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Key Lime Fudge

I got a bottle of Key lime juice and started looking for recipes. The usual pies, bars and ice cream were there but what stood out for me was the fudge. I’d never heard of such a thing, so of course I had to try it. I also found a pumpkin fudge recipe and I thought I’d do a fudge assortment as Christmas give aways to friends and fam. The fact that I had never made a fudge in my life did not alarm me. I had a candy thermometer and I knew how to use it.

First came the lime fudge. The recipe did not list a temperature to reach on a thermemeter, it just said cook and stir for 5 full minutes on the boil. I did so. It set up too soft, sticky even. Not worthy of a Christmas gift. Then I tried the pumpkin fudge recipe, it DID have soft ball stage-235 -listed as the temperature to reach for. My thermometer had no problem until about 230-just shy of destination. And it stopped. As my last attempt had set up too soft, I did not want to repeat the error, so I kept on stirring for another 4 minutes or so before giving up. It was too done-it set up hard and brittle like a bark. Damn. Strike two.

Textures aside, I liked the lime one much better than the pumpkin. Fudge has always been too sweet for me and this was no different but it was damn good.

I would recommend the mini marshmallows over the creme–less $ and easier to throw in–I struggled with a spatula trying to get it all out while the pot was cooling, when throwing in 2 cups of minis would have been a lot faster and melted quicker I believe. I left out the nuts and added a few drops of green coloring. I handed it out to customers of the Christmas tree farm I live on–they didn’t seem to mind the softness. I would just add another minute or two onto the cooking time.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

12 ounces White Chips

7 ounces Marshmallow Creme or Marshmallow Fluff

OR

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1/3 cup key lime juice

1/2 cup Almonds or Macadamia Nuts (coarsely chopped)

1/4 teaspoon rum extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

PREPARATION:

Line a 9″ x 9″ pan with aluminum foil (no stick or heavy duty foil-my regular foil tore a great deal.) and set aside. Place White chips, extracts, and nuts into Pyrex glass dish (or a 3- quart saucepan) and set aside. Set butter aside to warm. Heat milk at Medium setting until warm then add sugar. Bring to a rolling boil (Medium-High) while stirring constantly with a hand mixer (or wooden spoon).

Add marshmallow creme and butter and mix until creamy. Add Key Lime juice. Bring back to a boil for [5] full minutes by clock (start timing once boil resumes). The mixture will start to turn a little brown during boil. If you get brown flakes in mixture then turn down heat a little (e.g. down to Medium from Medium-High) and continue to stir. Remove from heat and pour hot mixture over chips without scraping sides of hot saucepan. Mix until chips are melted then mix in nuts. Pour into prepared pan. Cool at room temperature. Remove from pan, remove foil, cut into squares.

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Mama’s Curry

Mom and dad went out to eat at a nice restaurant for their 15th wedding anniversary (1964). They took a gamble and told their waiter that they were celebrating an anniversary and wanted something special for their meal and they would trust him to pick it out for them and surprise them. They were adventurous eaters and as long as spicy heat was not involved (dad), then they were game. The waiter brought out this meal.  There was a bowl of white rice and a stew, a very yellow stew. Lamb stew with carrots, potatoes and lots of curry powder in a thickened broth. They thought, OK, looks good but not really all that special…but then the condiments started coming out. Small bowls of caramelized onion, crumbled bacon, chopped peanuts, sliced bananas, toasted coconut, raisins and chutneys came out. Mostly sweet things we didn’t put on savory stews back then. But they were encouraged by the waiter to try and pile as many condiments that they felt comfortable with. The rest is history. They started out slow and ended up in love. Mom came home and tried to recreate the meal for us, her 5 children. She went to a butcher in the neighborhood and bought lamb necks from him-for cheap. The meat that simmered off of them was like heaven.  Once the meat was floating in these tiny shreds-no lumps or hunks of meat here, she removed the bones, added chopped carrots, chopped potatoes (feel free here to add any root veg you like-parsnips are great) about 25 whole cloves and several tablespoons of curry powder. Once the vegs were cooked, she thickened it with a cornstarch slurry. We kids thought she had flipped her wig when we saw the spread, but she offered us a nickel a clove for every whole clove we fished out BEFORE adding condiments (then you aren’t EVER gonna find them) and just like our parents, we started out slow and skeptical but ended up in love. Chutney took a few years for me to appreciate but now it’s a must have. X-tra bananas and toasted coconut if you please. And of course, there’s never enough bacon.  If you don’t want to fish out the whole cloves, you can use a pinch of powdered cloves or just go ahead and bite on the whole ones, they soften and are not overpowering. I can’t get lamb necks for my curries but I use shredded chicken and am happy with the results. Serve in large bowls. Also, please feel free to try different or several curry powders with this dish-customize it to your tastes. I recently enjoyed this meal with my brother J. Paul his wife Maria and kids Liza and Alex. Brother Randy was also with us. We had a fabulous time and miss you all so much.

