My fictional twin is Jo March from Little Women. She's a tomboy, never quite fits in but doesn't usually mind, is a writer who works hard and dreams even harder, has a bad temper and a problem with saying things out loud that most people just keep locked up in their minds, wears her hair short, gets into trouble but generally is able to blunder her way back out, and has a good sense of humor.
Jo is pretty much me with the exception of our height (she got to be tall and I still struggle with reaching things on the top shelf) and our cooking skills (I can actually make pretty foods).
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. These four sisters couldn't be more different: the elegant grown-up Meg, the tomboyish Jo, the musically inclined yet extremely shy Beth, and the impertinent Amy. They each have their own dreams and set backs, but when their father goes to fight in the Civl War, they work together with their mother to keep the house up and running. Whether they're putting on plays, braving different society circles, waiting to get published, or forming secret clubs, they are united in their desire to grow into women that will make their parents proud.
Funnily enough, as I sat down to write this post, I started thinking of all of the reasons I don't like this book. I'm sad that Beth died and will never get over the fact that Jo and Laurie didn't get married. WHY??? They could have made it work! Grrrr.
So I had to ask myself: Why on earth do you like this book? My answer to myself: Because it upset me.
I got so attached to the characters that the going ons in their lives affect me emotionally. I care about the book and the people in it because the writing is good and the characters are better. It's the kind of story that you can easily attach yourself too: laugh over it, cry over it, be inspired by it, and never ever forget it.
Basically, this is a story I love even while disliking parts of it. I'm assuming we all have a childhood book like that. Right? Right??
Anyway, I've always been curious about a food that appears in this book: Blancmange. It's a dish that Meg makes for Laurie when the March family hear he's sick. Jo takes it over to his house and explains that it slides down easily and is good for a sore throat.
Well, as it turns out, blancmange is a dairy and cornstarch pudding (usually vanilla flavored) and is pronounced "Blah-mahnj." Gotta love French.
It is of British origin, though it has a long history. At one point it had meat in it, then evolved into a pudding with the thickening agent being pigs feet (yum!), went meatless around the 1600s where eggs were used to thicken it, then, in the 1800s, arrowroot was used as the thickener. Arrowroot was later replaced with cornstarch.
Funnily enough, arrowroot is growing in popularity today and is used by a lot of hippy organic people like me. So I decided to make blancmange using arrowroot and almond milk. The idea is to have a pudding that is so thick that you can place it in a mold, set, then invert onto a plate with the pudding still holding itself in the correct shape. Mine? Well...we'll get to that part.
- 2 cups of almond milk
- 1/3 cup of maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons of arrowroot mixed with 4 tablespoons of almond milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I actually forgot to put this vanilla in because I'm an idiot and always forget important things (did I mention I'm a lot like Jo?). So I suppose this technically makes the vanilla optional, though it is traditional.
1. Heat milk and maple syrup in a medium saucepan until the syrup is dissolved.
2. Pour in the arrowroot mixture and whisk. Put heat on medium high. Bring to a boil, whisking continuously, and allow to boil for about one minute. The mixture should be fairly thick at this point. It should thickly coat the back of a spoon.
3. Pour the mixture into molds. I didn't have any of those pretty silicon molds, so I used glass punch bowls.
They either worked just as well as molds or were the cause of the impending disaster I will show you below.
4. Allow to cool, then let set in the refrigerator for about 3 hours or until firm. Once done, they are ready to eat. I threw some cherry sauce over mine to make it prettier and give it a nice flavor. Cherry sauce is incredibly easy to make, so just hop on Google and pick one. I pretty much used this one, but withheld the cornstarch and used 1/3 cup of cane sugar for sweetener.
Now, generally, blancmange is set in molds, then inverted onto a pretty plate like so:
I'm honestly not sure how this is possible. Maybe I didn't use enough arrowroot? Or maybe the above picture is lying and it's not real blancmange. I suspect the latter is true, as the internet is full of images of failed blancmange or blancmange simply left in their molds.
Anyway, I tried to invert mine onto a plate, knowing full well that it wasn't going to work. I ended up creating what looks to be a distant cousin of the Blobfish (No, I didn't just make up that fish. They're real. Look them up):
I think I would have made Jo proud.
Anyway, I'm not sure exactly what blancmange tasted like, but this seemed pretty close to the real thing. It didn't taste very good, which, honestly, I wasn't really expecting it to. I mean, it's a descendant of foot jelly.
I never share recipes on here of foods that don't taste good, but I though I would today because: 1) I thought it was funny. 2) I do think that some people might like it. I personally don't enjoy jellies or puddings, so I can't judge this one accurately.
Have you ever had blancmange? Please tell me what you thought of it. And don't forget to tell me about your favorite sister from Little Women!
Rosa Hubermann's Pea Soup Inspired by The Book Thief
Tea with Tumnus from C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Sardines on Toast, Madeira Cake, and Tea
Cherry Pop Inspired by Jack Schaefer's Shane