Here we go

The Chinese hackers have struck again. Anthem this time, and, of course, that’s our insurance company. This time it’s social security numbers, physical addresses, email addresses, etc. The exact kinds of information needed to steal identities. We’ve received the initial obligatory email from the president or CEO, who knows, who cares. He assures us everything is being done to remedy the situation, and even his own information was among all of ours. Is that supposed to reassure us? Soon to follow, more emails and letters in the mail. Visit the credit reporting services and put a hold on any new applications, watch your credit statements, report any suspicious activity, blah, blah, blah.

When are these companies going to get it right the first time around? They’re playing with people’s lives here. I’ve thought for a long time that we need some other system of identification other than our social security numbers. In fact, I refuse to give it out to most places requesting it for applications and what-not. Oh, your information is secure with us, yada yada yada. Sure it is. That’s what they all say. Every one of the BIG companies who’ve been hacked in recent years said that very same thing, or they didn’t even bother saying it, because they thought they were impervious. Uh-huh.

Can you tell I’m pissed?

Mrs. Filthy lived here

The previous owners of our new house will here be henceforth named Mr. and Mrs. Filthy. Her, mostly. Him, not as much.

When we were in negotiations on the house, I had several conversations by email and phone with Mrs. Filthy, who also happens to be our county auditor.  She was so sweet and accommodating, declaring here and there about how she was going to be hiring someone to expertly clean the house in preparation for our moving in. Our daughter, Aimee, after meeting her one time, nicknamed her Miss Thang. She was definitely all about looking pretty—perfect hair and makeup, worked-out body, coordinated outfits down to the scarves, of which she had plenty to choose. (There were probably 200 of them hanging on coat trees near the master bedroom closet.) She even drove the perfect car—a late model bright yellow Corvette convertible.

We bought several pieces of furniture from the Filthys (or is that Filthies?). The master bedroom suite (sans mattress set), a sleeper sofa, bookcase, old spinet piano, etc. They threw in a beautiful billiards table and accessories, mainly because they didn’t want to pay someone to move it, and they no longer had room for it.

We knew the kitchen appliances would need to be replaced. They were approaching thirteen years of age, and about the most one can expect of today’s appliances is fifteen years. Besides, I was leaving my beautiful, newly remodeled kitchen that I had planned with meticulous attention to detail, and, by golly, if I had to sacrifice that, then I was going to get something in return. However, Mr. and Mrs. Filthy didn’t know we planned to replace them.

The Filthys/Filthies were nearly underwater on their mortgage here and it had been on the market for over five months with no offers, so we got a pretty good price on the house, far less than its appraisal value. They probably didn’t have the money to hire professional cleaners to assure that my new house was squeaky clean (like I left my old house without the aid of pros, thankyouverymuch). Okay, I get that. But could they have at least made an effort to clean something? Anything?

My first clue was opening the refrigerator door and seeing disgusting crap all over the shelves and walls. Thank goodness, I didn’t have to put my food into it. We left the food at the old house, and waited until they delivered the new one two days later. I mean, seriously, who leaves that kind of mess for someone else to clean? Mrs. Filthy, that’s who.

Next stop on the filthy tour were the bathrooms. First of all, there are five of them, including the powder room. All of them have vanities with drawers. All of the drawers had The Filthys/Filthies’ detritus. They were empty nesters, sort of, so three of the bathrooms weren’t too horrible, as the grown kids were only there occasionally. The master bathroom was quite a different story. Every drawer had fingernail clippings, hair, accumulated dust and dirt, etc. And I don’t even want to remember what I cleaned out of the very slow-moving drain on her side of the double vanity. Really?? Mrs. Filthy, weren’t you embarrassed that people with whom you now have somewhat of a relationship, whom you might possibly run into socially, now know what a disgusting pig slob you are?? Mr. Filthy at least spackled all of the nail holes where pictures had been hanging.

