SCD Caramel Sauce

The leaves are starting to flame up into brilliant phoenix-like scarlets, pumpkins are getting plunked on doorsteps, and apples are in season; fall is officially here. Lately I’ve been taking full advantage of the autumn harvest and have been snacking on an apple (or two) a day. I’ve already plowed through the half peck I bought just two weeks ago. It’s been a great season for apples here in Maine and these toteable snacks are a tasty, convenient way to get dietary fiber into your diet. (Not to mention all these other awesome benefits of eating apples.)

Since I was a kid, one of my favorite fall treats has been apples dipped in caramel. My parents would come home from the grocery store mid-day on Sundays, shuttling back and forth from the car to the kitchen table as they unloaded the haul. I’d start unpacking the tall brown paper bags, surveying the goods. Perhaps once or twice a year, I’d reach into the crinkling bag, pull out T. Marzetti’s caramel dip, and squeal, already envisioning myself dunking apple slices in, submerging all but a tiny corner of the slice so I could pull it back out, dripping with gooey goodness. Many an episode of The Cosby Show was passed with sticky caramel fingers.

Now, though, I don’t even have to look at the ingredients list to know that all that sugary sauce spells a horror show for my body. What’s a caramel-apple-lovin’ gal to do?

Enter: homemade SCD caramel sauce. 

homemade caramel sauce

What’s incredible about this caramel sauce is just how simple it is to make. It sounds like a complicated confection brought down from the gods on Olympus, an ambrosial sauce unfit for mere mortals. This dip tastes like heaven, but it’s as easy as pie.

Thanks to the instructive photos and step-by-step directions, this recipe was a huge success. Boiling honey can be a little tricky, as it can quickly reach the wrong temperature/stage and not set up properly or else become scorched. (For the most part, burnt honey is still usable, but the flavors are off.) Mad props to Mrs. Ed for putting this recipe on the web with helpful accompanying photos and easy-to-follow directions.

I used a milder wildflower honey and salted butter to make my batch. My butter wasn’t exactly “room temperature” (I pulled it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before starting), but everything still turned out perfectly. I stored my cooled dip in the fridge, and have read that most caramel sauce recipes keep for a few weeks.

My pro tip for making this recipe? Once you’re ready to serve it, sprinkle some sea salt on top. This added salty bite pushes this recipe over the top into gourmet territory. And who doesn’t want to brag about their homemade salted caramel sauce?

Portland Farmers’ Market

This morning after breakfast at the always fabulous Bayou Kitchen, I stopped by the Portland Farmers’ Market. This time of year, the farmers set up in Deering Oaks Park, and with today’s 64-degree, cloudless weather, it was a glorious day to be browsing the local produce. I came back with quite the tidy haul.

Fruit and veggies

I picked up some Bartlett pears, Jonagold apples (the two red ones), Crispin AKA Mutsu apples (the huge green ones), and a sugar dumpling squash. I am looking forward to trying the sugar dumpling. We are big fans of delicata squash in this house and the sugar dumpling looks similar, if squattier.

I also scooped up some other fine gems.

pint of husk cherries

I bought a pint of husk cherries AKA ground cherries. I LOVE these and they’re only available for a few weeks in the fall. I unwrap the papery shell and pop the itty bitty yellow fruit into my mouth like Reese’s Pieces.

tiny husk cherry

See how tiny? I have already devoured half the pint and have a neat pile of tissue-light carcasses to my right.

Fresh ginger grown in Maine

One of the farm stands was selling Maine-grown ginger. It was so lovely and pink, such a creamy negligee-inspired combo of blush and ecru that I couldn’t resist. It was sold by the bag, so I see lots of ginger tea in my future, and perhaps a few new gingeriffic recipes.

free range eggs

There were some free range eggs for sale, so I bought some of those, too. I’m doing a little pseudo experiment with my taste buds to see if I can detect any difference between eggs/organic eggs/farm fresh eggs/free range eggs/vegetarian fed eggs/you-name-it eggs. There is certainly a large price difference among the various kinds of eggs out there, and I eat a lot of eggs (two per day, minimum). Because of my high consumption rate, generally I go for quantity and buy the value pack of 18 of the grocery store brand, no organic or free range frills. However, if there’s a significant taste difference between brands/types of eggs—can I literally taste the chicken’s stress in the eggs?—then I will consider making a switch. So far, I’ve found I prefer the taste of the store brand eggs to the organic, free range eggs I recently picked up at the grocery store; maybe the farm fresh eggs will be a good middle ground.

I also picked up a huge 64-oz jar of honey so my fall baking could continue unimpeded. I finished off my previous jar this afternoon cooking up an especially wonderful fall treat that I am excited to share with you in my next post.

If you would like to support the farmers in your area, you can find your local farmers’ market here by typing in your ZIP code or state. This is a fantastic time of year to take advantage of the local foods your community is producing, and find some new ingredients to put on the table.

10 Tips for a Gluten-Free Cruise

Last month I was invited to write a guest post for Gluten-Free on the Go!, a blog maintained by The Gluten-Free Chef that features articles on traveling gluten-free. I am excited to share with you my guest post of 10 Tips for a Gluten-Free Cruise. (FYI, I wrote all but the first paragraph. How do you like my “about the author” write-up? I’m always keen to throw in a “gullet” or two!) Check it out—I threw in some of my never-before-seen cruise photos as well for a little eye candy.