Ranch Cake

Lately I’ve been feeling a little unsure…  not like “What’s the meaning of all this?” unsure, like “Would you like fries with that?” unsure. I think I might be experiencing some sort of option allergy.

Normally I relish choices. Choices make me feel empowered. Choices make me feel special. Choices make me feel like someone cares enough to ask which way I’d like to go.

But we can all agree that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, right? Right.

So I decided to conduct a little field test. Just a random sample experiment, supervised and conducted by this girl. I wanted to know if I was overreacting or if my choice fatigue was legit.

I picked the day. I went about my business. I recorded every question I received. And now, my friends, the results of one Super Scientific Study on Question Asking In These United States…

The morning started with a quick grocery run so, of course, I was confronted with the seminal question of a suburban existence:

QUESTION 1:  Paper or plastic?

OK, fine. I saw this one coming and was prepared. But apparently markets have juiced up the choice machine, because I was then assaulted with:

QUESTION 2:  Would you like carryout service? (I had purchased 1 item weighing approximately 6 ounces.)

QUESTION 3:  Would you like game pieces for our ongoing Scrabble promotion that you have approximately 1 in 1,845,391,046,775,475,201 chances of winning?

QUESTION 4:  How would you like your change? (I paid with a five dollar bill.)

Again, I can accept the aforementioned. Establishments are trying to step up their service game and I certainly can’t hate on them for that. So I quickly and quietly completed the inquisition, took my one item and change, and departed.

Back to the kitchen for some recipe testing and only a few questions here:

QUESTION 5:  (From a telephone solicitor) Would you like to take a brief survey about your television viewing habits? It will only take about 4.8 hours of your time.

QUESTION 6:  (From a certain little dog) Why can’t I have any more of those bacon treats that you gave me last week? (OK, we won’t count this one.)

And then it’s off to the local post office.

At the post it’s a questionpalooza of stamp choices, decorative mailer options, extra service selections and the now ubiquitous change format inquiry (again, I paid with a five dollar bill). I refuse to torment you, my friends, with the ugly details. Suffice it to say that the slots for QUESTION 7-13 have been filled.

I’ll admit that I was weakened by question fatigue at this point, but I opted to stay strong and push ahead. It must have been during this moment of weakness, though, that I made the fatal flaw of deciding that the next stop would be our local movie rental shop.

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Making Cajeta

I have this idea that everybody loves caramel.

You might like it salted.
Prefer it with chocolate.
Enjoy it chewy.
Or melty.
On apples.
Popcorn.
Whatevs.

There’s a caramel for virtually everyone.

And whatever form your caramel-love takes, what’s better than making your own? Nada.

Goat milk is what makes this particular type of caramel so special. Have you ever tried milk from a goat? It has a grassy, fresh aroma and flavor – very rustic but also very dairy. Almost like a truffled version of fresh cow milk.

Today we’re making cajeta, a traditional Mexican caramelized syrup made from sweetening and cooking down goat milk.

I love cajeta because it is so simple and pure.
I love cajeta because there’s nothing to it other than the flavors of the milk, sugar and canela, yet it tastes so intoxicatingly complex.
I love cajeta because there’s an enormous jar of it sitting on my counter right now, and it’s about to get on my ice cream, under some fresh strawberries, and in to my tummy.

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Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

I am not a denier of dreams.

I am not a hater of hope.

I am not a heartbreaker.

No.

So when, last year, due to certain technical miscarriages of justice, I lost a number of SB posts to some Internet black hole, I didn’t think much of it.

But then something happened…

I started to get emails. Facebook messages. Tweets. Twits. All about a certain recipe for Chipotle Sweet Potato Skillet Biscuits.

Again I didn’t think much of it.

But the volume grew. I began to see sweet potatoes in my dreams. Smoke signals on the horizon. All painted with one unavoidable message:

“M., get in that dang kitchen and make those dang Chipotle Sweet Potato Skillet Biscuits again. Photograph it. Blog about it. And stop being a dasher of all that is right and good in this world!”

I really never knew smoke signals could be that long. You guys are gifted.

It was this recent comment that finally pushed me over the biscuit dough precipice:

So polite! And she has company coming!

Catherine, thank you so much for the gentle reminder to do the right thing.

My Valentine to you and all the other Chipotle Sweet Potato Skillet Biscuit lovers out there? The recipe. Finally!

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Honeycomb Sesame Seed Brittle

I really like board games. Does this make me a dork? I’m thinking yes.

The thing is, if loving board games is wrong, I’m not so sure I want to be right.

Bring me your Yahtzees, Parcheesis, Strategos and Battleships. Oh, sweet Battleship.

D2. D3. D4. D5.

I just sunk your battleship.

An important factor in successful board game play is the food that you choose to fuel your victory.

Candy is one of my favored options.

But I will admit that I don’t care for store-bought saccharined out candy.

No, after the Great Jolly Rancher Phase of 1992, my taste buds converted to rustic, homemade candies. They are so much more fresh and flavorful. Just like this brittle.

You may be asking yourself what sesame seeds have to do with southwestern cuisine – they’re actually often used as thickening agents in moles and other sauces.

I like the flavor of sesame because it’s subtle, and I like the crunch of the seeds.

What better way to punch up some brittle candy?

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