Taffy 4

Pioneer Taffy

Happy Pioneer Day! For those of you who may not know what Pioneer Day is, it is when the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka “Mormons”) celebrate the day the first pioneers made it into the Salt Lake Valley as they were trekking west.

Although we are in Texas, where Pioneer Day is not recognized as an official holiday, we still decided it would be fun to commemorate it. SO, I found this recipe for Pioneer Taffy from Jamie Cooks It Up! and thought we could give it a whirl. If you would like some more pictures, check out Jamie’s site for great step-by-step pictures of the process, including a great tip on checking for taffy readiness using a spoon and cold running water. **Note: This recipe is best done with several people, or it will take a long, long time to get everything pulled, cut up and wrapped.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1-1/2 c. water
  • 1 c. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. *VEGETABLE GLYCERINE (see note at the bottom about this)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. butter

***You will also need kitchen shears, waxed paper (pre-cut into squares) and a candy thermometer.

Directions:

1. Mix sugar, water, corn syrup, salt & glycerine in a heavy saucepan.

2. Bring to boil and continue cooking on medium-high until it reaches 258 degrees. Jamie said it should take about 35-40 minutes, and she was absolutely right.

3. Take the taffy off of the heat and add your vanilla and butter.

4. Pour onto greased cookie sheet (I used butter) and let it cool down until it is no longer hot to handle. This takes probably 10ish minutes. Make sure it really is cool enough to handle, or you WILL get burned. No personal experience here (cough).

5. Hand out pieces to all of the lucky participants. Pull the piece straight out into a line, fold it in half, and then pull again. Repeat cycle until you have beautiful white taffy.

6. Cut up into little pieces and wrap into wax paper.

That is it!

Ours turned out great – it had a perfect consistency (I thought) and the flavor is excellent. After the taffy had been pulled, I made the mistake of just leaving it in balls. Don’t do that. You’ll want to roll them out to a good thickness to cut BEFORE they cool down completely (like playdoh snakes) or you will have hard-ish candy ball to try and deal with and roll out later. Once I fixed my ball problem, I ended up putting my “taffy snakes” back on the greased cookie sheet while I was cutting them each up into pieces (the pieces went onto a plate lined with waxed paper to keep them from sticking). I used kitchen shears to cut the taffy. My lovely assistants were great at helping roll each candy into waxed paper – many hands makes light work. What good helpers!

Overall Rating: *****

Difficulty:Easy (make sure you have a candy thermometer), BUT it is time consuming.

Would I Try it Again? I have mixed feelings about this. They are delicious and the individually-wrapped end result is great, BUT they took a little more effort than I had planned on. If I had things thought out earlier (waxed paper cut up beforehand, make sure the taffy stayed in a good snake shape instead of a ball before cutting it, realize that the taffy will stick to EVERYTHING that is not waxed paper or is not greased), it probably wouldn’t be that bad. So, I probably will do it again once I forget the effort it took.

————————————————————————–

***GLYCERIN vs. VEGETABLE GLYCERINE***

I went looking for glycerin at CVS. And at Walmart. And at another CVS. At the second CVS, they found a manager who finally was able to find glycerin for me. In the cosmetics section. It turns out it is for covering up skin wounds or something. I told him it was for making taffy, and we both looked over the label and could not find anything about being edible anywhere on it. So I went home and did some research.

Turns out there is GLYCERIN (no “e” at the end) and GLYCERINE (note the “e”). Vegetable glycerine can also be used as a skin cleanser or something, BUT it is also food grade. Which, as far as I understand, means it is edible.

I read from the comments on Jamie’s blog that a pharmacist had told another reader that glycerin would probably be okay in small quantities, but I found the vegetable glycerine at a whole foods-type store here – and it was actually a bit cheaper than the glycerin would have been. Bonus! It was near their essential oils – I just called ahead to see if they carried it, and they did. You could call around as well and save yourself some driving around and foot time.

