Kinda, sorta making candles

While Steve does his usual recycling push, I’ve started reusing and upcycling some of our stuff. Actually, crap could be a better description. And I’m not talking about literal crap, just some of the junk we’ve accumulated over the years…along with a few things we’d normally throw out.

Surprisingly enough, we disagree on what should be recycled vs reused. He’s started replacing all his ‘non-made in the US clothing’ and plans on donating them to Goodwill and other local organizations, while I think he should at least wear them until they NEED to be replaced since so much of the donated clothing is just bundled up and sold to other countries to use as fiber. In fact, right now I’m sitting next to a pile of jeans on the couch that he won’t wear and I won’t donate. But enough of that.

At least he’s fine with what I’ve started doing with all our leftover bits and pieces of candle wax. We were going through a lot of scented candles with four cats, a smelly man-butt, and a small house (I have a dainty lady-butt, thank you very much) and there’s a lot of wax left at the bottom of the candle jars (bottles, glasses, whatever you call them). I found a bag of candle wicks at our local Hobby Lobby and started scraping down and popping out the bits of leftover wax earlier this year. I combined those with two pillar candles that were no longer usable (the cinnamon candle was missing a wick and the vanilla only burned down one side and ended up dripping all over the place).

Of course, by the time I got everything together, I ended up losing the bag of wicks. So everything sat on my kitchen counter for a few more months until I purchased a new bag last week (thank goodness they’re cheap). After a quick trip to the new Goodwill in town (and the purchase of a really nice wool jacket and a few interesting cookbooks) I had a used pot to melt my wax and I was ready to go.

One mess later and I’m now the proud owner of three new candles. One is cinnamon (it had all the non-vanilla scents mixed in with the cinnamon pillar candle and some food-grade cinnamon oil I had stashed away for cinnamon popcorn), and the remaining two are vanilla. After the second candle, I was tired of trying to layer the colors and just dumped it all in together.

(I haven’t trimmed the wicks on the vanilla candles yet.)

One word of warning! If you are doing this with a strong scented candle, most likely it’s strong because there are a lot of essential oils mixed in with the wax. This means you could end up with wax AND oil all over the place if you suck at pouring hot wax as much as I do. The upside is that right now, I smell very nice.

Recipe: Homemade Pudding

I still had 12 egg yolks left from Memorial Day’s angel food cake, and Candy Pants has been bugging me about making pudding with it all week (yeah, so maybe I promised him pudding in a moment of weakness). I finally got around to making it last night; and even though I used my base recipe, there were so many little changes that I may never be able to reproduce it. But damn! It was fine chocolate pudding.

My base recipe for pudding and pastry cream is below (this is my first test of a recipe plugin for WP).

Recipe: Homemade Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 quart milk (use half and half or cream to make the pudding a little richer)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 1/2 oz cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp butter (1/2 stick), sliced into thin little butter pats
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Pour milk and 1/2 cup of sugar into a sauce pan.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together whole eggs, egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, and cornstarch. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat the sauce pan with the milk and sugar mixture until it reaches 180 degrees F. (If you are using half and half or cream, you can let come to a boil, but be careful or it will boil over very quickly. If you are thinking about using fat free half and half or cream, please stick to instant pudding).
  4. Whisking continuously, slowly pour about 2 cups of the hot milk into the bowl with the egg mixture. Pour this back into the sauce pan with the hot milk, once again while whisking continuously.
  5. Return the pan to low heat and stir until thick (not quite pudding consistency). This usually doesn’t take very long.
  6. Remove pan from the heat and stir in vanilla.
  7. Add the butter pats in a few at a time, stir until melted and add next batch, continue until all the butter is added. Stir until the butter has melted and is completely combined.
  8. To chill, pour into a storage container and cover with plastic wrap, making sure that the wrap is touching the surface to keep condensation from forming. Let cool on a cooling rack until it’s cool enough to place in the fridge.

Variations

Banana Pudding: Line the bottom of a casserole dish with vanilla wafers. Spoon in a thin layer of the pudding. Add a layer of sliced bananas.  Add another thin layer of pudding. Repeat the cookie, pudding, banana, and pudding layers until you reach the top edge of the dish. Top with one more layer of cookies. (This is served at one of the several SCOTS performances every time they come through Austin.)

Chocolate Pudding: As soon as you remove the pudding from the heat, add the vanilla, butter, and 2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate is melted. If you’re a chocolate snob, use the good stuff instead, just make sure it’s broken up into small pieces.

****************************************************

For this batch, the changes were either due to an excess of an ingredient and a shortage of others. Don’t forget, experimentation should be fun!

In this case, I had 12 yolks left from the cake. Doubling the recipe still only called for 8 yolks, but since we’re using the eggs as a thickener, and in this case the creamier the better, I just traded out two of the whole eggs for four yolks. I also used a combination of cream and water instead of milk. The rest of the base recipe stayed the same.

The big change was in making it chocolate pudding instead of vanilla. I had a bowl filled with the chocolate sauce from the dessert for the Memorial Day party (bittersweet chocolate, cream, sugar, corn syrup, cream liquor, vanilla) and two ounces of white chocolate left over from a Red Velvet Cake experiment. Since I wasn’t sure if it was enough chocolate, I also added in about two tablespoons of sifted powdered cocoa.

I’m afraid to calculate the calories on this one, so I just limit myself to three spoonfuls at time. This is one of those times that if you want to make it healthier, you can use 2% for the milk, but don’t go any lower; otherwise you might as well just make the crappy premade stuff.

The best way to make this less fattening is to eat less of it. Seriously, there’s no point in making it if you aren’t going to do it right.  A great example of how to make this healthier without sacrificing flavor is making the base recipe above, with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (add at the same time you add the vanilla), and serving a small amount of the pudding with lots of berries and sliced fruit… maybe even some toasted almonds sprinkled on top.  That way there’s all the healthy stuff with just enough tasty pudding to make your eye roll up in the back of your head with orgasmic foodie delight.

If you try the recipe, please let me know what you think.

Microformatting by hRecipe.