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This Post Is Dedicated To…

To break from my norm, I dedicate this post to you; my readers. Thank you for choosing to subscribe to and support Caramelize Life, I’m glad you are enjoying our hard work.  This is not my normal story or recipe but it’s what matters most: the connection with each other about things that interest us.

 When I first thought about this blog it was an unusually warm winter and we found ourselves congregating around a friend’s table enjoying a delicious meal. It was the winter we lived in Chamonix, France and our kids brought us together. I can be shy sometimes and I am thankful for this wonderful family. I have learned so much from them and have warm memories of our times together. What came from our ritual midday espresso and blend of Russian, English and American meals prepared high in the French Alps was this blog. It is here to highlight the gems in life. Friends and community are what sparkle most, I find.

Winter Sunlight On Le Drus Chamonix France and Weymuller Photography

In my venture into the blogosphere I have jumped in with both feet (good thing I took swimming lessons as a kid!)  I love photography, writing, travel, nature and the outdoors. I enjoy giving kudos to those following their passions and searching for the silver lining in everything. It’s not easy and it takes dedication. One grumpy morning a few years back I remember having a conversation with my happy-go-lucky husband about choices. He was explaining to our then single-digit daughter that he makes a decision every day when he awakes to chose to be happy. That may not be the way he awoke but that would be his decision to go into the day positively. As with anything that is really worth something it takes practice and may not always come out perfectly.

Jumping Into The Cool BC Lakes

And this is how I see my project Caramelize Life, a way to practice making that decision each day to find the good, highlight those doing the same and enjoy all aspects of what life brings (even the not so happy parts) because we are all connected. In six degrees of separation we all overlap somewhere. It’s a learning process and I will share each one as I bumble along.

Black and White Backcountry Skiers Italy

 To better equip myself so that I am a better blogger (and so you get a better experience) I have put myself in the blogging equivalent of an obstacle course, figuring out new terms and technologies, dedicating myself to learning everything I can about WordPress and how to get the most out of the platform I am using. For what it’s worth, I give a standing ovation to those who work at WP and make it happen because they know what they’re doing and are quick and responsive to everything I’ve ever asked. They’ve created a vast community of talented people and continue to support bloggers like me to join at their table and share our thoughts. In my WordPress 101 class today we were instructed to write about a blog that we had commented on previously. Why we chose to we stop and what jumped out at us, moving our fingers to comment on their post. I couldn’t think of anything at first but that’s what is so freaking fun about blogging and the community out there in the ether. We might visualize the cloud of words up above us floating around but each one of those words links back to a human being who has taken the time and courage to produce their ideas into a form and share them so we may enjoy and experience them. When it strikes a cord I leave a comment to acknowledge their work, to learn more or simply engage.

 Weymuller Photography and Caramelize Life Appreciating Word Press Crew with a raised glass

In response to my daily assignment, my last comment that I left was on Toronto Cooks.  It was a simple statement about eating out in their about page that caught my attention. They choose to eat “in”. Which got me to thinking about why I “eat in”.  I simply do because there are few options where I live. Since there are very few options to “eat out” it has an affect on how we gather and our patterns as a community.  This small statement is really a large part of what forms our small rural community, that when described, well traveled people, say ours is unique. This got my mind linking thoughts as to what that recipe is, to make a strong community? Could it be that we gather around tables and share meals, breaking bread together so to speak that keeps us connecting? Could it be that we have perfected the potluck dinner? Or maybe it’s that we share a positive outlook to making things happen?  I’m not entirely sure but it really seems to work.

MVYC Summer Days at Patterson Lake and

So, I thank you, readers, for being a part of the Caramelize Life community connecting and engaging in making life sweeter through sharing our life’s stories here in the blogosphere. Cheers, to many more posts and friendships made.

 

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

 

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

Are You Serious About Biscuits?

 

Biscuits are to my father in-law as cribbage is to my father; serious business but with a little bit of luck thrown in too. When we visit, our mornings gravitate towards a slower pace and the early coffee becomes a second pot and brunch more often than not.

