Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cotton Candy Making and My New Favorite Sandwich

Yesterday I had the privilege of producing clouds upon clouds of sweet, pink cotton candy, something I've never done before. As part of my job I showed up to the stand and was placed in front of this foreign machine with little instruction on what to do and basically no instruction on how it works. I understand processes a lot better if I know how they work, so without that knowledge I was a little lost and, well, let's just say things could've gone a lot smoother.

The first time I laid eyes upon the cotton candy machine, I was amazed at how the motor was running but it appeared that the cotton candy just magically formed out of the air onto the sides of the large bowl. You couldn't see the strings of sugar being thrown from the spinning device into the middle, they just mysteriously showed up. I quickly got over that shock in order to keep up with the pace of grabbing the fluffy rings when they were ready and twirling them around my hand to create a ball to place in the bag. I learned that it's important to keep as much air in as possible, because obviously that's when cotton candy is the best.

For a long time the machine and I were not good friends. For whatever reason, it was always upset with me, displaying its nonaffection by: making very loud noises when I tried to put sugar in, spitting the sugar back out and into my eye in large chunks, and getting the cotton candy rings tangled into the hot motor, which was NOT supposed to happen. That melts parts of the candy cloud into hot pieces of crystallized sugar that are not desirable for eating (or touching right after the act has happened). Granted, I did some klutzy things of my own accord, such as spilling about 2 cups of sugar onto the floor. In general, I probably made the biggest mess of anybody ever assigned to that shift. Cotton candy was all over my clothes and apron, my hat, the equipment, and even places high enough on the wall that I couldn't even reach to clean off.

When it's not yet wrapped in fluffy clouds like you're used to, cotton candy resembles spider webs, and I felt like I had just gotten into a really mean brawl with one after that experience. Two hours (!) of continuous cotton candy making later and I was finally done, with minimal bruises except for the emotional ones on my soul from the machine's cruel abuse. I must remember next time I'm introduced to something new to make sure the whole process is explained to me first so I don't become the poster child for how to mess things up in every way.

To segway into my next, unrelated topic of this post, I will now place a decorative line of random symbols here. It's not really a segway at all, but it clearly distinguishes that this next topic has nothing to do with the first.


In other food news (so it's somewhat related), I just invented a great sandwich that everyone should try if they have the following items on hand:

Italian Bread
Mozzarella Cheese
Heirloom Tomato
Basil Pesto (the store bought kind in a tub)

You will also need some sort of heat source. I used a stove. I don't know whether to call this a fancy grilled cheese or a panini, because it has elements of both. If you haven't figured out already, all you do is put those ingredients between the two slices of bread and cook it. I buttered the bread so it got crispy, and let the cheese melt first on medium heat - if this takes too long, place a cover on the pan so the heat stays inside. The capers aren't so important, but the pesto is pretty much necessary because that's where the flavor comes from. Lately I've been finding that pesto goes well with a lot of things, and cheese & tomatoes are not excluded from that list. A friend of mine seems to have the impression that I don't like sandwiches - do you still think that, Brayden? I even have a picture of my delectable creation. So Ha. 

Doesn't that look yummy? That dark spot on the bread is just cheese that got stuck between 
the sandwich and the pan. 

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