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Archive for December, 2011

I mixed up a batch of the citrus fudge and the chocolate peppermint fudge found here this evening.  My expectations were low – mostly because the coconut cream that I had bought from Tropical Traditions just hadn’t worked in any recipe I had yet tried.  I had bought a case during a promotion a while back, thinking that it would be nice to add to smoothies, etc, and it ended up being too gritty for any application I had in mind.  In short, we aren’t fans of coconut cream.  But we did have most of a case left, and so I was eager to try out these fudge recipes to see if my expenditure could finally be justified.  I also had 8 oz of set honey on hand and so I didn’t have to buy special thick honey just for this (and as a side note, I think regular honey would work just fine with either of these recipes).

I made a half-batch of the citrus recipe first.  In comparing the recipes, it looked as if the chocolate recipe was the same basic recipe as the citrus recipe, only halved…and both recipes were supposed to be put in an 8″ x 8″ square pan.  I didn’t really see the logic in putting twice as much in one pan as the other, so I just halved the citrus recipe.  After tasting the batter, I decided to add extra lemon juice – about twice what was called for.  The finished product was nice and lemony.  Very refreshing!  With the shredded coconut added, it was difficult to detect the grittiness of the coconut cream.

Then I made the chocolate peppermint fudge, using my homemade peppermint extract.  I decided not to add the shredded coconut to this one because my son detests coconut and I thought he’d like to try this one.  I mixed the recipe as written and then tasted.   Not enough minty flavor, and not enough sweetness…so I added more peppermint and about a tablespoon of extra honey.  I still wasn’t thrilled with the taste, and the texture was somewhat gritty.  I think my peppermint extract is not as strong as a commercial extract, and after adding about 4 tsp I decided that adding any more might impair my judgment.  heehee :)

Verdict:  Hmm.  The recipe was easy to make.  That is a plus.  Most people probably wouldn’t have the coconut cream on hand so that’s a negative.  I liked the citrus fudge enough to make it again, and probably will just make it until I run out of coconut cream.  I don’t plan to buy any more to replace it though.  The chocolate fudge…well, I felt like it was trying to be something it can’t be – traditional fudge.  If dairy was not an option and an uncontrollable urge for chocolate was manifest, *maybe* this would fill the bill.  Otherwise, my GAPS hot fudge sauce is far and away a better option in my opinion.  I like my chocolate smooth.  *shrugs*  And I have a feeling that if I can get my hands on some cocoa butter, I could make some crazy good dairy-free fudge without the coconut cream or cocoa.

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I had wanted to make this peppermint fudge recipe when it was posted several weeks ago, but I had no peppermint extract.  After a little searching, I decided I could make my own extract with dried peppermint and vodka, both of which I already had on hand.  I just needed to wait about a month before I could use it.  :)

Today marks 4 weeks since I set my peppermint leaves to steeping.  I strained out the leaves and bottled the extract, and tomorrow is the day when I test it out on that fudge!  I don’t plan to use the shredded coconut in the chocolate recipe since my son has a strong aversion to it.  I am hoping that the mint/chocolate flavors will hide the remaining coconutty flavors and he will give it a thumbs-up!

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My skin tends to run on the dry side, especially in winter.  Most lotions just don’t cut it for me.  The ones that do work well tend to be very expensive, so I’ve been making my own for some time now.  I made another batch today and thought I’d share my recipe.

I often change up the basic recipe depending on what oils/butters I have on hand.  This time, I decided to try a mix of virtually all the oils I have on hand.  Usually, though, I just choose a few at a time.  My main goal is to achieve a moisturizer with a spreadable consistency – one somewhere between a runny oil and a rock-hard fatty butter.  I typically portion my body butters into 8 oz. or smaller containers and then refrigerate the extras until I am ready for a new jar.

I buy my oils from Mountain Rose Herbs.  I made my last order in 2010, I think – so even though the up-front expense was high, I’ve gotten almost two years’ worth of lotion so far…and maybe another 2 years to go.  I keep my butters in a cool cupboard and my oils on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator.

