What’s FUDGE Got To Do With It?

musical-note-2-clip-art_435934
Sing it loud and proud to the tune of Tina Turner‘s What’s Love Got To Do With It“.

Probably nothing, if you must know, but when we were in Sacramento a couple weeks ago, we stopped for a brief tourist-y couple of hours in Old Sacramento where my tugboat man and I purchased fudge from a candy store, and it wasn’t very good.

You know how when your mouth is watering and you’re anticipating the feel and texture of good fudge doing its slow and sultry dissolve, filling your senses with the magnificence of rich flavorful chocolate??….Well, it didn’t happen, so I knew it was time for me to make a batch.

I’ve been making fudge since I was about six years old — always with my mom and her tried and true recipe, which is Hershey’s tried and true recipe.

All fudge is judged by that recipe and that taste.

There is NONE better.

In fact, I would double dog dare you to a “fudge-off” and surpass the delicious fudge creaminess of this fudge. I know a lot of recipes call for corn syrup but this one does not and I think it’s better.

I feel that I deserve a little extra sweetness and calories because I’ve been working out at the gym really really hard, two times a day for the last week ‘cos hub’s been taking a class in San Diego — something to do with the International Maritime Organization — and he leaves at 7:00 a.m. and returns at 4:00 pm. It’s like in the old days when he worked in San Diego harbor.

I work out at my regular time in the morning and then go back again in the evening just to spend time with my big guy. Since I’m burning twice the calories, I won’t feel too guilty about eating a few pieces of candy.

Join me on my fudge-y journey while I channel my inner Nigella Lawson.

Starting out… Don’t let it bubble over!!!

Fudge3

When the candy thermometer hits 234 degrees, that’s the time to take it off the heat. Add butter and vanilla. Let it cool down to 110 degrees. Don’t stir too soon!!!

Fudge4

When it reaches 110 degrees, beat it until it starts to lose its glossy color. It takes about 15 or 20 minutes, so you’ll get a work out.
Fudge1

Pour into 9×9 pan. Wait for it to set up firm and lovely and oh so creamy.

Fudge5  Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Fudge6

Don’t you wish you were here??
musical-note-2-clip-art_435934“What’s FUDGE but a sweet old fashioned notion?”musical-note-2-clip-art_435934

Fudge6

Hershey‘s Fudge
This is the recipe. Follow it EXACTLY. It’s perfect just the way it is.

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa or HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups milk (I used nonfat ‘cos that’s what we have on hand.)
  • 1/4 cup(1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Line 8-or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil.

2. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in heavy 4-quart saucepan; stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full rolling boil. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water. (Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan.)

3. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Cool at room temperature to 110°F (lukewarm). Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss. Quickly spread in prepared pan; cool completely. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature. About 36 pieces or 1-3/4 pounds.

NOTE: For best results, do not double this recipe. This is one of our most requested recipes, but also one of our most difficult. The directions must be followed exactly. Beat too little and the fudge is too soft. Beat too long and it becomes hard and sugary.

Happiness is a Fruit + Veggie Bread Recipe: Zucchini, Carrot, and Apple

This recipe is my own adaptation of a zucchini bread; it’s not too sweet and gets better the day after– if you can wait! Sometimes I drizzle over the top a simple glaze of powdered sugar mixed with orange juice and a little orange zest. It sort of enhances all the flavors.

All ready for the captain’s homecoming!

3-in-1 Fruit and Veggie Bread

Grate enough zucchini to end up with about 1 cup or so packed
1 carrot, grated
1 apple, grated
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla plus 1 tablespoon juice from orange
2 cups flour (I use all or part whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4  plus 1 tablespoon cup plain nonfat yogurt or nonfat sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
You can always add dried fruit or blueberries or nuts. My recipes usually reflect what I have around the pantry.
Directions: Mix together all the dry ingredients, add everything else, mix until well incorporated. Fold into loaf pan. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, check often so it doesn’t become too brown.

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Tree)

Bird droppings make great jam.

