Who Knew You Can Make Black Licorice?


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A very adventurous woman I occasionally worked for wrote to me with an unusual request. She lives part of the time on her boat sailing the world, and wanted to send a friend who has everything a birthday gift of homemade black licorice, which is his favorite. She is a wonderful cook herself, but living on a ship makes it difficult to find ingredients like black food coloring and anise extract. She saw the recipe in the January 2013 issue of Saveur.

I took on the challenge and searched out the ingredients. I was able to find them all at Whole Foods, Publix and a local baking store, but they are also available through several sources on the internet (which saves gas and lots of time driving around).

I haven’t made alot of candy, not because I don’t like it, probably because I do! This challenge inspired me to try some other ideas I’ve had, and I will share my experiments on future posts.

Homemade Black Licorice Twists

8 tbs. unsalted butter, plus more
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tbs. anise extract/oil
1 tbs. black food coloring (for candy)

I highly recommend gathering all your incredients, portioning out the flour and preparing the baking sheet before beginning to make the candy on the stove. A candy thermometer is also needed for this recipe.

liquorice prep

Line a glass 8″ square baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil and grease it with butter. Place butter, sugar, corn syrup, milk, molasses and salt in a heavy 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the temperature on the candy thermometer is 265 degrees. Remove the pan from the stove and gradually stir food coloring and extract. Add more coloring if you want a darker color. Slowly incorporate the flour, stirring it around to be certain it is all mixed in, otherwise it will stand out against the black color of the licorice.

licorice flour

Chill until firm and cool, at least 30-45 minutes. I chilled this about an hour.

Invert the pan onto a cutting board and remove the paper. It is easiest to use a pastry cutter to cut the ropes. I made them about 1/4 inch thick, twist them from each end for an authentic look. Place them on baking sheets and chill until set. This will keep longer if refrigerated.

liquorice paper

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The mixture is pretty sticky and thick, I initially tried to cut this with a knife, but the pastry cutter made it much easier. These can also be shaped into squares like carmels if you prefer over the skinny twists.

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Wrap it up in a beautiful box with a high quality black satin ribbon and your gift is ready!

liquorice box

Tomato Soup, what could be better….


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The holidays are in full swing, and although I sometimes miss Michigan in the wintertime, there is really nothing more beautiful than all of the Chritsmas decorations and holiday lights on palm trees, enjoyed while wearing your shorts and tank tops! Since landscaping our backyard and adding outdoor electrical outlets, we were finally able to put up some lights and they are really fun to come home to.

This recipe is a on spin one I cook at work so I have to give credit to whoever invented it, it wasn’t me. However, I did modify it for home use and made a few changes. The best part, besides the wonderful flavor is that it is easy to prepare and everyone will love it.

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Tomato Soup

Canola or olive oil 1-2 tbs.
1/2 cup chopped garlic
3 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
15-20 basil leaves
2 bay leaves
2 cans whole tomatoes (for this I prefer centro)
2-3 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper

1. Heat enough oil in your soup pot to coat the bottom. Add the garlic, onions and celery and sweat until translucent. Season the vegetables well with salt and pepper.
2. Add the tomatoes, (I suggest placing them in a bowl and squeezing them apart with my hands before I add them to the pot) 1 can of water and herbs. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and slowly incorporate the heavy cream. More or less cream can be added depending upon your preference. More cream makes the soup more bisque like, but of course also adds calories. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the soup is thick and creamy. Stir occasionally and season to taste. It should cook at least an hour.
3. Remove thyme stems and bay leaves and allow soup to cool some before blending it in a blender in batches.

Garnish with grated parmeson, chiffonade basil or other herbs.

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Peaches and Honey


It’s peach season and what better time to create some beautiful meals using them. This dish is delicious and also versatile, it is equally good with fish, or ice cream or as a treat by itself. The peaches can also be made ahead and re-heated at mealtime. I recommend using peaches that are fairly firm (not hard) otherwise they won’t hold together when cooked.

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4-5 firm peaches
1 small piece of ginger, minced
1/2 cup honey
Juice of 1 lemon

Pit and slice the peaches into 8 pieces each. Peel the ginger and dice it into small minced pieces. Heat 1 tbs. of canola oil in a saute pan add the ginger and cook for about 1 minute add the peaches, honey and lemon juice. Saute for several minutes until the peaches begin to soften. Place the pan in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the peaches have softened and the sauce has thickened. Serve immediately or reserve and re-heat prior to serving.