<img src= "http://www.caramelizelife.com rachellekweymuller width= "3872" height= "2592" alt= "Caramelize Life   Grandpa trys Dahlia Bakery and Tom Douglas's Biscuits"/>

I’m not sure if it could be called a tradition just yet but I love the connection the mornings bring. My youngest can be an early bird, as is her Grandpa, so they have found a sweet rhythm in the early morning hours. She wakes and waits fairly patiently to hear his footsteps in the kitchen above.  She runs upstairs, out pacing our equally excited four legged friend, to enjoy some one on one time with her Grandpa. I know they have great conversations that span more years than she is old. I believe there is a childhood window for these opportunities.  I think back, to our oldest who used to enjoy these same early mornings but now as a teenager, she rarely stirs before the sun and is more in-tune with the moon and the stars. These windows of opportunity allow for precious light to warm us and connect who we are as individuals. I know my girls share their thoughts with their Grandpa as he shares his passions, in those morning hours, they have learned to oil and watercolor paint from him and all three equally share the love of baking, eating and trying new recipes together.

Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Last year we all received (I think it was at Christmastime) a new cookbook, full of delicious Tom Douglas and the Dahlia Bakery recipes. I can’t think of one dish I’ve experienced at a Tom Douglas restaurant that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.  So, when I heard Grandpa and the girls were planning to make biscuits in the morning and TD serious biscuits at that, I had no doubt they would be good.  Even our teenager was present and at the ready to help with these.

 

Serious Biscuits With Grandpa

Sunday Mornings Biscuits

 

I was not disappointed, they turned out beautifully, light and buttery. I think next time they would go well with a little Southern Gravy! 

 

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

4 Ingredient Nutritionally Packed Fresh Juice

 

 

I just love the feeling I get when I choose to make a juice. I know it’s good for me as well as super fresh. The vegetables are crisp and packed full of nutrients. This is my go to drink when I need a little boost. The light earthy aroma that fills the kitchen brings me back to when I worked at a juice bar in my 20’s. That was a great job and I think I drank my paycheck in juice.

Carrot Apple Ginger Beet Juice

Ingredient #1: carrots. Carrots rule, they are easy to grow in the garden or stand alone pots, they store well so you can always have a bunch in the refrigerator or cellar. Kids will eat them and the best part is they have a great history.

 

 

Carrot forest

Your best caption goes here! Write it in the comments :0)

 

Who knew that carrots and other root veggies are responsible for the earliest farming practices? If you did know this bit of trivia,  tell me about it in the comments :0) I’d love to hear from you.

It was the complete nutritional elements of the root vegetables, unbeknownst to those digging in the earth, for each root, rhizome, tuber and bulb were what kept people coming back to the ground and getting their hands dirty, until they decided to use implements starting with the stick then the hoe and  finally the plough.

 Ingredient # 3: beets. Beets are beautiful. Each time I halve a beet I am amazed at the intracity of the fractal like pattern within.Their earthy flavor and bright interior makes me smile. It is a powerhouse of nutrients and healthy attributes. Juicing is the best way to capture the high folate, magnesium and potassium each root contains. In the health world, beets are also known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory proprieties. I use a centrifugal force juicer that separates the juice from the fiber part of the vegetable. This means you miss the great fiber aspect to this beet however, there are ways to use this by-product of the juice insuring you don’t miss out on any of the benefits (but my hens might stage a protest if I didn’t share this with them!)

Halved Beets

 

Ingredient #3: ginger.  Oh, ginger is my friend. It keeps me warm, wakes me up and soothes my stomach. In this juice combo, it adds some kick depending on how much you decide to use, and brings the flavor of this juice from mild to complex. I’m not the only one who loves this rhizome. It is long believed that it took its name from Gingi in southern part of India, where it is thought to have originated.

Ingredient #4: apples.  The apple is beneficial in many ways and as the saying goes “one a day keeps the doctor away” I’m not sure how true this is or if anyone has ever researched the adage. I do know, that a medium sized apple contains a decent amount of vitamin C that our bodies need boost our immune system. During the winter, this can be helpful to fight against catching a cold or the flu that’s going around. Apples like beets, contain antioxidant properties due to the color of their skin. Go for the Ida Red or Red Delicious if choosing for antioxidant benefits. If those are not your favorite check out Lori’s blog where she lists top to bottom which apple has the most antioxidants.

Carrot Apple Ginger Beet Juice On The Chopping Block"

 

 

Carrot,Beet,Ginger and Apple Juice

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 10 mins
  • Print

Keep in mind the flavor and nutrients are best when choosing to use fresh, sustainably grown products.

