I am automatically suspicious of any recipe that has quote marks in its title. Because once you see the quotes, particularly around something delicious like “cheese” or “chocolate”, in my head it translates “cheese” into “not real cheese and not as good” and “chocolate” into “carob powder that supposed to taste like chocolate but actually tastes like dirt”. I can tell you “caramel”, while not real caramel shouldn’t warrant the eye roll because it’s sweet and caramel-ly, sans the stickiness, but every bit as smooth. Oh. I also forgot to add, it’s completely guilt-free. As in, no refined sugar and no butter, but plenty of vitamins, minerals and natural sugars to keep you going. There are just three basic ingredients that are going to make this caramel dip, but you’re welcome and encouraged to add in a few other ingredients that could take the flavor up a notch.
I’ve experimented with a few raw caramel recipes and found a version of my own to be the simplest and most delicious. All it takes is a few good-quality ingredients.
1 cup of pitted Medjool dates* 1/4 – 1/2 cup of homemade nut milk** 1/2 teaspoon of good vanilla extract Optional: a pinch of cinnamon, pinch of sea salt, 1 teaspoon of real maple syrup***
Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender until completely smooth.
Serve as dip for apples, bananas or any other food you desire.
Will keep in an air-tight jar in the fridge for about a week (perhaps a little more).
*Must be Medjool dates because these are sticky and have a sweet caramelized flavor. If these aren’t an option, then you’ll want to soak your other variety of pitted dates for 1/2 hour to 1 hour before blending to soften. You can then use the soaked date water as your liquid base. **Water is a fine substitution here too. Also, you might want to err on the side of more, depending on how thin you want the consistency of the dip to be. ***The dip will be sweet without the syrup, so you’ll want to taste-test first before adding in.
Not only does this raw caramel have a brown-sugar-like sweetness and lovely, creamy texture, but t’s easy to to make, easy to eat, doesn’t require any cooking and won’t get stuck in your teeth. Sticky caramel apples be damned!
Is what I thought after the house inspector called us and told us that our prospective home was not “inspection-ready”. He said he didn’t feel safe inspecting the house in its condition and told us that he didn’t know another inspector that would disagree.
Free kayaking in Riverside park! Bob would say it was fun. I’d say it was scary-fun.
See, when I told you this house was a fixer-upper, I forgot to mention how much fixing it needed (hint: a lot). This place has been neglected for over a year. The basement is covered in mold. It’s really quite gross, not to mention toxic. Despite that, we saw the potential in this home. We knew that the seller didn’t want to spend any more money on the house, which is to say he was selling it “as is” (which is the case with most short sales, I’ve learned). So we called a mold removal company to do a free estimate for us and it turned out that the price for removal was reasonable. We factored this into our low-ball offer and was SHOCKED when the seller accepted the offer. Immediately after, our lawyer was on the job of negotiating the logistics with the seller’s lawyer. We went back and forth, until we finally settled on a contract that worked out for all of us. Things were falling into place. Bob and I excitedly started picking up paint swatches at Home Depot and talking about how our dark brown couch would look great against a teal accent wall.
And then came the inspection. Or rather the almost-inspection.
Our pants were soaked! Hudson River-soaked. Blech. Oh yeah. These pictures have nothing to do with this post.
On Friday, I took off from work and rented a Zipcar to head out to Jersey and meet with the inspector. We were on the highway when Bob got a call. He turned the radio off, so I knew it was something important. All I heard on Bob’s end was “can’t inspect?”, “unsafe?”, “the utilities aren’t turned on?” and “so we should reschedule”. My heart started racing and I motioned for Bob to put the call on speaker. I heard the inspector say that in addition to some of the utilities not being turned on (which is crucial for a complete inspection), he didn’t feel safe being in a basement with the amount of mold present. He told us, “I highly doubt anyone would want to inspect this place without having the mold remediated first. It just isn’t safe to be in there for more than a few minutes. Even with a mask on.” I was so distracted by what he was telling me that I ended up driving off the wrong exit. I was angry and lost, but mostly disappointed.
My lovely and beautiful friend Val is leaving me to go to Spain again. Sad face. But she’s doing awesome things over there, so I can’t hate.
This presented a problem for us. We had agreed to take care of the mold only IF we bought the house (obviously). Seeing as how we aren’t going to buy it without having a complete inspection first, it becomes a stalemate. The seller made it clear that he didn’t want to spend a dime in this transaction. But if the inspector is right and the house is in no condition to be inspected, then it can’t be sold. Our realtor then explained to us that we could perhaps use this reasoning as bargaining chip, although it isn’t likely the seller will budge. Not that I blame him. The mold is just a product of neglect over the past year and has nothing to do with him.
So I’m fully expecting his lawyer to come back and say, “No dice.”
Val and Tanya. Behind me (taking the picture) was the creepy guy who was following us all around the park for a good twenty minutes. No joke. He was a creeper, but we lost him eventually.
Things are a bit up in the air right now.
