Food Gifts ~ Candied Clementines

I’m always looking for new and unusual things to make for the markets, particularly the Christmas Craft Fairs.  One of them I’m doing on the 8th is going to be situated at a hand-made shop; no, I don’t mean the shop is handmade, but that they sell handmade items!  So I thought it appropriate that I have some different homemade items other than my preserves and chutneys.

I found a recipe a few weeks ago for Candied Clementine Slices.  The picture with the recipe had them set into a pretty gift box so I decided this would be a nice item to have on offer at the fair.

It’s a fairly straight forward and easy recipe; it just takes a good bit of time: 2 hours simmering, 2 hours baking plus an hour for drying prior to dipping in chocolate.

***Candied Clementine Slices***

  • 600g (1½ lbs – about 9 fruit) clementines
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) granulated sugar
  • 500ml (17fl oz) cold water
  • 5-6 Tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 100g (3½ oz) dark chocolate

♣ Cut the clementines into thin slices (about 4-5 per fruit) and discard the ends.

Sliced Clementines

♣ Put the granulated sugar into a large pan with the water and heat gently, stirring until dissolved.  Bring to a boil and let bubble for 5 minutes.

Sugar syrup - pre-boil

Boiling sugar syrup

♣ Add the fruit slices, lower the heat and give it a little stir.  Simmer for 2 hours, carefully stirring occasionally, until the peel is translucent and tender.

Clementines in sugar syrup

♣ While the fruit is simmering, line two baking trays with nonstick baking paper and set aside.

♣ Preheat the oven to a low setting (gas ¼, 110°C, fan 90°C, 230°F).

♣ Using a fork, transfer the slices to the lined baking trays in a single layer.  Bake for 2 hours.

In the oven!

♣ Put the caster sugar into a bowl.  Leaving the oven on, remove only one tray from the oven at a time.  Dip each slice into it and place on a wire rack to dry for 1 hour.  You’ll need to work a bit quickly for this step because the slices will start to dry on the baking sheet and the sugar won’t stick.  If that happens, put the tray back into the oven while you work on the other tray.

♣ If not needed immediately, store the slices in an airtight container.  I put them in single layers separated by greaseproof paper.

Drying...

♣ Shortly before giving, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Dip the slices into the chocolate to cover half.

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♣ Place on a tray lined with nonstick baking paper, leave to set at room temperature, then gift wrap as desired.  I put about 9 slices (100g) into a disposable mini loaf pan lined with a doily, put each one into a decorative bag and folded down, taped and then put ribbon and a Christmas sticker.

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Have fun with these on the decorating and gift wrapping.  If giving these to a foodie, perhaps wrap them and put them into a cookie canister or a pretty serving bowl to give to the recipient.  Give with a bottle of Port or Whiskey.  How about with some tea leaves and tea cups?  The possibilities are endless…just use your imagination!

These make great little gifts for perhaps your neighbors, the babysitter, the mailman, the paperboy, your child’s teacher, your hairdresser or dentist or your favorite clerk at the bank.  Going to a party this holiday season?  Bring some of these to your hostess along with a small candle or bottle of their favorite wine.  Who would you give these to?

♥♥  Terri  ♥♥

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Diet not Working?

So you’ve decided to embark on a healthy eating plan.  It starts off quite well, you lose a few pounds and then suddenly you find it’s not working.

Why is it that your diet and exercise plans never seem to work?  Possibly because you’re unwittingly undoing all your best efforts.

The British Nutrition Foundation identified more than 100 factors that influence our weight.  Many of the tips they offered were fairly obvious, such as eating smaller portions or not eating ready-made meals.  Here’s a few habits that might actually surprise you…

What’s that in your shopping cart?

Cereal.  A U.S. study found breakfast cereal sweetened with sugar left overweight participants hungry before lunchtime and they consumed more calories a day than those given an egg as the protein kept them full.  Egg eaters also had significantly lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite.

