Friday, October 3, 2008

A little oomph

Some days just take a little more oomph to get rolling. Whether it is the blahs, the blues or the I-just-don't-wanna-get-ups, there are days that make you want to give up on the world - at least for awhile.

For those days, sometimes I make a mental list of things I'm grateful for; not "big" things like NR or a roof over our heads, but little things - things that make life infinitely more pleasant or a rotten job slightly less unpleasant. Today is one of those days and here is one of those lists:

salted caramel hot cocoa - a new cocoa at Starbucks that is so delicious that I broke my sugar reduction plan to have it. Now, darn it, I need to figure out how to make it at home on the cheap and without sugar.

disposable latex gloves - when you have to do the bathroom cleaning and you have two males in the house - enough said.

a fresh mop for cleaning the tub and the glass shower doors - something that keeps me from kneeling into a wet tub or shower, sniffing cleaner fumes? Yeah, that's good.

a nearby library with online browsing - wow, has this saved me money from the bookstore. Just the place to feed my mania...err...passion for new topics.

new authors of good fiction - better yet when the books are at the library. Check out Brunonia Barry's "The Lace Reader" and Laura Dietz's "The Tenth House" - good ones for October.

earl grey tea - some days just need tea with bergamot.

casseroles - for when dinner has to be hot, easy and comforting.

favorite movies on dvd - some days just need a viewing of Almost Famous or Emma.

a clean kitchen, washed and folded laundry, new rolls of toilet paper - fresh starts can be very satisfying.

What's on your list?


Nancy S said...

When you mentioned salted caramel hot cocoa I had to find out more about this. It sounds out of this world. However,I live in the middle of nowhere so I will have to try to make this concoction on my own. Here is a recipe I found while searching around online. I haven't tried it yet but I think this might be the weekend project I was looking for.

Salted butter and honey caramels

1 cup (2.5dl) heavy cream
1.5 cups or 300g sugar
1/2 cup (2.5dl) very dark, intense honey, if all you have is milder honey I'd use one cup of honey to one cup of sugar
4oz or 110g salted butter, room temperature
more salt to taste

Add sugar and honey into a large non-reactive pot. Turn on the heat and let the sugar and honey melt and cook until caramelized, that is to say change to a deep, dark brown color. Shake the pot if necessary to get all the sugar crystals to melt, but don't stir.

While the sugar is cooking, bring the cream to a simmer.

When the sugar reaches the color you like, whisk in the butter in small knobs, until well mixed, then add the warmed cream, whisk until smooth. Let the mixture cook until the temperature reaches 260F or 125C. (You will need a thermometer for this, of course.)

Pour the hot caramel onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a Silpad. Let cool until you can touch it, then cut into small squares, roll, and wrap in packets of parchment or waxed paper. Try making one first, adjusting the size of the square and the paper until you like it, then cut the paper and the caramels into the sizes you want and begin wrapping.

I will have to figure out how/when to add the cocoa. Of course, it's always possible I'll be distracted by something else at any moment but I'll let you know if I actually make it and anything comes out edible (or rather, drinkable).

Kimberly Ann said...

Oooh, Nancy, this sounds wonderful!!! Wow, let me know how they turn out. Nothing better than caramel in my book. :-)

rosemary said...

Steve knew how to put an interrupter switch on the vacuum cord.

the groomer kept the dogs for 8 hours today

the logging is done and it is quiet in the forest

Professor said...

This is such a great list. I needed to read something like this today- i'm having a "don't wanna leave the house" weekend. and the next time I get to civilization I'm going to try the Starbucks- oh so yummy sounding!

Nancy S said...

I made my first batch of caramel cocoa this weekend. I warmed up 10oz of soymilk with 4oz of water and Ghiradelli’s cocoa and kept that on a simmer while I worked with the caramel. I cut the caramel recipe in half. I followed the recipe up to the step that says “…add warmed cream, whisk until smooth”. I did that then added the 14oz of cocoa. I drank a cup of that concoction. It was outrageously rich, almost nauseatingly so. I wasn’t hungry for hours afterwards. There was about 1 cup left over. On Sunday morning I heated up 2 cups of soymilk and poured the remaining cup of cocoa mix in that. That was very delicious and, I would guess, closer to what you can get at Starbucks. So, the way I made it originally I think I’ll use as a concentrate in a 1:2 ratio. All in all, I’m pleased with the results. Just needed to figure the potency. One more note, in case you’ve never made caramel: it is a sticky, gooey mess. Any caramel that escapes the pot before the addition of the butter and cream hardens instantly into a blobby lacquer on the utensils and the countertops. However, it’s really easy to make if you keep it contained. And it’s delicious.

Love your blog. Thanks for putting it out there in the world. I forget sometimes there are like-minded souls. I often feel like I’m surrounded by an alien world. Nancy

Kimberly Ann said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with making the caramel. And thank you for the nice comments - I really do appreciate it!

Buck said...

I'm with you on the disposable latex gloves. I hate to eat anything with my fingers, so they come in handy when eating popcorn or potato chips.
I know. I'm weird.

Miss Healthypants said...

I agree about the clean kitchen.

I also REALLY appreciate washers and dryers...and our dishwasher.

Don't know how I'd get along without those things!

Oh, also--air conditioners. I don't think I could survive the summer without those.

I guess I appreciate appliances the most. *grin*

Miss Healthypants said...

OK, you did say "little things"--I guess appliances don't qualify.

I also thank God for tension tamer tea...that stuff has gotten me through many a stressful day. :)