So there’s not really a recipe. You can stew a whole chicken or just shred a breast or two. Put shredded meat in chicken broth with some potatoes, carrots and whatever other vegetables to simmer. Add some whole cloves or a good pinch of ground ones. Be pretty generous with the curry powder as the cornstarch thins it’s flavor down. Once all is tender, thicken with some cornstarch dissolved in cold water. Add to boiling stew and STIR, cooking for a minute or two. Serve over rice, white or brown with the condiments

crumbled bacon

caramelized onion

sliced bananas

toasted coconut

chopped peanuts

raisins

chutney(s) of choice

Pile it on and dig in, baby!!

Miss ya mom and dad.

Bear Claws


These rate right up at the top of my favorite things.  I could have one bear claw with my morning coffee everyday for the rest of my life and not get tired of them.  But that aint gonna happen.  They are a 2 day process but they are not hard.  And oh, so worth it.  And here’s a shout out to Jessie, my daughters childhood friend, who remembered these and asked for the posting.  Sorry it took me so long, Jess.  Hope they’re as good as you remember…

Dough:

1 cup softened butter

1 pkg. dry yeast, I use fast rising or regular

1/4 cup warm water

3 eggs, room temp

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 small can evaporated milk (5 1/3 oz.)

3 1/3 cups flour (AP)

Get 3 small bowls or cups out to divide the eggs.  One bowl holds all 3 yolks. Second bowl holds 2 whites, last bowl holds 1 white. Put plastic wrap on the 1 egg white bowl and put in the fridge for tomorrow. Set the 2 whites aside for the filling. we’ll get there in a minute.

Melt the butter. Sprinkle yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar to proof. When it’s foamy and alive, about 5 minutes later, add butter, 3 yolks and rest of ingredients to the bowl and mix by hand. It will look more like batter than bread dough but thats OK. Put plastic wrap on it and put in fridge til tomorrow. On to the filling…

Filling:

1/2 cup butter, softened but not melted

8 ozs. almond paste (I buy the Odense, in 7 oz. roll) in baking isle-close enough

1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

2/3 cup flour

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

almond extract (real, not artificial) (optional)

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds (I buy the sliced almonds and put in a mini-chopper/food processor) just pulse a few times, you don’t want them ground up too small

The almond paste tube can be hard to break apart sometimes.  I grate mine to get it all in small pieces easy to mix in..

In a medium mixing bowl with high sides, with a hand beater, beat butter with almond paste first, add 2 reserved egg whites, lemon peel, the dry ingredients.  I usually put a teaspoon or 2 of almond extract also but you don’t have to.  I’m just an almond freak.  When it’s all mixed together, put plastic wrap on top and chill it until tomorrow.

Tomorrow:

Roll out chilled dough into a 13 1/2 inch by 27 inch rectangle. This is a soft dough, even chilled, so use plenty of flour and check as you roll out, to make sure it’s not sticking to the counter.  I lift it carefully several times and re-flour under it to keep it free as I go.  Cut rectangle lengthwise into 3—4 1/2 inch strips.

Divide filling into 3 equal portions. Roll with hands (just like play dough) into 3 —27 inch long snakes.  Put a snake centered in each of the 3 strips.  Fold top half of each strip over the snake, then fold over the bottom half, press down gently to flatten snake a bit and pinch to join the 2 edges.  You can brush the top edge of the folded over dough with a bit of the reserves egg white (beat it with a fork a bit to break it up) it acts like a glue but is not all that necessary, then fold up the bottom half and press.  Cut each strip into 6 sections, lift each section onto a cookie sheet and flip it over.  Space them out a bit (no touching) because they need room to rise.  This usually takes at least 3 cookie sheets.  I spray them ( the cookie sheets) lightly with oil or just grease lightly. Take a sharp knife and cut 4  sections, just half way through, then bend the claws to spread the sections.  Brush the tops with the beaten egg white, sprinkle with a little sugar and press in some sliced almonds if you want.  Let rise in a warm place for about an hour–don’t expect them to double in size or anything but they should soften and rise a bit.  They will rise more in the oven.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 15- 18 minutes, til golden brown.  I bake one tray at a time in the middle of the oven, so the bottoms or tops don’t get too brown.  After 5 minutes cooling on the sheets, remove to racks to finish cooling.  Store in large ziplocks  or tupperware to keep from drying out.  They also freeze nicely.  Enjoy!

