Friday, May 9, 2008

Spring is smacking me upside the head!

Wow! This is a busy time of year! School is out. My mom's having a garage sale. My gardens need A LOT of attention.

To celebrate the end of the school year, I got together with a couple of my former houseboys from Butler. That's Tyler on the left and Ryan on the right. Me in the middle. We're at the Chatterbox, where I know I can always find a gluten free Redbridge beer. They graduated five or six years ago. They were part of the best houseboy team I've ever had. I'm always happy to see them! I love it that these successful businessmen used to wash my dishes. Bless their hearts! They're both homeowners now, and like their professional lives. And they shared news of other houseboys. We hope to get together later in the summer, when the weather has warmed and we can sit out on the Chatterbox patio.

I've been waiting months to finish converting my kitchen to totally wheat-free. I have some wheat-free "zones." All sources of potential contamination are housed in tubs with lids. But I still cook for others, who eat wheat.

My precious cookware, gathered lovingly over the years, must go someplace else. I need to make room for a few new, uncontaminated pieces. I might invest in a rolling rack, that I can keep in another room and bring out to cook for the wheat eaters. Then I can keep my new pots and pans conveniently located near the stove. Maybe then, I won't feel like I'm camping out in someone else's kitchen.

I missed the deadline for Kid Friendly Food Friday at Ginger Lemon Girl. But I thought I'd share a fun recipe. This one falls into the "comfort food" category, as opposed to the "healthy" category. It was one of the first recipes I tried when I began to change my eating habits. I'd just found out I was allergic to corn, in addition to wheat and soy. Corn syrup is in EVERYTHING! And I was really missing snacks. So I made some of these gooey caramels using honey in place of corn syrup. They turned out great!

When I changed my eating habits, my cravings for sweets dimished pretty quickly. Within a couple of weeks, I no longer had a desperate need for sweets. I still like them occasionally. I sliced and wrapped about one fourth of this batch of caramels. I keep them in a pretty bowl and treat myself to one now and then. But I still have a big slab of uncut caramel in the freezer. I can thaw it out and slice it up when I run out.

Kay's Honey Caramels

1 C butter
2 C honey
2 C heavy cream
1 C brown sugar
1 t gf vanilla

Line an 8 inch square pan with foil. Spray it with pan coating, or rub with olive oil. Melt the butter in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the honey, cream, and brown sugar. Cook and stir frequently until the gooey goodness comes to a boil. Boil for four minutes, without stirring. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring until candy thermometer reads 250 to 255 degrees. This takes about 45 minutes. So pick a good cd or tv show to keep you company while stirring.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. I make my own vanilla. I filled a pretty little bottle with rum, one of the few liquors I'm not allergic to. I added about half a split vanilla bean. It gets stronger the longer it sits.

Pour the mixture into your pan and put it ito the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. You can lick the pan and the spoon immediately!

Cut the caramels and wrap them in little squares of waxed paper. I found my large chef's knife worked well for this. I cut my own squares of waxed paper. You can roll caramels in coconut or chopped nuts before wrapping, if you like.

Caramels will be soft if stored at room temperature.

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