Call Me Martha

I had a rather overzealous goal this weekend of painting the front hallway, and even though I knew it was a rather overzealous goal, I kept it on my to-do list anyway, just in case. "You're not going to do it," said Sean, and I said "I might! You never know!" and then I went to two different hardware stores to get paint samples in various shades of dark red.

And......yeah. That was as far as I got, incidentally, with the painting of the front hallway. Whoops. Better luck next time! Play again soon!

That's not to say, however, that my hands were idle this weekend; my goodness, far from it. In fact, I was a regular Martha Stewart! Over the course of 24 hours alone, for instance, I singlehandedly:

  • Made two (two!) batches of salted caramels, wrapped them in wax paper and tied the ends neatly, then put one batch into a big glass jar and the other batch into these cute little paper bags I bought in Singapore that say in broken English "For you! I hope you have a happy times on this special day!" The first batch I'm taking to my office charity bake sale, in the hopes of them being the only jar of salted caramels in a sea of brownies and cookies. The second batch I gave as a hostess gift to some friends.
  • Made my brother Tom a long-overdue mix CD that only served to remind me how much fun it is to make people mix CDs, especially when you put even more care and thought into the crafting of the display case than you do the contents of the playlist. (I used glue! Scissors! Stickers! Decoupage!)
  • Sewed up my favorite pajamas, which had ripped rather unceremoniously across the crotch last week when I bent down to clean up some cat vomit. (That was a good day)

Look at that: cooking, crafts, and haberdashery! And that was not even the extent of my weekend, of course, which in fact included about three trillion more errands than those listed above, all of the super exciting variety: get watch fixed! do laundry! get jeans hemmed!, and so on. We leave for London on Friday, you see, and I cannot get my head around all the things that need to be done before then, both in my personal life and my professional one. The more things I get done, it seems, the more things there are to do. Sometimes I wonder if a vacation is actually worth the insane kerfuffle that precedes it.

(Oh, who am I kidding, of course it is. When I wake up in Rome next Monday morning, do you think I'll think "my god, I wish I'd painted the front hallway before we left"? Because I somehow doubt it. I think by then my brain will be capable of forming only one word and the word will be this: mozzarella.) 

(I am fine with this, by the way. In fact, I am fine if this is the only word my brain is capable of forming all week.

Speaking of food---weren't we?---I'd like to leave you with a recipe. Now, this certainly isn't a cooking blog, my friends, as I'm sure you're all aware: over the three (three!) years Nothing But Bonfires has been up and running, I believe I have imparted to you only two recipes: one for Shepherd's Pie and one for Chocolate Biscuit Cake. And if you look carefully, you will see that neither of those is actually a recipe: they're pretty much just me saying "now, boil a few potatoes" or "hey, melt some chocolate, I don't know how much, just a lot. Yum. Now eat it." 

Well, this is different: this is actually a proper recipe from a proper website---thanks, Epicurious!---rather than from the dark recesses of my brain. This is fancy, Internet. And I am passing it along because I believe we should all try at some point in our lives to make the salted caramels I alluded to earlier. They are fun, they are easy, and they are so bloody delicious, you would not believe it. Look, here is a picture of them from when I made them all the way back in March: 

Don't you want to make them? Well, you can. The recipe is here! You will thank me, I promise, once you've made them and they're sitting on your kitchen counter, all creamy and chewy and sweet and salty. Eh, we'll just call it your early Columbus Day present, okay? You're welcome.

Oct 06, 2008

There is a new ice cream shoppe here called Molly Moon's that apparently serves Salted Caramel ice cream. I haven't tried it but a friend is obsessed with it. Maybe I might have to make her some salted caramels for the holidays. Thanks for the recipe!

Oct 06, 2008

Wowza -- the perfect tasty little surprise present for my caramel-loving daughter-in-law. Not the first time you've helped me score points in that direction, Holly. Thanks!!

Oct 06, 2008

This is fascinating- I have made the exact same caramels from the exact same recipe several times, except (a) mine look darker and (b) mine also look much more smooshy and would not in a million years hold a nice sharp cut like yours. I wonder what is different. Either way, though, I can vouch for their deliciousness.

Abigail M Schilling
Oct 06, 2008

Oh! I want those bags! Happy times!

I went to the recipe and I was all, "how weird! no salt?? you must create salt out of thin air! cooool!" Then I realized the fleur de la fleur or whatever was probably salt. Do you think I could just use regular salt?

Oct 06, 2008

I love salted caramel and was too embarrassed to ask my sister how to go about it because it's supposed to be "really easy." You think I might have Googled it myself, but no, I didn't. Thank you!!!

Oct 06, 2008

I am totally making these today.

