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Slice of Life

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Know sugars to sweeten choices

I’m standing in line at the local farmers market and what was obviously a grandparent watching an obviously overtired, overstimulated and downright cranky 2- or 3-year-old while the parents were debating the merits of a green vs. red vs. yellow pepper for a salad picked up the now-in-tears toddler and said something I hadn’t heard since my grandmother passed away: “Hey sweetie, give me some sugar.”

Kisses and hugs ensued (along with a lemonade and a cookie and the yellow peppers) and everyone went away happy.

So hearing the phrase “give me some sugar” got me to thinking about, well, sugar and how little most people actually know about it.

The world as we know it thrives on sugar. There are other kinds of sugars we hear about all the time that we don’t buy at the grocery store.

They are created in the foods we eat every day and some of these sugars are also added to or deleted from the processed foods we eat.

There is an overabundance of sugar in our diets these days, so knowing what you are eating might help with making wise decisions on what to put on our plates and in our mouths.

This list of where natural sugars and processed sugars come from and what they are called should be help:

Fructose: Originates in fruits and honey.

Galactose: Originates in milk and other dairy products.

Glucose: Originates in honey, fruits and vegetables.

Lactose: Originates in milk

Maltose: Originates in barley.

Sucrose: Made from the glucose and fructose and found in plants.

Powdered sugar is just granulated sugar ground to a powder and sifted. It contains 3 percent to 4 percent cornstarch. Brown sugar (light and dark) is less-processed white sugar that retains some of the molasses syrup.

Note: For those with dietary restrictions, you can use sugar substitutes like Stevia, Sugar Twin, Splenda, Sweet n Low and Nutra Sweet; be warned most are not a 1-to-1 substitution. Read the labels to make the conversions.

Simple Sugar Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar or 2 cups of sugar depending on your preference

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil immediately reduce to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Iced Vodka Berry Bubbly Pop

1/2 pint fresh blackberries

1/2 pint raspberries, plus extra berries for garnish

5 ounces simple syrup, chilled

1 (750-milliliter) bottle sparkling white or rosé wine, chilled

1 cup vodka, chilled

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes), chilled

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

Ice

Thinly sliced lime, for garnish

Place the berries and simple syrup in a large pitcher and mash slightly but not totally smashed. Add the wine, vodka, lime and lemon juices and stir to combine.

Fill 12 wine glasses with crushed ice and, using a strainer, pour the punch into the glasses. Garnish with a lime slice and a berry and serve. Serves 12 (you can make this in a punch bowl).

Rock Candy Skewers

5 cups cold water

5 cups white sugar

4 to 6 bamboo skewers

Food coloring if you like

Peppermint or lemon or lime or cherry flavoring/oil (optional)

Pour the water into a large bowl and slowly add the sugar, stirring constantly until all the sugar is completely dissolved; add the flavoring and or coloring if using and mix to combine. Pour sugar water into clean jar and place the bamboo skewers in the jar, making sure they don’t touch and having the top sticks out over the top of the jar. Cover gently with foil, poking the bamboo skewers through the top but don’t crimp the foil to the top of the jar, you need it open for the water to evaporate.

If you want bigger crystals wet your skewer and roll them in sugar before you put it in the sugar/water solution. Do not move the jar after you’ve set it up so the crystals don’t break up. This evaporation process will take nine to 12 days depending on the humidity so be patient. This is great for little kids to make and have them watch the candy grow. Makes 4 to 6 rock candy skewers.

Ice Cappuccino

1/4 cup water, hot

2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ice cubes

1/4 cup (plus extra) divided brown sugar

1 ounce (1 square) semisweet chocolate, grated

In a blender combine the hot water and instant coffee. Pulse for 20 seconds. Add the milk, dry milk, vanilla, brown sugar and ice cubes. Process until blended and frothy. Pour the mixture into thermos or coffee carafe.

Before serving, shake the thermos or stir the mixture in the carafe well. Pour into serving cups. Sprinkle each with about 1/2 teaspoon mixed of brown sugar and grated chocolate. Serves 4.

– Modified from CHSugar.com Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at eztlog@gmail.com or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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