Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nothing But Grapes and Sunshine...

Today's Wonder of the World is...Raisins!

Flickr photo by Dusty 73
Hey! There's a box of raisins that's big enough for the Jolly Green Giant!
I love Weirdly Huge Pretend Food, but I have a little confession to make.

Come closer.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm not that crazy about downing handfuls of raisins by themselves.
Unless they look like this.

Flickr photo by kenzilicious
Mmm. Chocolate covered raisins. They're too good to share with children.
(Not that I hog them to myself and then destroy the evidence. No. I wouldn't do that.)

So why, you ask, did I name raisins as a Wonder of the World, if I don't pop them like M&M's?
Well, I'll tell you the truth. I started thinking about raisins because of this.

Flickr photo by boomette1
This, my friends, is raisin pie.
Stop shuddering! It's really good! Unbelievably good! Shockingly good!
If you read yesterday's post, you may remember that yesterday was my daddy's birthday. Every year my mom makes a raisin pie for the occasion because he loves it so. Have you ever tried it? You should.
It might turn you into a raisin fanatic.

Kind of like this guy.

Flickr photo by
Except my dad doesn't do that. That would be weird.
(No offense, raisin eyebrow man, but you're scary looking.)

Anyway, thinking about that raisin pie made me realize how many of my favorite things have raisins in them.

Like my absolute favorite French pastry, pain aux raisins.

Flickr photo by Quan Nguyen
Literally translated, it means bread with raisins, but oh man, after looking at that, the name fits even in English, because PEOPLE I'M IN PAIN, WANTING ONE OF THOSE RIGHT NOW!
I think I might cry. Seriously.
You are skeptical and think I'm joking, but have you tried one?
The buttery goodness. The creaminess of the custard hidden between the slightly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside pastry spirals, the ever so slightly burned raisins. (They're good that way!) Lordy Lordy, pain aux raisins are a WONDER OF THE WORLD! (I could never post about just them by themselves because the excitement would push me over the edge. I'd have to stow away on a flight to France and then I'd get arrested.)

I'll calm down now.
Did you know that raisin is the French word for grape?
(It's kind of confusing--like crayon is the word for pencil. The French like to keep us off kilter.)
A raisin is a raisin sec, a dried grape. So I guess I was wrong. Literally, pain aux raisins is translated bread with grapes. However you translate it, they're magnifique.

But this is good too.

Flickr photo by menickstephensorg
It's Rum Raisin.

And there's cinnamon raisin bread.

Flickr photo by WendysWTN
It's not pain aux raisins, but it's still delicious.
In the world of food, we can't all be pain aux raisins. If somebody gets to be the queen, other people have to be the peasants.

Did you know that here at the Ramsey house we could make our own raisins if we wanted to?
I don't think I've ever mentioned it, but we have a vineyard in our backyard.
Don't call me Ernestine Gallo, but we do have a long line of grapes running up to the back fence. They're muscadines, a pungent musky grape that is native around here. My hubby grew up eating them, and I've adjusted. I even like them now.

There's Tanner.
The first time we picked them, we let him eat his fill. That was a mistake. A couple hours later his face was so swollen that we could hardly see his eyes! We'd never heard that dogs can't eat grapes, but it's true.
Tanner was disappointed. First spackling paste, and now grapes!

They look good, but they're not ripe yet. By early October they'll be perfect.

All this raisin talk made me wonder, how exactly do people dry grapes?
If this photo is typical, they dry them by hanging the clusters. At least this Greek vintner does it that way.

Flickr photo by urgenci international network
How is it done in California?
Does anybody know?
Maybe I should ask these guys.

Flickr photo by lova revolutionary
Have a Wonder-Full Thursday, y'all!
Take a spin around your house/office to this little ditty, and tell me, are you a fan of raisins? Or do you think they're all dried up?
Ha ha.

Love, Becky


StitchinByTheLake said...

I have a dear friend in quilt guild who will be 86 next month. She always makes raisin pie for our potlucks and, according to those who like raisin pie, it's to die for. I'm afraid raisins aren't my favorite thing but now with chocolate, you could have something there! blessings, marlene

Paula Clare said...