White bread.  Too many refined carbs such as white bread and white rice can lead to weight gain, particularly around the midriff, according to researchers at Tufts University in Boston.  Two groups ate roughly the same number of calories each day, but those who ate mostly refined carbs added a half inch on their waist per year compared with those eating unrefined ‘whole’ foods such as vegetables and wholegrain bread.

Fruit juice.  Fruit juices and other sugary drinks have a stronger impact on weight than calories from solid food.  Cutting out just one sugary drink a day resulted in a weight loss of more than one pound after six months.

Is working out, not working out?

Exercising at a steady pace.  Short sharp bursts are just as effective and less time consuming and you’re more likely to stick to it.  Canadian researchers compared the effects of cycling at a moderate pace for 90-120 minutes with a workout of 20-30 seconds of gut-busting pedalling followed by four minutes rest and repeated four to six times.  After two weeks, both groups had almost identical improvements in fitness despite the fact some had only worked out for six to nine minutes a week but others had put in five hours.

Eating after exercising.  When women exercised hard they ate almost enough calories afterwards to make up for the ones they just burned, according to a U.S. study.

Indoor workouts.  Most studies show that exercising in natural environments is associated with greater boosts to mood, decreased anxiety and an increased likelihood of sticking with the workouts.

Is life in general giving you more curves?

Overweight friends.  If your friends gain weight, chances are you will too.  Why?  A Dutch study found that we tend to mimic each other’s behavior when we eat out, taking a bite at the same time.

Not chewing enough.  The longer food remains in the mouth, the more chance the tongue has to send messages to the brain to release the necessary digestive juices.  Chewing and digesting solid food fills you up.

Getting some shut-eye.  A study published in the journal Sleep suggested too little encourages the genes that cause weight gain.  Longer sleep (nine hours) suppresses the action of these ‘obesity’ genes.

Being stressed.  Stress encourages the body to put on weight around you middle.  This is because it triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol.  Over time, raised cortisol levels cause belly fat to accumulate and also makes individual fat cells enlarge.

A large variety of foods.  Fewer food choices and instilling culinary boredom could be the key to successful weight loss.  Researchers reporting in the American Journal of clinical Nutrition found that when women were offered the same food over and over again, they tended to eat less overall.

It’s all your (body’s) fault.

You’re a woman.  Using brain scans, U.S. researchers have found overweight men could suppress cravings or what they called ‘the conscious desire to eat’ more successfully than women.  It’s thought hormone differences were involved.

You don’t have enough brown fat.  Thin people are known to have higher amounts of beneficial brown fat than the overweight.  Brown fat’s great appeal is that it burns calories faster, like a furnace.  A recent study found that a form of brown fat is turned on when people get cold.

It’s your age.  Basal metabolic rate, which accounts for about 50%-70% of your total energy expenditure is thought to decrease about 1%-2% per decade.  After age 20, daily energy expenditure decreases about 150 calories per decade.  The upshot is that you need to eat less as you get older.

You’re hardwired to yo-yo.  Scientists now think that soon after people lost weight, their metabolism shows and they experience hormonal changes that increase their appetites again.  These effects can be long term.  People who have lost weight need to remain vigilant and understand that once they have lost weight the battle is not over.

Your parents made you fat.  Whether you are fat or thin could be an inherited factor.  A UK study showed only 4% of girls with normal weight mothers were obese compared with 41% with fat mothers.  Research suggests a very strong link between mother and daughter and father and son obesity, but no link across gender divide.

All of us who have dieted know it’s not easy.  If it were, we’d all be fit and healthy….