Perhaps generated by seeds embedded in bird poop; I’m not sure where this tree came from — I never planted it  — but one day there was a little sprout and a few years later it bore its first harvest.

We have two mulberry trees in our yard; the volunteer is fruit-bearing, the other that provides shade to the deck, is not.

silkwormcloseupSilkworms eat mulberry leaves; maybe I could raise a few silkworms and spin my own fabric — except worms are kinda gross, so I guess not.

mulberry tree3

Technically, the fruit of a mulberry is not a berry but a collective fruit, in appearance like a swollen loganberry. When the flowers are pollinated, they and their fleshy bases begin to swell. Ultimately, they become completely altered in texture and color, becoming succulent, fat and full of juice.

In appearance, each tiny swollen flower roughly resembles the individual drupe of a blackberry. Mulberries ripen over an extended period of time unlike many other fruits which seem to come all at once. {Wiki} They’re very sweet and mild.

mulberry tree2

mulberry tree

I learned from Martha Stewart to spread an old sheet on the ground and shake the tree. All the ripe fruit fall; I wash, dry, and freeze in quart bags. So far, I have about eight quarts and the tree’s not done. Raccoons come by at night and gorge themselves;  during the day, crows and other birds eat from the very highest branches.

mulberrysheetA bowl of mulberries.mulberrybowl

Three beautiful specimens. I add them right from the freezer to smoothies and cobblers and I’ll make a batch of jam, too. If I have enough, I’ll make a pie.

mulberry3

Mulberry Jam
(This recipe uses no pectin)

  • 2 1/2 cups mulberries, rinsed (the tiny green stems do not need to be removed)
  • Approximately one cup granulated sugar (I start with a very small amount of sugar and keep tasting. You can try agave, too.)
  • 3 tablespoons water
    Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Drop heat to medium-low and add jars and their lids. Simmer for 10 minutes to sterilize. Using tongs, remove jars and lids and place on a clean towel to let cool.
    In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat, combine mulberries, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, boil for one minute, then drop to a simmer. Cook fruit, stirring occasionally, until foam subsides and mixture thickens slightly, about 7 minutes.
    Using a ladle, carefully transfer hot jam to sterilized jars. Wipe mouths of jars clean and screw on lids very tightly. Let cool at room temperature for at least 8 hours before using.

The Lovely Luscious Loquat (Jam)

I wish all of you could taste a freshly picked juicy loquat. It’s not a kumquat or even a distant relation… loquatsI posted a pic of our loquat tree on my Facebook page and was really surprised to learn how many have never tasted this juicy sweet fruit.

Thin velvety skin embraces yellowy orange flesh that tastes  like a cross between an apricot and a peach.

loquatseededIf you have a chance to try them, just remember, the seeds are extremely toxic! They contain many toxic alkaloids like cyanogen-glycosides.

Loquats grow all over my SoCal neighborhood — everyone seems to have at least one or two trees and they’re very prolific producers — but no one knows what to do with them, which is really too bad because they’re full of nutrition.

  • Low in calorie,, rich in insoluble dietary fiber; pectin.
  •  Excellent source of vitamins A and C, rich in potassium and some B-complex vitamins such as folates, vitamin B-6, and niacin.

Plus, loquat jam is delicious.

A couple days ago, I made a batch of loquat jam with this simple recipe:

Loquat Jam


Directions:

In a large pot, add…

Twelve cups seeded loquats.
Leave the skins on but cut off the blossom end.
Five to six cups of sugar.
I used white sugar, but I’m sure you could play around with the amounts and use agave nectar or honey.
Two tablespoons cinnamon. Loquats are slightly bland and really respond well to spices. Pour over enough water to cover the fruit.
Cover with a lid, quickly bring to a boil, and allow to boil for five minutes.
Turn down the flame to simmer, uncover, and cook for a couple of hours, stirring with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t burn.
After a couple hours or so, take an immersion blender pureed the fruit (the skins disappear), and continued to cook for another hour.
After tasting it, I added a bit more cinnamon and three tablespoons of lemon juice which really helped the flavors develop.
I wanted to turn it more apple butter-like and thick, so I carefully poured it into a crockpot and let it cook on low all night.
In the morning, wash canning jars and lids with hot soapy water, rinse with hot water. Fill jars with hot jam and put the lids on, but don’t tighten too much. As the jam cools, you’ll hear popping sounds which means the lids are sealing. When the jars are cool to touch, tighten the lids a bit more and refrigerate.