The kitchen was in the same shape as the bathrooms. Not one cabinet was wiped out. The microwave/oven wall combo was in a similar condition as the refrigerator. It was the only appliance that we didn’t replace right away, mainly because they’re so darned expensive, and it still worked. The microwave part looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned in a couple of years, and they didn’t use anything to cover the dishes when they warmed plates of food. The oven part had aluminum foil welded to the bottom by grease drippings. Luckily, but not for our checking account, the oven combo went kaput about three months after we moved in, so I picked out a nice new convection combo that is pretty awesome. MerryChristmasHappyBirthdayHappyAnniversary to me! For the next five years!

Funny thing, I ran into Mrs. Filthy about a month ago at Aldi’s. I recognized her right away and said hello. She looked at me and didn’t have a clue who I was, or didn’t want to know who I was. Embarrassed? Maybe. Or maybe she doesn’t think she had any responsibility toward the new owners of her house. I’m glad I’m not like you, Mrs. Filthy. I could never leave a house in that kind of condition. Never in a million years.

See you soon,

Susan

Winter. Ugh. Tea, syrup, and sunsets. Good.

Winter is not my favorite season, not even close. The kids were supposed to go back to school last Tuesday after their “winter” break. They went a total of one day. So far, this week is starting off with a bang, too. There’s a two-hour delay this morning, because we had freezing rain for most of the night. I looked outside, and it looks like about a half-inch of solid ice coating everything. I doubt that’s going to melt anytime soon. I’m surprised that we still have electricity and internet. I suspect that the end result will be a call in an hour or so canceling the remainder of the day as well. Yippee. Hallelujah. Where’s the Tylenol?

There are very few things that I like about winter. Fires in the fireplace are nice, but you can’t have one when it’s in the single digits, because then you’re just sending your expensive heat up the chimney, for the most part. Sunrises and sunsets can be extraordinary, especially here in the flatlands with no hills to block out the view. I love a brilliant red sunset with bare tree branches silhouetted in the distance. Red sunrises, if you believe the old sailor’s warning, can spell trouble later in the day (like yesterday), but they make the sky look as if it’s on fire. That’s something wonderful to watch while you drink your morning coffee.

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Sunset

Since we, mostly David, started producing maple syrup three years ago, that has become one of my favorite things about winter. We had been buying syrup from local producers in the adjoining county, which has an abundance of maple trees, but when David retired and was looking for a project, a friend who was visiting from Michigan suggested he try making syrup. Being an engineer by profession, he researched and designed and planned the heck out of his new hobby. A good strategy, of course, and it has paid off very well. His first year was the learning year, but he still managed to make quite a lot and sell a lot at the local farmer’s market. Last year, he designed a reverse osmosis system to remove about 50% of the water to speed up the evaporation process. He made 17 gallons of beautiful amber liquid gold, even though it was a short season. Ironically, he couldn’t sell it at the market, because there was no time due to the moving, so we had a LOT to give away to friends and family, and for our own use. We use it to sweeten pretty much everything that doesn’t require sugar for structure, such as cookies.

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The made in the USA evaporator doing its work.

Probably my favorite thing about winter is tea. I love hot tea, all kinds. I can’t really drink it in the summer, because it makes me break out in a sweat. Coffee doesn’t, but hot tea does. I don’t know why.

Black tea (Lipton’s is the best), rooibos, herbal, fruity blends, cinnamon-y ones. Coffee is my wake-up call. I set the pot to be ready in the morning, so when I head down the stairs, I can smell it wafting up to me, calling my name. But tea saves me from killing people who are stuck inside because of bad weather. I can drink it all day long.

My favorites right now include loose teas that I bought from Tea Forte´. African Solstice, English Breakfast, and Earl Grey, which is amazing. If you’ve never used loose Earl Grey, you haven’t really experienced it.  I also love their cute individual tea pyramids. I bought their Kati brewing system, the one with the birds. It doesn’t have a handle, but it’s double-walled, so the tea stays hot longer. Tazo faves are Zen and organic baked cinnamon apple. Then there’s Yogi Detox and Stress Relief. Good Earth Sweet and Spicy. Lemon and Raspberry Zingers and Sleepytime from Celestial Seasonings. Yep, there’s a whole cabinet shelf dedicated to tea. It’s my winter blahs therapy.