♥  Terri  ♥

In memory of those who lost their lives 11 years ago…

 

Did You Forget Something? ~ False Advertising

A well known ‘hazelnut spread’ contains the following ingredients:

Sugar (50%) and vegetable oils (mostly palm oil), followed by hazelnut, cocoa solids, and skimmed milk. In the United States, this spread contains soy products. This product is marketed as “hazelnut cream” in many countries. Under Italian law, it cannot be labeled as a chocolate cream, as it does not meet minimum cocoa solids concentration criteria. About half of the calories come from fat (11g in a 37g serving, or 99 kcal out of 200 kcal) and about 40% of the calories come from sugar (20g, 80 kcal).

OK, so you’re saying ‘so what’, right?

Well here’s the thing.  Last night while watching the boob tube, there was a commercial on for this product.  It showed a mother and her kids at breakfast, running around and trying to get out the door in time for school or work.  It showed them eating this product on bread.  Not a big deal.

Then the narrator of the commercial started to speak and said that this product was a great way to start the morning as it contained

…”two whole hazelnuts in every tablespoon, skimmed milk and cocoa powder”…

Did you notice anything missing, like the sugar??  Why didn’t they mention that?  Because they know how bad the sugar is for you and they just thought they’d let that pass.  Perhaps they thought you wouldn’t notice.  Perhaps a lot of people won’t.

SUGAR IS THE ENEMY.

Now I’m no angel when it comes to sugar, but at least I have a pretty good idea of how much I’m eating.  Usually my sugar intake consists of home baked goods that I’ve made myself or my daily square or two of dark chocolate.  In checking the label on the chocolate, one square contains 3.2g of carbs, which I’m sure is mostly from the sugar.  And considering I don’t eat home baked goods everyday, my daily sugar intake is pretty low.  I don’t eat sugary cereals and I don’t drink soda of any kind.  We cook from scratch every night and don’t have ready meals or processed foods.

I use artificial sweeteners, honey, fruit sugar or agave nectar, depending on what I’m eating or drinking.  I try to stay away from the sugar because I know what it does to me if I have too much of it.  I have hypoglycemia/low blood sugar and it’s not fun when I get an attack.

The problem is that sugar can be an addiction just like smoking, alcohol and drugs.  It takes willpower to resist but sometimes resistance can be futile.

Usually it is easier to make dietary changes gradually, however sugar has the unique ability to inspire cravings which are refueled every time you give into them. The only way to break the cycle is to stop feeding the fire. Use this challenge as an opportunity to go cold turkey and break the addiction.

And stay away from that falsely advertised hazelnut spread.  Perhaps they should really call it Sugar Spread with Hazelnuts…

♥  Terri  ♥

Cherry Brandy Preserves

Oh my poor neglected readers….how I have abandoned you.  I have no excuse.

You may all condemn me to the pits of hell for lack of blogging.

What’s even worse is that I’ve been nominated for another award (which I will talk about in another post) and I feel I don’t even deserve it!  Why should I be given an award for something I do when I haven’t even been doing it!?

Or we can just pretend that I’ve been posting all along and it’s just a figment of your imagination. 🙂

So today’s post is for those of you who might want to dabble a bit in doing your own preserving.  As you know, I do a good bit of that myself, so thought I’d share today’s culinary adventure with you.

Yesterday I made Damson Vanilla Cheese which is just a concentrated puree and it comes out so thick that you can actually cut it.  It goes well with sharp cheese and meats such as lamb, duck or other game meats.  In case you don’t know, damsons are very small plums, about the size of olives.

Today I started making Cherry Brandy Preserves.  I say started as it’s a two-step process I like to do sometimes.  In fact, with the method I’m using, it should really be called a ‘Conserve’ and not a ‘Preserve.’

With preserves, the cleaned and prepared fruit is added to the pan and cooked a bit to break it down and then the sugar is added and continued to cook.  A conserve is made differently, although it can have the same ingredients.

With a conserve, the fruit is put into a bowl with the sugar and allowed to sit for several hours or overnight which lets the juices flow from the fruit.  This allows the fruit to stay whole or in the same shape as they were cut.  By tomorrow morning I’ll have a bowl of cherries sitting in a thick, sugary syrup of its own juices.