Loquats in bowl

Just started the cooking process. It was a real surprise to watch the cooked loquats turn a deep rich burgundy.

Cooking loquats

Use an immersion blender to puree.

Time to sleep in the crockpot all night and get nice and thick.

Crockpot loquat

I’m really happy with the results. It looks a lot like apple butter.

Loquat in bowl

Jars and jars of jam! I’m refrigerating them; didn’t feel like going through the hot bath canning process.

Jars of loquat jamMore ways to preserve the bountiful abundance of loquats:

  • I’m freezing some fruit whole to use in smoothies.
  • Drying the leaves to make loquat tea.
  • Loquat salsa, like mango salsa.
  • Loquat cobbler. YUM.
  • Chutney

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Lemoncupcakesingle

My version topped with a lush garden strawberry

A while back I read Our Growing Paynes post about Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. (Click here for their recipe.)

I love anything lemony and it looked so amazing and mouth-watering that I had to try it.

There’s a tangy sweet burst of lemon curd and fluffy meringue in every bite.

It brings out the Nigella Lawson in me to try and conjure up sensual adjectives to describe how they taste.

chocolate babkaMy tugboat man said it was the best thing I’ve ever made, and ranked it right up there with the Chocolate Babka I made a while back.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Lemon curd, cupcakes, and toasty meringue…how could it be anything but spectacular?

I made the Lemon Curd the day before.. the old school way with my mom’s vintage double boiler. There’s an easier microwave version that has great reviews; try that one if you’re short on time. This is the recipe I used:

3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Whisk eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a double boiler over simmering water until mixed well, then continue to stir until thick, 7 to 10 minutes.
Drain through a mesh sieve to get rid of lumps. Fold in butter until well incorporated. Mix in lemon zest. Cover curd and chill in the refrigerator until it’s thickened, about four hours. Very important to sieve it, don’t skip this step.

The finished product. So smooth. Like lemon velvet.lemon curd

The vanilla cupcakes ready and waiting for embellishment and a little sparkle.
vanilla lemon cupcakes

The meringue.
lemoncupcake4

It’s fun to core out a bit of the cupcake ‘cos you can eat the middle and pretend it doesn’t have any calories. I used a tomato stem end corer —
a weird but very useful tool. Works great for strawberries, too.
tomato stem end corer

Fill holes with lemon curd and spoon meringue on top in fluffy clouds of goodness.
Place in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. Don’t go too far away because it takes just a second to go from beautifully toasty brown to burnt.
Lemncupcakes3

Out of the oven, I topped each with a lush garden strawberry.lemonmerenguecupcake1

That first bite… Cake, lemon curd, meringue.
ABSOLUTE HEAVEN.
There are no other words necessary.
Thank you, Our Growing Paynes!lemonmerenguecupcake2

 I’ll make it again for the captain’s welcome home dessert. 

Meow

Finishing up three or four posts that aren’t cooperating. They’re not funny enough, they have no point, no denouement, no zing–nada. Instead of a rational thought process, I’ll offer up a scattered smorgasbord of tasty appetizers instead of a whole meal.

Remember these cats?

bandit in a boxOur Bandit used to talk to us that way. After a while, I started answering her back. She’d say, “Meow“, I’d respond, “Meow”. She’d stroll into the kitchen and greet me with a head nod and a brief “Mew”. I’d imitate her head nod and answer her. She tried so hard to communicate with us! If we didn’t go to bed at the same time every night–if we stayed up a bit longer than usual–Bandit marched into the family room with an outraged sense of purpose-maintain eye contact–and kind of growly-meow, walk a few steps toward the bedroom, and then walk back to us. If we didn’t follow her, she’d leave in a huff and wait on the bed and if we didn’t move quick enough, one swipe of her her paw let us know she was pissed. She had the sharpest claws. They spoke volumes.

