Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Real Food Room Temp Fudge

I have to admit I've really suffered trying to perfect this recipe for you ;) It did take quite a few iterations to perfect it.

Now, there are tons of real food recipes for fudge out there. And while incredibly delicious, they soften a lot at room temperature, and don't hold their shape if left out too long. Your fingers require a lot of licking too, which isn't a bad thing... but doesn't bode well for putting in little wrappers and serving at high class parties.  I also felt they didn't have quite the right chewey-ness that fudge excites in one's mind. The ones that do hold their shape and texture use lots of sugar and well-cooked milk too, but I wanted one that left the dairy more raw, and kept the texture without the sugar content.

So I'll let you in on my discovery....


I've been incorporating gelatin into my diet in many ways these days, and having a lot of fun with it (as you can see from past posts!) Only recently however did I consider that it might be just the remedy that real food fudge needs to brave the test of sitting out all during a long dinner until the guests saunter over to the dessert table.

So without further ado, here is my recipe:

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 c cream (heavy whipping cream would be fine, I used what we skim off our milk. You can use thinner "milk" too, I used plain milk instead of cream, and it came out ok, though not as rich, so I'm sure dairy-free subs such as coconut cream will work fine!)
1/8 tsp stevia &   (I'm using NuNaturals extract powder, you sugar sub may be different)
2 TBS honey      .... equiv. to approximately 1.5 C sugar or 3/4 c honey
pinch salt
swig vanilla
 2 TBS gelatin (I used Great Lakes brand, if using packets, then you need 2, Bernard Jensen brand was too chunky)

Before you get started, you will need a small pot, and two stainless steel bowls that fit over it to make a double boiler. If you don’t have two bowls that size, then you can do the cream mixture in a small pot. Just use very low heat! Put the gelatin into a small dish so it is ready for the critical moment.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate over low heat.

Meanwhile, in another stainless bowl (or small pot), mix cream, sweeteners, salt, and vanilla. Whisk really well to get it as smooth as possible.

Check on the chocolate often to make sure it doesn’t melt too quickly, and gently stir occasionally. Once all the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, remove the bowl from heat. Do not turn the fire off under the pot.  Put the bowl with the cream mixture onto the pot of water, and whisk while it heats. (Or heat the cream mixture in the pot on very very low heat.)

During this time the chocolate has had a chance to cool a little bit. Do not try to save time by heating both mixtures at the same time! Adding liquids too quickly to melted chocolate will cause it to seize.

While the cream mixture is heating, whisk constantly, once completely smooth, immediately remove from heat and start mixing into the chocolate. You want it warm, but not so hot that you can't keep your finger in it for 10 seconds. Whisk the chocolate while pouring the cream mixture in slowly. It will thicken and act as though it won’t mix well, but don’t worry! Just keep stirring. You may need someone to either hold the bowl or pour the cream mixture for you!

Once mostly combined, get the gelatin. Sprinkly it around evenly while you incorporate it into the fudge, whisking. It will get a little bit chunky and not completely dissolve. Perfect! If it dissolves too much, then you have too chewey fudge, if it dissolves too little, then you have large chunks of gelatin. The slight warmth of the cream and chocolate dissolves the gelatin a little, and the careful addition of it (sprinkle in a circle motion while whisking) incorporates it magically.

Transfer to a dish to cool. No need to line with anything, it should come out pretty easily.

Should be completely cooled in the fridge in a few hours. And it actually tastes best at room temp!

After cooling, cut into squares, and try not to eat them all yourself!


Also, as far as I know, this is a completely original recipe. I haven't made the typical fudge recipes with sweetened condensed milk, but I realize now that this is what I'm emulating. So if you think my method is amazing, please don't copy it, give credit where it's due. Thanks!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Making Mayo

I had a lot of mayo fails in my journey learning how to make mayo... so now I can share my success!

