Sustainable Options

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Swirly Lollipops

For my kids birthday party they wanted to have a lollipop party.  I immediately thought of those giant swirly whirly lollipops that you see at old fashioned candy shops and that’s what I wanted to use to decorate.  Well I found out those are expensive and full of lots of not so good ingredients.  So what’s a mom to do but decide to make them herself!  It was a fun adventure making lollipops and I am happy we accomplished what I set out to do.  We made Swirly Whirly Lollipops!

Here’s How:

Recipe: Makes about 20 1” lollipops

3 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Water
3/4 cup Lt. corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon Cream of tartar

1-2 different flavoring oils (about 1 tsp each)

2 different colors (about 1/8-1sp each)

You will need to adjust the amount of flavoring and coloring depending on how strong they are.  I found that using the paste colors from a candy/cake making store I had to use less than 1/8 teaspoon.  However when using the food coloring in the little red topped tubes from the grocery store took over 1tsp. 

I came up with this recipe by adapting this candy cane recipe.

Step One: Set up everything! Oil everything (I found vegetable oil worked best).  Make sure all your ingredients are ready to go. 

Here are my molds sitting on top of upside down cookie sheets covered in foil.  This helps them cool faster.  I found that the molds did not work well (too many lollipops broke getting them off the mold).  However the plastic mold you see in the background worked well.   Be sure everything is covered in oil and lay all your sticks out.  I found it was easier to just poor the syrup on the sticks instead of using the molds for regular lollipops. 


Step 2: Start heating the sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar and water on the stove.  You heat until the sugar dissolves then transfer it to 2 pots and add flavor and color.   This is when you turn up the heat on the burner and use your candy thermometer to get the syrup up to temperature (300 for regular lollipops, 280 for swirly pops)

You can see the color mixing into the syrup.  This happens without stirring.  It is important that you do not stir the syrup after the sugar dissolves. 







Regular Lollipops: Once the syrup reaches 300 degrees for regular lollipops you remove the pan from the heat and pour the syrup slowly onto your molds and sticks.  It pours very slowly so it is not hard to get nice sized circles this way for your lollipops.  Be very careful it is extremely hot!  Also you have to move some what quick because it starts to cool very quickly and of course it hardens as it cools. 

Swirly Lollipops:

Once the syrup reaches 280 degrees you remove it from the heat.  Now here is where it gets tricky and I admit I didn’t find the perfect solution.  I tried pouring the syrup out in a big mound onto oiled foil in a cookie sheet and then moving it around as it cools so it does not harden.  I also tried leaving it in the pot but it seemed to stay hot a lot longer this way.  Anyway You need it to cool just enough to touch it but not so much that it gets hard.  At this point (I have no pics because you have to move fast).  You cover your hands in oil and take a small pinch of each color.  Roll it into a rope and then form the rope into a circle and stick a stick into  the end to make a swirly pop.  You can also experiment with different shapes! 

This is hard work because you have to pretty much touch the syrup before it is cool enough to touch and then you have to work fast.  It helps to have an extra set of adult hands to help.  My daughter was able to make one or two lollipops (she’s 4) once the syrup cooled enough for her to touch.  Rubber gloves and Band-Aids to cover your fingers can also help but don’t forget to cover your hands/gloves in vegetable oil. 

If this looks to hard I got some great tips from from Jayne who sells homemade lollipops for a great price in her Etsy store (I found it only after I started making my own). 

Things I tried that didn’t work: I made one batch with agave syrup instead of corn syrup.  These turned out more like taffy.  The bonus was they were easy to mold (it didn’t harden all the way when cool).  However to keep there shape on there stick you had to keep them in the freezer.  They tasted good though.  This would be a good option if lots of kids were helping out. 

I also made an all natural batch with a honey and sugar (no food coloring or un natural flavored oils).  These worked okay and many people liked them.  I felt they tasted a bit like burned sugar also they made better regular lollipops than swirly pops.

