Red currant cupcakes.

This is probably the first and last time you’ll see red currants on this blog.

Red currants.

Enjoy it.

See… they don’t grow locally. And they’re usually imported, and they’re usually pricey. Like $5.99 for 6 ounces pricey. Mmm hmm. And they’re not for everybody. They’re not like apples or oranges that everyone loves. They’re kind of a niche product. Most Americans don’t even know what a red currant tastes like, let alone have they seen one.

I’m telling you. My whole life and I’ve seen fresh currants TWICE in a market. TWICE.

Red currant cupcakes.

But that’s why they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day. Because they’re hard to find, they cost a pretty penny, and they’re just pretty. They have these perfectly round, translucent little orbs on the cutest little vines. They’re very delicate, too, and you realize when working with them just how hard it must be to pick them without crushing them. Which I’m sure only adds to the price.

I stretched out 12 ounces of red currants to make two 8-oz. jars of red currant jelly and then I used a bit of that jelly to fill some cupcakes. And I had to top them with fresh red currants too. I mean… if we’re gonna be decadent and floss a little bit… *pops collar*

Red currant jelly.

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Red velvet whoopee pies!

Well. I definitely got a bit of inspiration. It struck out of nowhere, but when it came I was more than happy to go with it. Even if it isn’t groundbreaking.. it’s fun.

Red velvet whoopee pies! With cream cheese frosting filling.

It has been a LONG time since I have made whoopee pies. I think… 5 years? I really don’t know why. They’re so cute. And fairly easy, really. They’re also a nice change from your typical cookies or cupcakes. And when they’re red velvet, they’re even cuter, I think.

Don’t you agree?

And by the way, is it “whoopee” pie or “whoopie” pie? Someone plz get back to me, thx. Anyway, yeah. Red velvet whoopee pies. Or whoopee.

red velvet whoopee pies.

And there is no special equipment needed to make them. Just cookie sheets, your hands, a mixer and a recipe. Oh- and the frosting of your choice to fill them with, of course. Although you could opt to just leave them as soft cookies, with a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar on top, too.

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Honey, lemon & ginger “flu” tea.

Honey lemon ginger flu tea.

Just a few weeks ago, back in mid-January, I was very sick. Like, sick sick. Not hospital sick, but sick enough to where I ended up at the doctor twice in one week, was on two different antibiotics for a total of 2 weeks (one of which is an antibiotic they give anthrax exposed patients! Lovely!) and had to get a chest X-ray. It was wicked. Wicked gross… and it lingered for a wicked long time. I still have a little cough!

I didn’t make myself any spiced honey this season either. I’m an idiot. I made my parents two gigantic jars and neglected to make myself anything. However, I saw a quick and easy alternative on instagram and decided it wasn’t too late to make it. Hopefully I will not be sick again this season, but just in case…

Honey lemon ginger flu tea.

Honey, lemon and ginger go into a jar. It sits for a few days, then when you’re sick you just take two tablespoons of the liquid and pop it into a mug. Fill with 8-10 oz. of boiling water and drink! Ta-da. Immediate flu tea. Magic.

Twelve ounces of honey makes two 8-ounce jars. One lemon makes one small jar, too. And ginger stretches pretty far; you can use small thin slices. I recommend making a 16-ounce jar if you can, because it’s easier to work around. I decided to split mine into two separate jars.

And it’s the same thing as the spiced honey- you can use it to ward off the cold/flu or use it when you already have the cold/flu to ease (and shorten the duration of) symptoms.

Honey lemon ginger flu tea.

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Rocky road (of life) brownies.

Guys, I’m sorry. I’m trying really hard to keep up the posts here, but honestly I haven’t been inspired. I’m hoping for some sweet Valentine’s Day inspo soon, but right now the rivers of ideas in my brain have run dry.

However, today, we shall feast like kings.

Rocky road brownies with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

So this happened. Yup. I was sitting home Saturday night, thinking how much I’d love a brownie. Then I saw the marshmallows I made. And the Oxo container filled with walnut halves. And I thought, “Why just REGULAR brownies? Why not SUPER BROWNIES?!” And then while writing this, I realized… rocky road… rocky road of life… because you know, I’m sitting here being dramatic and pouting that I haven’t posted enough at the blog this year (so far). *siiiiiiigh*

The really cool thing about these is that they’re 100% made from scratch. I mean, I didn’t grow the cacao or the walnuts. I probably could- I had an aunt who had a walnut tree in her yard. But I made the marshmallows from scratch, and the brownies. Pretty neat. They’re as homemade as you can get. Look at them:

Rocky road brownies; covered with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

Right? RIGHT?! Insanity. Insane in the membrane. Intensity in 10 cities.

Imagine, if you will, these babies crumbled- or just plunked- on ice cream. I know. Stop. Your brain is gonna explode. Calm down.

Do they make up for the lack of posts from me?

Rocky road brownies; homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts topping rich chocolate brownies.

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Joy-full madeleines.

Joy-full madeleines; almond madeleine cookies with chocolate coating and toasted coconut.

We all know that candy bar- the one with coconut and almonds surrounded in chocolate. Right? You totally know what I’m talking about. It’s one of my favorites. Definitely in the top 10, anyway, since my absolute favorites are anything with caramel.

