Archives for category: Link Love

Carmels 2 015

My kids love caramels.  When we go to the store they have caramels that cost about a dollar each by the register.  They are lovely and tasty and expensive.  I decided we needed to make our own.  Time consuming, this recipe is worth the work.  You don’t need to stand over the stove and stir the whole time but you do need to be in the kitchen for a few hours so you can make other things when the caramel are cooking.  I made some granola bars and some bread at the same time.

Some of my recipes call for corn syrup.  One of the DIY projects that I have undertaken recently is making “corn” syrup out of cane sugar.  Corn syrup is expensive and after reading “The omnivores Dilemma” by  Michael Pollen, I have been committed to reducing the amount of corn products my family consumes.  Not an easy task.

It is very easy to make your own “corn” syrup from cane sugar.  This will substitute in any recipe that calls for corn syrup.  For example, it works great in my granola bar recipe.

Here is the recipe I used to make “corn” syrup.  Cupcake Project, How to make corn syrup.

You should make these caramels because they are worth the work and this recipe yields 120 caramels which will last a long time if kept in the fridge.

Carmels 2 008


  •                                         4 cups heavy cream
  •                                         1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  •                                         4 cups home-made “corn” syrup
  •                                         4 cups sugar
  •                                         1 teaspoon salt
  •                                         1/2 pound unsalted butter
  •                                         1 tablespoon home-made vanilla extract
  •                                         Vegetable-oil cooking spray


  1.  Spray a cookie sheet or half sheet pan with vegetable-oil spray.
  2.  In medium saucepan, combine cream and sweetened condensed milk; set aside.
  3.  In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine “corn” syrup, 1 cup water, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Over high heat, cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring with a wooden spoon, 8 to 12 minutes. Brush down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals if needed.
  4.  Stop stirring, reduce heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250  degrees (hard-ball stage).  You need to have a candy thermometer for this recipe because you cannot guess about the temperature.   This will take about 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Cook cream mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Do not boil.
  6. When sugar reaches 250  degrees. slowly stir in butter cut into chunks added one at a time, and warmed cream mixture, keeping mixture boiling at all times.  Take your time with this step as you do not want the mixture to stop boiling.  Add the butter very slowly.

Carmels 017

  1. Cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches 244  degrees (firm-ball stage), and this will take around 55 to 75 minutes.

Carmels 023

  1. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Immediately pour into prepared pan without scraping pot. If you scrape the bottom of the pot dark brown bits will end up in your candy.  Just leave the bottom of the pot alone and throw out what is left after you pour the candy into the pan.
  3. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.
  4. After candy has hardened cut into 1 inch pieces and wrap with waxed paper.
  5. These will keep for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.  Keep the candies in sealed bag or jar so that they do not pick up any odd flavors from the refrigerator.

Carmels 2 007

Feb 6 051

I stood in front of the display of Satsuma tangerines at Whole Foods.  I was not there to buy fruit.  I had a list and a budget.  I looked down at the tangerines.  The display was artful and tantalizing.  Lovely oranges, yellows and dark greens swam before my eyes.  I mumbled to myself that I have to remember not to go to Whole Foods on an empty stomach.  Of course I reached for a paper bag and starting filling it with these little beauties.

If you have not had the pleasure of tasting Satsuma Tangerines do yourself a favor and buy them today.  They are available for a short time each year and then they are gone. You will have to wait for the next season and this is not advisable.

When I got home and sat down to peel the thin skin off of a Satsuma I took my time and enjoyed the process.  It reminded me of my favorite author.  MFK Fisher.  Most of you hard-core foodies are familiar with Mary Francis.  If you love food and life and the sensual pleasures found in food then pick up any of her books.  The tangerine reminded me of her book Serve it Forth.  In the essay Borderland she describes her secret love of dried tangerine segments.  “My pleasure in them is subtle and voluptuous and quite inexplicable.”  This line is Mary Francis at her best.  Her erudite musings on food and life are beautiful to read.  I lose myself in her books.  I do not read them on the bus or at a crowded cafe but save them for a quiet place where I can stop and just stare off into space and think about what she has written.  I am always inspired to cook and eat, usually with a few good friends after reading MFK Fisher.

I enjoyed my honey sweet tangerine and was pleased with my lack of self-control at Whole Foods.  I had no regrets about not sticking to my budget.