Supplies: I ordered a thermometer, lollipop mold, sticks, candy bags, flavored oils (natural lemon, bubble gum and tutti fruity), food coloring from a candy making website.  However you can purchase most of what you need a craft store.  However be aware that chocolate molds will melt if used for lollipops or other hard candies. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yummy Easy Brown Rice

I have been trying to switch to brown rice for a long time and I have had some success with cooking it but it seemed like a lot of work and it took a while.
Here is a great recipe that only takes 40 minutes. I did during the kids naptime and I warmed it up later for dinner. Oh and I went back to snack on it later that evening. That says something out of all the treats in the house I wanted to snack on brown rice! Oh and I bought it from Massa Organics at our local farmers market, there rice and wheat is the best and makes great products.

We used it to make Mexican rice bowels. Rice, meat (we used ground beef), black beans, salsa, cheese and avocado. This is an easy dinner and most things can be prepared in advance I also made black beans from scratch. Again it was an easy recipe and required no soaking! These were by far the best beans I have made, they were cooked through but not mushy!

Rice bowls are versatile, you can use different beans, meats, veggies, sauces but you’ll always know you are giving your family a healthy meal. Also for my picky kids I gave them all the parts of the rice bowl in different sections on there plate (not mixed up). Since there was a variety of veggies and protein sources I didn’t have to worry that they ate every bite. A few more good things about this meal is its economical and keeps well for lunches or tomorrows dinner.

Linking Up To:

abc button

Good Article on Fluoride

We do not live where their is fluoride in the water, which I think is great because it gives us the choice.  Our children (2 and 4yrs) use non-fluoride toothpaste.  When they are older and not swallowing so much of it I will consider a more natural fluoride toothpaste. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hamburger and French Fries!

So people think that we are missing out not going to fast food.  We still do go out to eat I just try to pick restaurants that are not large chains and not fast food.  We now prefer home made pizza because it is so yummy!  However that means pizza night is no longer a quick phone call and 30 minutes later dinner imageis on the table.  

Anyway tonight we had hamburgers and French fries our way!  It was super yummy so I had to post.

Hamburger: Our meat is from Sean’s parents ranch where they raise a few cattle for beef.

Toppings: Avocado, cheese and mushrooms all from California.  It was weird not having tomatoes but I am trying to not buy fruits and veggies out of season so we went with out.  I was excited to find Avocado at the food co-op from California it was the bright green kind not the typical Hass ones that we get in the summer and fall.  image

 Buns: At 3:30 I realized I would need bread by dinner time so I used my new Kitchenaid mixer to make over sized dinner rolls that have extra yeast so they rise fast.  They were 1/2 bread flour 1/2 wheat. 


Fries: I looked up some recipes and made baked sweet potato and regular fries.  The sweet potato ones did not get crispy (I will tweak the recipe and try again soon).  The other ones were great.  My family loves home made fries and always asks for more.  Also I am freezing a batch for a quick snack another day.   (Fry pictures are before they were cooked.  I got to busy with eating to take any after shots after they cooked)

Regular Fries: Pre-heat oven to 450, cut Yukon gold (or other) potatoes into fry size pieces.  imagePut in a bowl and mix with a few tablespoons of California Olive Oil, salt, pepper and other favorite seasonings (I like paprika, or 21 season mix from Trader Joes).  Place on cookie sheet in single layer and bake at 450 on lowest rack for 20-30 minutes flipping fries once about half way through. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Back to basics!

This is a great article about changing how we eat. Over the last year my family has done most of these things. We are not perfect but we only go out to eat once or twice a week. We have been a member of a CSA for almost two years and I have been visiting farmers markets since I was a kid. We now have our own garden (if only we could get it to produce!). We make our own bread, cookies, jam, and many other snacks. We purchase about 75% of our food from the local food co-op buying seasonal and local when possible. Our kids are learning to garden, cook, shop local and they only eat the best seasonal fruits and veggies! As a family we are wasting less, saving money, spending time together gardening and cooking.
What changes is your family making?