Joy-full madeleines; almond madeleine cookies with chocolate coating and toasted coconut.

I made these with very finely chopped almonds, almond extract, toasted coconut and melted semi-sweet chocolate chips. I should probably also say I made these after shoveling for about an hour and a half, so at that point I was ready to throw everything in my cabinet into some kind of baked goods.

The restraint I showed is amazing.

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Fluffy bourbon vanilla marshmallows.

Bourbon vanilla marshmallows.

Ohhhh, I have been wicked sick. Since December 28th or so, I’ve been a mess. I was on TWO different antibiotics, my head and chest were full of gunk and I could barely taste anything. I went to the doctor twice, got a chest X-Ray, and was given Hycodan syrup to sleep (only after practically begging for it because after 5 days with a total of just 4 hours sleep I was losing my mind). It was bad. To be fair, this was my own fault. Jay was sick in early December, and so was my mom, and then I got sick and just wrote it off as being “just a cold” so I didn’t do much about it. I was told to go to the doctor about 4 or 5 times. I was told it would get worse. I didn’t listen. 

I always do that. Remember when I was in the hospital that time? Yeah.

So it festered and hung around and got worse… and voila! Ended up going to the doctor twice in 5 days. Thankfully, I made it through the holidays. But on New Years Eve I was in a fitful, sweaty sleep on a double dose of NyQuil by 10:30 p.m. I don’t recommend a double dose of NyQuil, by the way. I was just desperate. I’m better now, but a bit of a cough is still lingering, and my head is still filled with gunk. Anyway. That’s the only excuse I have for my semi-absence. Usually, I have some posts lined up, but I was so sick I couldn’t face baking or even standing up for any period of time. Did you know most bloggers (myself included) set up their blogs to post automatically? Yep. Most of my posts are set up a week or so in advance. However, because I was sick, I fell behind. So here we are.

Bourbon vanilla marshmallows.

Coincidentally, though, this post is about marshmallows. And marshmallows tie in to being sick in an interesting way (thanks Wikipedia):

Marshmallow probably came first into being as a medicinal substance, since the mucilaginous extracts come from the root of the marshmallow plant, Althaea officinalis, which were used as a remedy for sore throats. Concoctions of other parts of the marshmallow plant had medical purposes as well.[2] The root has been used since Egyptian antiquity in a honey-sweetened confection useful in the treatment of sore throat.[1] The later French version of the recipe, called pâte de guimauve (or “guimauve” for short), included an egg white meringue and was often flavored with rose water.

The use of marshmallow to make sweets dates back to ancient Egypt, where the recipe called for extracting sap from the plant and mixing it with nuts and honey. Another pre-modern recipe uses the pith of the marshmallow plant, rather than the sap. The stem was peeled back to reveal the soft and spongy pith, which was boiled in sugar syrup and dried to produce a soft, chewy confection.[2] The marshmallow plant’s sap was also used by gladiatorsin ancient Rome. The sap was rubbed on the body in preparation for the fight.

So really, it’s appropriate that I am sitting here, after recovering from being sick, writing about marshmallows. Especially ones that include another cold/flu remedy… bourbon.

Bourbon vanilla marshmallows.

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The key to key lime marmalade.

Marmalade is probably the quintessential winter canning item. Everyone who “cans” or “preserves” is getting their hands on amazing winter citrus fruit: blood oranges, lemons, limes, oranges of all kinds, Meyer lemons, etc. So what else is there to make but marmalade? Or curd. But curd isn’t as … let’s say, universal, as marmalade.

Key lime marmalade.

Actually, marmalade isn’t very universal. Unless you live in Great Britain or Ireland, it’s kind of polarizing. You either love it or despise it. You either “get it” or you don’t. Curd is probably way more accepted than marmalade. You can use curd as the filling for a tart and no one would ever know it was originally curd.

In my family, there are both these kinds of marmalade people. I don’t much like marmalade myself. I avoid it. My nana liked it, but on the tart side – and not with a lot of rind or peel. My mom likes it sweeter with a lot of peel for texture. My dad doesn’t like it at all. Once you get to love it, you get to understand it. Or once you start making it, in my case. Then you can see how to use it in more ways than just on toast or English muffins. Like for example, melted slightly on pound cake, as a glaze for pork or chicken, swirled into a vodka cocktail, etc.

Key lime marmalade.

I’ve made marmalade a bunch of times and each time I’ve had a different experience. Most of the time I’ve used my basic marmalade formula. Sometimes it’s taken a few days for it to “set”, other times it’s set so firmly right away that in order to use it it needed to be softened (thanks to the insanely pectin-y lemons I used). I’ve made some marmalade that never fully set too, and was always a little liquid-ish. Some of them I’ve re-cooked and processed, others I’ve just marketed as “citrus syrup- great on ice cream.” But regardless- it’s always been fairly simple. It’s just a loooooong process.

This time, I made key lime marmalade. Key limes are tiny little adorable -and sweet (yet more acidic too, if that makes sense)- limes that are most commonly used in pies. I have never made lime marmalade before, so that’s what you see here. But for your purposes, any citrus fruit will do.

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