Cranberry Walnut White Fudge

>> Monday, February 9, 2015

Try this to sweeten up your Valentine this year! The fudge is creamy and cheerful with the red peeking out of the pieces. We loved this!

Cranberry Walnut White Fudge
1/2 c. butter (no substitutes)
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. sour cream
1 c. vanilla or white chocolate chips
1 jar (7oz.) marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
1 c. dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

Line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil or plastic wrap, and butter or spray with pan spray. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan, bring sugar, sour cream and butter to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 234 degrees (sea level) or soft ball stage. Remove from heat. Stir in chips, marshmallow creme and vanilla until smooth. Food in walnuts and cranberries. Pour into prepared pan. Let cool at room temperature. When cool, remove foil and cut into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yield: 3 pounds.

Notes: adjust the temperature for your altitude.



Creamy Caramels

>> Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I made these for Christmas this year, and it is the best caramel recipe I've tried yet, so I'm putting it here for safe keeping.  Taste of Home cookbook, 1996 is the source.

Creamy Caramels
1 c. sugar
1 c. dark corn syrup
1 c. butter or margarine
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Line an 8 inch square pan with foil and butter the foil. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and butter, and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stop stirring and boil slowly for 4 min. Remove from heat and stir in milk.  Reduce heat to medium low, and cook until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, (soft ball stage), stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.  Pour into prepared pan and cool. Remove from pan, cut into 1 inch squares and wrap in waxed paper. Yield 64 pieces.

Notes: My single complaint about this recipe is that my foil stuck to my caramels, so I may try parchment paper next time.  You will need to adjust your candy thermometer to your altitude.


Adjusting Your Candy Thermometer for Your Altitude

>> Monday, January 12, 2015

When you make candy you can use a thermometer to determine how much water has boiled out of the candy. This is the factor that decides the texture of the finished product. The trouble is that water boils at different temperatures at different altitudes, so you have to adjust your recipe for your altitude. This is how that works:

Take your candy thermometer and clip it to the side of a saucepan, making sure it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan. Fill the pan with enough water to cover the bottom of the thermometer. Place the pan over high heat and wait for the water to boil. Let it boil for a few minutes, then take a reading on your thermometer. We'll use mine for an example. Water boils at 203 degrees here. Water boils at 212 degrees at sea level. (Recipes are written for sea level to keep them consistent.) If I subtract my temperature from the sea level one, that is a 9 degree difference. So I adjust my recipe by 9 degrees. For instance, the candy recipe says heat to 244 degrees, then I need to subtract 9 degrees from that and I will be cooking my candy to 235 degrees to get the same result.

One more word of caution. If you are using a digital thermometer, it may tell you that soft ball stage is 230 degrees, while your recipe claims soft ball stage at 234 degrees. In this instance, it is important to believe your thermometer, because it is telling you how it is calibrated. In my case, I would need to subtract 9 degrees from what my thermometer says, meaning that soft ball stage for my altitude AND my thermometer is 230-9=221 degrees.

Hope this helps your candy to be perfect every time!



Life Happenings and Merry Christmas

>> Saturday, December 20, 2014

It has been so long since I've stopped for a breather to write here.  This school semester has been the busiest of our homeschool history and a few other things have gone on in our lives since my last post.  My husband started a full time salaried position which has been more structured work time than his real estate work was, but comes with a more structured pay schedule for which I am extremely grateful!  Our son told us on Labor Day weekend that he had just proposed to a lovely young woman, and they were married in November.  We purchased a new house that was in need of remodel, and we have been working to deal with financing and electrical, plumbing and inspections...ugh. And, of course, our home we are currently in has been on the market. My oldest daughter has been preparing to leave for college in January. Things have been an even bigger zoo than the McAllisters are usually known for, so forgive me my internet silence.  I have some lovely recipes I have been trying lately, and if I can only find my camera cord in all the nonsense around here, someday I may post one of them!  In the mean time, I wanted to take a minute while I have one, to talk about Christmas.

I'm so grateful to take a month each year to celebrate with outer trappings--bows, trees and lights--the gift that Heavenly Father gave to all the world long ago.  I love friends, family and store attendants wishing me a Merry Christmas, and I wish one for all of them too. I am passionate about a beautiful table surrounded by loved ones and covered with good food. A feast, reminiscent of the ones declared in the Bible for special celebrations, that may go on for days. I spend some time reverently contemplating the donkey ride to Bethlehem, the sacrifices of that beautiful, young mother and her good husband, the sacred nature of the Son born that night in such humble surroundings. I feel blessed to think about what that means for me, that I can worship and adore, all these years later, that same Immanuel, God with us.

