New Year Ranch Crackers

Happy New Year everyone!!!!

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Every New Years party needs it’s finger snacks, right?  I’m a little late on giving this blog post if you want to make homemade crackers for your New Years party, and the truth is, you probably would rather buy some at the store for all the hundreds of guests you have in your house, you popular stud!

What are some of your New Year´s resolutions.  I´m not going to lie, I don´t believe in resolutions.  If I have a problem, I shouldn´t wait until the end of the year to change it.

Kristen, Micah and I ended this year with quite the final outing in Arequipa.  We went to the market to buy some fireworks and baking supplies for the night.  We saw a “show” of a gay man dancing about a circle being whipped by a woman with five skirts on and giving an 80 year old man a lap dance… I do not exaggerate!  Then, Kristen about got her camera stolen out of her purse on the bus, luckily she pulled out her kung-fu and smacked the man!  She safely recovered her camera.  Whew!

Well, Kristen, the dear soul, went home for Christmas and brought back some GLORIOUS American food exp., Cheez-Whiz, Elk Sausage and Dry Ranch Packets.  This is what we contrived to incorporate all this delectable piece of HOME!

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Ranch Crackers

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
1 packet dry ranch dressing seasoning

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Oh, I despise florescent lighting.  Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).  Throw your flour, salt and ranch packet in a bowl and mix them together well.  Then, cut in your butter, I think I used a little bit more than 2 tbsp.  That thing that say´s “sello de oro” in the picture doesn´t have the nicely marked measurements on the back like in the States.  It´s not necessarily to measure out the milk exactly.  Add milk and knead with hands if needed until the dough is soft, but not sticky.

Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it´s paper-thin.  If you have a pizza roller, I am un-candidly jealous and you can just leave!  Otherwise, use your knife to cut into squares.  Place your squares onto a cookie sheet and poke several holes in each one with a fork.  Then, bake for 15-20 minutes.  Super easy, right?!?!

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P.S. Here’s what our New Years looks like in Peru!

Caramel Comfort Sauce

Christmas is over, now all you at home have just to suffer through the rest of winter.  Let’s all be quite honest with ourselves, winter is only awesome because of Christmas.  Once Christmas is done, winter may as well be on it’s way.  So, I thought I’d offer a bit of comfort to get you through those wintery, drab days. 

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A year ago I was living in an apartment that may as well of had holes in the walls for windows.  Our heating bills were outrageous and I don’t know how I paid those school loan bills as well!  God is good and He provided, but we still always had a cold house.  I went out and purchased a space heater, which didn’t really heat any space beside the area I made underneath a blanket with it while I watched movies on Netflix.  Oh Netflix, I miss you!  But you are nothing compared to Peruvian Pirated movies.  It would have been nice to have known then how to make this little bit of comfort, even though I probably would have been breaking the bank then buying ice cream to drizzle it over!

I’m grateful that my friend Amanda has been saving these pasta sauce jars.  I had to make a substitute for molasses and I used one of these for that as well.  I was pleasantly surprised when I poured all the caramel contents from the pan into this jar to find that it all fit perfectly. 

The handicap in this case was simply not having a caramel sauce like this here.  We have a caramel sauce-thing called manjar… that’s pronounced mAHn-kkkkkkhhhhhhar.  Yea, you gotta clear your throat on that one.  Go spit that out in the sink.  Manjar’s name itself means delicacy, and they stuff it in a dough and deep fry it to resemble something like a elephant ear stick with goo inside, this is called a churro.  It’s really quite good, but when the sauce is not hot it’s just really thick and goopy. 

You’re probably thinking, Trevor, you silly nitwit, why would I, who live in the States, make caramel sauce when I can just buy it? To which my answer would be, cause it’s fun!  Also, it could be cheaper.  

A pint of heavy cream in the States is about $2.50-$3
Butter in a pack of 4 sticks could be about $3-$4
Sugar is about $2 at Wal-Mart
Salt, you have a pinch in your house right?
Water… yea, you got that too.

Caramel sauce is about $5-$6 a pop!  If you were to buy all the supplies at once to make this, yea, it would be more expensive, but with all the supplies you buy you could make this three or four times and be beating the off-shelf version.  See?  That’s another good reason too, right?

Give it a try, slather it on apples, pie, ice cream, pears, your fingers!

Caramel Comfort Sauce

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup (or 8 tbsp) butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 pinch or 2 salt

Dump the one cup sugar in a small sauce pan and then pour evenly over top the water.  Put the pan over a low heat and let the sugar dissolve.  Don’t let the sugar burn at this point, so make sure you take the pan by the handle and whish and whoosh the sugar-water mixture around occasionally. 

