utterly indestructible... but weighs ~25lbs)

#113 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 07:52 PM:

Just off the top of my head, so probably not reliable:
A rimmed baking sheet, or even a 9x13 pan, filled with ice? So you could set your work pan/sheet on top of it, and keep it cold for possibly long enough?

#114 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 07:59 PM:

Ottawa saw only one of the two storms that ganged up on New England. We got a modest 25cm or 10 inches of light and fluffy snow. Today had blue skies and sun and fresh snow, perfect winter day. I did run the snowthrower three times in 24 hours.

My wife likes maple sugar on her oatmeal. One local sugar bush makes a modest amount of sugar as well as syrup. I tend to prefer a savory oatmeal, just a little salt (I no longer add milk)

#115 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 09:01 PM:

Well, you don't want the temperature to go down TOO fast. You start working it at 120°, and you have to work it fast enough that the crystallization is uniform. On a granite countertop, that means "as fast and hard as you possibly can." With dry ice or something it might go too fast, and then instead of fondant you'd get solidified sugar syrup, which is not useful for much of anything.

This is also another problem with making very small quantities. The temperature drops faster than your thermometer can keep up with, and you start working it too late.

#116 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 09:02 PM:

TexAnne@111: The kitchen here makes cinnamon grits, which are as dark as cinnamon-roll filling. They also put cranberries in at Thanksgiving; it looked about like grape jelly. The other three Southerners (a Georgian, a Virginian, and a New Orleanian) agree that the kitchen is guilty of abominations before the Lord . . . .

Y'all are right. That's as unnatural as putting cheese in oatmeal.

#117 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2013, 10:11 PM:

TexAnne, #111: Cinnamon and cranberries? That might be enough to make me willing to try grits, which I otherwise consider the Deep South's version of Pratchett's "local delicacy".

#118 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2013, 12:27 AM:

When I was a kid, we used to make snow ice cream if the snow was deep enough to get a clean bowl of it. It usually seemed to be some ratio of snow, milk, sugar, and maybe cocoa, though sometimes we just used snow and maple syrup.

No snow here in coastal northern California, but I made Cinnamon Rolls Of Death yesterday anyway. (The newspaper recipe didn't call them that. Baking-powder dough, brownsugar/cinnamon/butter filling, powdered-sugar glaze, instant coma.)

#119 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2013, 12:54 AM:

Then I'd go for the heavy-chunk-of-steel version rather than the dry ice; I'd bet it'd move more slowly than granite, which would give you more working time.

I'm currently babysitting a pair of vanilla pound cakes (aka, the reason why buying vanilla beans in bulk for not too much money is awesome). It's a recipe that would be impossibly expensive if I had to buy vanilla beans at the grocery store (or even at Berkeley Bowl; they want $4/ea or so for nice ones). The Amazing Girlfriend and I buy a pound (200 beans) about every 18 months, and we go through 10 or so for two pound cakes.

#120 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2013, 02:00 AM:

I cannot think where to find the citation, but I recall reading that maple syrup and maple sugar were the default sweetener in the colonies back in the day. Whatever it was that I was reading quoted someone in the maple sugar business huffing that American cooks wouldn't dream of switching from delicious maple sugar to that nasty, foreign cane sugar that was showing up these days.

#121 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2013, 02:31 AM:

Benjamin, metal has a pretty low specific heat. It will absorb heat quickly, but not very much of it. A two-inch-thick granite slab is only slightly warm, and that very locally, after having 240° sugar syrup poured on it, and it takes less than a minute for the syrup to go down to 120°.

I've seen things that say to use marble and things that say to use granite. I've seen metal tables in some places that make fudge, but I've never seen a candy book suggest it. Not sure what's under the metal on those tables.

#122 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2013, 06:36 AM:

Bill Stewart #118: Last night I called my sister up in Boston, and she said they'd made snow ice cream with condensed milk and vanilla. I suggested maple syrup ice -- when she relayed the idea to my nieces, the response was "Ooh, get lots of snow!" and grabbing the bucket.

#123 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2013, 09:04 AM:

The plow came by. The resulting snowbank is higher than our heads.

#124 ::: Lowell Gilbert ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2013, 10:52 AM:

We got two and a half feet of snow out here about a half-hour drive northwest of Boston (half-hour, that is, under the best conditions, which they rarely are). We kept power, which hasn't been the case for major snows in the last few years. Just normal New England winter survival, really.

But at least we had supplies of maple syrup. Boy, I'll miss that stuff if it goes extinct.

#125 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2013, 12:43 PM:

Megpie71 @109: I didn't realize you were in Perth.

I will be in Boston in about 48 hours, and in Perth in late March/early April. I make that a roughly 60 celsius temperature swing in 6-8 weeks ...

#126 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2013, 09:05 PM:

Meanwhile, down here in Knoxville, it was sunny yesterday, and started drizzling this afternoon. This progressed to full-out slippery rain, but I don't think it'll get down to freezing tonight; these are apparently the cremains of Nemo?

--Dave, * <-- Perth

#127 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2013, 11:33 AM:

Looks like we have a massive winter storm brewing in the midwest.

Y'all stay safe.

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