Quinoa Recipes

I have a bag of quinoa in my pantry that stares at me every once in awhile and makes me think, “Hey – I should really figure out how to use this.” Here are a few recipes that I have found that look promising:

Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole from Eating Well…..Living Thin(ner)

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa from Epicurious

Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili from myrecipes.com

Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers from wholeliving.com

Lentil Quinoa Salad from Melissa d’Arabian

Quinoa Tabbouleh from Aarti Sequiera

Corn and Manchego Tri-Color Quinoa Salad from Cheese Please

Wow! These look good. What are your favorite Quinoa recipes?

Enjoy! :)

DSC_0002

Dried Fruit – Oven-Syle

I saw this pin and decided it merited a try: fruit that was better than twizzlers – sweet! It comes from The World Gourmet. As I read through the page and it said to add salt and pepper, which I opted not to do because that would seem to take the “twizzler” taste out of things.

Since I was already doing strawberries, I thought I would experiment with bananas and raspberries too.

Step 1: Cut up some fruit (quarter or halve the strawberries) and put onto a baking sheet.

Step 2: Bake at 210 degrees for 3 hours. The bananas seemed done at this point, but not the raspberries or strawberries.

Step 3: Flip fruit over and keep baking for another hour or two. I just made this step up. The fruit was still not done (minus the bananas), so I kept baking. Here is what it looked like after 5 total hours and some sampled fruit along the way:

End result: I should have taken the bananas off at 3 hours because they were burned…..one of my boys tried the bananas out at the 3 hour mark and was not too fond of them, so they just may have been a flop. The raspberries were not done at 3 hours, but tasted a little burned at 5 hours. The strawberries were AWESOME. I would just stick with those next time. They didn’t taste quite as good or sweet as twizzlers, and I probably prefer them fresh, but they ended up tasty enough. Not nearly as pretty as the picture on The World Gourmet, but that is probably because I am not a Gourmet. :)

Overall Rating: *** (out of 5)

Difficulty: Easy.

Would I Try it Again? Possibly, but like I said before, I preferred the fresh ones and those take less time to be done.

Foil Ball

Cheapest. Dryer. Sheet. Ever. (with foil!)

I ran out of dryer sheets today and didn’t want to go to the store, so I found this way to make a cheap dryer sheet out of fabric softener and a rag from Heather @ Fake-It Frugal (I’ll review that idea after I have tried it out). The fabric softener was taking a bit to dry, so I decided to try the trick that she mentioned at the bottom of her post, but hadn’t tried out yet. Take aluminum foil, ball it up, and chuck it in your dryer.

I was doing a load of kid laundry, so I figured if it was horrible and staticky that they wouldn’t notice too much (especially the boys), so I tried it. I took about a foot long of aluminum foil, crumpled it up and stuck it in the dryer with my damp clothes. After the clothes were dry I pulled them out and they felt….normal! I even did a test with picking up a fleece PJ top that had a lightweight hand towel on top of it – the hand towel didn’t stick! It came right off. Hooray!! And no worrying about possible staining or adding extra chemicals to the clothes either.

Thank you Heather! :)

trip 2

Medicine Box: A Trip Tip

For those of you who are traveling, don’t forget to take your medicine cabinet with you. And I mean all of it. According to Murphy’s Law, your child (or yourself) will get an ear infection, a fever, or have some kind of crazy itch and you will have to go buy a whole bottle of whatever you only need a little bit of and still have a whole bottle of whatever it is that you need left at home. That’s how Murphy rolls.

We have our kid variety of Advil, Tylenol, assorted allergy meds, Wally’s Ear Oil & our otoscope, a thermometer, Bandaids, Cotton Swabs, stomach ache meds, etc. Just go through your stuff and pull out one of everything. We stick ours in a little Rubbermaid box and it slides nicely under the bench in the van.

There ya go.  Easy, and you will likely stay healthy if you pack this along. :)

For other trip tips, click here.

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