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Once the sugar is dissolved turn the heat to high and cover.  Let that boil for two minutes.  Then, take off the lid and watch it boil until you see it starting to turn brown around the edges of the pan.  That’s what the directions told me, but I never really saw this happening very clearly, I think it’s best to even in this stage swirl the pan around occasionally to ensure you’re not going to create a sugar fossil.     

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When it starts to brown start swishing the pan by the handle over the heat until the whole turns a beautiful amber and starts to smoke.  Now, it will smoke even too early if you have the pan just sitting on the heat, you want to look for smoke while you are swishing the pan about.  That’s your sign. 

Pour in the butter, which should be cut up into small blocks, and whisk gently.  I was taken off-guard when I put the butter in because it rather explodes into a sizzling anger of oil hitting hot water.  Just a kind warning, I didn’t get hurt so I’m not worried you will either.  You will find, as I did, that the butter will melt faster than it can mix with the sugar so whisk until you have only one type of liquid in your pan. 

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I think it’s also worth mentioning that I was on the phone during this last stage, speaking in Spanish, so I think you are very capable of doing this as well!  You can see in the third and fourth picture the film the butter is making on the surface of the caramel, that’s what you want to mix in until you have the one, even consistency. 

Then mix in your cream.

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If the sauce turns lumpy put it back on a low heat and stir consistently until the sauce is one smooth liquid.  This happened to me, so do not panic, it smooths out beautifully.  Then, remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla and salt.

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Pour it in a jar of your choice and drizzle drizzle drizzle!!!  Bon appetite!

Apple Pie Inside Out

Hey there!  I’m glad you could make it back!  You know, not many have been coming, you should invite a few people along with you next time.  Would you like come coffee?  Some apple pie?  Well, here’s what I’ve got.

I have no idea what I did here.  I don’t even know if it’s something already in existence.  I mean, it’s nothing really that extraordinary or genius.  Apples, cinnamon, sugar and then a fried pie crust bottom.  It’s the handicapped kitchen folks, I had to do what I could to get some kind of apple-ish fall dessert. 

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What I had originally intended for this quick-whip-up, hurry-get-something-sweet-in-my-mouth-before-I-eat-your-fingers, I-love-apples, I-want-American-cable-television recipe was a granola bar sort of base.  But lo, in our cupboards I only had the very fine oatmeal of Peru we call avena…  It looks very much like flour actually.  Here’s a comparison.

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Which is which?  You win a prize if you can tell!  What’s the prize? What’s the prize?  A pat on the back!  Good job.

My measurements for this recipe are going to be… well… round-about.

Apple Pie Inside Out

Serves 2

Apple Stuff
2 large apples or 3-4 medium or small apples
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Pie Base
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
at least 5 tablespoons butter
at least 3 tablespoons ice cold water
pinch of salt
oil for pan frying

The big handicap in this recipe, or rather the idea I had to get around for my original idea, was that I didn’t have a oven.  I only had the range top available.  So, with the pie crust bottom I had to get creative and decided to just fry the darn sucker.  Who did a little grease ever hurt… except for Kirstie Alley? 

I started out by peeling all the apples and throwing them into a pan with the butter and then sprinkle over top the sugar and cinnamon.  I put it on low so it will caramelize and soften up real nice.  I like my apple pie filling soft soft soft.  While that’s cooking low I started the pie base-thing.  I bet I sound real trustworthy, using terms like… pie base-thing.

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Mix the flour, oatmeal and salt in a bowl together and start cutting in the butter with a fork or pastry mixer.  I put at least 5 tablespoons butter because I don’t know exactly the measurement you should use, just cut in the butter until you have what looks like very course crumbs.  Then mix in the ice cold water with your fork.  The key is to only use enough water until it forms a firm ball, that should be 3 tablespoons.  It isn’t horribly important to get the right water ratio right, because you’re not going to be rolling it out like a pie dough. 

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Split dough in half and you can form them into patties in your hands.  Then just throw them on the liiiiiiightly oiled pan and let them brown nicely on each side.  It might take about five minutes on each side.  You don’t want to cook them fast… maybe I shouldn’t use the word fry then, huh?  Cook them in a pan on low heat until browned on each side.  There, is that better?  Seesh, you are so exigente (demanding)!

Then, when you’re base is done put it on a plate and serve the apple filling stuff over it.  If it’s not as syrupy as you’d like it then throw some more sugar and butter in there.  Not enough cinnamon?  Flavor to taste and you’re good to go! 

I hope you like the handicapped creation!