You can cook with Satsuma tangerines but eat one fresh as well.   Enjoy the perfume of sweet citrus and then experience the sweet juice as you bite into each little segment.

Jen Yu describes her first experience with Satsuma Tangerines in her stunningly beautiful blog Use Real Butter.  Fall Fruit and Yogurt Salad.

You can add Satsuma tangerines to salads, make a fruit salsa for fish, bake a lovely tart or make a sweet and tart Satsuma marmalade.

Todays recipe is not a gourmet recipe.  I wanted to make something for my 12-year-old son.  He was getting over a cold and his throat was sore.

Jello!  Always my favorite for soothing a sore throat when I had a cold as a kid. It is  easy to make your own jello and the ingredient list does not contain words hard to pronounce.

My son and I read a box of Jello at the store.  He was not enticed by the disodium phosphate or the adipic acid and fumeric acid.

We made our own jello with just a few more steps than the boxed kind and it was delicious.  Little bits of Satsuma flesh dotted the jello and a bright citrus flavor dominated the taste instead of the usual cloying sweetness of packaged jello.

Top your jello with some fresh made real whipped cream  or just eat it plain.  This is not gourmet but a real treat.

Satsuma Jello 2 003

Satsuma Tangerine Gelatin

You can substitute honey or agave nectar for sugar in this recipe but reduce water by 1/4 cup

I recommend honey since Satsuma tangerines have a honey note that is intensified with honey.

1/2 ounce or 2-1/4 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

2 1/2 cups cold water

1 cup fresh squeezed Satsuma tangerines

2 tangerines sliced into rounds

1 cup cane sugar, or to taste since this recipe is slightly sweet without added sugar

If substituting the sugar with honey or agave nectar remember to reduce water by 1/4 cup.  Agave nectar gives this recipe a nice slightly brown color and rich molasses flavor.

Bloom the gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water in a large bowl.  Let sit for 5 minutes and then stir.

Feb 6 049Boil 2 cups of water with the tangerine slices and sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Add tangerine juice and pour hot mixture into cold water and gelatin mixture.  Mix throughly and put in the refrigerator to set.

Feb 6 059It should set up in about 2 hours.  Leave the tangerine slices in the jello as it will increase flavor.  You can remove them before serving but since Satsuma tangerines  do not have a bitter pith then they are sweet and tasty when left in whole slices and eaten with the dessert.

Satsuma Jello 2 002

In my quest to make everything from scratch that my family eats one of the items that has slipped from the list is crackers.  My husband and son love to eat cheese and crackers.  My son also adores cheese crackers like cheese its.  I decided to give crackers a try for Easter.

When I am trying a new recipe I google recipes for what ever it is I am making.  This is the best cookbook around.  As a professional chef many people ask what my favorite cook book is and I usually say Google.  The reason Google can be so powerful as a cookbook is that you can peruse many different recipes in minutes.  Then you can see what underlying themes or techniques are used.  At this point I will usually build my own recipe or try one from a respected source.

There are thousands of places to find recipes on the internet.  With recipe sites, blogs and food sites, lists can be endless.  How do you know which ones are any good?  Over the years there are a number of sites that I find are invaluable resources and I am sure the recipes are well written and tested.  Here is a list of sites that I find have great recipes every time.  If you are not familiar with Cooks Illustrated I encourage you to pick up a copy of the magazine at your grocery store or check out the website.  They literally test recipes many  times and find the best possible way to make each recipe.  On their website you can pay a small yearly fee and have access to hundreds of tested recipes for everything from cupcakes to pot roast. Money well spent in my household.  Now I am sure everyone is familiar with Martha.  Not only are her recipes good but the comments section at the bottom of each recipe contains comments from people who have made the recipe and what they found worked or did not work.  It is great information. Martha also has great recipes for the season with stunning photos.  This site is a great inspiration.   This veteran blogger has not only some of the most beautiful photos on the web but she is honest in her posts.  A good example would be her Everyday Chocolate Cake post.  She was not successful with her first attempt and discussed where she got her original recipe, how she tweaked it and what worked and what did not work.  This kind of information is great for home cooks and professionals alike. It is always good to learn from someone elses mistakes.  Another talented veteran blogger whose beautiful pictures and simple prose get right to the point and convey great information on how to make nearly everything.  Rose Levy Beranbaum is the queen of pies and cakes.  She writes her recipes in weight measurement, she has adjustments for altitude and gives you just about any information you may need.  Her meticulous recipes have been a staple in my kitchen for years.  I usually consult one of her cookbooks or website where ever I bake anything!  Check out some of her cookbooks.  The Cake Bible, The Pie and Pastry Bible and Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.  The undisputed pastry king he writes a wonderful blog about making everything from appetizers, entree and baking all set in lovely Paris.  I have never made one of his recipes that failed.  All of his recipes are meticulously tested and documented.  This blog is beautiful, fun and informative.