1 egg (can use only the yolk, or the whole egg)
not quite 1 cup *good* olive oil (or other fats.)
1 tsp dijon mustard (must be dijon.)
splash lemon juice or white vinegar
Whey, optional

So, first you bring your egg to room temp. This is important! Don't skip it! You can make half-way successful mayo if you warm up the egg by being whizzed in the blender a bit, but you will be much more successful if it is already at room temp. (Keeping extra eggs in the basement helps this be convenient!)

Then, add egg, mustard, and lemon juice or vinegar to blender. Give a quick whizz at high speed.

Then ready your oil. My blender has a removeable spot in the top of the lid, and I put a funnel in that to make an even smaller opening.

Then this is the next huge help - a peri bottle. You may have one of these leftover from having a baby, if not, they aren't too hard to find. It will help you have a very small sloooow stream. The slow stream is very important for making good mayo. I get be in too much of a hurry if I just use the cup measure.

Turn the blender on high, and start adding your oil (or other fat) slooooowly. Listen! After a minute or two, the sound will change, deepening. When the sound has changed a lot (more of a low sound) then you can start adding the oil a little faster.

Once you are done adding fat, turn off and transfer to dish. It will still seem fairly liquidy at this point.

Once transferred, it will quickly become thicker. If desired, add a tsp or two of whey, mixing in gently. Allow to sit on the counter for a day if you are fermenting with the whey, and then transfer to the fridge. If you think it will all be gone in a week, you can just put in the fridge right away. (Though this is a great place to add whey to your diet!)

Note: If using other oils (I use the late-harvest olive oil from Chaffin Family) be sure they are liquid - you can use bacon grease, palm oil, lard, coconut oil, or just about anything. If looking at peanut or safflower oil, be sure to read "The Skinny on Fats."

I've heard that you can also just put all your ingredients in a cup and use an immersion blender. I'm hoping to try that myself soon.

Cucumber Pops!

Summer is winding down here, but one of summer discoveries was the delight of cucumber pops!

I got these awesome silicone popsicle molds (that have lids for no spillage!) and because of their design, you can squeeze up the frozen goodness.

All you do is peel a cucumber, and put in the food processor. I suppose you could go through the effort to remove the seeds, but I didn't bother. Run the processor for a minute or so, it will all turn to liquid! Then pour into your mold (don't fill to the brim, they expand during freezing) and freeze until solid.

It would probably be even tastier with a pinch of salt, or maybe some fresh mint leaves. Mmm... But even plain, these were a great treat.

Kitchen tips and tricks

There are numerous little things I've picked up that make life easier and wish I knew of earlier....

• Rubberbands on jars to indicate type. I use yellow for fish broth, blue for chicken broth, and red for beef. I always have lots of rubberbands leftover from buying vegetables. We also use rubber bands to mark kombucha bottles for different flavors.

• Cloth around herbs (or paper towels) with or without bag. Instead of going brown, the herbs will just gradually dry. Watch to make sure that the cloth doesn't become too wet.

• Tipping jars at 45 degree angle to prevent glass breaking in freezer

• Peel multiple bulbs of garlic, run through processor, and freeze in ice cube trays for convenient garlic. Also can do with herbs,  bone paste, liver paste, etc.

• Didn't chop things beforehand? Grab a kitchen shears and chop up while in the pot or bowl. Great for salads, frozen green beans, etc.

• Chop the entire head of lettuce or celery or bag of carrots, etc. Put what you don't need for today's meal in a container for tomorrow's. 

• Ziplock bag with holes in it? Store bones and vegetable peelings in there until you are ready to make more broth.

• Rock-hard ice cream turns perfectly scoopable when left in the fridge for a few hours.

• When using the cutting board for many vegetables, do drier items first, then do wet/sticky veggies. And use both sides of the cutting board.