Here’s the other thing. Our rental lease is due on Wednesday. We need to decide if we’re going to renew the lease or not. Neither of us want to spend the amount of rent they’re now asking for. But we love Astoria and getting to spend more time here is something we’d both love to do. But Bob also suggested moving back in to his old apartment, which is in his grandmother’s multi-family home in Maspeth, Queens. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper, so we could actually save some money. But the area isn’t as convenient and the apartment is a bit smaller, so we’d have trouble fitting all of our belongings and furniture. Also, the idea of moving into a place for the short-term seems so exhausting. What if we end up buying this place or even another one within the next few months? Moving twice in one year? I’d rather eat glass.
We call this one Stoop Kids. Because quarter waters and dollar ices and Tropical Fantasy and greasy, buttered bagels, that’s why.
Update: I wrote this post a few days ago, though it was published today . We’ve since decided that we are going to renew the lease on our apartment and wait out the process with this house. If need be, we will break our lease and give them 60 days notice so we don’t risk losing our deposit or breaching our contract. Per our realtor’s and lawyer’s advice, we are going to hire a new inspector to take on the job, since it turns out that the original inspector recently had a health scare that made him a bit more nervous to the mold situation. Perhaps the damage isn’t as detrimental and the new inspector can do his/her job without health risks. Our realtor informed us that the utilities will, in fact, be turned on this time.
I knew there’d be bumps in the road and I was fully prepared to feel this way after getting too attached to a home. It doesn’t make it any less disappointing though. But! We’re not out of the woods yet. There’s still some hope and I’m clinging to it!
I am not ashamed to admit that every so often, I will type in “funny shih tzu”, “sleepy kitten” or “tiny pig” into the Youtube search bar. I’m just a sucker for cute/heart-warming/hilarious/uplifting animal videos. But my favorites are dogs. Anyone who knows me personally (or anyone who has been reading this blog for a while) will know that I LOVE DOGS. I’ve recently bookmarked a few cute dog vids that I wanted to share in my Click On These posts, but there were too many so it gets a post of its own. As it should.
Prepare for your day to get that much brighter.
And the ol’ classic heart-melting combo: dogs and babies. If these don’t make you go “aaaw”, then consider yourself a lost cause.
2-5 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (balsamic works well too) Sheet of paper (or two) Tape Tall, clear glass jar or cup (use something with a mouth that isn’t too wide)
What to do:
1. Pour in the vinegar into a jar or cup. I used just enough to cover the bottom of the cup. 2. Roll the paper into a cone shape and place in a jar or cup. Use tape, if needed, to hold the paper cone together. 3. Wait for the flies to descend. 4. Empty out the jar by releasing the fruit flies outdoors periodically to once a day.
I always keep a lot of produce in the house, so there’s always a few fruit flies buzzing about. But last week I was faced with an unusually large amount of them, particularly swarming around my ripe grape tomatoes. There had to be about 20-ish fruit flies hanging out by this little package of tomatoes and it completely grossed me out. I’d remembered this tip I learned from Youtuber Megan Elizabeth on how to get rid of them using just a few household items, so I decided to try it out. It worked! ALL of them were trapped in the cup within two days.
A few tips and notes:
1. The hole at the end of the cone should be narrow so that the flies can’t escape.
2. The flies will try to crawl out by the sides, so you’ll want to make sure this area is secure.
3. Place the cup next to your produce or by the sink (or wherever you find them hanging out the most). You’ll catch more of them quicker.
4. Although this is considered a humane technique, you’ll have some casualties aka flies that got drunk on vinegar and drowned.
5. Our exterminator told us you would even use wine in place of vinegar. But then again why waste perfectly good wine?
Just like that, summer is officially over. It was such a good one though. No, actually it was more than that. It was fun, it was fast-paced, it was…fantastic. And as a tribute to the summer of 3 F’s, I still have some reminiscing to do:
Occasionally, there’s a product I love so much that I feel the need to gush about it here. And for the record, no not a sponsored post. I just really dig this thing. It’s a portable food warmer that heats your food about 2 hours prior to eating. No more waiting in line for the microwave at lunch time. No more awkward small talk in the pantry while waiting for my food to heat up. No more dried-out from-the-microwave pasta leftovers. No cold middles and piping hot edges. And I only paid $12* for it. Do I sound like an infomercial yet?
I’d highly recommend it if you work in an office and regularly bring lunch to work.
My favorite feature is how well and evenly the heat distributes throughout the food without drying it out. The quality of the food is much better in the crockpot versus food heated in the microwave. And I’m not gonna’ lie. I really like that that I don’t have to wait for other people to heat up their lunch first. When the hunger strikes, I just reach over to my crockpot, uncover and eat. Instant! Easy!
Here’s how it works/how I do it: I keep the crockpot in a small desk drawer at my office and carry my lunch to work with me in containers.
About 2-4 hours prior to lunch time, I’ll transfer my food to the crockpot and plug it in to heat up. The container is rather compact so you have to be really comfortable having your food touch or overlap (I really had to wrap my head around this, as I generally don’t like my food to touch eachother)
Rinse and repeat.