I like to use a ratio of 65% to 75% sugar to fruit to be on the safe side to ensure that it will keep well.  My jars are sealed properly but once they’re open and in the fridge, there’s still that chance of it going off if there isn’t enough sugar in the mix.  A lower amount of sugar can be risky and as I sell to the public, I can’t take that chance.

I’ll give you the rest of the procedure in my next post.  Until then….

Eat Well!

♥  Terri  

Wake up Sleepyhead ~ Time for Breakfast!

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day!

Yes, we’ve all heard it before.  Everything you read about the morning meal always states this; it has been pounded into our brains over and over again.

But do we all take heed?

I’m sure that most of us do and hopefully what we eat is healthy and hearty enough to get us through the mid-morning slope to lunch.  There are those who think that not eating breakfast will be better for them in helping to lose weight.  There couldn’t be anything further from the truth!

If you are one of those people who choose to neglect eating breakfast, you’re in for a downward spiral every morning because studies have shown that later on in the morning, you’re likely to crave and most likely eat, high glycemic foods throughout the day which will send you on that glycemic rollercoaster and cause you to actually gain weight!

Research has shown that eating foods that are low on the Glycemic Index are better for you because they take longer to digest (therefore prolonging satiety) and they will also maintain blood glucose levels at a relatively constant state. Foods with a high glycemic index not only digest quickly, they can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, which makes you want to consume more high GI foods.

You say you eat breakfast?  What are you having?  A Triple Caramel Cream Espresso Latte with a doughnut or croissant does not constitute breakfast in my book.  Do you have any idea what is in those luxury coffees you get at those chain coffee houses, not to mention that doughnut you’re shoving into your mouth?  Take a gander at this.  According to the nutrition facts on this particular beverage, 44% of its calories comes from FAT! 44%!!!!!!!  And on the GI portion, there’s 52g of sugar.  in addition, the caffeine in the coffee doesn’t help with your blood sugar levels either.  The combination of sugar and caffeine are the two worst things to ingest together.

The effects of combining sugar and caffeine are devastating on the body. The blood glucose levels soar and then crash shortly thereafter, and when combined with caffeine, the enormous surge of energy from the sugar and the stimulant in caffeine lead to a crash of blood sugar within hours. The body then resorts to a vicious cycle of cravings. The swings that the two together cause create a desire for more carbohydrates than are actually needed. Over time, the craving results in an enormous imbalance in blood glucose levels.  As one who has hypoglycemia, I’m well aware of this and have paid dearly for my mistakes on various occasions, although less frequent, if at all nowadays.

So what should you be eating for breakfast?

♣ Unsweetened, natural yogurt mixed with fresh fruit and no-sugar-added muesli

♣ Smoothies made with yogurt, fruits, nuts, tofu or soya milk

♣ Rolled oat porridge cooked with dried fruit, nuts and seeds and sweetened with agave nectar or artificial sweetener, if desired (this was my breakfast today!)

♣ Whole-grain toast lightly buttered with a poached egg, fresh fruit

♣ Omelette stuffed with cooked fresh veggies and low fat cheese

♣ 1/2 of a whole wheat bagel covered with a light coating of low fat cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomato, cucumber, red onion, capers and dill

♣ Whole wheat pita stuffed with scrambled eggs, berries

♣ All-bran muffin with nut butter spread, fresh fruit

♣ Fat-free Greek yogurt with frozen berries, sunflower seeds and nuts, artificial sweetener or agave nectar, if desired

♣ Wholegrain toast with salmon and avocado, fresh fruit

♣ Buckwheat or wholewheat pancakes topped with lightly stewed fruit or unsweetened apple sauce

♣ Wholegrain toast topped with low fat deli ham and low fat cheese, melted, fresh fruit

♣ Rye toast topped with light cream cheese and fruit

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These are a few suggestions.  Can you come up with any other ideas?

