Friday, February 10, 2017

Mom's Caramel fudge recipe
- I usually make a huge batch, but have divided the recipe by three for you.

1 stick (4 oz) butter (if you use unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the fudge)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle or any other brand)
1/2 cup evaporated milk (could use regular milk, but evaporated milk is good)
3 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Lightly butter a small cookie sheet/jelly roll pan. I use a 17 by 11 cookie sheet for triple this recipe, which makes the fudge quite thick.
 Put everything but the vanilla into a saucepan that has room for the mixture to boil up. You can either stir over medium heat until it boils (you want to dissolve the sugar before it boils) or put it over really low heat and do something else, just stirring every few minutes until it finally comes to a boil.
 Cook over medium heat (or medium-low - it burns easily) until a few drops of the mixture form a medium ball* when dropped into iced water.
Most fudge recipes say don't stir, but this will catch on the bottom if you don't, so give it a stir every couple of minutes.**
 Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
 If you are in a rush, run some cold water into the sink and put the pan into the sink. Add the vanilla and beat well.
When the fudge starts to thicken and lose its gloss, pour into the prepared pan and smooth out as needed.
 If you are not in a rush, just leave the fudge on the side of the stove and stir every few minutes.
When it starts to thicken, add the vanilla, beat it for a minute or so and pour into the prepared pan. 
Allow to set (should be really quick) and cut into squares.

 If you like, after it is set turn the fudge out onto a board and allow the bottom to dry out a little. This will help the pieces to hold their shape. If you are not going to package it, you don't need to bother. The reason for not stirring too much while it cooks, but stirring mightily just before you pour it out is you want the mixture to crystalize, but not too soon, because you want a fondant-like texture - tiny, creamy sugar crystals. If you stir too much when cooking it, you will get large crystals, or in the worst case, a pan full of sugar; if you don't stir at all you will end up with undercooked toffee.

 * medium ball - drop a little of the mixture (maybe 1/4 tsp) into iced water; allow to cool for about 15 seconds, then gather the mixture into a ball with your fingers. A medium ball should hold its shape nicely when it comes out of the water, but flatten when you lightly press on it.

 **If it does catch a little, stir thoroughly and then keep stirring - the browner bits will be like really slightly darker caramel.
If it catches badly, stop stirring, take it off the heat and strain it into another saucepan. Do not scrape the bottom of the burned pan. Then keep cooking it in the clean pan, stirring more frequently this time.
 I tend to stir with a flat spatula - much more effective than a spoon.

Biltong, made in a dehydrator

Credit: We started with a recipe from the Internet here, but we made a few changes

2 -2.5 lb (1 kg) top round steak (or equivalent cut)
3 oz (90ml) apple cider vinegar (any vinegar can be used)
1/4 c (50 g) biltong spice Biltong Spice See recipe below

Make the biltong spice in advance. See below

Trim fat from steak.
Cut steak into 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick, by 1 - 1 1/2 inch wide strips, with the grain of the meat.
Spread spice mix on plate and coat meat with spice.
Layer the meat in a good quality ziplock bag.
Add vinegar to the bag and seal without air. Turn the bag and move the strips so the marinade can get to all the surfaces of the meat.
Marinate in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Periodically turn the bag and massage gently to get the marinade in-between all the meat You should turn the bag at least once, preferably more often.
Remove meat from bag and pat dry with paper towels.
Arrange meat on dehydrator trays with plenty of room between strips to allow for air circulation.
Dry for 9 -12 hours at 145°F (63°C).

Optional: When the meat is nearly dry slice into bite-size pieces (across the grain) and continue drying until dried to taste. (chewy to sawdust--your preference)
Once dried, let cool, and store in an airtight container.
*Verify with your dehydrator manufacturer directions for temp and time. Time can be adjusted for a moister or dryer biltong. Thicker strips will be moister and take longer to dry and thinner strips will dry out much quicker.

Biltong Spice

1/4 c (32 g) coriander whole seed
1/8 c (16 g) course ground pepper
1/8 c (16 g) turbinado sugar (or equivalent)
1/8 c (16 g) course sea salt (Celtic Sea Salt is good) (regular salt works fine)

Toast coriander in a dry skillet till aromatic.
Lightly crush or grind once cooled. (we grind ours in a spice grinder (small coffee grinder)
Put all ingredients into a bowl and stir together to blend.
Store in an airtight container till needed.

Posted by Dad, aka Curiouscat
Dairy free Pina Colado ice cream. 

 submitted by Mom

Start making this several hours before you need it.
It is not as creamy as a dairy ice cream, but tastes good.


1.5 cans of coconut milk. Use full fat coconut milk for creaminess -
2/3 cup sugar (about)
1 can crushed pineapple (a small can should be enough - I used about 3/4 of a 20 oz can.)
2 Tbs cornstarch.
pinch of salt - 1/4 tsp or less, but don't leave it out.

I made this with my Cuisinart ice cream maker.  If you don't have an ice cream maker,  freeze it till firmish, then whip mightily to incorporate some air, then freeze again.

Drain the crushed pineapple into a small saucepan, and stir in the cornstarch. Bring to the boil while stirring; it will be quite thick. Allow to cool.

Add the coconut milk and sugar and blend nicely, then add as much crushed pineapple as you would like.   Now would be a good time to chill the mixture.  The ice cream will freeze faster with chilled ingredients, but if you pre-chill the cans of coconut milk, make sure you blend the fat and liquid parts well before chilling, or you will be left with a hard block of coconut oil.

Freeze and serve. 

Warning - I got about 1/2 or 2/3 cup of juice out of my can of crushed pineapple - I didn't measure. If you get much more than that,  don't use all the juice or your freezer might overflow. You can always add a little more juice or coconut milk when the mixture is almost frozen.