Gold Medal Plates and Big Dreams

As I get older and the number of choices I have made in my life start to outnumber the choices I haven’t yet made, I find myself reading and re-reading a couple of quotes, whose origin is lost on me:

 “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us”

 Gold Medal Plates |

“I can do anything I want, but I can’t do everything I want”

 Gold Medal Plates |

I have the broad shoulders of a swimmer and I have used them to propel me across the Northumberland Strait, a 13km stretch from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island riddled with jellyfish and bisected by a major shipping lane.

But, I grew up in a small town with an outdoor pool and no swim team and to this day am not really sure how to do a flip turn. 

An Olympic swimmer is one thing I will never be. 

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Vanilla Bean Caramels

Vanilla Bean Caramels

Caramel.  It’s been on my food bucket list for a little while.  I think of it as being a little scary.  Even with the help of my trusty candy thermometer, I picture chipping hardened burnt sugar off of the bottom of a pot, or candies that ooze out of their wrappers.  To me, being scared of something is just as good a reason as any to do it.  I was pretty scared of this, too:


And this:



Also this:


But, let’s face our fears together, shall we?  Here’s a delicious recipe for vanilla bean salted caramels from Annie’s Eats.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped
1¼ tsp. fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup water

Here’s what you do:
Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8″ pan with parchment paper, and then lightly butter the parchment.
Throw the cream, butter, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds and pods and fleur de sel in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once it’s boiled, remove from the heat and set aside.  Once it’s cooled a little, remove the vanilla bean pods.
In another saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved into the liquid.  Bring the mixture to a boil – don’t stir it at this point, but you can swirl the pot a little to keep it moving.  Boil until the syrup is a light caramel colour.
Now here’s where it gets a little scary.  Stay with me.  Very carefully and painfully slowly, add the cream mixture into the browned sugar mixture.  It’s going to bubble and steam and go crazy on you, but if you go slow and whisk constantly, you’ll survive.  Stir until incorporated and continue simmering the mixture until it reads 248F on a candy thermometer (don’t try to do this without a candy thermometer.  Just don’t.  Best $7 of your life, fellow candy-maker!).
When you reach 248F, remove the mixture from the heat immediately and pour it into the pre-prepared pan.  Let it cool for 30 minutes or so and sprinkle with the additional fleur de sel.  Continue to let it sit until it’s completely cooled before slicing and wrapping in wax paper, if you wish.