What the heck is “tartar”?

Googling a recipe on your Blackberry while standing in the grocery store in an attempt to make sure you have all the ingredients is a bad idea.

I know this.

THIS is how I went from making a 10-minute banana pudding for hubby’s Holiday luncheon at work to making an hour long from scratch stir-till-your-arm-falls-off banana pudding with meringue.

Banana Pudding

Now, I completely appreciate the very fact that hubby has a job, AND I really like his boss.  They are very understanding to his responsibilities as a father and let him have time off whenever he is needed. 

But FROM SCRATCH pudding?  Seriously?

In FOURTEEN YEARS, I have NEVER made my husband pudding from scratch.  He’s lucky to get dinner that is only half way from a box. 

But here I am, waiting for the meringue to brown, lil fat man asleep in my lap, trying to share with you something I learned tonight.

I needed “cream of tartar”.  Cream of chicken, cream of mushrooms, cream of celery and cream cheese are all things I know.  Chickens cluck, mushrooms grow in poo (and other dark places), celery tastes like poo unless they are diced to unrecognizable sizes and cooked in soup, and CHEESE is da bomb- on ANYTHING.

But what the heck is “tartar”?

Since Google (and their recipe on southernfoods.com) got me in this mess, I fully expected Google to get me out of it.

According to Google, cream of tartar is a salt used especially in baking powder.

Of course I Gooogled “baking powder”, wouldn’t you?

According to WordNetWeb.princeton.edu, baking powder is any various powdered mixtures used in baking as a substitute for yeast.

This was not helping me…

So, I hit up WikiAnswers and found this: (The questions was “What is tartar in cooking?”

It could be one of two things

  1. cream of tartar (also known as Potassium bitartrate) which is used in wine making and, mixed with backing soda, it makes backing powder.
  2. there is a dish made out of raw fillet steak (or horse meat) chopped fine with herbs and served as a patty with capers and a raw egg that is called steak tartar

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_tartar_in_cooking#ixzz18Kca8So0

None of this did me much good as I still forgot to buy the cream of tartar at the grocery store and had to do a hunt for substitutions for cream of tartar in meringue.  Thanks to wikihow.com I have that answer. 

Substitute the cream of tartar for an equal amount of lemon juice or vinegar. The amount for substitution should measure about 1/8 teaspoon per egg white.

or—apparently, you can just leave it out entirely.

Hubby just pulled the pudding out of the oven.  The big pan was for work, but there were two mini loaf pans in there for him and my mom.  He’s anxiously waiting for his to cool down so he can eat it.  Hopefully it tastes okay.  I won’t be able to tell since I hate all things pudding.

Oh, no, I’m still confused as to what is tartar exactly.

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