Sweet & Salty

img_4170Our neighbors to the south of us are a quiet couple with two young kids and a puppy. We never hear a peep from their babies, and their dog makes the funniest howling noises when she gets lonely (or wants food, I presume). I feel for her, she’s been bested by the babies. Our dog, and their dog, chat through the fence every once in a while. 

Every Christmas, I take them a little homemade treat. This year was persimmon bourbon bread. One random week in February they returned the favor and brought over some homemade caramels. They came to the door carrying their oldest daughter, and proudly announced that they had been making homemade candy, and they had brought some over to share. Golden brown caramels were wrapped in little wax paper wrappers. I was so excited to taste them I could barely wait until after dinner.  They were soft and chewy. So fresh. But the best thing was when you got to the middle there was a little crunch of sea salt. So simple and so delicious. They were gone in no time, leaving me to howl with their puppy for more.
How to be Neighborly: A little salt can make things ever so sweet.

Homemade Caramels

  • img_41683 Tbsp water
  • ¼ c light corn syrup
  • 1 c sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla paste (or extract, if you can’t find paste)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • ½ c heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Sea Salt for sprinkling

Prepare a small baking dish with parchment paper sprayed with oil.

In a heavy bottomed pot, combine water, corn syrup, sugar and vanilla. Stir to moisten the sugar, being careful not to get sugar on the sides of the pot. Heat the sugar mix over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, until it reaches 320 degrees, or the sides begin to turn amber brown. Don’t stir it!!!

While the sugar is boiling, melt the butter in the microwave, and add the cream and salt and heat for 30 seconds to warm the cream. When the sugar reaches 320 degrees, pour half the cream mixture into the pan. It will boil violently. Stir with a silicon spatula, being careful not to burn your hand in the steam. After about a minute, add the remaining cream and stir. Cook the mixture over medium high heat for an additional 3-5 minutes until it reaches 240 degrees. Pour into the parchment paper oiled dish. Sprinkle with Sea Salt.  Place in the refrigerator to cool (4 hours), or the freezer (1 hr). Cut into to squares and wrap in wax paper. Makes about 30 caramels.




What do you do when you have less than an hour to make a snack and be at a neighbor’s house for a small get together? Oh, and you haven’t been to the grocery store… you improvise. 
My well stocked pantry saved the day. I made a stuffed apricot, which was perfect for this hot day. Super simple, and quite the cupboard collaboration.

Pecan Stuffed Apricotsimg_4149

  • 25 dried apricots
  • Queso Fresco, cut into ¼ inch thin slices
  • 25 pecans
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil, preferably rosemary oil
  • Pomegranate molasses (*)
  • Rosemary, for garnish

Cut a slit down the side of each apricot and pull apart to create a pocket. Stuff with a slice of cheese and a pecan. Put the apricots into a serving dish and sprinkle with rosemary leaves. Drizzle lightly with Olive Oil and then pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle with sea salt.

(*) Available at Middle Eastern stores.  Balsamic syrup would also work as a substitute.

The World on a Plate

img_4141Ok, maybe not the world, but India for sure.  While visiting the Taj Mahal, we learned about one of the local arts which is quite prevalent at the Taj Mahal- the art of inlaid marble.  The marble is etched, and then semi-precious stones are cut and inlaid into the marble.  The whole thing is then polished for a smooth surface.  While most well known for table tops, I found a plate that I just couldn’t live without, so I brought a little piece of India home with me. Continue reading

To Agra and Back

img_0347On day 2 of my Indian adventure, we were instructed to meet at 6:30am in the hotel lobby.  They sent us on our way with a box lunch, from which I nibbled only a small portion of the pastries.  I was still too scared to attempt the sandwich with meat and fruit.  I secretly hoped someone would steal my apple and provide it to someone in need.  No such luck.  TIP: If you don’t plan to stay in the nicest hotels where food is always available, bring some granola bars and snacks from home. Continue reading

On India

img_0225For those that have been following my Instagram posts, or read my September Shareable Moments, you would have noticed that I was in India for the last week of September. My Company, which has a large office in India, was generous enough to include me in a visit by our regional leadership team. I had mixed emotions about heading so far away from home to a truly foreign location on my own. Well, on my own with 50 other work colleagues. I was scared, excited, skeptical, optimistic, and curious. When I left, my fears were calmed, and my skepticism reduced.  Overall, it was a very positive experience and I am so grateful I was able to go. Continue reading

Plantation Inspiration

Floral Park loves our cocktail nights.  You tell my neighbors there’s going to be cocktails and they come out in droves.  Our most recent cocktail night was done in connection with our Garden Swap, and this one was themed Garden Cocktails on the Plantation.  Sue & Ashley hosted a “spirit-ed” evening in their beautiful backyard and invited our neighborly mixologists to create cocktails inspired by their own gardens. Continue reading

Pizza Night

Before the Crust Off, there was Pizza Night. A night for all friends to get together, and break bread over communally sourced toppings. The instructions are simple, the hosts supply the crust and the heat, you BYOB (beverage) and BYOT (topping).

img_3404This night, I wanted to bring some unique toppings. Fortunately, I had just visited a pizza restaurant and had the most amazing pizza. Wait for it… Continue reading

Beer Nuts

img_3305Fifteen Years Ago, Alex and I took a public city bus out of downtown Juneau, hiked up a hill from the bus stop, and found ourselves at the Alaskan Brewing Company.  This was before craft beer really came into its own, and it was just getting started as a cultural phenomenon.  We walked in, and there were a couple small taps, a friendly face, and a sign that read FREE BEER.  We were the only ones there.  We’d found a special little place.  Two original “Beer Nuts.” Continue reading