Since the butters are rock-solid at this time of year, I got out my Sun Oven to soften them.  I put a container of coconut oil along with the Illipe, Kokum, and Shea butter containers in the Sun Oven when it reached 175 degrees.  They had melted after about an hour and I was able to proceed with the recipe.

  • 2/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup total of a mix of melted Illipe & Kokum butters, about half each
  • 1/3 cup melted shea butter
  • 1-2 Tblsp macadamia nut oil
  • 1-2 Tblsp camellia oil
  • 1-2 Tblsp grapeseed oil
  • 1-2 Tblsp meadowfoam seed oil
  • 1-2 tsp. pumpkin seed oil
  • 1-2 tsp. pomegranate seed oil
  • 1/2-1 tsp. vitamin E oil
  • 1/2 tsp. tamanu oil
  • 5 drops black pepper essential oil
  • 5 drops geranium essential oil
  • 5 drops clary sage essential oil

I whisked the ingredients at a high speed and then poured into 4 & 8 oz containers.  Then I put them into the refrigerator to solidify.  The recipe yielded about a pint of finished body butter.

I use this first thing out of the shower, while my skin is still damp.  I also use it on my face as a night cream.

It makes my skin happy! :)

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Yogurt

My culture finally got too cold.  59 degrees is a bit chilly, I admit.  I have tried two separate batches and it’s clear my good guys are dead.  My kids have been gone since Sunday (and will be gone until this coming Sunday) and I am stuck at home with milk.  A lot of milk.  Milk that I can’t culture.  I’ve been drinking about 1 pt per day, but there’s no way I can finish off another gallon before it goes sour.  I broke down and bought some Brown Cow yogurt to use as a starter and decided to play around a bit.  I am trying a batch in the 2-qt. slow cooker using a hybrid of this method and this one.

I put a quart of cold raw milk (cream skimmed and saved for other uses) in the slow cooker and turned to “low”.  Then I heated a cup of raw milk and added 1 Tblsp gelatin, stirring until dissolved and then removing from heat.  When it was lukewarm, I added a couple of big spoonfuls of the Brown Cow and stirred well.  Then I added the inoculated milk to the quart of milk in the slow cooker and stirred well.  I put the lid on the slow cooker and left it set at “low” for one hour.  Then I turned it to “warm” and will let it culture overnight.  *Hopefully* the warm setting will not be too warm.  We shall see!

If this works well, I’ll try culturing yogurt in the slow cooker but in a glass jar so I won’t have to scoop it out of the crock later.

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I made Buffalo Chicken Wings with Bleu Cheese Dressing for our Christmas Eve dinner, and we had leftovers today for Christmas lunch.  The kids were VERY excited and impressed, and my son even asked that I make them for his birthday dinner next November.  heeheehee

Now, I’ve never actually eaten Buffalo wings before.  I don’t have anything to compare them to, other than what my imagination tells me they must taste like.  So take this review with a grain of salt. ;)

I tweaked the recipe a bit, because my family likes garlic and this recipe did not call for any.  Also, I added honey and cut the cayenne waaaaaaaaay back because I’m pretty sure the one Tablespoon called for in the original recipe is a misprint.   Then I cut out the butter from the sauce because I brushed the wings with schmalz instead.

I snipped the tips off the wings and put them in the slow cooker with 2 qts water and a Tblsp apple cider vinegar for some broth, then I went ahead and separated the remaining joint of each wing with kitchen shears.  Then I soaked the snipped chicken in a saltwater brine for about 6 hours.  When I was ready to cook, I drained off the brine and brushed the chicken with a liberal helping of schmalz.  I baked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, turning a couple of times.  Then I brushed on the sauce and returned to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Here’s what I used for the sauce:

  • 2 Tblsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tblsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tblsp honey
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • teeny tiny bit of cayenne (mine is the super-hot one, like 1 billion heat units or something)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced

I made the Bleu Cheese dressing as written.

I served the wings with the dressing, a salad, and a peanut butter muffin.  The kids raved.