You will need a juicer to make this recipe.

Ingredients:
2 large carrots
2 medium sized beets
1/4 ” piece of fresh ginger
2 medium sized apples

Directions

1. Wash all ingredients
2. Quarter the beets or cut to size for your juicer
3. Slice apples to fit the opening of your juicer
4. Add ingredients with the apple last. This allows the apple, juiciest, to rinse the juicer making sure you get all the juice possible.
5. Serve right away, the best tasting juice is enjoyed right away. If you have any leftovers you can put them in the refrigerator and then shake or blend before drinking. Or add them to a popsicle mold and enjoy it on a hot day. This is a great way to introduce healthy popsicles to kids.

Enjoy!

 

4 ingredient Juice

Rachelle K. Weymuller head shot    Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

   “Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

Keeping My 2015 Resolutions, How About You?

Did you make a new year’s resolution for 2015? I did. And I’m sticking to them. Yes; them. I made more than one resolution and so far it’s going great! The Doriesta’s must have made a few too or either that, or they figured many of us would be deciding after the holidays we could use a healthy recipe to nourish and energize us into keeping our resolutions.

So as you may have guessed, I am focusing on eating smarter. I think I eat fairly healthy already but I know I could eat smarter. Over time my habit of skipping breakfast and having just a coffee has worn it’s way into my daily routine but then I forget to get a good breakfast going until that crazy clock tells me it’s lunch. In our family we use the term ‘HANGRY’ that I now see popping up on t-shirts and posters so maybe we’re not alone. Do you know anyone who gets HANGRY?

Maybe Dorie does because she has come up with a fantastic and healthy way to keep the “Hangries” at bay with her Granola Energy Bars. Dorie, my family will be writing you a personal thank you card for this one.

These granola energy bars, take no time to make and if stored properly will keep for a week (if not eaten before).  Dorie suggests to cut them up into bite sized pieces and serve them with tea (maybe a way to keep the Hangries in us, civilized). I chose to cut them a little larger and store them in a glass container so I could grab and go. Unfortunately, I didn’t cut them soon enough and could have used them on my ski this morning. At the 8k mark I was sloooowwwig down just as my good friend and I were talking about kids eating habits and helping them to make good choices. Old habits die hard and I had to confess that I hadn’t eaten a fantastic breakfast this morning…hence my slower pace. What a good friend I had who, waited for me and gave me a scolding in a motherly way of course- thanks Stew!

 

Run Boris Run- The B Dog skiing Big Valley Ranch - Methow Trails

Run Boris Run

We know who did eat his breakfast and then slyly got another family member to feed him a second. Dog wisdom, Maybe I should follow Boris’s lead.

Dorie’s bars are pretty close to making granola but instead of spreading out the ingredients on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet, she instructs to firmly press the granola into a parchment lined pan and then bake it.

I absolutely loved the parchment idea because once the bars had cooled I just popped the whole thing cleanly out of the casserole dish. This was an added bonus since we are still without hot water (long story but the short version is no boiler= not hot h2o) and our “Glamping” is going on week two. Maybe I’ll write about that another time, there are a few gems to tell for sure.

 

Caramelize Life makes Granola Energy Bars with Tuesdays with Dorie

Just out of the oven!

Once out of the dish the bars were ready to be cut. At the time I chose the usual long slices but now that I think about it I could have pulled out my sweet cookie cutters and made some fun shapes. If you have a little one at home they would probably really enjoy a specialized energy bar in their lunch. I wonder if my tween and teen would? Maybe I’ll have to test it out… next time. I do plan to put these into my repertoire since they were super quick and easy to make and the ingredient list can be varied to whatever you might have on hand in the pantry. Keeping with the ratio of two cups oats : two cups of your favorite; seeds, nuts,dried fruits and sweets(chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, crystallized ginger,etc) then a binder of brown rice syrup, honey or maple syrup and butter. If you are dying to know the full recipe check out page 238-239 in Baking Chez Moi. 

 

Granola Energy Bars- Tuesdays With Dorie and Caramelizelife

Yum!

 

Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan and Baking Chez Moi is an open group dedicated to baking through Dorie’s latest books. To see more of the groups experiences with the Granola Energy Bars click on the link.

 

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

 

Chicken Breasts Diable

Celebrating life, community and new experiences.

