"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

Hello Friends!

Friends, Romans, countrymen...y'all. Foodies, gardeners, artists and collectors - let's gather together to share and possibly learn a thing or two in the mix.

Donna Baker

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


With the holidays fast approaching, (where did October go?) I am going to be re-running some recipes.  This recipe for caramels, made in the microwave, is to die for.  I have never had better, anywhere.  No candy thermometer testing, nor testing for hard-ball stage and no stirring for long periods of time. Compare this recipe to the one in the December issue of Martha Stewart's LIVING magazine. Also, I'll point out Smitten Kitchen's recent post on caramels. You will have to trust me on this one.  I have dipped the caramels halfway up with melted chocolate, added walnuts and sprinkled fleur de sel on them, but I prefer them plain.  Quick.  Easy. Delicious. What's not to love?

Microwave Caramels

Nonstick or buttered foil
1 cup butter (no substitutions)
2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with nonstick foil or buttered foil, allowing edges to hang over sides of pan; set aside.
In a large microwave-safe bowl combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk; cover loosely with parchment paper. Microwave on 100% power (high) for 4 or 5 minutes (4 min. will be softer). I couldn't find the wattage on my microwave, but I believe it to be fairly high since I usually don't heat things as long as instructions call for.  So this recipe would work on high wattage microwave ovens. Whisk to combine mixture. Microwave on high for 4 or 5 minutes more. Whisk well. Microwave an additional 4 or 5 minutes. Whisk gently. Add vanilla. Pour caramel mixture into the prepared pan. Chill or let cool for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until just firm. Using foil, lift block of caramel from the pan. Use a buttered knife to cut into 1 inch squares. Wrap individually with plastic wrap or waxed paper. Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 3/4 pounds. Voila!

Here are a couple of tips.  I butter the foil in the pan and for extra decadence, use Meyerberg's Goat Butter. Martha said that is all she now uses for baking. I wrap them in waxed paper. Once, I wrapped them in individual candy wrappers and it all stuck to the paper.  Had to throw it in the trash.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Run Gracie Run

Gracie has been coddled and spoiled and has grown into a very large mare.  At four years of age, she now has her monthly estrus and has become pushy, headstrong and domineering.  Who is she trying to dominate?  Me.  She bit me.  If you've never been bitten by a horse, it is akin to childbirth. I was told this by another who has had the badge.  I say a badge, because it was a terrible black bruise to my upper arm that after two months, I can still see the remnants of.  I immediately went to buy four books on horses and their training and quickly realized that I didn't have the experience nor ability to train her.  

A blog friend, Julie, from Equus Villa Farm, is a professional dressage teacher/competitor and she gave some sage advice to me.  Gracie is considered a semi-wild horse and without professional training, she could end up in a slaughter house some day.  To make a long story short, Gracie has been at the horse trainer's for two weeks with two more to go. She will be learning her manners; hopefully become respectful to humans.  I don't expect any more from her than that.  Since she will probably outlive me, I want her to be adoptable one day.  She is a good girl.  Just never had any lessons.  Can't wait till she comes home.