He lives! Let's celebrate the birth, life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and let us rejoice in his resurrection from the tomb, that we too can be resurrected and live once again in the presence of God! I love to sing at Christmas too; so with the angels that first Christmas night: "Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace, goodwill toward men!" May his abiding love be with you all year through.

-graphic from Free Pretty Things For You


Cream Scalloped Potatoes

>> Wednesday, August 6, 2014

These potatoes are awesome! My new go-to potato dish, they couldn't be simpler--and they couldn't be richer! Well, maybe they could, but you will love this! Trust me. These would be great to serve with meatloaf or oven chicken as their cooking times are so similar.

Cream Scalloped Potatoes
6 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (enough to comfortably fill a 9x13)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 c. onion (sliced or cubed, your preference)
1 cube butter or margarine, melted
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
seasoning salt (like Lawrys)
Cavender's Greek seasoning (opt.)
salt and pepper
2 c. heavy cream

Grease a 9x13 baking pan.  Rinse sliced potatoes under cold running water to remove starch. Pat dry with a paper towel.  Put potatoes in baking pan, with garlic and onion, drizzle with melted butter.  Sprinkle on cheese, seasoning salt, Greek seasoning, salt and pepper.  Stir together. Pour cream over all.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. Remove foil and bake an additional 20 min. until tender.  Let rest 10 min. before serving.

Notes:  You can substitute any seasoning or additional herbs you like.  I think crushed rosemary would be yummy, or some parsley. You could also just use salt and pepper to taste. I use my food processor to slice the potatoes and onions, which makes the job faster. When this first comes out of the oven it may seem liquid-y but as you let it set a few minutes, the potatoes will absorb all that. I am looking forward to trying this with some new red potatoes!


Parmesan Oven Chicken

>> Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This recipe comes from a community cookbook (my favorite kind!) and it is yummy and really easy to make. The breading becomes lovely and crispy on top while it bakes. The crumbs will actually cover two more thighs and four more drumsticks nicely, you just can't see them because I baked them in another pan.

Parmesan Oven Chicken
2-3 lb. cut up fryer chicken (I used only legs and thighs)
1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed fine (about 2 cups)
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (the powdery kind like Kraft)
1/4 c. parsley flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cube butter or margarine, melted

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towel.  Combine cracker crumbs, cheese, and seasonings.  Roll chicken pieces in melted butter, then in crumbs. Place in a greased 9x13 pan. Spoon any leftover crumbs over the top of the chicken, drizzle any remaining butter over the top.  Place in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for an hour. Serve this with a yummy potato salad or baked potatoes and some rolls.

Notes: According to the recipe, this can also be baked for 3 hours at 250 degrees.  The advantage of a slow baking is a bit like a crock pot, set it early and forget it for a time.


How to Cook a Wolf: MFK Fisher

>> Monday, June 23, 2014

I am reading a book called The Art of Eating, which is a compilation of several publications by MFK Fisher. I recently finished the part called How to Cook a Wolf and thought I would review it here.  This is a cookbook written at the time of rationing during World War II and although there are recipes in it, the main purpose of this book is to encourage people to live with dignity in whatever circumstances come. I really enjoyed it and found insight into homes and families in times of stress.

Between the pages are the effects of this war common to man: fuel shortages, blackouts and rationing, how to deal with a lack of personal hygiene products and pet food. But the ringing message of the book is that you cannot live constantly in a state of emergency in your mind. You must declare your mental independence and maintain whatever normal pursuits you can. This resonated with me because of our own  struggles during the recession. I came to similar conclusions working to keep my own table interesting and feeding our spirits as well as our stomachs.  I love this passage about cheese, which was almost impossible to obtain, so to be used with wisdom:

"Try it on a tired factory worker some day, or a nervous neighbor, with a glass of milk if possible or a cup of tea, and watch the unfolding of a lot of spiritual tendrils that were drawn up into a tight heedless tangle... I have seen it work miracles of restoration." (p. 341 italics added)

There is such power in food to comfort the wounded heart and mind. It encourages our bodies in the daily work they must do. Fuel, yes, but with thought and care it becomes more. It sustains physical and spiritual life. She writes at the end of the book:

"I cannot count the good people I know who, to my mind, would be even better if they bent their spirits to the study of their own hungers."(p.350)

"I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war's fears and pains is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy and ever-increasing enjoyment.  And with our gastronomical growth will come, inevitably, knowledge and perception of a hundred other things, but mainly of ourselves.  Then Fate, even tangled as it is with cold wars as well as hot, cannot harm us." (p.350)

I am grateful for this book.  It has been affirming of my own path through troubles.  To her hearty voice and keep-up-the-good-work attitude, I say Amen.

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If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

What this is:

A clearing house for all my favorite recipes. All my food musings. All my favorite cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. If you enjoy it here, and find it useful, welcome!