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Sunrise, Butler County

BTW, they just called to say school is canceled.

See you soon,

Susan

Addendum: I should really reread my previous posts, as I duplicated some maple syrup talk in this one. Oh well. It’s good stuff and bears repeating. 🙂

Burning Mouth Syndrome

What the heck is burning mouth syndrome? Ever hear of it? You may even have it and not know what it is.

BMS can have several manifestations. Most common is a burning/hot/tingling sensation on the tongue. It can also be a weird metallic taste in the mouth, accompanied by dryness. Feeling as if you ate something nasty and you just can’t get that taste to go away. The sensations can sometimes last for days. I have it periodically, and it is truly awful. Brushing your teeth and mouthwash helps momentarily, but it is short-lived. Chewing gum has the longest-lasting effect, but only as long as you can stand to chew it. Drinking copious amounts of water seems to make the duration a bit shorter. When I have an episode of it, I just want it to GO AWAY!!

Most people who have it are postmenopausal women. The main theory seems to be that it is caused by diminished estrogen or progesterone, but there is nothing scientific to base this on. Depression and anxiety are closely related to BMS, but it isn’t known if this is a cause or a result. My guess is that it’s a result. When it goes on for many days, it does make me anxious and depressed. It’s like fighting a demon in your mouth.

There is a whole laundry list of possible causes, which I assume are listed because of health histories given by those who have complained about BMS. None of them are definitive or can be pinpointed as Yes! This is what causes BMS! One guess, and this, along with the postmenopausal effect, is what I suspect may be the cause of mine—I’m a “super taster.” That means that I have a tendency to push my tongue against foods, or what I jokingly refer to as the “smoosh factor.”

Brownies are most likely my greatest “smoosh factor” food. I love the way they feel when you bite into them, when I “smoosh” them against the roof of my mouth. That sounds kind of gross, but you know what I mean. Don’t you?

Theory:  I made brownies two days ago. Yesterday the BMS arrived on my doorstep. Hmmm.

Resolution: Either stop making brownies, or stop eating them (not gonna happen), or stop smooshing them. Where is the joy?

There is no known treatment available.

Ugh. Just another way of life telling me I’m getting old.

Random musings—mostly food

I wish I could like quinoa

I’ve tried quinoa. In fact, I have a Pinterest board that I titled “It’s pronounced KEEN-wah!” The pictures look beautiful, and it’s so healthy for you. I tried it once, and that was enough for me. There is something about the texture that makes me shudder. That little pop/crunch when you bite into it. It’s probably the same reason that I don’t like caviar. I also don’t like the slight sweetness. I’m not sure why I don’t delete the board on Pinterest. Maybe it makes me look more interesting, or healthy, or something.

I wish I didn’t love sugar

You know it’s bad when you start wanting dessert after breakfast. I almost always eat a healthy breakfast. It’s usually one of three things: plain yogurt with dried cranberries (or fresh fruit in season), my homemade muesli, toasted slivered almonds, and a touch of granola for sweetness; steel-cut oatmeal with walnuts, cinnamon, raisins, and maple syrup; or, unsweetened boxed cereal, fortified with muesli, nuts, and a little granola. Occasionally I will have eggs and toast, or pancakes with our homemade maple syrup. But, when you’re done with breakfast and immediately think about having a cookie, that’s bad. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s tough resisting.

As I told my friend Bella, I’m my own worst enemy. The holiday season starts me off with a bang. I try not to bake much during the year, except for birthdays and special occasions. I don’t like having the temptation around. I know I can’t resist the sugary delights. I will nibble and munch my way through hundreds of calories before I realize what I’ve done. Then comes Thanksgiving with the array of pies—pumpkin, pecan, apple. I never used to like pecan pie. Too sweet, I said. Until a few years ago. Now, I really like it. I really, really like it.