I am not a dippy person.  I tend to like one simple flavor with my meat, and I don’t like my meat to be doused in sauce.  If it’s not good enough to eat without drowning in something sugary or sour, I don’t want to eat it.  That being said, I’ve never tried Buffalo wings because I was never tempted to mix a barbecue flavor with a bleu cheese flavor.  Just not something that would make me think, YUM!  I have GOT to try that.  And sure enough, I don’t think I would choose to eat the wings with the dressing in the future.  Just my personal choice.  But we did really like the Buffalo sauce.  The kids really liked the dressing (they put as much or more on their salads as they did on the chicken).

Verdict: a keeper!!  I will try to limit how often we eat it because I’d like to keep it “special” and I didn’t enjoy separating all the wing segments. hehehe

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Menu, week of Dec 26

I have no idea what this week will end up like.  My ex-husband hasn’t told me whether or not he’s keeping the kids for his full Christmas visitation, but normally he does not.  I am assuming they’ll be home Tuesday morning but there is a chance he’ll take some time off work, so I have to plan both ways.  Hence the question marks below:

Monday

  • leftover pumpkin custard; broth
  • leftover chicken & squash casserole
  • leftover buffalo wings

Tuesday

  • leftover apples, dates, & nuts; broth (will need to make eggs or some such if the kids come home)
  • chicken soup from freezer if kids aren’t home; tuna salad if kids are home?
  • frozen mystery casserole if not home (note to self: always label!!); “spaghetti” if home?

Wednesday

  • baked eggs and chicken skin; broth
  • turnip, squash, & sausage hash
  • lamb stew and muffins

Thursday

Friday

  • baked apples, dates, & nuts; broth
  • liver and onions; butternut squash with butter
  • barbeque chicken drums; broccoli or green beans

Saturday

  • pumpkin custard and yogurt; broth
  • leftover lamb stew and muffins
  • ?

Sunday

  • leftover pumpkin custard and yogurt; broth
  • leftovers?
  • leftovers?

We will be eating out of the pantry this week.  I’ve ordered a bunch of apples, oranges, onions, and cauliflower from Azure Standard so we’ll try to make do without other expenses this week and next.  This will be my first time to buy a case of cauliflower and I’m hoping it is worth it.  They’ll be $3.50/head, which is almost half what I can get them for at the store.  I’ll have to see if they freeze well, because I doubt we’ll have room in the fridge for 12 heads of cauliflower!!  Okay, maybe 11 heads…I think my mom would take one.  If fauxtatoes could be frozen, it just might work…

I didn’t bother working out the food budget since reality will probably not turn out anything like what I’ve put down here.  :)  I probably won’t be buying more milk for a while, since it appears my yogurt culture died and we have to drink the milk fresh if we want it.  I plan to go back on the Intro diet in a couple of weeks anyway, and it will be best not to have that temptation until I am ready to reintroduce it.  My son will definitely be disappointed, heehee. ;)  I may end up getting some for him upon occasion.

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I made shortbread a couple of days ago but was too tired to attempt the caramel glaze that went with it.  Today I finally got around to it.

I love caramel.  Anything caramel will tempt me…Ben & Jerry’s Triple Caramel Chunk being one of the worst offenders.  I figure that if I can find an acceptable chocolate (enter my hot fudge sauce) and an acceptable caramel, I should be set to stand firm against any temptation that may overtake me as I continue my journey on the GAPS diet.

Today I made my first GAPS-legal caramel.  It will take me some time to get used to honey flavors where I normally expect molasses undertones, but I think I will make it.  :)  I halved the recipe because I am a caramel-piggie and also because I didn’t want to risk a bunch of fresh cream and local honey on a recipe I hadn’t tested yet.  I followed the directions as far as boils and timing, but I had no thermometer so I’m not sure if I hit the temperatures outlined in the recipe.  My finished caramel was decidedly darker than the caramel in the picture accompanying the recipe.  This caramel glaze thickened up nicely and tasted good with the shortbread; the honey flavor is fairly pronounced but with the shortbread it seemed to be balanced.  If I was eating the caramel sans shortbread, I think I’d add a little extra salt.

The shortbread has gotten slightly soggy from the moisture in the air, and I probably should have crisped it up a bit in the oven before drizzling it with the glaze, but it’s still quite good.  After drizzling the shortbread and each of us having a nice spoonful, I still have about 1/2 cup of glaze left over to put away for another day.

Verdict:  Two sticky thumbs up!!

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