One day, the captain said something to me and I didn’t hear him. Instead of saying, “What did you say?” I said, “Meow?” He seemed to understand what I meant because he repeated himself. That one meow led to complete conversations in cat language. Angry meows, grunting meows, questioning meows, and mews in agreement. We just have to remember not to do it when anyone else is around. I’m not sure many people would understand. Meow?

We worked out at the gym this morning. Before we left, I asked the hubs to take a couple pictures of me. See the hairband with sparkles and the Hello Kitty slippers? Starfish?

me2 Pictures of me

Late this afternoon I heard a hawk in the eucalyptus tree across the street. It let me get really close for these pics! The colors were magnificent. I wish I took better photos.
hawk2 Hawk in tree
Chocolate cake was requested by my tugboat man; I whipped up an easy one bowl version. It was sooo good! It’s lowfat but really moist. The recipe is below.
choccloseup chocolate cake

One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze
from Better Homes and Gardens

  • cup all-purpose flour
  • cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk ( I use half non-fat milk and half cold coffee)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • teaspoon vanilla
  • egg
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease and lightly flour a 9×1-1/2-inch round or 8x8x2-inch baking pan.2. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat 2 minutes more. Pour batter into prepared pan.

    3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Spread with glaze.

Chocolate Glaze
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1  cup confectioners sugar
3 tbsp. water or coffee
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa and water. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens; do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, gradually add confectioners sugar; beat with wire whisk until smooth.

Abandoning the mother ship

pumpkin, pumpkin stew

Soon to be pumpkin stew

DIL and sister wife left this morning to drive back up to SF. I still have my son until tomorrow. He flies out mid-morning to the east coast and I’m not looking forward to the thirty-five minute drive and the lunacy of the airport. At its best it’s not pleasant. Now they’re undergoing major construction delays and it’s another level of Hell.  For the moment, home is reminiscent of the old days; he’s sitting at the dining room table with a computer surrounded by piles of books, only this time he’s not writing a report or research paper, he’s grading essays.

Young Yale Professor

Photo of a Yale professor in action

I can’t believe this little sk8r boy of mine goes to work and fifteen college freshman call him Professor Angel Boy. Of course, they don’t REALLY call him Angel Boy, but I think they  should. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the concept. It’s mind boggling. Especially since he still derives the greatest pleasure by shocking me with offensive earsplitting and vulgar expulsions of intestinal gas that serves as his initial form of communication when he opens the front door (Insert loud breaking wind sounds here) “Hi, mom, I’m home!” or belching as commentary while we’re enjoying a lovely meal at the dinner table, like Thanksgiving. Apparently, my laughing is an ineffective method of dissuading that kind of behavior. Sometimes I tell him he’s disgusting but he finds that a compliment rather than a criticism. His wife thinks he’s funny too; even the captain finds him humorous, shaking his head, “That’s our boy!” almost, no, not almost–completely proud of him– so it’s hopeless. The dichotomy between his academic braininess and his juvenile antics is-uh-refreshing. It’s no wonder I treat him like he’s still in the third grade. It’s as if he never left elementary school with the stupid arm farts and the other robust sounds and smells that emanate from all of his orifices. I keep my fingers crossed that when he meets with his department heads or his publisher that he remembers all the lessons in good manners we practiced and he only acts out here as the living embodiment of the prodigal son. Like I said, fingers crossed. 

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

Smells DELICIOUS

I’m in the kitchen baking another loaf of Whole Wheat Bread. Tonight we had Moroccan Pumpkin Stew (recipe below) with steamed brown rice and Seared Ahi ‘cos I have to make sure he gets enough protein.

It’s kind of cold, damp, and foggy; after dinner we made a fire and  played Scrabble. He won, of course–232 to 219.scrabble

An assortment of desserts; apple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookiesapple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookies

Beautiful flowers from my Angel Boy

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 6 small potatoes, well-scrubbed but not peeled, cut in half
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-1/2 cups canned tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons raisins

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrot, potato, and pumpkin and saute for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time. When vegetables have softened, add the ginger and garlic. Continue to saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cinnamon stick. Cook for another 5-8 minutes, then add the canned tomato and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, then add the raisins. Allow to cook for 18-25 minutes until all vegetables are soft – but don’t overcook. Serve over or with brown rice.