Hopefully, when my entire family is here later this week they will eat them and it will shut them up and keep them out of my hair. :)

Oct 06, 2008

Every year around the holidays, I have made caramels for my husband but always felt they needed something more. Salt, of course. I also needed some new music...I love the just like a mixed tape selections you have.

Sometimes I just love the internet. People always ask me where'd you find that or how'd you know that and I'm all blogs and the internet. And I just found your site today. So thanks!

Oct 06, 2008

I was so excited to make these, but then I saw the asterisk and remembered I'm intimidated by recipes with asterisks and espesh by those that require thermometers. Womp womp.

Oct 06, 2008

What I think I'd like to do INSTEAD, is tell you how much I love caramel, send you my address and tell you the date of my birthdate! ;-)

They sound delicious ... but I think I'd probably have better odds at painting a hallway. I will hang on to the recipe though. Thanks.

Oct 06, 2008

I would propose to you on the basis of those salt caramels alone. At least, I would if I were male and safe from a severe ass-whooping, courtesy of Sean.

Oct 06, 2008

I'm glad you posted the recipe at the end because it was all I thought about the whole time I was reading the post. Now, I can go back and read the rest!

Oct 06, 2008

Abigail: you need to use sea salt (fleur de sel), but it's super easy to find -- I just used Morton's, which you'll find in the salt/spices/baking stuff section of the grocery store (mine was $2.99) and if you're near a Trader Joes, they have sea salt for even cheaper: $1.99, I think! Bargain! You do need to use sea salt, though, for those big grains and nice texture.

Angie: I am also intimidated by recipes with asterisks, but I promise, this one is a doddle. Make sure you have parchment paper and wax paper (I had to make a special trip out to the grocery store for those the first time I made this, since I'm really not the sort of gal who has parchment paper and wax paper just hanging around the house) and buy yourself a meat thermometer that goes up to at least 248 degrees. The first time, I bought one in the baking aisle of Safeway for three bucks and it broke the second time I used it. This weekend, I picked one up in Target for around ten bucks (digital! fancy!) and....well, I think I broke it again after I'd made the caramels, but that was pretty much MY fault that time. Bottom line: once you have the wax paper, parchment paper, and thermometer, it's easy. You just need the tools first -- but the tools are easy to procure!

Oct 06, 2008

ooh thanks for the columbus day pres! Your the best :)

Oct 06, 2008

oh thank god. i thought you were going to leave me in the dark about the recipe.

smitten kitchen has a similar recipe for caramel in a litle pot with salt on.

Anne & May
Oct 06, 2008

Bless you for sharing your secrets! My fiance wanted to marry you instead the first time he tried these.

Now he has to marry me! I hold the secret to the salted caramels!

Oct 06, 2008

i had never heard of salt caramels until Miss Moose mentioned them...and now it's all i can think about. i may *have* to make these. sigh.

Oct 06, 2008

These definitely look like they'd make a fantastic holiday gift! I've never made caramels before but I used to LOVE them when I was a kid!

Camels & Chocolate
Oct 06, 2008

OMG, Holly, you've just destroyed my Slim Fast diet! I know what I'll be making when I return from Central America!

Oct 06, 2008

I was hoping you'd share the recipe.

Oct 06, 2008

I would have considered it a good weekend if only for your use of haberdashery. Kudos, my friend! And not the granola bar.

Oct 06, 2008

Well, happy Columbus Day to you, too! I was reading along, saying "surely, surely she can't just mention homemade salted caramels and end the post without a recipe. that would be cruelty" and you didn't (or, rather, you did. I'm not sure right now which is correct). Either way, hurrah, and yum, and grocery store, here I come, because I don't normally stock heavy cream in my fridge.

Oct 06, 2008

Made these tonight and they are delicious! Don't know if I'll actually end up sharing any of them like I had planned. Sizzle mentioned salted caramel ice cream above and I can attest that it is one of the most delicious things in the world. Thinking of making a batch of these caramels and not letting them set so I can have some sauce for vanilla ice cream.

Oct 07, 2008

YOU are a mind reader! Because ever since I saw your tweet about making salted caramels (oh yeah, that's right, I'm totally stalking you) I wanted the recipe. AND NOW I HAVE IT! Thankyou times a billion and I'm sure my dentist will thank you too.

jive turkey
Oct 07, 2008

Your Shepherd's Pie has become a cold-weather staple in our house, so I'm going to take your word on this & make salted caramels. YUM.

Oct 07, 2008

Here's a cute idea for packaging yummy, homemade caramels or any candy for that matter. :)

Oct 08, 2008

hmmm..the caramels look amazing!

speaking of salted caramels... have you tried the new hot cocoa from starbucks? the salted caramel hot cocoa? sounds like the perfect mix of sweet 'n salty.

(I don't work for starbucks at all..just saw a sign the other day.)