I'm getting my second chance at a good education. This week, my Sailor-girl had three science experiments to demonstrate common ways for separating a solution. We used evaporation, distillation, and chromatography. (It's amazing what I-the teacher-am learning. Hopefully the student is getting something out of it, too.) For distillation, we tasted a small skillet of sugar water and then boiled it, capturing some of the condensation on the pot lid, which we dripped into a cup. The point of the experiment was to taste the cooled, collected water and realize that it contained no sugar-the solution had separated through distillation. But I'm not just a teacher; I'm a cook and a frugal one at that. Even though the experiment was over, the point was proven, the budding scientist was recording her data...I had my eye on that sugar water. Within a few minutes of a hard boil, the sugars had melted and burned into a lovely caramel. I poured it out onto a greased cookie sheet, and started imagining how burnt sugar could turn into a school lunch. Maybe a pear salad with nuts and Parmesan with a little sprinkle of sugar crystals for sweetness? I could have added nuts before I poured it out-but as an afterthought, I crushed some of the candied sugar and tossed it with the nuts. The salad turned out to be the most delicious 4th grade science assignment I've ever tasted, sweet and crunchy, savory and peppery. My favorite place to experiment, for science or otherwise, is in the kitchen.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Money Saving Tips: I found my arugula ($2.50) on sale in the organic produce section. It's a good idea to always browse the whole produce section for unexpected deals. Regular spinach or even a baby spring mix would make a nice substitute. If you don't have pears, thinly sliced apple would work well. Substitute your walnuts for whatever variety you have on hand. Blue cheese or feta could replace the Parmesan.
Arugula, Pear and Candied Walnut Salad with Honey Dressing
Estimated Cost: $5.00 for four servings
Notes: I've written the easiest way to make candied nuts for this recipe and not the science experiment method described above.
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup walnuts
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or other variety
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces fresh arugula or spinach
2 pears, thinly sliced, peeled or unpeeled
2 ounces thinly shaved Parmesan
Coat a plate sized sheet of waxed paper with cooking spray. In a small skillet, melt sugar over medium heat, watching closely. As soon as the sugar is a deep caramel color, toss in walnuts. Place nuts on prepared waxed paper and break apart as soon as they are cool enough to handle. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil. To make salad, arrange greens on four separate plates. Top with pears, nuts, and parmesan. Drizzle with dressing and serve. Coming Tomorrow:
Tuesdays with Dorie
Caramel Apple Creme Brulee