Then, of course, Christmas with all the cookies, fudge, gifts of candy from other people. I thought I got rid of all of that by sending it away with other people. So, what do I do? I made brownies the other day “for the kids.” Who can resist a slightly warm brownie? Or two. The next day, yesterday, I decided I had better use the bag of cranberries in the crisper drawer before they went bad, so I made streusel-topped cranberry pecan muffins. They were a big hit. Especially with me. I had two while they were still warm from the oven. The crunch from the sweet streusel combined with the soft cake and tartness of the cranberries. Oh my goodness. The good news is I probably won’t have any this morning, because I really only like them when they’re fresh.

Rachael Ray owes me for dinner

While perusing the January/February 2015 EveryDay with Rachael Ray, I came across the recipe for “Turkey or Veal Meatball Stroganoff.” It looked delicious, and sounded achievable, even for cooks with less experience than I have, which is to say, I feel that I’m a pretty good cook with years and years of experience in the kitchen. I should have trusted my instincts in at least one stage of the recipe. It said to soak the fresh breadcrumbs in milk while preparing the rest of the ingredients, and then to squeeze the excess milk from the breadcrumbs before adding them to the turkey mixture. Have you ever tried to do that? It’s virtually impossible to have anything but a big soggy, slimy mess. I maybe got a tablespoon of milk out of it. Fighting my instinct to start all over with dry breadcrumbs, I added the mess to the other mess, and, voila, ended up with a big sloppy bowl of turkey goo. There was no way to “roll walnut-sized meatballs” with my hands, so I used my little cookie scoop and plopped them into the hot frying pan, whereupon, they immediately became “meat flats” (from my friend Cindy), instead of balls. At this point, I’m thinking, there is no way on earth that these grandkids are going to eat this. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to try it.

I had doubled the recipe, because it served four and we have seven people here. So, it took forever and a day to fry all of those “meat flats.” I had to keep the finished ones warm in the toaster oven while I finished the rest. To make a long story even longer, the sauce was thin, the sour cream wouldn’t incorporate well, and well, the meatballs had a weird texture. Big surprise. Oddly enough, the kids ate what was on their plates, with Kaitlyn even pronouncing that she loved the meatballs. What??? This is the kid who complains about everything I put on the table, if it isn’t pizza, spaghetti (no sauce), or plain rice. Go figure. I thought it was barely okay, and vowed to never make the recipe again. Or, in any case, I would do it my way, with ground beef, and no soaked breadcrumbs. And it definitely took longer than thirty minutes, especially the cleanup. Rachael, you failed me.

It’s almost maple syrup time

David is getting his “sugar shack” (see header picture) ready for the sap when it starts to flow. Last year, his second, on the Bear Swamp property, he made seventeen gallons of beautiful, delicious liquid gold. He had planned to sell most of it at our local farmer’s market. In fact, he joined and paid his dues, but with the moving of two houses, there was just not enough time to go even once. We had plenty of syrup for our family, plus lots of giveaways to friends and extended family, four gallons of which went to the old farmer on whose property he bowhunts. Mr. Eugene has diabetes, and he swears that since he started using maple syrup for all his sweetening, he’s been able to keep his blood sugar counts under control. That’s a lot of syrup for one man to use in a year’s time. Even with all the giveaways, David managed to sell almost $400 worth.

We’re hoping this year’s weather will cooperate and give a bounty of sap. We don’t have as many maple trees on this property, but our next-door neighbor has eleven acres, and they told him he could tap all he wants. Plus, our former neighbor and friend is letting him tap trees there, as he has done the past two years. And the couple who bought our house is letting him tap there, so it all depends on Mother Nature.

Speaking of Mother Nature

It’s -5°F here in central Ohio this morning, with a wind chill of -22°. They cancelled school again this week. Tuesday, which was supposed to be their first day back from Christmas break, was cancelled due to icy road conditions and snow. So, January is starting out like a bitch. Let’s hope it isn’t as bad as last January. Our furnace is pretty much running non-stop. We don’t have the wood-burning insert now, just a fireplace, which is so inefficient. We won’t even have a fire when it’s this cold, because you send more heat up the chimney than you actually get in benefit. I really miss that woodburner. Hurry up, Spring!

