March 19, 2013

Casey Barber and Classic Snacks Made From Scratch Giveaway!

Classic Snacks Made From Scratch

This week my friend Casey Barber of good.food.stories is joining me to chat about her new book, Classic Snacks Made from Scratch. I mean, who couldn’t love a book like that?!! If I wasn’t concentrating on losing the baby weight I think I might work my way from beginning to end without a second thought. Everything looks delicious and harkens back to those alluring snacks of my childhood.

1) You did an amazing job rounding up all the classic snacks in this book. Were there a lot of these in your house growing up? How did you compile such a list?
Though my parents did their best to keep my sister and I in the realm of Grape-Nuts and whole wheat bread, my grandparents had no such compunction. Their freezer was always stocked with Pudding Pops, their fridge held treasures like three-layered Jell-O… according to family lore, any time I arrived at their house, I declared, “I would like to have something sweet!”

Putting together the list was fun and fairly easy—I brainstormed all my favorite snacks from my youth, asked my friends what their most requested (or most infamous) snacks would be, and combed the aisles of my local grocery stores with a notepad!

Goldfish Crackers
2) What do you think is the biggest difference between these classic snacks when they are made in a home kitchen versus the kinds we find on store shelves? 

The biggest difference—and this isn’t necessarily a bad difference—is that there is a particular chemical aftertaste that I just couldn’t replicate in some snacks. You know how Twinkies would coat the inside of your mouth with a layer of sickly sweetness? Yeah, I couldn’t make that happen. But the best part about these snacks is that you can completely customize them to your liking. I’ve had people doing Milano cookies in orange as well as mint, people making Twinkie cupcakes; it’s really cool to see how everyone interprets the snacks.

3) How was the process of creating and testing each recipe? I imagine it took a lot of work since people expect these to taste just like the real deal they find at the store! No pressure there… 🙂

The process of creating each recipe started the same way: by buying the processed, packaged version of the snack in question, then dismantling and dissecting each component in my kitchen (pulling apart Oatmeal Crème Pies, cutting open Totino’s pizza rolls) to dial down to the essential flavors and textures of each snack. Sometimes it was easy to figure out that, for example, a Nutter Butter is essentially a frosting-filled peanut butter shortbread cookie, but other recipes took a lot of time. Nailing down the particular wheaty sweetness of a Wheat Thin was a big challenge.

Hostess Cupcakes

4) Which one of these snacks has a Proustian effect on you? (For me it would be Sno-balls. So completely off limits in our house…oh the memories of buying them at the local five and dime and savoring them in my friend’s treehouse on sticky summer days praying we wouldn’t get caught!)

So funny – Sno-Balls were one of my favorites too, though revisiting them as an adult made me realize just how creepy that outer marshmallow layer is in the way it peels away from the cake inside. It’s just so… ALIEN. Funyuns were a big rediscovery; I have such fond memories of crunching into them while wasting time at the local pool, preferably alongside one of the snack bar’s crispy, buttery grilled cheese sandwiches. I probably should have only purchased a snack-size bag when researching them for the book, but I ended up eating the whole full-size bag in a matter of days. Couldn’t stop!

5) Are there any newer classic snacks you didn’t include in this book? When I shop with my daughter I am amazed at the amount of newer snack foods that have come out since we were kids!

You can probably tell just by looking at the table of contents that I’m a child of the ‘80s. I don’t understand these new snacks; like, when and why did they decide to make Fruit Roll-Ups green or blue? They were perfectly fine in regular fruit colors! Actually, I would have liked to include some even weirder snacks like Fun Fruits (remember those?) and sugar wafers, or drinks like Ecto Cooler in the book, but developing and testing 70 snack recipes was more than enough work.

Strawberry PopTarts

6) What were some of your favorite moments from the writing and production of this book?

Honestly, some of the best moments were getting feedback from my testers, all of whom were home cooks with varying degrees of skill, and hearing how happy, successful, and empowered they were by trying the recipes. I had people deep-frying, boiling sugar and making marshmallows, tempering and enrobing chocolate, shaping and baking pretzels—all of these things that they’d never tried or thought they could do and they all pulled it off!

7) What is next for you? I vote for a Classic Snacks vol 2! 

I don’t think I can put my mind and stomach through the process of recreating any more classic snacks for at least a year—the number of Twinkies I’ve been making for my book events is reinforcing my decision to move away from the snack recipe development for a while! I’m still trying to pin down my next book topic; I love baking as much as I love cooking savory food, so it could be anything.

Images by Judi Swinks. Used with permission.

To Enter to Win A Copy of Classic Snacks Made from Scratch:

1. Leave a comment below sharing your favorite classic snack!

2. Subscribe to Kelsey Banfield on Facebook.

3. Contest runs from March 19th at 7:00am ET through March 26th. Winner will be announced in the March 29th newsletter!