Tag Archives: kids

Here’s Your Caramel Sauce!

Later today, I’ll be “practicing” caramel sauce with my nephews. It’s an awesome, easy, and decadent thing to make for the holidays. I started doing it on Halloween when Dev was little because I could easy get him and his friends to eat apples before trick-or-treating. 🙂

All you need are five ingredients—water, sugar, butter, cream, vanilla—and you’ll want all them measured and at room temperature when you start the process. Caramel is pretty easy, but the cooking process moves quickly. The one way you can almost always ruin a batch is to interrupt the process once you start.

Also, don’t use anything plastic to stir and whisk while cooking. It will melt into the caramel. Eww.

And do use a whisk. It’s so much easier to get a smooth final sauce.

Okay! Ready?

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream (I’ve used whole milk in a pinch, but the sauce will be thinner)
2 Tbsp butter cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla (optional)

Combine the water and sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. (If you want to be picky, be careful not to let sugar granules cling to the sides of the pan. They can sometimes encourage your caramel to re-crystalize as it cools!)

Now: Once the sugar-water starts bubbling, don’t stir anymore. Just swirl the pan now and then to make sure the heat is even. Adjust the heat as needed to keep a steady and, um, non-violent? boil. Then watch the liquid turn a lovely pale amber. It should be about he color of fresh honey, NOT as dark as you’d think for caramel.

It might take about ten minutes or so.

A little at a time, whisk in the room temperature cream. Please be careful pouring the cream into the hot sugar liquid. I don’t want you burned by the splatter. Been there, done that, don’t want to go there again.

Remove the pan from the heat immediately, and whisk in the butter.

Add vanilla, if you’d like.

If you want salted caramel, now is the time to add your kosher salt. Maybe half to a full teaspoon, depending on your preference.

If your sauce seems too thin, warm it—stirring constantly—over low heat. But keep in mind the sauce will thicken as it cools!

If your sauce seems too thick, stir in a little more cream, a tablespoon at a time.

That’s it! Drizzle it over pie or ice cream or sliced apples or cake or popcorn or nuts or just your spoon…

#SFWApro

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So What Do We Tell the Children?

A word before the start: Y’all come here with your own religious and political beliefs, and I think that’s marvelous. I ask you to remember, should you bring up or respond to something religious or political here, you’re sitting in my living room with my guests, and I treat all my guests with equal respect in the expectation all my guests will do the same. 🙂

TyPuppy 001
My son, age 5

My son was almost five years old on September 11, 2001. Among the gazillion concerns and fears of the ensuing days was a very important one: how do I balance my need to know what’s happening with the need to protect my son? And how do I teach my son about what’s happening with scaring him or, on the flipside, leaving him ignorant?

“Balance” is the key here. Recently, Maggie Hogarth shared her thoughts on how a sheltered childhood altered her view of the world in negative ways, and there is much there that applies to this discussion.

While I wanted to hide everything from my son—everything! Anything that would disrupt his joy and happiness!—it wasn’t at all a realistic or responsible choice. At the same time, I needed to stay informed, especially in those first few days. Remember, it wasn’t known if the attacks were isolated or, shall we say, introductory. And no one knew the extent to which our military would be mobilized, if there’d be a new draft, if the government was going to institute new restrictions, if survivors were going to be found…

Yesterday, I found myself in a vaguely similar situation with my nephews. I say, “vaguely” because the attacks in Lebanon and France happened on the other side of the ocean, so the level of reactive fear was much lower. But there remained my need to know what was happening, to stay in touch with a couple people, and so forth. It all tossed me back to parenting post-9/11.

I don’t think there is an absolute and universal “right” choice because there are so many variables. The temperament and maturity of the child. The existing knowledge base. The willingness and ability of the parent to make age-appropriate explanations. The potential impact of the event on daily life. The importance of current events to the family. On and on and on.

So I’m not coming from the perspective of some childhood expert wanting to tell everyone the One True Way to communicate with all children in the aftermath of any and all terrible events. I’m just sharing what worked for me, to the best of my memory.

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