Honey Carmels

Surprisingly, we still have honey from our August 2014 harvest. Just a tad under 1/4 gallon. It certainly is not enough to give everyone a jar of honey for Christmas, but it is enough to make carmel candies. I modified a friend’s recipe for making carmel topping into this recipe that makes more solid carmels using none other than– honey!

If you are livin’ the dream, but livin’ it in the poor house this holiday season, you have just enough time to make a batch of carmel candies to feed a small army (or deserving family and friends). Plus some “scraps” to shove into your mouth while you’re wrapping these beauties up.

   
   
Honey Carmel Candies

You need:

  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Line a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper; the bottom and sides should be lined making a full paper insert.
  2. In a heavy sauce pan, lightly simmer the cream and salt together. Be sure not to boil!
  3. Stir in honey and bring to a boil. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. Cook until the temperature has reached 250*F with a candy thermometer (or 20-30 minutes; when the carmel does not easily drip from the spoon… think sludge).
  5. When the carmel reaches 250* degrees remove from heat. Carefully pour carmel into parchment paper-lined pan.
  6. When carmel is nearly cool, feel free to sprinkle it with sea salt or nuts. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
  7. Remove whole parchment paper to the cutting board when cool to cut into pieces. It helps to lightly oil your knife between cuts so the carmel does not stick.
  8. Cut 4×2″ strips of parchment paper to roll the carmel candies into. Trust me, as cute as mini cupcake papers look, carmel sticks to them like crazy! Roll up and twist the ends.

Lefse Prep

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Who is prepping their lefse tonight? I know I am! The potatoes are boiling as I type. This family is big on lefse– a Norwegian flat bread made of potatoes, butter, flour, and cream. It isn’t really a holiday without it. In fact, we have pulled my brother’s girlfriend over to The Dark Side. Apparently she has been craving lefse since I made it on Easter… lefse is an excellent judge of character. She is also pregnant, so that may be a variable, but I like to think it is mostly my superb cooking skills.

Need something foreign and exotic to make to wow your family or Turkey Day hostess? Make lefse. End of story. Here is my secret family recipe!

Chèvre Cheesecake

With so much goat milk sitting in the fridge and a terminal cheesecake craving, I set out to turn some of my homemade chèvre into cheesecake.

To make two-ish pounds of chèvre: mix 4 drops rennet (or 2 drops of extra strength rennet) and 1/4 teaspoon of meso. culture into 1/2 gallon of goat milk. Set out at room temperature for 24 hours, then drain off the whey. Bam! Chèvre.

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Chèvre Cheesecake

:: makes 9″ round

8 oz. of gingerbread cookies or graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 lbs. chèvre, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour

Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment.

Combine crumbs and melted butter with a fork until well mixed. Press into the pan being sure that the crumb crust seals the pan seam at the bottom of the springform pan. Freeze the crust.

Preheat the oven at 300*F. Beat the chèvre and sugar together until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, being sure that they are well blended. Mix in the remaining ingredients just until incorporated.

Fill the crust with the chèvre mix and bake for 60-70 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Chill for 4-6 hours before serving.

Crock Pot Greek Yogurt Using Raw Goat Milk

We really don’t drink milk around here. I know, it sounds weird considering we have dairy goats now. We may not care for milk in a glass, but we do enjoy all those dairy-based foods. Mozzarella, feta, chèvre, mac n’ cheese (awesome use for goat cheese), Gjetost, ranch dressing, chip dip, cream cheese sour crem, and… yogurt.

I do have two more goat milk foods to mark off my bucket list: hard cheese (like cheddar or jack) and using chèvre or cream cheese to make a cheese cake. If any of you out there have good recipes for small batch hard cheese using goat milk, let me know. I will love you forever.

For now, I am absolutely smitten with the yogurt I made yesterday. It was easy. It was painless. It used two ingredients. It turned out rich and creamy. This recipe is definitely a winner in my book.

This batch will be used for both regular yogurt –with honey drizzled haphazardly ontop– and some will be used as a test for frozen yogurt. Mmmmm.

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Crock Pot Yogurt

:: makes 2 quarts
• 2 quarts milk (raw is best, but you can use milk that has been minimally pasteurized; not ultra-pasturized)
• 1/4 cup Greek yogurt starter (use the last of that container from the store as long as it says it contains “live and active cultures”)

Pour 2 quarts of milk into crock pot. Cover and heat to the “low” setting for approximately 2.5 hours or until the milk has reached 110*F for 30 minutes.

Turn off the crock pot and cool the milk with the lid on until the milk meets 110*F.

Add the yogurt culture or finished Greek yogurt. Do not add your culture if the milk temperature exceeds 115*F. Mix well with a whisk.

Cover the mixture. Wrap in towels and let sit for 8-12 hours. Refrigerate for 6 hours before eating (it will thicken a bit more during this time).

Bam! Yogurt. I told you it was easy. You have no excuse now. Especially since you can keep the yogurt going forever by always saving that last 1/4 cup to start the next batch.

Kraut Results

Even though I accidentally used about four times more salt than the recipe directed, it still turned out well. The key was draining most of the liquid off before I taste tested it. That’s my theory anyway.

I packed it tightly into quart mason jars so that the remaining liquid covered the kraut and threw it in the refrigerator. As with most my “experiments”, Trevor was hesitant to eat it. With the way he acts, you would think that I was a frequent brewer of botulism or something. It took some coaxing, begging, and cooking of hotdogs, but eventually he did try it.

My sauerkraut got two thumbs up and requests for second and third helpings. Phew! Not too shabby for a first attempt at kraut. And bonus!– it turned this beautiful and vivid magenta color thanks to the red cabbage I threw in.

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Full Circle

Since starting down this strange path of self reliance, I have come across some interesting tidbits, stories, and relics of my family’s past. My mother has told me tales of how my grandmother syphoned water from the bathtub to water the garden when my mother was growing up and I have even uncovered storied yet untold.

Like this jewel:

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I can only assume this set from my great-great-grandmother is a crock of some sort. Sauerkraut? I don’t know. As I’m sure you could guess, I never knew my great-great-grandmother, otherwise I wouldn’t hesitate to ask her what kinds of goods were kept in these crocks.

What I do know, is that they were handmade on a potter’s wheel and perhaps even hand stamped with a woodblock. Unfortunately they bear no makers mark or signature so their history is somewhat lost except for who owned them.

A month or so ago I was going through all the crap precious inventory I was storing under my parents house before the big move and spotted the crocks in a corner. I had been tasting all the delicious sauerkrauts a local wonder woman, Cindy at Mountain People Organics, had been making and thought I could give krauts a try.

My mother is letting me borrow these little crocks for awhile to give them a use in the kitchen once again. I find myself wondering if they have ever made sauerkraut before… hopefully the cranes on the exterior lend some exotic flavor to my first ever batch!

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I think I will wait and give it a taste before I share any recipe. Although, from what I have gathered, there isn’t too much to it. I made mine with the last red cabbage from our Sonora garden, green cabbage, a little carrot, a little cilantro, and enough salt to bring out the water held within the cabbage. Maybe 4 tablespoons? I actually worry that I may have been a bit heavy handed with the salt. But I did crush, smoosh, smash, and let the cabbage rest before continuing. Only time will tell.