Hi Becky,
I'm not so much a fan of the FOOD raisins (they, like prunes, seem sad to me...all dried up and shriveled. A mere shadow of the fine, plump fruit they once were...) HOWEVER, I love the California raisins! I always thought this bit of marketing and advertising was genius...what better theme song for a bunch of hip raisins than "Heard It Through the Grapevine!" Clever. VERY CLEVER.

Jojo said...

I have never had a raisin pie though I do love raisins, and dates and prunes. My question is who is that raisin man and how did you get him to stick raisins in his eyebrows? That is the funniest and I am curious as to who fell victim. Do you plan to be a winemaker?

Tara said...

I love raisins! I can honestly say I've never tried raisin pie. I'll have to get a recipe and try it. Great post!

Barb said...

Your family is not alone. I am a big fan of raisins (especially the dancing kind). Raisin pie is so good and pain aux raisins.... Tell you what, I'll meet you at the airport and we'll fly over together. We could have a grand adventure.


Rosemary said...

You are so funny!!
I love raisins, but not by themselves either. I love oatmeal raisin cookies!
That pasty sounds really good. I have never had one.
I do love chocolate covered raisins. Now you have me thinking about yummy stuff to eat.
Have a great day!

Susan Sandmore said...

Not a fan of raisins or the singing California raisins, who have always creeped me out (though I love the music they sing). And to be honest, singing food does not make me want to eat that food. It makes me want to step on that food. I must be seriously disturbed, Becky!

Suzie said...

Man that bread looks good

Liz said...

I love raisin bread... but that's about all. Except those yogurt covered raisins, love those too. Ok fine, since this dumb diet started, I'd probably eat anything and be happy. :)

Anonymous said...

mmmmmm Raisins. When I was in junior high all my friends has braces, and I REALLY wanted braces too. (don't ask- it was peer pressure) Anyway, so I used to get some raisin and cut them in half, and then roll each little piece into an oval, stick one on each of my teeth, and then smile in the mirror from a distance and pretend they were my braces. I wanted to see what I would like like with them......!! Then of course- I ate the rest;-)

CC said...

I totally grew up with those California Raisin commercials.

I actually eat a box of raisins every day at work. But they have to be SunMaid and they have to be in the box (or else they get dry and gross).

Just yesterday I read that raisins soaked in gin are great for arthritis pain.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

You guys are great.
Now to answer a few questions...
Jojo, I found the man on flickr. Whoever he is, he's got a sense of humor. Or he lost quite a bet. And yes, we'll eat most of the grapes and give loads away, (my hubby went a little overboard with all the vines) and he's going to try his hand at Muscadine wine. He wants me to stomp on them, but I haven't decided yet. Maybe if I can get some friends to do it with me! I'll be sure to post about it!

Susan, don't you be stepping on my raisins! Actually, I don't blame you. They do look a little like dancing bugs. Eww. I must think about something else now.

Candy, I love that! Raisin braces! I wanted them too but I never thought of that.

CC, I hear you on the dry raisin thing! Yuck! And I know several people who indulge in medicinal raisins! :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I'm not that wild about raisins. Raisnets are another matter entirely. I also think a good cinnamon bread can be destroyed with raisins. But, that's just me. My husband loves p'nut butter, apple, and raisin sandwiches. Go figure.

Vodka Mom said...

if only i liked raisins...

Sherry Martschink said...

Yum! Muscadines and scuppernongs. Talk about southern . . . .

Susie Q said...

What a pure pleasure it has been to catch up with you! From raisins to Sarah at school, cute school supplies to wonderful chairs, it was all such fun. You find (and or have) the most wonderfully fun photos!
I loved seeing Katie. What a beautiful kitty.
Poor Tanner! You know? We were such naive dog parents with our first dog. We let her have grapes occasionally and chocolate. Sweet girl lived to be 15 so I guess she had insides of cast iron. : )
Poor Kipper gets nothing like that but his montjly ice cream suits him well!

Thank you for all the smiles that your posts gave me.


May Vanderbilt said...

You know, I recently heard that grapes are mildly toxic to dogs. That may have been why. He probably ate too many of them.

Also, I must say, as a life-long raisin HATER this post made me feel better. I am not alone!

(Though, entre nous, I hate all dried fruit. Don't worry. I'm getting professional help)