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It wouldn’t be Halloween without the following two words…

Caramel Apples.

Got myself a bushel of assorted unwaxed, organic apples – couldn’t tell you what varieties, but they were all smaller-than-the-palm-of-my-hand tiny.

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Woo doggie, have I been truant! But my excuse is utterly valid – I ran out of $$$, so I had to focus my energies on finding a damn job. Simple as that! I temped my arse off for a few weeks, sent resumes EVERYWHERE, and interviewed till I was hoarse and irritated. And now, what have I got to show for it?

A job! A job that I actually want to do! Huzzah!

So now that I’m getting my life back in order, I can calm down and devote a little time to updating this here bloggie boo… Starting with my latest endeavour, made in honor of our camping trip to Lake Berryessa for the 4th – Homemade S’Mores!

Homemade S’mores?! (You incredulously ask.) Why, yes, my friends… I am of the ilk that refuses to go for the easiest solution to one’s snacking dilemmas. I realize that a bag o’ Jet-Puffed costs about $3 and a box of graham crackers is even less, but where’s the adventure in that? Oh no, it all had to be from scratch.

A few months ago, knowing that I LOVE to make marshmallows, my pal sent me a recipe for Lillet-infused mallows… Boozy marshmallows?! I couldn’t believe it. And camping was a particularly good excuse to try these babies out.

Lillet Blanc is a crazy delicious aperitif, a little sweet (as aperitifs usually are), with a delightful citrusy accent that makes these marshmallows extra special.

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My faith in humanity (and my candy-making skillz) has been restored and I owe it all to an unassuming candy thermometer, purchased at Crate&Barrel in a last-ditch effort to reclaim my sanity. You see, I’ve been burned (literally & figuratively) in the past by shoddy candy thermometers. Burned real bad. And it’s taken me weeks to muster up the mojo to try that most tempestuous of the candy family… toffee.

Strangely enough, my first attempt at sea salt caramels (which were brutally thwarted by the aforementioned evil/defective thermometer) yielded results pretty close to toffee. It had a disgustingly burnt flavor and was just a little too hard to chew comfortably, but still… it was toffee-ish and made me think that perhaps, with the right equipment, I might just be able to pull this off!

So I gave it a shot… here’s my version of English Toffee…

It all starts with butter. 1 cup worth…

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It’s official… I just can’t get enough candy-making these days! I loved those Strawberry-Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit so much that I decided to try another flava and recipe – this time… lemon!

In my research I’ve found that there are approximately 4,000 different ways to make pâte de fruit; with or without pectin, with applesauce, with citric acid and/or glucose additives. Since I’m not quite willing to go scouting around pro shops for acids and whatnots, I decided to go with what’s already in my cupboard – good old fashioned smooth applesauce! This recipe was way easier than the last one I tried, mostly due to the fact that you only have to bring the candy to one temperature and then keep it there for a bit, rather than bringing the temp up in stages. You also add a LOT more pectin and as a result, these babies had the perfect texture!

Enough chat… lets down to the business.

Started out with about 4 juicy lemons… Rolled them & juiced them until I got 2/3 cup juice.

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Okay, so I may have just made a pretty life-changing decision. I’m thinking about possibly going to pastry school. Like, this year.

I’ve been sitting around the past few days, trying to figure out what to do with my life because now’s a good a time as ever. I approached it the same way I decided my major… by posing the question, “what do I like to do”? In college, the answer was, “read”, thus I became an English major. Right now, the answer is staunchly, “bake”. Not necessarily breads (although, I’d love to learn), but beautiful things like cakes & tarts & candy (granted candy isn’t usually baked, but I’m including it anyway)! I think it would be a really wise investment (both financially and time/effort-wise) for me to actually learn the craft. So that’s what I’m thinking these days.

And in keeping with that thinking, I decided to try my hand at candy again. Armed with a new candy thermometer (my last one conked out mid-caramel, the bastard) and a pioneering spirit, I plunged headfirst into pâte de fruit, which is basically just a fancy French term for fruit jellies.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a recipe for strawberry-rhubarb pâte de fruit, but I hesitated. Why, you ask? Because, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned once or twice, I am without food processor. This is a conscious decision, of course – I prefer to put a little work into my culinary experiments and not having this modern shortcut at my disposal forces me to use a little ingenuity and keeps me on my toes. So I did a little research and came up with a suitable substitute for the Cuisinart!

There was  nothing stopping me…

Started out by preparing the fruit… Cleaned about half a pound of fresh strawberries by swishing them around in a bowl of cool water and then hulled each one with a paring knife.

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I’ve only been cooking for a relatively short time, but I’m learning quickly that I love making sweet things. Baked things, chocolate covered things, melty things rolled in crunchy things.

Last weekend, I awoke with a craving for something new, something I hadn’t tried before. And my favorite foodie blog totally delivered… Coconut Milk Brigadeiros!

The name’s great, but what on earth is a brigadeiro, you ask? It’s a little, Brazilian, melty, coconut milk confection rolled in yummy things like toasted coconut, crushed nuts, & my dear friend, chocolate. They’re wildly simple to make and even more wildly delicious. Seriously…

Start out with a 1/2 cup of coconut milk – and not that watery Taste of Thai business if you have a choice.

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After the Spiced Pecans and Spicy Popcorn, I figured I wanted to make something sweet and lovely. I was already preparing oranges for my magical tart, so what better way to be super economical than to use the leftover orange peels to make Orangettes!

This was my maiden candy-making experience and I encountered a few snags along the way, but it really was fun in the long run! Now I want to make candy out of everything!

Started out with a couple of giant Navel oranges and cut the tops and bottoms off each one…

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Hi, I’m Lauriebot!

I live in San Francisco. I used to live in NYC, Washington DC, and London.

I like to take the pictures.

I like color, excess, food, light, clothes, and going places.

I also like talking to people.

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