These little guys are what is left of a herd of them Marg and I made for Thanksgiving Dinner appetizers. With the leftover cream cheese, Marg seasoned it up a bit and made an igloo out of it on a plate. Then we put around 2 dozen of these guys around the igloo.

Large or jumbo olives for the body.

Small olives for the heads.

Cream cheese for the stuffed shirt.

Slim carrots for making feet and beaks.

Toothpicks.

Cut the peeled carrots into 1/4 ” rounds. Cut a wedge out for the feet. Cut said wedge into several beaks…. Smoosh some softened and beat up cream cheese into the openings you cut out of the jumbo olives. Top with small olive. Center on a carrot/ foot base and ram that toothpick all the way down through the little critter–don’t worry-he likes it. Carefully  get a small sliver of carrot right in the face center and you’re done. Some get strips of pimento peppers (or sundried tomatoes in oil) and fashion scarves around their necks.

Saffroned Parsnips

OK, this photo does not do these justice. They were beautiful. And delicious. New easy vegetable dish.

Saffroned Parsnips

4 good sized, firm parsnips (not too huge or they get woody)

peel, dice in 3/4 ” size, and cover with water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until tender. while these are cooking,

Bloom 1 pinch saffron threads in 2 tsp. lemon juice

warm up about a half cup of milk, or less depending on the size of your parsnips

2-3 Tb. butter.

When parsnips are tender, drain well, put back in the hot saucepan you cooked them in, add half the milk, lemon/saffron mix and a couple shakes of salt. Beat with a hand mixer til smooth, adding more milk as needed to get desired consistency.

Butternut Soup

1 medium butternut squash (2 1/2 -3 lbs.) peeled and cubed

! onion, chopped

2 Tb. butter

2 Tb. dry sherry or sake

1 tsp. lite brown sugar

1 tsp. ground ginger

2/3 cup half and half

3 cups chicken stock

Saute the onion over medium heat in butter til soft-don’t brown it. Add squash and sherry- cook, stirring until alcohol evaporates. Add stock, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 30 minutes.  Puree in blender, then add milk and seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings. I add a good bit of salt and white pepper. Sometimes I add a small tsp. of the Traeger vegetable rub or Garam Masala or whatever spice combo you like-not too much, while I’m blending. Reheat gently. Really good with the oatmeal rolls.

UPDATE:I now use full coconut milk instead of half and half–about the same amount but adjust to your tastes. I also put a healthy Tablespoon of a Hot and Sour soup  spice paste available at Asian grocers, but you could use Cajun seasoning (careful of the salt content) or any favorite hot sauce or cayenne. Just get some heat in there–not too much. Heat gently.

Oatmeal Dinner rolls

Justgrams recently made oatmeal bread and that reminded me of this recipe I haven’t done in a long time. Yeast is not my best friend but it co-operated today and these were light as a feather. I was in a hurry so I skipped the kneading for 6-8 minutes and skipped the resting part after punching down. ..they still came out great. It’s a sticky dough but try and work it with as little flour as you can or it will heavy up.

2 cups water

1 cup quick oats (I used regular-came out fine)

3 Tb. butter

1 pkg. dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water

1/4 cup brown sugar (recipe called for 1/3 cup plus 1 Tb. white sugar but I didn’t want them so sweet-they were to go with soup.)

1 1/2 tsp. salt

4 cups flour

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add oats and butter, cook and stir for 1 minutes, then remove to cool to lukewarm. In a large mixing bowl, add yeast to warm water and let bloom. When foamy, add oat mixture, brown sugar, salt and flour. Mix well then knead for 6-8 minutes until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat. Cover and let rise until double in bulk-about an hour. Punch down, let rest for 10 minutes. Shape into rolls and place not quite touching in a greased 9 inch round cake pan. recipe says 18 rolls, I got more like 24. Let rise again-30-40 minutes, until double in size. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.