• Those cheap timers they sell for lights work great to turn off crock pots, dehydrators, etc. that didn't come with a timer :)

•When freezing the cheese you shredded, close the bag with lots of air in it, and shake up to loosen the cheese. Freeze in that fashion. After fully frozen, you can squeeze the air out and not have a big frozen clump!

• Looking out for rotten eggs - I've had pretty few, but often I can tell before they go in the bowl because they crack differently than the others in a carton. The thinner shell and/or membrane gives much more easily; and also doesn't protect the egg and it rots.

•Measure your spices in the lid of the spice container. Learn what a tsp looks like inside the lid, and then you can save yourself from always grabbing the spoons.

What tricks have you found?

Friday, July 13, 2012


I keep forgetting to post our toothpaste recipe!

This is a conglomeration of other recipes. So if you don't like mine, find one you do like. It so simple, frugal, and effective!

All you need:
2 T coconut oil or coconut ghee
3 T bak soda
1 T Dr. Bronners castille soap - opt.
1/16 tsp stevia extract powder
10 drops (appox.) essential oil - such as peppermint or orange

We find that even with the stevia, it still taste a little salty from the baking soda, and it took some getting used to. After a little while though, I got used to not having that nasty "minty fresh"taste in my mouth, and it tastes very neutral to me. We also think it cleans our teeth even better!


Some other ones to try:

Small Foot Print Family

Keeper of the Home

Wellness Mama

Frugal Granola

Here's to happy teeth!

Lemon-Lime Jigglers

3/4c lemon and lime juice
5 c filtered water, divided
2.5 Tbsp honey
5 Tbsp gelatin
1 tsp lemon extract, if desired

Put half the water in a small pot to heat while you squeeze lemons and limes. Filter pulp if desired, or leave with juice.
Put juice, honey, and gelatin in the bowl.
Add hot water (steaming, not boiling is fine) to the bowl and whisk well until all the gelatin is dissolved.
Then add the rest of water and let it sit in the fridge until firm.

(Just don't put a hot glass in the fridge right away!)

When fully set, cute into cubes and enjoy!


I taste the unfinished jello to make sure it is very flavorful, if I don't have enough juice I'll add a little lemon extract. You can also use less honey for a tangier result.
Use less gelatin (only 3 TSBP) for a softer set jello. This recipe makes jigglers!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Orange and Onion Noodle Soup

This is a delicious asian style soup!

5-6 cups liquid (can dilute some broth if desired)
5 small carrots
1 medium onion
2-3 cloves garlic
pinch cilantro (optional)
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/4 tsp ginger

You can make the carrots into “noodles” by either using your peeler to make long strips, or just pull out a grater and grate at an angle (carefully!) If I was doing a huge batch I probably just use the processor and have little shreds.

Cut the onion into very narrow wedges along the radius for more “noodles.”

Put onion, carrots, and garlic into the pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until everything is very soft.

Add seasonings, cilantro and continue to simmer while you beat the eggs.

Pour the eggs in slowly while stirring the hot liquid. Once all the egg is incorporated and cooked, turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Salt as desired - fish sauce would be wonderful in this if tolerated.

Of course, there are a hundred variations - you could make with chicken, leave out the eggs entirely, throw in some peas or other veggie noodles... yum!

What is pictured is how we made it today, with not enough liquid and too many eggs - excellent flavor though and my daughter and I are chowing down :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Balsamic Blood Orange Dressing

Simple, amazing, and Mmm....

Goes great with the early spring bitter greens!

4 blood oranges
1/8 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
pinch salt

Peel and thin slice blood oranges. They should be in little bit size pieces. Toss with rest of ingredients and allow to sit for a minute before adding to salad.

If you're really fancy, leave peel on a section and dress up as garnish :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GAPS Gummis!

Beginning of pregnancy I really wanted cinnamon gummi bears. I wish I knew why... but they sounded amazing. Not until later when I figured out how to make homemade Jello did I even venture to ask if I could make my own gummi candies.

Turns out you can!

