Today was dull and dreary; overcast skies and alternating rain and thunderstorms most of the day. Molly wasn't willing to get more than a few inches from me all day. Finally this evening with the storms passed she was willing to leave my side long enough to venture outside for a bit. What is it going to be like this summer when the real thunderstorms arrive?
I had supper at mom's tonight and the discussion turned to the ingredients in microwave mashed potatoes. We conducted a side by side taste test of two different brands because the advertised differences were amusing. One brand (Betty Crocker) advertised "high fiber" and had a larger serving size (2/3 cup) with fewer calories, the other (Idahoan) was advertised as "natural" potatoes with a smaller serving size (1/2 cup). (Both were red potato varieties.) The results: we preferred the Idahoan natural potato kind. It tasted more like real mashed potatoes and had a better consistency.
I had predicted the result before the experiment based on the ingredients listed on the box. The Betty Crocker "high fiber" variant had cellulose listed as the second ingredient. They were using cellulose to supply fiber and add body to the potatoes, allowing the lower calorie claim along with the larger serving size. But it also made the consistency stiffer and the taste was less potato-ey than real mashed potatoes. It is amusing what you can learn if you read the box carefully.
That experiment in turn led to a discussion of angel food cake baking. I had made a regular angel food cake earlier in the week and mom had made the chocolate variant yesterday. I happened to mention that the boxed mix I used allowed adding either a quarter cup of all purpose flour or a quarter cup of cocoa and extending the baking time by 3 minutes to account for the altitude here. Mom had started from a different mix but had added the cocoa as a seat of the pants thing. Both turned out well, but the high altitude "fixes" led to us looking at a couple of the "from scratch" recipes renowned in the local area and comparing them to a recipe out of a standard cook book. Sure enough, the local recipes had that dash more flour added relative to the standard cookbook.
I wonder how many local recipes have all the altitude corrections built in without notation? I also wonder how drastic the effects would be on low altitude cooking.
Enough blithering about cooking, time to do some real work.