Monday, November 14, 2016

On Failing a Caramel Taste-test

While at Trader Joe’s, I saw a skinny box that said it was a caramel taste-test. Twelve caramels, from vanilla to chili to fig & honey, lined up and labeled from one to twelve. It was too intriguing to resist. I brought it home and we gave it a try.

The box consisted of a cardboard sleeve that showed the caramels (each of which had a distinctive top decoration) in order. A cardboard tray slid out of the sleeve and the caramels sat in individual compartments of a plastic insert. The outer sleeve listed the twelve flavors: vanilla, maple, double espresso, toffee apple, strawberry black pepper, butterscotch, fig & honey, chili, himalayan salted, blood orange & balsamic, coconut, and stem ginger. The answers as to which caramel was which were on the underside of the cardboard tray—no peeking!

As the instructions suggested, we cut each caramel into quarters (this part was a bit messy). Since there were three of us, this left an extra piece to be eaten later after we’d checked the answers. One by one we sampled each caramel and wrote down our guesses. In some cases, the top decoration gave a bit of a hint as to what it was.

I was amazed at how difficult it was to guess some of the most familiar flavors. I got completely befuddled by vanilla, maple, and butterscotch caramels. A few of the flavors were quite clear and all three of us immediately said, “Oh, yes, I know this one!”, but there were others where one or two people felt certain of the answer and the other two or one remained utterly confused.

In the end, I got the lowest score: 6 out of 12 right. Only 50%. I’ve always thought I was pretty good at distinguishing smells, and should therefore be good at distinguishing tastes, but apparently I’m not nearly as good at this as I thought.

Maybe I need to eat more flavored caramels this year, just for practice?

Till next post.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why is this blog called "Ravens and Pears"?

There are really two reasons why this blog is called "Ravens and Pears." The first reason is that I write children's fiction and one of my stories (the one for which I'm currently sending out queries) is about a boy and his raven (and a Great Flood). Another story, the one I'm currently revising, is set in a kingdom where a Fairy's Curse has blighted all the pears for which the kingdom used to be famous.

The second reason, which may be the reason why I have ravens and pears in my stories to begin with, is that both are interesting of their kind.

 I don't know any ravens personally, but I have read about them and watched videos. Ravens (and crows and other corvids) are very intelligent birds. And like many intelligent animals, they are prone to causing trouble. They are also interesting because they can mimic speech and other sounds, though I think this mainly happens in ravens that live with people. Perhaps for these reasons, ravens appear in myths and folk tales.

Pears look a bit like apples, but--in my kitchen, at least--are much more temperamental. Apples are usually ready to eat when I buy them, and still ready to eat after sitting in the fridge for a few weeks. Pears, on the other hand, are rarely ripe when I buy them, and after checking them every day to see if they are ready, I sometimes find I have missed the magic moment and they are already going rotten. But when I eat a perfectly ripe pear, it is heavenly--and I can't say the same for an apple.

I'm hoping to post about things that I find interesting--unusual craft techniques, books that make me think, new ideas for dealing with everyday life, and maybe even some recipes. I expect I'll also post about things that make me cranky, and other things that make me happy. I might even throw in some photos.

Till next post.