Now - you could use fruit juice (probably concentrated) or various other things... but my DD is off most fruit, and cinnamon was my craving. So experiment! Be inspired! Get a mold and make your own GAPS gummi worms!!!

 For now, here is my recipe for gummi cinnamon sticks:

1/2 c water
1.5  Tbsps bernard jensens gelatin
a generous amount of cinnamon (about a half tsp)
big drizzle honey (or small one, if you like less sweet)

Whisk thoroughly, heat till steaming (will heat very quickly!) and make sure everything is well mixed and dissolved.
Pour into dish and toss in freezer or fridge till sufficiently solidified. (An hour or so in the freezer, for this small amount)
Then cut into strips!!!!

Of course, if you have a mold, you can make these really pretty. Cooling it quickly seems to help the cinnamon from sinking to the bottom. 

She doesn't care what shape they are - they taste yummy!

Now, as to how to clean the pot..... I may whisk my ingredients in my mold in the future. The pot took a lot of soaking!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Variations on a theme: Roasted Cauliflower

I love love love roasted cauliflower. Unfortunately for me, it is my DD's favorite food, and she prefers it steamed. She has the narrower diet, so most of it goes to her. I must try this recipe though!

You can view the recipe here - garlic and herbs and browned goodness...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jello Tea

Sometimes the longing for fruit becomes very difficult. Or even Jello. With all its sugar fake flavor goodness. It's delightful jigglyness and mouth feel..

Wait... you mean I can’t have jello anymore because I’m trying to avoid sugar or can’t have fruit?


As I was doing ok with fruit flavored teas, which nicely help to tone the flavor of my more bitter ones (nettle and dandelion anyone?) I suddenly was struck with the question: Can I make tea into jello? Well, yes, you can! So in desperation for something fruit like... I bought some cheap gelatin and mixed it with one of my favorite fruit teas... and it was wonderful.

Amidst my searching for an answer to this question, I discovered Bernard Jensen Gelatin. Hurray! Gelatin I can be really happy about. It is made from good animal gelatin and doesn't have weird additives or crazy processing methods. It seems I have to use slightly more than commercial gelatin to do the job, but I just keep that in mind if converting recipes. There is another excellent quality brand of gelatin out there, but I can't recall the name.

Just a note about this recipe - this makes very lightly sweetened jello. My daughter and I love it, but we've gotten used to non-sweet things. Sometimes I don't use sweetening at all. Just think of it as your favorite tea now cold and jiggly.

In fact, I found out that there are many traditional recipes for non-sweet jellos! Meat flavored herby gelatin sounds a little strange to my over-sugared American ears still... but I really should try them sometime. Like this jellied chicken recipe...

Then again, maybe I'll stick to herbal teas and fruit....

For every 1 cup of liquid, it’s a 1/2 Tbsp gelatin. I like to go a little over that (think heaping Tbsps) to make it extra firm.

2 cups filtered water
tea of your choice
small drizzle honey (about 2 tsps maybe) If desired.
2 heaping TBSP gelatin
a good whisk

Brew your tea as usual, and compost the tea bag or herbs. If the tea is still very hot, just pour into the dish you'll make your jello in, along with the gelatin and honey and whisk thoroughly. If you are doing an infusion or decoction and the tea is too cool for the gelatin to dissolve, then gently re-heat it first.

Once everything is whisked thoroughly, and the gelatin is completely dissolved, you're done! Throw it in the freezer for an hour or two for quick setting, followed by some time in the fridge,  or in the fridge for several hours for a slower set.

Just be sure you don't put a super hot glass in the fridge or freezer! This is one area where I've compromised and used a plastic bowl - I just don't have a stainless steel one that would work well.

And voila... you have Jello!!!!!

Oh, and another note:  if you dip repeatedly into the dish in the fridge, the saliva will begin to break the jello down (oops.) You can just use that as an excuse to eat it faster.
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