Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Salted Christmas Crack

While I typically try to focus my blog posts mostly on natural/diy/self-sufficiency subjects, or sharing recipes that are for. .. you know, fish soup or beef liver, the holidays are always a fun excuse to throw caution to the wind -- eat some sugar, and maybe even some gluten-grains if it doesn't make your stomach blow-up or your skin break out. Ha!

Since gluten-grains don't have any obvious negative side-effects on me or my husband, we do allow ourselves treats during the holidays, though we still try to keep them minimal throughout most of the season, really up until the actual week of Christmas when we generally allow ourselves to eat whatever whenever.

This week though I desperately wanted some Christmas goodies! Half for the taste (DUH), and half for the experience of getting to do a little bit of holiday baking. So I thought about the few "bad" ingredients I have picked up over the last couple weeks in anticipation of this very moment, trying to think of what treat sounded best. Ah! Saltine Cracker Toffee, I tell myself. But of course, I have no saltine crackers in the house (What my brain thought it was doing including ingredients I didn't have, I'll never know when I told it to consider what I did have -- my mind has a mind of it's own. Uh, creepy.). Never one to shy away from a recipe due to missing even a main ingredient, I looked through my cupboard to see what I could substitute. Oatmeal! Yesssss. This will work just fine. So I set to work. I'll show you the end product now, because being the lazy blogger that I am (and anxious to just EAT IT) I forgot to take pictures until practically the end:

Now you REALLY want it, don't you? Alright. So I won't be one of the recipe bloggers that writes a whole book before getting to the actual recipe. I hate that. It usually makes me look elsewhere for a recipe (laziness again? Oh brother!). The only thing I will add at this point is that you could substitute SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS for the oats I used. Saltine crackers. Gluten-free crackers. Crushed pretzels. Cornflakes. Chopped nuts. Coconut. Toasted coconut. You could probably even leave the toffee portion plain and it would still taste amazing. Just a little less amazing. I am partial to the Saltines though because they give it such a great texture and flavor. 

Christmas Crack

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
 Oats/crackers/whatever filling (I used two big handfuls of oats; don't you like my measuring method? It's all about laziness and quick clean up -- easier to brush my hands on a kitchen towel than to wash a measuring cup)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet would be best but all I had was milk chocolate)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Margarita salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Set aside an 8X8 glass pan, or any other similarly sized bakeware. In a small saucepan combine butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Allow to come to a slow/med boil and continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and a very small sprinkle cayenne. Very small. You don't want the end product actually tasting spicy. But trust me, a teensy bit of heat just kind of enhances the flavors (I can't make chocolate anything without a sprinkle of cayenne or chili powder -- please don't start calling me Jesse, please!). Add the mix-in of your choice, stir until well coated and spread on the bottom of an 8X8 pan. Place in 400° oven for approximately 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly all over. Remove from oven and allow to sit approximately 3 minutes to cool slightly. Sprinkle with chocolate chips while still warm, allowing it to sit for another 3-5 minutes or until chocolate chips are nice and gooey. Gently spread melted chips over top of the toffee. Sprinkle generously with margarita salt (unless you used a salty filling like Saltines or pretzels). 

Similar recipes call for a lot more chocolate (like an entire cup), but it's already so very sweet due to all the brown sugar that I like it with less chocolate like this. Which is saying something because I'm a choco-holic. Feel free of course to add more if you so desire! Allow the candy cool completely before cutting or it will fall apart. 

Now is the hardest part of all. Try not to eat the entire pan in one day. Good luck! You're going to need it. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013


So for a long, long, looooong time I had been seriously contemplating cutting my hair. Not a trim. Not a few inches, even. But like, seriously whacking most of it off. I had been growing it out, and was close to my favorite length, which is just below the bra strap. But for a variety of reasons, I felt it was time to let go of the hair. The security blanket. If I only feel pretty or feminine with long hair maybe I need to get rid of it in order to gain more self-confidence. Which, yes, I need.  Not sure how obvious that is or isn't to those who spend face-to-face time with me but it's something I've struggled with my whole life. I've improved some in the last few years but it's still something I'm working on. And really what adult woman wants to feel like it's only her hair that makes her attractive? That's not right. Not biblical. Our beauty and worth comes from so much more than hair! I know the whole hair-is-your-glory thing, but I don't think that means you have to have waist long hair.  So I cut mine. Especially considering my hair is not super-anything. It was just average-ish. My hair isn't thin, but it is fine, which makes it look thinner than it actually is at times because it doesn't have a lot of body (except if I let it air dry but that takes FOREVER so I rarely do) due to the silkiness, and I just never felt confident that I had "good enough" hair to keep it long, even though I almost always did have it long (even as a child I never wanted to cut my hair short, except for that one time when I decided I wanted to look like Marty Stouffer from "Wild America" and how else could I get a beard and mustache if I didn't cut off my hair? He is 65 now, btw. Whaaaa?!).

There were Other Things that factored strongly into my decision to make the cut. But I won't get into that stuff because I don't wanna.

So here is the old look (yes, looking at this picture DOES make me miss my longer hair, but I have to remind myself that that was a particularly good hair day; who does profile pictures on bad hair days?):

And here is the new look (although this is not the best photo, lighting-wise): 

So there you go. I whacked off my hair and so far I don't regret it. Oh yeah, see the "diy" label? Yup, did it myself, and I somehow (miraculously) got it even!