Sep 2, 2011

Karen's BBQ Intro

Welcome guests of Karen's BBQ.

There's not a lot to see here yet. I started the blog about a year ago at the urging of my critique partner, but I didn't really  have anything to say at the time. So, it's sat, mostly unused, while I try to get my writing ducks in a row.

About me: I'm trained as a graphic artist, which naturally means I neglect to work on design for my own web presence. I've been writing, nearly everyday, for over a decade. However, the 10 years or so, my writing was confined to the world of online roleplay--MUSHes, which I like to explain as interactive storytelling or RPG's with an entirely text-based interface. MUSHing helped me develop a love for writing, as well as my voice and style, but learning the whole storytelling process on your own aspect has occupied me most of the past year. My most loved genre is paranormal romance, but my voice is more irreverent than dark, so until they come out with paranormal romantic comedy, I am focusing my attention on contemporary romance.

What you'll find here: Updates on WIPs, discussions about different aspects of writing(what works for me, attempts to find out what works for others), storytelling/writing as a severe dyslexic, documentaries(I'm such a  nerd), Ideas, questions about organization, Possibly some ranting about this or that, Idiotic things when the mood strikes, Books, Design.

I've brought homemade blackberry marshmallows to the BBQ, and if you're interested in trying your hand at making them, my recipe is after the jump!

Amalie's Blackberry Mallows:
I tell myself they're low in calorie (they are, if you can stop eating the lil suckers), and therefore diet-friendly! You should not attempt this if you don't have either: a) a good stand mixer, or b) a good hand mixer -- by good, I mean with a motor 300+ watts, anything lower will cause the motor to burn out when the marshmallow starts to get thick. For a stand mixer, you want to use the whisk attachment, but for hand mixer, wire beaters will be great.

Total prep-time: 12-24 hours

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons water
dash of salt
juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon
3 packages of unflavored gelatin

Stage one--preparing the berries:
This can be a bit time consuming, but I have no concept of time so I don't know how long it will take. Best guess: lots of minutes, but probably less than half hour. Probably.
    1. Nuke frozen berries + 2 tablespoons of water in microwave-safe dish on high for 1.5-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. This will soften them and start to break down the pulp. Stop when berries are soft enough to smash with a spoon. Definitely stop before they start smelling brown, like cooked berries.
    2. Toss hot berries into a small food processor. Pulse several times until liquified, and then pass through a small sieve to remove the seeds. Go in small batches, and dump seeds often.
    3. At the end of this process, you need 1/2 cup of the liquid berry stuff (minus seeds). If you end up with a little less than 1/2 cup, you can do more berries or for a slightly less blackberry flavor, make up difference with cold water. Juice half a lemon and add to the berry concoction, and chill until cold.

Making the mallows:
    1. In a very large mixing bowl, pour your cold berry mixture and whisk together with the 3 packets of unflavored gelatin. It will get thick fast. Let stand(bloom) 15 minutes.
    2. Prep pan. I use a 9x13 baking dish and get 1" thick mallows, but if you want thicker, use a smaller pan. Spritz lightly with cooking spray to keep the wax paper sticking to the sides, and then spritz again. This will let the wax paper detach from mallows later. This stuff is extremely sticky.
    3. After 15 minutes, time to start heating sugars. Pay close attention and don't do with small children in kitchen. Hot sugar is like lava. The lovely part of this recipe: no thermometer needed. In a large, heavy sauce pan over low/medium-low heat, combine sugar, syrup and 1/2 cup of water, DO NOT STIR. If you get any stray grains of sugar on the sides of your pan, swipe them off with a wet paper towel or later your mallows will be gritty. It will melt fine without stirring. When sugar mixture is clear, increase to medium-high heat and wait. It will start to boil, probably in the center first. When the boil is vigorous and covers the entire surface of the sugar, time it for 60 seconds.
    5. When 60 seconds are up, take hot molten sugar to your gelatin mixture and pour in. Stand back, it will foam up immediately when it hits the gelatin. This is why you need a very large mixing bowl. Put the sugar pan into sink and hot water(for ease of cleanup later).
    6. With your mixer on low, slowly start to beat mixture. At this clear liquid, lava stage, it splashes easy. Splashes are bad. Ow. After a couple minutes, when it's gone from clear to cloudy and a stopped splashing, increase the speed through the levels when you're sure it's not so high it will splash. Marshmallow Safety! By the time you reach 3 minutes or so, you can move to high speed. It will seem like it's not going to thicken up for the first few minutes, but once it starts to thicken, it will thicken fast.
    7. Total beat time: 7-10 minutes, depending on humidity and your mixer speed. Whip as long as you can. When it gets thick it will start crawling up the beaters and you'll have to lift and lower the mixer as you move it around to keep it from taking over. I have a hand mixer, and I stop when it's glossy, stringy, and I'm exhausted. Mostly, if you can hit 8 minutes, and the stuff is crawling up your beaters, you're alright.
    8. Spritz rubber spatula with cooking spray and pour into wax-paper-lined pan. Do not underestimate how sticky this stuff is going to be. Rather than trying to spread with the spatula, I spritz another piece of wax paper and lay over the top of it, and then just use my hands on the other side to smooth as much as possible, but if you like the lovely topography you get from spreading out, by all means do so. Make sure you cover it at the end, however, because it needs to sit for 12-24 hours, and the mallow exposed to air will get tough otherwise.
    9. If you cannot wait, you can turn it onto a powdered-sugar-dusted cutting board at 12 hours, unless you used a small pan for thick mallows, then you are stuck at 24. To cut, you can spritz kitchen scissors and snip into squares, I use a pizza cutter and the occasional cookie cutter to get shapes(Cooking spray spritz anything you cut with. Seriously. Sticky.) Immediately put freshly cut pieces into powdered sugar and move around, this will keep them from sticking together when you bag them. Again, the air will make the outside toughen, so keeping in a ziptop bag or covered dish is a good idea if they will be out more than an hour.