See you soon,

Susan

SIMPLE MUESLI

4 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup flaxseed

1/2 cup oat bran

1/2 cup toasted wheat germ

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup dried Zante currants, raisins, or your choice of dried fruit (I prefer the currants)

1/4 cup brown sugar

Toss all together in a gallon Ziploc bag and store in airtight container.

Random Christmas musings

I have tried to write two posts in the last week, both of which have ended up who knows where. Here is my third attempt. We shall see if it actually happens.

Superwoman is felled by nasty common cold virus.

Sick two days before Christmas with the nastiest cold I have had in a long time. I could barely raise my head from my pillow. There was still a mountain of gifts to be wrapped in the basement, hardly any of the food for the Christmas Eve Party was made, the house was a mess…I was panicking, when I could think straight. Finally, on Christmas Eve morning, I felt like taking a shower and getting dressed, but I knew there was no way I could complete all of the party foods on my extensive menu, so that was my first red pencil act, slashing the new appetizers I had planned to try, and trimming some of the cookie choices (thank goodness I had made some in advance). Then the hard decision of uninviting our friends and former neighbors, and the family who bought our old house. They were very understanding, and made offers of help, which I turned down. I knew I would barely be able to be presentable for my family, much less for anyone else.

I managed to get the pork shoulder browned on the grill and into the Crockpot, and spent the next five hours wrapping gifts, hoping that our son and grandsons didn’t show up too soon. I made it through the pile, and got everything organized for the Eve openings, and the gifts to be opened at home. There was plenty of food, even enough to send home with our son, and to take to my in-laws the next day. David just had a told-you-so look on his face, because he had tried to get me to cut back even before I got sick. My face just said shut your pie hole.

Macs are wonderful until they’re not

We’ve had this MacBook for four years, and had never had a moment’s trouble with it, except having to replace a battery about two months ago. Until last week. Because of my cold, I thought I had better clean the keyboard before handing it over to David on Christmas Eve morning. Forgetting everything I knew (my brain was a little muzzy from the snot buildup), I used a disinfectant wipe on it without turning off the computer. Big NO-NO! David since surmised that it’s possible that all of the errant and random keystrokes must have made it lose its mind. Things were going everywhere. Screens jumping back and forth, losing posts and comments in the middle of writing them, the screen getting larger and smaller all on its own, and other weird happenings. It was impossible to control, so I just gave up and hung my head in shame. It still isn’t quite back to normal. I’ve had a bit of a challenge getting this post written, as it randomly jumps the cursor to a different place in the text while I’m typing, so if you see some random words inserted in places where they shouldn’t be, don’t blame me, blame the Clorox wipe.

Christmas happens whether you’re ready or not

Thankfully, I managed to get the bare minimum done, and stayed on my feet until all the gifts that I spent five hours wrapping were opened in fifteen minutes by six insane kids. Well, the older four did theirs in that time, the two younger ones were overwhelmed and had to be helped. They had plenty of that, because the older ones had nothing to do after they tore through their own piles. By this time the toddler was showing signs of being sick as well. We had to start his asthma breathing treatments, so he wouldn’t end up in the emergency room. By 9:00 p.m., he and I were out like the Christmas lights.

On Christmas morning David and I always go to his parents. They don’t like to travel in winter, and we don’t want them to be alone on Christmas. When we had talked about going a week before, the toddler overheard and started jumping up and down, saying, “Go to Ge-ma’s and Ge-pa’s house! Go in car!” Of course, he thought we were leaving that minute, so it took a bit of convincing that we would take him along when it was time.

So, not having had time to get anything ready in the days before Christmas, we had to pack clothes, food, and gifts (which I didn’t even get wrapped, but they don’t care anyway) into the truck. At the last minute, Kaitlyn decided that she didn’t want to be left at home (a decision that she would later regret), so we had to wait for her to get her things ready, and decide which toys she would take. All the while, Joshie (the toddler) is standing at the door yelling “Ge-ma’s and Ge-pa’s house!” over and over. And it was raining, so David couldn’t even take him outside to run off a little steam.

