As you can see from this week’s picture, I have been making caramels. I remember homemade treats like this from my youth; I had a grandmother who was frequently made fudge and rum balls and did interesting things with coconut at a time when coconut was not a popular ingredient.
As I sit here with a smooth buttery confection melting in my mouth, I can’t help but wonder why I never made these before. They are cheaper, tastier, and have none of the preservatives that the store bought versions include; and although candy has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to make, these were actually very simple to mix together. (The recipe is included at the end of this article – it does contain sugar so please don’t eat more than you should!)
As I was mixing these up I started thinking about all of the other things that people no longer make from scratch that were probably cheaper, healthier and more effective in the Victorian era and I realized something – recycling is not a new concept, it is a new word for an old concept.
Think about it – Victorians saved and reused, or repurposed just about everything. They made cleaning supplies by soaking citrus peel in vinegar; they made quilts and rugs from clothing so worn they were little more than rags; they soaked soiled lace doilies in used coffee grounds to turn them an ecru color to hide the stains; women on the Prairies even unstitched their faded cotton dresses and re-sewed them inside out to get more wear out of them. The list goes on.
All of these things were either free or very low cost and people lived entire lives with very little money at all. Today virtually everything we do and everything we consume requires money.
When did convenience become more important than conservation? Where did all of that ingenuity go? At what point will the pendulum start to shift back the other way so that people can enjoy a simpler higher quality life by consuming less?
They say you can never go back, and I accept that. But introducing as many healthy environmentally friendly home made things as I can into my life just makes sense to me. In the coming weeks I will share an idea now and again (and maybe tell you about a few of my funnier failures depending how it goes!)
Home Made Caramels:
- 1½ sticks butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 14 oz (one can) sweetened condensed milkPour into an 8” square foil lined baking dish. Let cool completely before cutting into bite size pieces and wrapping them in waxed paper. (I actually put the pan in the fridge overnight and then let the caramel warm back up to room temperature before cutting it up).
- Melt the butter and sugar together over medium heat. Add the corn syrup and condensed milk and bring to a boil. Stir constantly for 15 minutes until the mixture is a rich golden color.