Double Digits! WP 2013

We celebrated my youngest’s birthday when she rolled into proud double digits. It is our family tradition to honor a new year with a special dinner.  The previous year she choose Lamb with her family-famous quote “Lamb is my cake” when asked what she desired for dinner. This time she chose her favorite steamed beets with melted chèvre and being a member to the French Friday’s with Dorie I decided to try a new recipe from her most loved cookbook Around My French Table – Chicken Breasts Diable.

continue reading!

Caught by Surprise – Whipped Cream!

Oh, goodness. I had it in my mind that this Tuesday with Dorie was a bye week (they were following the Seahawks schedule right?) But my handy computer reminded me that it’s a pick your own recipe (from either Baking Chez Moi or Baking with Julia) week with the Doristas. Which means this is a great opportunity for those of us who have either missed a recipe in the line up or want to make something fun that’s not on the schedule.
I was on top of it at the beginning of our holiday celebrations but this one snuck up on me. Not to worry; Doire’s books have a fantastic variety of delectable choices to pick from but my timing was the limiting factor. We already had a spiced ginger birthday cake in the works for tonight. So what goes well with cake? Whipped cream of course!

But wait, there’s more!

Are You Hungry for Bûche de Noël?

 

 

Yes, is the answer!

Christmas tree outside

Because making bûche de Noël is not for the light of heart. Yes, it’s true, it takes all day to make and the NY Times’ Melissa Clark doesn’t lie. I had that thought as I was closely following Dorie Greenspan’s recipe and techniques for her new Gingerbread bûche de Noël. I would glance up at the clock and see the hours disappear thankfully, it’s the solstice and I’ve got time and more of it! Good thing I didn’t make this yesterday ;0)

Melissa Clark teams up with Dorie Greenspan here in a NY Times video (I wish I would have watched the video before making mine) the link also includes the recipe just incase you would like to try it out too. Or, you can learn more from NPR and their take on the Yule Log.

Caramelized Almonds

Almonds ready to be caramelized

Despite the fact that this recipe takes a bit of time, it has been a great experience and I am happy to report that I was successful and we will be enjoying a lovely Gingerbread bûche de Noël tonight while we celebrate solstice and my father’s belated birthday.

Solstice, Birthday, Noel

Solstice, Birthday, Noel

continue reading!

Making Divinity On A Snowy Day

 

Sunlit snowy day

 

Today was going great. I was well into my day of holiday treat making with Dorie Greenspan’s Truffles resting in the refrigerator when I thought to myself “why not try a new recipe? I’m on a roll right?” I have had The Casual Baker’s Divinity recipe printed out for just the right moment, and reading through the ingredient list I was pleased as punch with myself finding that I was well stocked. So off I went into the land of Divinity.

RKW_0105

In my own defense, there was no way for me to know what was in store for me. I laugh at myself right now, perched at the kitchen bar typing away after making the whimsical decision to make divinity. Glancing over with a heavy sigh at my green marble countertops and previously spotless stove-top now covered with Divinity guts. A sticky, gooey mess; I’ve gone and candied my stove-top. My youngest, the ever happy soul that she is, has set to scooping up the goo and has turned it into her own candy project; far be it from her to let sugar, water and organic corn syrup go to waste.

What happened, you ask? All was going just fine; I was cruising along solo in the kitchen (read: without distractions).  I find that I need a distraction free space while making candy, but somehow it didn’t dawn on me that making candy was exactly what I was doing (Yes! I did read the recipe thoroughly but was thinking more meringue than candy). I’ll blame it on the absence of a second cup of coffee.

In walked D2 (Daughter #2) who set about to do her English assignment at the kitchen bar. “This is great,” I thought to myself, bursting with pride “she is self-motived and getting her work done.” …until the questions started rolling in. Distraction number one. Next, my husband walked in and started a great conversation (distraction number two) which took me away from the stove-top. Have I provided enough foreshadowing for you to guess what happens next in our holiday tale of woe? From the other room where I was in deep discussion, I heard my pot boiling over…”Oh, SUGAR!” I rushed back to the stove and it looked like a mad scientist’s bubbling mushroom spilling over the sides; an oooey-gooey syrupy monster. 