We finally got on the road, and as usual on Christmas day, there was no traffic. There were also no restaurants open for a three hour trip, except a Pizza Hut Express in a truck stop. I faintly remember the same thing happening the previous year, but not in time to plan accordingly. The pizza was awful—too much cheese that wasn’t baked thoroughly, the sausage was gross, just ugh. We ate enough to keep from starving, and put the rest in the back of the truck to take to the in-laws. They think frozen box pizza is just fine, so…

When we arrived at the in-laws’ house, and after graciously handing them the plastic bag wrapped gifts, I had to immediately throw myself into dinner preparations. My father-in-law wanted lasagna, which was sounding less and less appealing, especially after the “Italian” lunch we had just had, but I soldiered on and finally produced a reasonable facsimile of his beloved lasagna by 6:30. By then, everyone was starving, because they’re used to eating earlier, so it was highly praised, except by David and me (we could barely stand to look at it), and Kaitlyn, who decided plain noodles looked pretty good to her. Joshie just ate some cereal and some of the bread.

David’s cousin George and his wife Linda, one of my best friends, stopped by while we were eating, and stayed for a few hours. I hadn’t seen them in quite a while, so I was happy for their visit, but I wasn’t able to clean up the kitchen, and Joshie had to have his breathing treatment, which makes him wild enough to shoot at. So, after having only a five minute nap in the truck, five minutes before we arrived, he was up, running around like a little banshee, until they left at 9:00 p.m. It took me another hour to get him settled down enough to go to bed. I managed to get a cover on the lasagna pan and get it shoved into the fridge, and get the plates into the dishwasher before I laid down with him. I fell asleep before he did, while he was still chattering away about airplanes and monster trucks and goats and Santy Caus and Let It Go (lay it go in toddler speak.)

Frozen is just another word for mind control

We made the mistake of letting Joshie watch the Disney movie Frozen a few weeks ago. Now it’s all he thinks about. “Watch Lay It Go!” We hear this at least ten times a day. He’s two and he knows a lot of the songs, and sings them, in tune. We have to watch it at least once a day. Aimee took him for his annual well-check on the Monday before Christmas, and his doctor was pleased with how smart he is and how he’s growing, and he cautioned that he should get no more than two hours of screen time a day. He asked if we were sticking to that guideline, and Aimee agreed that we were. At home, she added, “If you don’t count Frozen.”

I understand his fascination. I’m kind of in love with the movie myself. I’ve always loved a good musical, and this one has some very good songs. Memorable songs. The kinds of songs that wake you up at three in the morning with the lyrics running through your brain on a constant loop. Did I mention mind control? And this Disney princess movie is based on a story by Hans Christian Anderson, The Snow Queen. It doesn’t have just one princess heroine, but TWO, and they’re beautiful. One funny and clumsy, one sad and tragic, but loving and sacrificing for her sister. I have to confess, when it’s on, I sing right along with them, and catch new little nuances every time. The writers and artists were very clever in that.

Really, I’m almost done

So, I survived another Christmas. I’m hoping I can invite my friends over on New Year’s Eve for a few of the things that I wasn’t able to make for Christmas Eve. I’m not inviting them yet, because I don’t want to jinx things. I’m nearly back to normal, whatever normal is, and the toddler is off the treatments, and back to his toddler self. Unfortunately, I think one of us gave Ge-ma our cold. She seemed to be starting symptoms last evening, when David called to let them know we arrived home safely. I feel guilty about that. But then it wouldn’t be Christmas without some kind of guilt floating around me.

Here’s wishing all of you a belated Merry Christmas! And a very happy New Year!

Pinterest is gonna be the death of me

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Photo courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod blog

I love Pinterest. I really do. It’s as addictive as Facebook. I’ve pinned hundreds of recipes I’ll never try, redecorating ideas I’ll never enact, quotes I’ll never remember (thank goodness Pinterest reminds me when I try to post one I’ve already posted), and crafts that I’ll never have time to make. It’s a great repository of someone else’s achievements and luscious pictures of great-looking food.