  1. Hi there! I'm coming over from Karen's BBQ -- it's great to meet you! I'm interested to read more on your blog, it sounds great!

  2. Hi Amalie, lovely to meet you via Karen's party. Good luck with following your dreams.

  3. Hi Amalie. I'm not from Karen's BBQ but I thought I'd say hi and thanks for following my blog. Hope to get to know you a bit better.

    Moody Writing

  4. Hi Amalie, I popped in from KarenG's BBQ. Your name caught my eye, because it is the name of a MC in an on again off again WIP! Looking foward to reading more of your posts.

  5. Hi-ya. I wandered over from Karen's shindig, too. Nice to meet ya. How can I possibly resist signing on as your newest follower? I'll be lucky number thirteen!

  6. Yay for BBQs! Thanks for popping by my blog earlier.

  7. So nice to meet you Amalie! Will be back again. I look forward to getting to know you better. Hope you're enjoying the BBQ.


  8. followed u over from karen's bbq... brought whiskey and steak! enjoy!

  9. Hi Amalie! Thanks for coming by my blog through the BBQ, great to meet you. I'm still laughing about your woowoo-hairs comments, and I'm sure I will be again when I watch True Blood tonight. :D I'm so glad to meet you, it's great to meet another Ohioan! Looking forward to following your blog. :)

  10. Hi Amalie,

    Nice to meet you. Thanks for dropping by my blog and the follow!

    I have yet another author with a giveaway now.

  11. Hi there Amalie. I am stopping over from the BBQ. I have enjoyed meeting you and look forward to reading more!

  12. Hello, hello! I'm stopping over from the BBQ- nice to meet you! I look forward to reading more about your writing adventures!

  13. I've popped in from Karen's barbecue. I'm Janice from jabblog in Berkshire, UK. My blog's a mish-mash - bit like me, really;-)

  14. Nice to 'meet' you! Glad you've joined the blogging community- it's a fantastic place filled with so much information and support for fellow writers!

  15. I was about for the first day of the BBQ and then disappeared off into the weekend ether. Nice to come back to so many guests! Going to spend the afternoon hopping my way through!
    @Shelly: Really enjoyed your blog subject when I popped by Friday. Looking forward to people-watching with you. Thanks for the follow!

    @Donna: Thank you for the follow and good luck to you too!. Most of the writers I key to write YA, funny since when I'm targetting romance. Love the romance ladies, too, but in all honesty I always expect contact with official peeps of the romance publishing world to end with the phrase: Read more romance and less Terry Pratchett :)

    @Mood: I found you through a link from one of the lovely BBQ attendies. Really enjoyed the tips and will stop by often. Thank you for the follow, hope I can be remotely as entertaining. (I'd also aim for informative but don't much trust my own information yet!)

    @Ann: It's a good name, wish it was really mine(Darcy)! Writing romance + vast swaths elder church ladies in my family = Pen Name Required. I have visions of getting on the prayer chain for writing something slightly (*gasp*) naughty. You're on my list of blogs to visit today, looking forward to digging in!

  16. @Susan: Thank you, Lucky #13! Nice to meet you as well and looking forward to visiting your digs in return today!

    @Talli: Yay! Thank you for the re-visit. Hope you have(had?) a lovely time in Paris, but I can't really imagine *not* having a lovely time in Paris...

    @KarenG: I'm enjoying the BBQ very much. I had been doing the random 'Next Blog' thing to find blogs, but that wasn't a very fruitful way to go about looking. This is much better!

    @Jeremy: Yay, booze and meat!

    @KarenW: Thanks for stopping by. All luck appreciated and reciprocated!

    @Julie: Hello Buckeye! The woowoo hairs must be obeyed. I am so sad that the season is almost over. Luckily, HBOgo lets me revisit the (*dreamysigh*) Alcide anytime.

    @Nas: Hi Nas! I'll definitely stop by to meet the author. Thanks for letting me know.

    @Liza: Thank you, Liza. I really enjoyed your photos and am looking forward to reading/seeing more.

    @Colby: Nice to meet you too. Thank you for popping in. Got your blog loading. Writing, dancing and puppy training? Sounds like a damned fine career combo to me!

    @Janice: Mish-mashes are the best. The puppy, BTW, is adorable.

    @CreepyQueryGirl: Nice to meet you, too. I have been following several blogs (quietly, very very quietly) for the past year with very little to say. I'm still not sure I have much to say, but I can throw a lot of words at a tiny subject. We'll see how that pans. Got your blog loading while typing. Love the name :)

  17. Those mallows look delicious, thanks for sharing the recipe. I may have to try making them sometime.

    And cool on the RPing, I've done some myself over the years. I've played on various forums for magical school games (HP inspired). It was fun making graphics for my characters then writing out their interactions with other characters.

  18. The blackberry mallows get raves wherever they go. I used to make them and ship across the country for a friend, but mailing them in the summer is tricky. Unless the aim is to send one big gooey mallow... The picture is just one I slapped a slight purple filter over white mallows... Never taken a snap of the blackberry. They are actually a lot more colorful. Somewhere between the red and purple watercolor splashes on the wallpaper background :)

    Never did any of the HP sites, I started out on World of Darkness MU's and then went to an original theme historical fantasy with a Greco-Roman inspired pantheon/culture. Highly addictive!

    Some of the best writers I've met started out RPing, so I don't even try to hide my geekdom anymore. F

  19. Hi Amalie, nice to meet you :) Cheers for the comment on my blog, sorry it took me so long to visit you back!


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