Dessert · Uncategorized

Caramels and Cooperation

Don’t you just love the taste of a sweet, gooey piece of caramel that melts in your mouth? One of my favorite desserts growing up were caramel kiss cookies that I used to eat for several birthday parties that my friends would throw in elementary school. While the sweet treat is not only a very timely one with the winter holidays coming up, it is also a great symbol of “sticking together” and “being sweet” during a time when this country couldn’t be more upset or divided. Let’s learn about the history of this delicious dessert from LifeScript, but more importantly, let’s learn how this candy can be used as a metaphor to bring this country together during these rough times in our culture!

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Photo Credit: Glowing Positively

Caramels and History

Caramels are a special kind of confection. There is nothing better than snuggling in front of a good movie and letting a gooey caramel candy melt in your mouth. There are many different types of caramel, from sauces to wrapped treats, and many of these are easily made at home. Caramel is so versatile it can even be made in the microwave! While the exact history of caramel is unknown, it is recorded that about 1650 American settlers were making hard candies in kettles. Between this time and the early 1880’s, some ingenious candy maker added fat and milk while boiling sugar and water, creating what is now known as caramel. During this time, caramels were also made with sugar beet juice because refined sugar was expensive and hard to come by. Caramels are chewy because of the heat activation between the sugar ingredients and the milk solids. This creates the caramelized flavor. Caramels are made when sugar syrup is cooked and then milk and fat is added. The mixture is heated and stirred constantly in a kettle until it becomes milky or light brown. Caramels heated further actually turn into toffees.

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Photo Credit: Deliciously Yum!

Caramels and Politics

Okay, I’ll admit it, last week was pretty rough. Feelings of lost freedom, fear, rebellion, and for some, elation, took over our minds. While last week marked the beginning of a radical change and transition of power, I always choose to be an optimist. I chose to write about caramel this week because of what the candy represents…something that is sweet that sticks together, which are things we need to remember in these turbulent times.To quote my favorite author, J.K. Rowling, while “dark and difficult times lie ahead,” I hope we can all get through this journey together.

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Photo Credit: Google Plus

Clearly, the American people were tired of the establishment, craving honesty and crying for help. I’ll admit, while I was absolutely astounded and disgusted by several of Trump’s comments, and fed up with the system, I respect the values of American democracy. Because I love America, I will honor the opinions of our people and will take responsibility to accept the outcome of the president elect that we have chosen. To be completely honest with you, I voted for neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and boy have I gotten a mouthful of blame for being the reason that Hillary wasn’t elected. Yes, I know that my views are not “popular.” To several people, that may translate to them that my views are “wrong.” I am aware that I think differently, but I truly value diversity of opinion. Just because people don’t think the way I do, I am not going to place the blame on them for the reason that my candidate of choice was not elected, and am not going to petition to change the American electoral system to get my way. I truly want to help bring this country together, and fighting with my peers is not the route that I choose to take. From now on, I will try even harder to be as tolerant as I can be to the best of my ability, showing nothing but love.

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Photo Credit: Imgflip

Please hear me when I say that I am just as scared as many of you are. As Trump was not my candidate of choice, my initial reaction to him whenever I see him is to think about all of the racist, sexist, and very offensive remarks that he has made to various women, ethnic groups, cultures, and religious groups as shown by the media. I cringe inside. However, I have to remind myself that many good-hearted Americans had their reasons for voting for him, and seeing that Mr. Trump is going to be our next president, I want desperately to see the good in him, and I want nothing but the very best for him and his family.

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Photo Credit: ABC News

After trying very hard to open my mind, from what I have gathered about Trump, there is no doubt that he is a person that commands attention wherever he is, and is a man that has an unbelievable amount of pride and arrogance. I can’t help but to admire the fact that after years of politicians reminding us how doomed that our country is going to be, Mr. Trump can say to Americans with confidence that our country is going to be “great again,” even when people criticize his policies, and he acknowledges that he takes into account bipartisain suggestions. When pressed in an interview on “60 Minutes” about whether or not he regrets much of the negative things he had said about people, I also appreciate the fact that he owned up to the fact that his comments, and the entire presidential race in itself was rough, but that he was instead going to focus on moving forward and doing positive things for our country like fixing healthcare, lowering taxes, and improving the immigration system.