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And as a reminder, here’s what you should not eat…

◊ Processed, high GI breakfast cereals, which is pretty much most of them!

◊ White bread, croissants, crumpets and pancakes

◊ Sugar laden jams, spreads and marmalades

◊ Full fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurts

◊ Fat laden meats such as bacon and sausage

◊ Sweetened, processed fruit juices

◊ Sugar added to tea, coffee or on cereals

So start your day with lasting energy!  You’ll feel great, think more clearly and feel fuller longer so you won’t be tempted to grab a doughnut from that box someone brought in to the office and have a piece of chocolate cake from someone’s birthday.

If you do start to feel hungry, then have an apple with some peanut butter or low fat cheese.  If you’re just starting out with a low GI diet or just learning about it, at least try to ensure that you start your day right with a delicious low GI breakfast.

♥  Terri  ♥♥


Makin’ Whoopie!

Good Day, dear readers!

Some of you may remember my rant angst disbelief post a while back about whoopie pies and the horrid transfiguration that was bestowed upon them when they traveled over here to the UK.  For those of you who didn’t see it or want a refresher, you can find it here.

As I’ve also been having fun with my new mixer, I’ve been making a few cakey type stuff to sell at the Family Fun Day (FFD) in a couple of weeks.  This coming weekend is the monthly market at Cliftonville and the following weekend is the FFD.  As there will be lots of kids there, I decided to make things that the little brats tots would like.  I’ve made brownies and some tea loaf (for the adults) and I’ll be making those yummy vanilla cupcakes and I also decided to make whoopie pies to show these Brits what a whoopie pie is supposed to look and taste like.  (In case you’re wondering, I’ve put the brownies, tea loaf and whoopie pies in the freezer until needed.  I’ll make the cupcakes towards the end of next week, probably on Thursday or Friday as the FFD is on Saturday).

Homemade Whoopie Pies

This recipe is from an Amish cookbook so it is a traditional recipe.  For those of you who want to try making these, you will get a good many of them…I got 30 pies (60 cakes).

They’re not difficult to make; just a wee bit time consuming as you can only make about 6 cakes per pan.

There’s also more than enough filling for all of them, although you won’t have that much left over.  I just put extra filling in the last 6 or so that I made.  I also made the cakes one day and the filling the next day.

Some of the cakes will come out slightly bigger or smaller.  Try to match up same size cakes with each other.

~~WHOOPIE PIES~~

2 C sugar

1 C shortening or butter

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 C plain flour

1 C cocoa powder

1 tsp salt

1 C sour milk (add 1-2 Tbsp white vinegar to milk)

2 tsp baking soda

1 C hot water

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.

Cream the sugar and shortening until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt.

Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour milk until well incorporated.

Dissolve baking soda in hot water and add to mixture, mixing well.

Using a small ice cream scoop (about 2 Tbsp), drop onto greased cookie sheet or silicone mat. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you may only get about 6 on each sheet.  Don’t forget, they will spread to about a diameter of about 2 to 2½ inches.  You want to make sure they are all uniform in size, as best you can.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cakes sit on pan 1-2 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

~~CREAM FILLING~~

2 egg whites, beaten until foamy

¼ C milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 C powdered/confectioner’s/10X/icing sugar, divided

1½ C shortening or butter

Mix together the egg whites, milk, vanilla and 2 cups sugar.

Beat in shortening and remaining sugar until smooth and fluffy.

Spread a dab on the flat side of half of the cooled cakes.  Top with another cake to form a sandwich pie.

Pies can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen.  Allow to thaw at room temp. (They taste pretty good right from frozen too!)

Enjoy!

♥ Terri  ♥♥

How Sweet it is!

Sugar.  We all know we shouldn’t eat so much of it, but yet we do.  It’s irresistable.  It’s sweet.  It gives us a pleasurable taste on the tongue.  How can we say ‘no’???

