Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Music Wednesday (Wombats and Bon Iver)

I got a hankering for new music tonight, and since I still have a little cash in my bank account here at the end of the month, I figured I'd scratch that itch.
I picked up two new albums tonight, the first being a very excellent album by The Wombats, called A Guide to Love, Loss and Desparation . It's a pretty poppy album, that reminds me a lot of bands like Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys. It's good stuff, and I'm sure I'll be listening to it in the car a lot for a while. One stand out song from the album is this little ditty:

The other album I bought was Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago. This album is definitely different from The Wombats, but of what I listened to tonight, it seems really good. I think I'll have to give it a least a couple of concentrated listens before I go up or down on it. Interestingly, Bon Iver (like Bright Eyes, I guess) is really a vehicle for one artist (in this case Justin Vernon, according to Wikipedia), and while that's not all that interesting, it is interesting that they released two albums while based in Raleigh(!).

Rather than embed a Bon Iver video, I'll embed a Bon Iver/Lykke Li video (I really dig Lykke Li. I have no idea why, but her music just gets me going for some reason):


Monday, October 27, 2008

Deep fried fun...

Here in North Carolina, the State Fair just ended. One of my favorite parts of the fair is seeing what new thing that someone has decided to deep-fry. One year it's twinkies, the next it's oreos. I never end up getting deep-fried anything (I always look at the people cooking the stuff, and the people eating the stuff, and say "I don't want to be lumped into this group". Hey, I'm a snob on some things. I'm not ashamed to admit it), but the idea of deep-fried goodness is always pretty tempting.

Well today, I gave in to the temptation, and decided to take a shot at deep frying some candy bars.
If you google "deep-fried candy bars", you'll find lots of info on how to go about doing it, but it's actually pretty simple. All you need is:
1. a pot suitable for deep-frying (I used a 4 1/2 qt sauce pan),
2. some oil (I went with plain vegetable oil),
3. candy bars (in my case, I took a variety of snack-sized snickers, almond joys, kit kats, and reeses' peanut butter cups)
4. batter
5. and most importantly, a thermometer (you need one that will go up to ~400deg, not a regular meat thermometer)

I pulled a batter recipe off the internet, threw my candy bars in the freezer to get cold, and then after dinner, went to work.

The batter:
2 eggs
2tbsp oil
2 cups milk
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour

Whisk together the eggs, oil, and milk, and then add the baking powder and flour, and stir until smooth. Place in refrigerator to cool and thicken slightly.

After the batter was mixed up, I dumped about a half gallon of oil into my saucepan, and turned on the heat. Once the oil was at 375deg, I took out the batter and the candy bars, and made a little assembly line of candy bars, batter, oil, and paper-towel lined plate, so that I could have a relatively smooth operation.

From that point, it was pretty simple. You unwrap your candy bar (which should be close to frozen), dip it into the batter to coat it thoroughly, and then you drop it (carefully) into the hot oil. When the batter turns golden, it's done. Then you take out the candy bar and set it on a paper-towel lined plate to drain, and keep doing those steps until you're out of candy bars.

All told, it turned out about as well as I expected. I had some chocolate leakage, particularly with the peanut butter cups, but they all seemed to be edible when I got done. After plating up the candy bars, I dusted them with some powdered sugar and some cocoa powder, and the girls and I enjoyed a little taste of the state fair at home.

As for taste, they were pretty good, especially the almond joys. Those were nicely gooey, and I like coconut like nobody's business, so warm coconut and melty chocolate works for me. I thought the snickers were pretty good, too. The kids grabbed the kit-kats, and peanut butter cups before I could try them, but I was assured that they were good.

If I do it again, I think I'd add more flour to the batter, since it was a little thin. I'd also try dusting the candy bars with powdered sugar or something to get better adhesion between candy and batter. I think fruit would be good for this treatment, too, especially something like a banana (maybe chocolate dipped?) or an apple. Apparently, this year the big thing is deep-fried coke, and I have some ideas on that. And I'd have to try doing oreos, too....

Anyway, here are some pics of the whole thing:

The batter, cooling in the freezer:

The candy bars, next shelf down:

The oil (and thermometer!)

My assembly line:

The first candy bar, into the pot:

And several candy bars later, the oil is a little less clear:

I didn't make too many of these, since how many candy bars can you eat at one sitting?

Dusted with powdered sugar and cocoa:

Another view: (you can see part of Gretchen on the left and Bridget on the right)

A bite out of the almond joy:

And the snickers:

By the way, that's Bridget in the background.

Anyway, that's all I've got for today. Hope you enjoyed this post, and maybe you've even been inspired to take a shot at it yourself. I'm thinking deep-fried poptarts might be good...