Archive for the ‘Duh Moment’ Category

Duh Moment: Tortilla Chips

April 22, 2010

The only kind of chip I eat is tortilla chips. They are delicious and not covered in powdery crap. I also have a problem when I buy fresh tortillas that I don’t use them quickly and they are no longer fresh and delicious. The solution? Make my own tortilla chips!

The duh moment arrived when I spent entirely too much time thinking about the shape of tortillas in stores and restaurants. As I stared at the crispy round disc in my hand I pondered the triangular chips I love so much. And then my spatial reasoning came back from what I now fear was close to a permanent vacation.

Before cooking, cut the disc into four triangles like a pizza. Then bake or fry or do whatever you can to make them crispy (I don’t recommend simply waiting until they are stale!). And voila: triangular tortilla ships like the ones in restaurants and stores.

tortilla chips

These triangles were broken after baking, but still get the idea across.

I would like to remind you all that the reason I post these “Duh Moments” is to share my epiphanies of the obvious, but also to encourage others to ask the questions to which everyone else already knows the answer. Just because everyone else already knew doesn’t make the discovery any less thrilling… only the sharing of the discovery when no one blinks an eye because they all knew from birth.

Duh Moment: Powdered Sugar

January 13, 2010

During the recent blizzard of ’09 in Philly, I decided to decorate some of the naked gingerbread men for a football watching party. Because really, what goes better with pizza and beer than frosted gingerbread cookies? With one hour to go I realized I only had a half cup of powdered sugar which will cover about 3 cookies. Fortunately the corner store had a box of confectioners sugar so I was saved. But I got to thinking…

I was making a batch of Santa’s Spiced Nuts and used my spice/coffee grinder to grind the spices. When I was done blending the spices I followed some advice I heard once and ground some sugar. I had heard somewhere that grinding sugar or rice absorbs the flavor of the powder left over from grinding coffee beans or spices. So after grinding the sugar, I inspected it to see how much of the cloves and allspice was left. It was then that I had my duh moment: I just made powdered sugar!

The moral of the story is that I discovered the secret of powdered sugar. How frustrated I have been by having to keep powdered sugar on hand in addition to regular sugar. The agony when I go to make frosting only to find I am out of the magic that is confectioners sugar. And the disappointment when I try to find an acceptable substitute only to realize there isn’t one.

I examined the ingredient list on the powdered sugar box to confirm my suspicions: sugar, cornstarch. I was shocked to find more than just sugar listed, but it makes sense. The difference between granular sugar and the powdery goodness is not simply that it’s powder but that it has a thickening agent which creates swirls and peaks in frosting. Fortunately, I always have cornstarch on hand. Now I have not tested my theory, but next time I have a late-night frosting craving, I will take notes and report back.