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Photo Credit: TV Line

The hardest idea that I had to grasp was that Donald Trump, from the short time between he was elected to the present, seems to be changing ever so slightly into a more diplomatic person. It’s so easy to just put him into the “racist, sexist” box and leave him there. While it’s hard to grasp the idea that people, especially those in power with a platform, can change, I’ve seen some evidence that this is true. I could not have been more thrilled that when prompted in the “60 Minutes” interview about his supporters performing hate crimes against gays, blacks, and different religious groups, Trump said that he was “deeply saddened” by those activities (I expected him to possibly say something brash). Trump commented, “I’m going to look at the camera while saying this, STOP IT.” To me, this was a little sliver of hope that Trump might try to be more of an accepting person, and that is probably one of my most dire wishes of all for this next presidential term.

Following this, I’m going to make some remarks about another important person taking on a new role in the White House…Melania Trump as our incoming first lady. I’ll admit, while I was at first very frightened about the idea of a former foreign model who posed nude becoming our next first lady, I had to stop myself for a moment. Who am I to judge a woman foe doing what she wants with her life and her body? Yes, Mrs. Trump will hold a position of power, but I believe that ALL OF US, regardless of how we choose to live our lives, deserve to feel important, and can have the power to affect change. Keep in mind, while nude modeling was a part of Mrs. Trump’s past, she too, just like Donald Trump, can change as a person, be she deserves the same respect no matter what.

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Photo Credit: TODAY.com

While Mrs. Trump was deeply criticized by the media for speaking out about against bullying when the media painted her husband out to be one of the “biggest bullies” of the campaign, bullying is an issue that should not be dismissed, no matter the circumstances. Again, though the little evidence that I have gathered, Mr. and Mrs. Trump have the ability to make amends to their actions moving forward, especially as events and environments will be changing at a constant. In a way, Mrs. Trump in the White House is an act of progress.

Let’s face it, Melania Trump was foreign-born, as so many Americans are, and she speaks FIVE languages. As diverse of a country as America is, most of us can only speak one language. Congratulations, Melania! Her language abilities can prove to be a major asset in establishing relations with other countries.

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Photo Credit: The Independent

I think one of the most surprising and heartwarming memories of this presidential election to me was when President Obama, Donald Trump, Melania Trump and Michelle Obama had man-to-man and woman-to-woman conversations in the White House recently. While both parties were visibly extremely uncomfortable, I was impressed by the effort put forward by both sides, with nothing but positive words coming out of each person’s mouths nevertheless. To me, this was an example of true bipartisanship, where both parties were placed out of their comfort zones, but each made their best effort to be civil with one another. I am so proud!

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Photo Credit: BRG.com

To conclude these thoughts, while it is completely okay to be scared for the future, the future is completely in our hands. Let’s hope for nothing but the best for Mr. Trump and his family as the faces of this country that we love so much. Try hard not to blame those around you for this presidential outcome. Most importantly, like a delicious piece of caramel, stick together, and be sweet and kind to one another!

Caramels and Pop Culture

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Photo Credit: Rhonda Richford

Did you know that caramel is now going to be a major highlight in a new popcorn shop in Paris founded by Avengers actress, Scarlett Johannsson? You can now dress up your favorite caramel corn in a variety of ways! The Avengers star is passionate about popcorn, and is making Paris’s popcorn scene truly unique and outside the box with the introduction of fresh-popped gourmet flavors at her happening Marais location. Six are available in the red-white-and-blue, barber shop-themed bar (Yay America!). Savory flavors include cheddar, truffle parmesan and olive oil and salt n’ pepper; sweeter flavors include Canadian maple with caramel, chocolate strawberry and strawberry cream. Check out the latest trendy international specialty store, called Yummy Pop, today!

Caramel Pumpkin Spice Candy Corn

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Photo Credit/Recipe: Catherine Pappas

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, toss together peanuts, craisins, pretzels and m&ms. Divide the mixture between the two baking sheets. Set aside.

3. In a large cast iron pot, heat cooking oil over high heat with one kernel inside. Once the kernel pops, add about ¾ cup popcorn kernels. Once the popping reduces, lower the heat to medium-low. When all the kernels have popped, remove the pot from stove and let it rest with the lid on.

4. In the meantime, prepare your caramel sauce. Boil down sugar. Once the sugar begins to boil, add butter and whisk. When the butter has melted and the mixture is now thick, slowly add the whipping cream. Be sure to add the cream slowly as it will boil and may splatter.

5. Whisk until a thick caramel sauce forms. Remove from heat.

6. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, then pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss until the popcorn is completely coated with caramel. Divide the popcorn between the prepared baking sheets.

7. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Just until the caramel has set and all the ingredients have warmed. Be sure not to burn the popcorn. 8. Transfer to a serving bowl sprinkle with salt if desired, and enjoy!

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