I have found some very good recipes there, and yesterday I tried a seemingly simple one:  Fleur de sel caramel sauce. Fleur de sel, meaning flower of salt, flaky, delicate sea salt, combined with caramel, what’s not to like about that? Four ingredients: sugar, butter, heavy cream, and fleur de sel. Couldn’t be simpler, right? Wrong!

My first mistake was deciding to double the batch. Most recipe authors include a warning if this is a bad idea, but there wasn’t one, so I figured I might as well get it over with in one mess. Second mistake was in not tripling the size of the saucepan, instead of doubling it. Third mistake was not letting my butter and heavy cream completely come to room temperature, and by room temperature, I mean close to the boiling point of the cooked sugar.

In the recipe, the author did give very detailed instructions. and what to watch out for. What they didn’t say was this is going to be extremely messy and time-consuming, not to mention that the failure rate is probably extremely high. They make it look so easy in the perfect photos.

The moment I started cooking the four cups of sugar (doubled, remember?), I knew I was in trouble. The whisk that they said to use was useless. I needed to use a wooden spoon, but by this time the sugar was starting to clump up in the whisk, and I didn’t want to lose any of it. Ha! If I had only known!

It took forever and a day for the sugar to liquefy and finally to turn the amber color that I was supposed to look for. Meanwhile, I’m whisking furiously to get out all of the clumps of undissolved sugar. There’s sugar cemented to the sides of the pan that I know is never going to dissolve, but at this point I just had to go for it. I decided to stick my finger in a little to make sure it didn’t taste burned. OMG, not a good idea!!! Ouch, ouch, ouch! Hot, burning, taffy sugar! I knew this, and still did it, because I’m a moron and forgot this would happen.

Then it was time to whisk in the three (yes, three) sticks of butter. This is where getting the right size pan is crucial. It does not incorporate willingly. The butter was sloshing everywhere, including all over the pants I was wearing. Good lord, will this experiment never end??? Of course, this step takes forever, too. Next comes the heavy cream. I knew when I picked up the container and felt a bit of coolness that my trouble was seriously going to intensify, but I was in too far now, and had to continue. Oh, lordy, what a mess! The mixture seized up, as you probably had already guessed, because that’s what hot liquid sugar does when it comes in contact with cool liquid. More furious stirring and whisking, trying to get out all the clumps, which, by the way, never completely happened.

I finally managed to get it fairly smooth, actually pulling out some of the larger clumps of solidified sugar, then I let it settle for a few minutes. I filled five half-pint jars without too much of a fuss with only minor sediment at the bottom. The teachers who are the recipients of this incredibly awful, but incredibly wonderful tasting concoction, will just have to deal with it. Maybe they’ll just think that it’s salt crystals in the bottom.

My kitchen looked like a caramel bomb had exploded in there. The cleanup was so much fun, and I kept finding little bits of caramel all day that I had to lick wash. Even the top of the coffee maker. What?

The caramel sauce does taste amazing. Will I ever make it again? No. Way.

See you soon,

Susan

Addendum: Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had the same trouble with their sauce. I went back to the post and read some of the 200+ comments, and there were several whose experiences sounded exactly like mine. I was a little peeved that these concerns weren’t addressed by the blog authors, but anyway, I guess they’re too busy coming up with other seemingly simple recipes to post. 🙂

I will try it again, using a couple of adjustments that I gleaned from an old recipe of mine, because I don’t like a recipe getting the best of me, and after eating some warmed over vanilla ice cream, I was blown away by its deliciousness (see my reply to Natalie in the comments.)  Mainly, I will add a small amount of water to the sugar prior to cooking. I’m pretty sure that will solve the clumping issue in that stage. Also, I will make sure that my butter and cream are at a warmer temperature. My room temp is probably much cooler than is required, and hopefully this will cure the problem with the seizing up.