The average American eats approximately 1,500 pounds of food every year. Of that, 160 pounds are primarily sugar.

Of all the food stuff we eat, sugar is the least nutritious.  In fact, except for the energy in its calories, there’s not much to recommend about sugar. It’s a prime source of empty calories, and for those of us who are trying to lose weight, sugar’s the first thing we should start trimming from our diets.

The problem is that it’s added to so many of the foods that we eat on a daily basis, hidden from view.  You say ‘no, how can that be’?  Try reading food labels.  The food manufacturers have ways of hiding it by giving it different names:  sucrose, glucose, corn syrup, fructose, sorbitol, maltose, lactose and maltodextrin, just to name a few.

One of the best ways to disguise the amount of sugar in a product is printing the information in grams. Most Americans haven’t the foggiest idea of how much a gram is, because they’re unaccustomed to the metric system. So when they pick up a can of soda that contains 40 grams of sugar, they pretty much shrug their shoulders and pop the top, assuming they’re even reading the label.   But what if the label said 10 teaspoons of sugar?  If you saw someone popping 10 tsp. worth of sugar into their coffee or tea, you’d think they were crazy, but that’s how much is in a typical 12oz. can.

The food industry has cleverly snuck its sugars and corn syrups into products where we never would have thought to look for sugar. It’s good for the manufacturer. It hikes up the calorie load, can enhance the product’s appearance (high-fructose corn syrup gives hamburger buns their golden glow), and can keep our sugar cravings simmering at a low boil. Here are some types of products whose labels you should look out for.

Spaghetti sauce. A half cup of store-bought sauce can contain as many as three teaspoons of corn syrup or sugar. While some of the naturally occurring sugar in tomatoes and other vegetables will show up on the nutrition label, most of the sugar is added. Look for brands that don’t include sugar.

Ketchup. Ketchup can be 20 percent sugar or more. Not to mention that you’ll get 7 percent of your daily sodium allowance in one tablespoon. Look for low-salt, no-sugar brands, or make your own, using pureed carrots to add flavor and texture to the tomatoes.

Reduced-fat cookies. Most brands of cookies now offer a reduced-fat version of their product.But while you’re patting yourself on the back for choosing the low-fat option, check the label. The sneaky food manufacturers did take out the fat, but they replaced it with, you guessed it, sugar. And because there’s no fat to make you feel full, you’ll be tempted to eat more “guilt-free” cookies. And just because there’s less fat, it doesn’t mean you’ll be less fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Sugar make you fat.

Low-fat salad dressing. Like the cookies, manufacturers have taken the fat out of the dressing, but they’ve added extra salt and sugar to make up for it. Check the label to make sure you’re not replacing heart-healthy olive oil with diabetes-causing sugar-because that’s not really a “healthy choice.” Your best bet? Make your own vinaigrettes using a small amount of olive oil, a tasty gourmet vinegar or fresh lemon juice, and some fresh herbs.

Bread. Most processed breads, especially white hamburger and hot dog buns, can contain a good bit of sugar or corn syrup. That’s what gives them the golden-brown crust. As always, check the ingredient label, and consider making your own or getting your bread at a real bakery or a farmers’ market – it’s the best idea since, well, you know.

Fast food. Needless to say, fast food is generally not good for you. But even if you’re staying away from the sodas and the shakes, everything from the burgers to the fries to the salads is a potential place to hide sugar. Check out the ingredients carefully at your favorite restaurant. You may be getting more than you bargained for.

And don’t forget that alcohol also contains sugars.

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And how do you know that you’re consuming too much sugar?  Well if you eat too much sugar…

You’ll have trouble getting enough healthy nutrients without going overboard on calories.
You gain weight.
You do not feel the need to eat food that contains more of the important nutrients that our body needs, such as vitamins, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Tooth decay and gum disease.
Unstable blood glucose.
Obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Malfunctioning immune system.
Chromium deficiency.

Soooo….you still want that candy bar??