A Kugel-icous Recipe for Passover, too!

I posted this for Hannukah but we make it for Passover, too. I hope you try it and enjoy! Since my stupid oven broke for the 4th time yesterday as I was making my son’s birthday cake, I’m not sure I’ll be able to make Kugel since we couldn’t get a repair appointment until Thursday and the stupid part will take a week to arrive, so we are out of luck! Stupid Sears! Stupid Kenmore! Stupid planned obsolescence!
A pic of kugel (not mine) from http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/FoodAndWine/Article.aspx?id=290152

 

What is Kugel?                                                                                                                            Kugel is a savory or sweet pudding of potatoes or noodles usually served as a side dish. It’s of German/Jewish origin. Our family’s traditional Kugel is the sweet noodle kind and my mom’s version is to die for. Really. It’s spectacular hot or cold. I’ll make it tomorrow and take pics. It’s one of those recipes you can make a day in advance and it gets better and better. If you have any leftovers–which we never do- it freezes pretty good. I limit myself to making it only a couple times a year and I eat as much as I want and just work out a bit harder and a bit longer to burn off the calories.

Angel Boy’s Grandma’s Kugel

Ingredients

One large package wide egg noodles
One large can fruit cocktail in juice
One small can pineapple pieces in juice
One large can canned peaches and pears in heavy syrup, yes, you read that right.
At least 3 Granny Smith apples, sliced with about 1/3 cup sugar and 1-2 TBS cinnamon.
3 Eggs
2 tsp vanilla
One lemon,  juiced and zested.

This is a good dish to make in advance especially if you’re also planning to make apple pie (which I am) ‘cos you can just prepare all the apples for both dishes. The secret to this dish is a LOT of cinnamon. If you think you have enough, add a little bit more! Cook a whole package of wide egg noodles and drain. Add 3 beaten eggs with vanilla; it will be super slippery. Add the lemon juice and zest to the apple slices. Drain all the canned fruit but keep the juices; you will need them. Mix together all the canned fruits. Butter one large and one medium deep baking dish. Add a layer of noodles, then a layer of canned fruit, a layer of apples, then another layer of noodles, a layer of the canned fruit, sliced apples, more noodles, more canned fruit and apples, ending with a final layer of noodles. Pour over any remaining egg mixture, and a cup or so of the fruit juices. Be very liberal with the juice. It will all get soaked up as the kugel bakes. Jason’s grandma would dot the whole thing with a bunch of Crisco, like ¼ cup, which sounds gross, but I still follow her recipe. Some people use butter, but we don’t. Other recipes add cottage cheese and raisins, but I’ve only made it my mom’s way, although I’m sure it would be delicious. Bake covered at 300 degrees for about an hour or so depending on the pan size. Take cover off for final 15 minutes. Excellent reheated and/or cold.

Happiness is a Fruit + Veggie Bread Recipe: Zucchini, Carrot, and Apple

This recipe is my own adaptation of a zucchini bread; it’s not too sweet and gets better the day after– if you can wait! Sometimes I drizzle over the top a simple glaze of powdered sugar mixed with orange juice and a little orange zest. It sort of enhances all the flavors.

All ready for the captain’s homecoming!

3-in-1 Fruit and Veggie Bread

Grate enough zucchini to end up with about 1 cup or so packed
1 carrot, grated
1 apple, grated
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla plus 1 tablespoon juice from orange
2 cups flour (I use all or part whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4  plus 1 tablespoon cup plain nonfat yogurt or nonfat sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
You can always add dried fruit or blueberries or nuts. My recipes usually reflect what I have around the pantry.
Directions: Mix together all the dry ingredients, add everything else, mix until well incorporated. Fold into loaf pan. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, check often so it doesn’t become too brown.