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Archive for February, 2013

Signs of Life

We’re in those last few weeks when Spring feels like it is never going to show its face. All I want is green trees, warmth, seedlings pushing up through the soil, flowers everywhere, unlimited sunshine….is that too much to ask?

In my desperation I went out looking for some signs of impending spring growth, and I wasn’t disappointed. I just had to look beneath all the brown.

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Spring is here. 🙂

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Joy of Toffeeing

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A few weeks ago I stood in my kitchen doing something that I’ve been doing a lot of this winter: browsing through my grandmothers old (and frankly, dirty) copy of Joy of Cooking. I love the way that this is not just a recipe book, but also an instruction manual on anything and everything you might need to know about food and food prep.

Er—excluding any new products or techniques that may have developed within the past forty years.

My Joy of Cooking does not specify what kind of butter should be used in its recipes (I’m enough of a cook to know that unsalted is usually a given). Its recipes often include ingredients such as “soured milk”, and so far I have not come across any mention of a food processor. To call it dated would be a little inaccurate—I prefer to think that I own the classic version. And since I lack fancy kitchen gadgets, I appreciate this simplified approach to food-making.

At any rate, while immersing myself in the grease-stained pages, I came across a recipe that caught my fancy—English toffee. The brevity of the recipe piqued my interest, indicating ease and simplicity. Five ingredients were mentioned, of which I had four in my kitchen at that very moment. The instructions seemed promising. Basically: melt, boil, pour. Interesting.

As usual before jumping into a new recipe, I went online first to seek some alternative methods. What I found was even more encouraging. Many of the online recipes called for only butter, sugar, and salt, with optional fancy stuff for interesting toppings.

Since I’m a penny pincher, I decided to go with the simplified version of things, and make due with what I had on hand. (Fortunately, I happened to have semi-sweet chocolate chips and assorted nuts on hand).

Given that I do not own a candy thermometer, I’ll have to chalk up my success to beginner’s luck. The toffee turned out beautifully, and with a texture that surprised me, once it firmed up in the refrigerator. Of course, my mind automatically set itself to inventing more elaborate and exotic toppings. The old chocolate and nuts thing is great, but I wonder how it would taste with some orange zest? Or rosemary? How would adding heavy cream and vanilla extract (as Joy of Cooking suggests) alter the outcome? How much salt is ridiculous, given that I had already used twice the suggested amount, which didn’t seem like nearly enough?

And, perhaps most importantly…where am I going to find enough people to taste-test all the pounds of experimental toffee that I envision in my near future?

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