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I thought the idea of incorporating peaches into a cocktail would be really fun. I’m not a cocktail person, usually, when I have a drink I stick to wine, or beer. However, this seemed light and summery. It’s easy to make and would be a great accompaniment to a summer barbecue.

Peach Sangria with Rasberry

3-4 peaches (off season use frozen fruit)
1 tsp ginger (optional)
1 pint rasberries
1/2 cup peach schnapps
1/4 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup sparkling water or club soda
1 bottle sparkling white wine, chilled

Peel and dice the peaches into segments, set aside 10 peach slices to incorporate in the sangria. Mince the ginger and lightly saute it in olive oil for 1-2 minutes. In a blender, puree the peaches, ginger and simple syrup. Place in a pitcher or bowl and chill. When you’re ready to serve add wine, club soda and fruit. If you desire, add sliced lemons and limes to make this a little fruitier.

New Arrival and June in Chicago


I am thrilled to write about my trip to Chicago and my new grandson, Leo. He is adorable and so good natured. I have spent the past week in Chicago with my daughter Abbie, her husband Punky and baby Leo. It is so easy to forget how tiny a new baby is but the memories come back quickly.

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Chicago, is a beautiful, vibrant city the Buhr family lives just north of Lincoln Park in East Lakeview by Wrigley Field. Unofficially, the neighborhood is called Boystown, home to many gay couples, and was the first officially recognized gay village in the United States.

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Chicago also has the best pizza ever. Bricks, in Lincoln Park is a favorite. The sauce is incredible, which makes all the difference between good pizza and great pizza.

The kids apartment in Chicago is in a Greystone from the 1890’s. Chicago’s Greystones define historic Chicago neighborhoods in a manner similar to way Brownstones define neighborhoods in Brooklyn, N.Y. Abbie and I added a little garden color to their front porch.

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My son-in-law, Punky is a virtual baby whisperer. He has an uncanny ability to calm a fussy Leo!

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It was difficult to leave everyone behind and go home, but I am grateful to have had these wonderful days in Chicago and am looking forward to seeing Leo and his family again very soon!

It’s a swimming pool!


The pool is finally finished! Please excuse our lack of landscaping, we are working on that now, but everything in due in time right? When it was first filled, the water was really green, which was worrisome, but otherwise, it looks beautiful. We can hardly wait for summer, I will (hopefully) finally get some days off, and after working will be able to come home and jump in.

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The dogs are a little trepidatious, except for Cooper, who keeps coming in the house wet, loving the sunstep. They also love to bark at the dangerous gator floating around . . .

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Swimming soon- week 3 and 4


The last few weeks have been a bit slower, so I am combining two posts together. Some of you though may find that plumbing is really interesting, which it actually kinda is, and naturally it wouldn’t be a pool without it. It doesn’t make for the best photo opportunities. All the pipes are in and connected to the water line, and hopefully soon they will begin the tiling and decking. The weather has been beautiful this winter, I think it’s the warmest, sunniest winter since we moved here five years ago, which makes the anticipation of a pool in our backyard all the more exciting, before the hot, summer weather arrives.

Week 4 – Tiling Begins

pool-tile

The tile is in, and we love it. The blue tile against the white coping is perfect. The most common design seemed to be having the coping (the brick that go directly around the pool) match the deck, but we thought the white would offset the tiles. You can be the judge from the pictures, what do you think? The pavers will be with red tones, and that should be happening soon, it will really all come together. I think it’s time to begin shopping for a new bathing suit!

The other pics are of the Red Cross Designer Show House 2012 West Palm Beach. I thought of trying to pass it off as my house, but I have a way to go to have a house like that. Especially, with a husband who lives on a corner of the couch and 3 dogs. With iPads, iPhones and laptops, who needs a desk? You can just live in front of the tennis channel while you are working. I am blogging on my screened in back porch, using my wireless network, so I’m not really one to talk.

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The house is gorgeous though, it’s in the Old Northwood neighborhood in West Palm Beach which is only a about a mile from my house. I love the gauzy beaded curtains and the pillows made out of Indian sari’s. Those aren’t colors I would have chosen, but they are so bright and cheerful, who wouldn’t love that room?

Building the Pool Week 2


At this point it seems easier to post by the week since the pool is really moving along! They finished the framing, applied the gunite, which is the cement that is blown in to form the pool and back filled, so we now have a yard once again. The dogs, Stuart, Cooper and Riley are happiest of all. The Cavalier’s who are more adventuresome, both have climbed down the steps into the empty pool. Looking at it, we almost feel like we could be going swimming before the really hot weather arrives. Rich is also really excited about the pool and vows to swim everyday. As you can see, he is already getting started!

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