I tried to save it. I really did. I grabbed the printed directions and the candy thermometer to get my bearings. The temp read 253º, not 255º as required but I couldn’t get it higher without it growing into another bubbling monster so I poured it into my previously prepped foaming egg whites poste-haste which, as you may have surmised is not exactly how Sheena S. of the Casual Baker had envisioned the optimal scenario. I put the hand held blender to work, but two minutes into the seven called for it became readily apparent that this was a bad idea. I was splattering Divinity monster guts everywhere. It was supposed to be thick, but after double the time called for it looked just as runny as ever. I switched to a bigger bowl and stationary mixer as a last gasp effort to save my Divinity. Too little too late; nothing would save our stickily intertwined fates from a fall from grace of epic proportions.

stay-puft-marshmallow-man1

So what’s a girl to do? I peeled away my printed directions that were now at one with the counter and started to read the comments after the recipe directions. And here it was that I learned from the Divinity lovers community that Divinity is a fickle creature. Some even purported that if it is raining outside she refuses to take on the task because that subtle amount of moisture can make the difference “between bites of divinity and a puddle best consumed with a spoon” (KitschenBitsch). Others go on to say that 255º (let alone 253º!) is a tad low and they like to wait until the candy reaches 350º.

Well Kitschen Bitsch, you are correct. It is snowing lovely large flakes of frozen rain outside and I have a big fat puddle inside. Once again the weather has ruined my attempts and it has nothing to do with the distractions. Thanks for the easy out, until a sunny day when I’ll attempt it again!

Wishing you wild adventures from our kitchen to yours,
Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life
Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

3 Things That Could Happen When You Send Your Husband To The Supermarket.

Do you know what happens when your husband is at the Supermarket? There should be t-shirts made that say:

Supermarket T-shirt

What happens at the Supermarket stays at the Supermarket

What happens if said Supermarket provides vehicles with four multidirectional wheels and your husband is actually a large kid trapped in an adult body?

#1. I’m thinking first he will find the biggest object and turn it into a life sized toy.

#2. Next he will recruit someone to document the trip.

#3. Then he will share it with his buddies, one of them would be my husband (another large kid trapped in an adult body), who in turn will join the cause and support him in the fight against the evil grocery powers that be.

Then someone else’s husband (it takes teamwork to fight those evil grocery powers) will add the finishing touches.

 

 

Mission accomplished!

 

 

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life  ~having fun
Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

~Credits to:
Video and Super power wielding : Steve and Nate Hirsch
Super sound effects: E.A Weymuller
Superpowered visual effects: Paul Bagnulo

Turning Lemons into…

 

It seems as though the downpour of the four letter word, the one starting with the 18th letter of the alphabet, the one that rhymes with pain and shall never, in a ski town, be spoken out-loud during the winter has arrived, unceremoniously and uninvited. Our little mountain valley is begrudgingly receiving copious amounts of this four letter word. It would have been very welcome this past July when we were on fire. However, when given buckets of  **** in December, it has us all out doing our special chicken dances in the snow…or what’s left of it anyway.

 

First, we need to get our yodels fine tuned so we can wake up Ullr and remind him he’s slacking on the job. Next, we need to find whatever social media scheduling app Boreas is using to remind her that she is, after all, in the snow business and that, yes, we need more snow. Ullr, please blow this tropical pineapple express outta here. Heck, one of my children even double checked to make sure our rain stick was placed in the freezer for the winter just to seal the deal.
Rain Stick in the Freezer

In the winter we are a ski town and with that comes the need for snow. This summer we were metaphorically dealt lemons and I watched our community make lemonade by the helicopter load. Yesterday, it felt like lemons were falling from the sky in so many ways. That snow we depend upon, was being washed away by the ****. When the snow arrived unannounced in November we were thankful. Thankful to have a starting base for our skis to slide upon. However, with its über heavy, moisture laden load, the storm also took out beautiful old trees and in turn, our power. Again, like before, I was hearing from those who lost everything this summer, comments like “fitting we are having thanksgiving by candle light”. By now, one has to begin wondering “how much lemonade we can consume here in our little valley?” As I gaze out my windows, another damp gray day is holding on like a soaked towel that fell in the pool. The fact that it’s so very close to being winter, I’ve decided to make limoncello instead. Maybe Ullr will swing by for a nip!

 

Lemoncello

 

 

 

We formally invite Khione, goddess of snow, to join us for the holidays. We’ll set up the guest room and she can stay until March.

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