There are also many different personal blogs that I follow but that is going to have to be another post.

So on with the cracker trials.  I decided to try a recipe that I found on  This recipe is by Ina Garten.  Parmesan and Thyme Crackers.

On the first try the dough came out too dry.  This could be because it is a very dry climate here in the mountains.  I added a teaspoon of water and then the dough came together nicely in the food processor.

I chilled the dough and rolled it out with minimal flour on the rolling surface.  The dough rolled out nicely.  I used a flower shaped cutter and lined the baking sheet with parchment paper.  The crackers baked nicely and came out lightly browned.

They were delicious.  Much like a tiny and thin biscuit.  I recommend these crackers for entertaining.  A bit heavy for everyday snacking but great for a special occasion.  After Easter dinner some of my family and friends went home smiling with little bags of crackers for later.

Parmesan and Thyme Crackers

Inspired by Ina Garten

1 stick or 1/4 lb unsalted butter at room temperature

2 1/2 oz freshly grated aged parmesan cheese ( I used Parmigiano Reggiano – Riserva Stravecchio from Costco which is a great price and very tasty)

187.5 grams of all-purpose flour or 1 1/2 cups

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Place butter in the bowl of food processor.  Process until creamy.  Add cheese, flour, salt and thyme.

Process until dough forms a ball.  Dump the ball of dough out on a lightly floured surface.  Push down into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.

Chill for half an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Flouring your rolling-pin if needed.

Roll to about pie dough thickness.  You can roll it out thicker if you like.  They were good both ways.

Cut with a cookie or biscuit cutter.

Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned about 20 minutes.

I have not been blogging for very long.  I love it and find it somewhat addictive.  I love to read other blogs because it really inspires me to see what other folks are cooking out there.  One of my favorite new blogs is Rantings of an Amateur Chef.  This blogs pictures, well written recipes and charming prose are a joy to read.  Every time he posts I am delighted to open the email and just lose myself in the story and recipes.

When I returned from my trip to Cali this week I was surprised to see that I was nominated by Rantings for the Liebster Blog award. Wow.  Thank you very much.  I felt like Sally Fields at the Academy Awards when she said “you like me…you really like me.”

The rules for this nomination are that I need to nominate five of my favorite blogs.  Not hard at all…..ok so it is.

I love all the blogs that I follow so how do I choose?

After thinking about it for the last 3 days I choose the following blogs to nominate for the Liebster Blog Award.

Food Safari-A food Lovers Journal

This woman is a seriously prolific blogger.  She posts nearly every day and the posts are always delicious sounding.  Her blog is beautiful and fun to read.  She obviously loves cooking for her darling son and I am always amazed at how yummy her food looks and she is still so thin and beautiful!  She cannot possibly eat all of those yummy dishes or is she one of those humming-bird metabolism folks I am so jealous of.

Eat with Fat Joe

The name pretty much says it all.  This delightful blog talks about such important topics as Opie Taylor, BBQ and chowing down with your friends.  Joe is a charming guy who always has a nice thing to say.

We call him yes-chef!

This is one of the most beautiful blogs I have found this year.  A husband and wife team produce this lovely and informative blog.  He cooks she clicks and writes.  What a great team these two make.  Check this blog out soon.

Cooking in Sens

This is a blog with stunning food photography, excellent recipes and stories of an American living and cooking in France.  I am pretty sure I do not need to say more.  Go there….now.

Sarah’s Place

When I started blogging I was looking forward to making some “blog” friends.   LIke any good friendship I look forward to hearing from Sarah.  Her blog is beautiful and informative.  She is just good people.  Pop on over and say hello.

I enthusiastically nominate these blogs for the Liebster Blog award.

Thank you again, Ranting of an Amateur Chef for nominating Marinating Online for the Liebster Blog award.




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