Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cider Pressing - Bringing the East Coast to the West

Me filling the jugs of cider.  Look at our cute red tractor hayride in the background!

Making apple cider controls our life right now.  I picked so many apples that they are starting to rot in our garage and it's crunch time.  Making apple cider is a tedious process and so far, we've done it 4 times this season and made over 30 gallons.  Justin says he has only one press left in him, but if he wants to drink more than one measly gallon of cider each month this year he better get a better attitude because he wants to drink it every day! 

The cider press, with the jack and cider bucket
Cider making seems to be more of an east coast thing, kind of like maple syrup collection, so we decided to bring that over since I'm pretty sure maple syrup will never be made in Utah.  First, we cut the apples because all of them come from untreated trees and many of them have worms nestling in the cores.  We chop them open to cut out worms and organize them into apple type so we can formulate our cider better. 

Justin shoving apples down the garbage disposal
Then we take what we want to use and throw them into the most awesome food grinder ever, which is a white plastic tub with a new, never been used for anything else, totally clean garbage disposal, which crushes the apples up and poops them out into a giant pot(sorry for the illusion, but that's exactly what it looks like) which is where the apples get oxidized and turn brown. 

Close-up of the cider flowing out of the hole in the base of the drum.  You can see it pooling off to the right.
Then they get poured into a fine mesh fabric and wrapped up in our cider press.  After a mesh bag is filled, we throw a pressing plate on top and repeat the process until the drum of the press is full, usually about 3 bags.  Then the top plate is set on the top and the hydraulic jack is inserted at the top, secured and as soon as the pumping begins, the cider starts to flow.  We mix it a little, filter out any small pieces that get through and put it into plastic jugs to freeze for the winter.  It really is the most delicious drink.  
Pouring the cider into the jugs.  I'm sure the water down the cider you buy at the store because ours is so rich and tasty compared to others I've tasted.  We treat it like liquid gold.  Yum!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Honey Caramel Apples

I found this recipe and the caramel flavor was excellent but didn't firm up enough to really make good caramel apples out of them.  If anyone tries it, let me know how it turns out for you.  Maybe cook it for longer and see what happens? I used two types of very small apples, one being a crab apple.  I don't think many people really loved the flavor but I'm just sick of the same old thing, so I did something different. I like new things.

  • 6 medium apples (or substitute 8 small apples)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • natural red food dye (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans (preferably soaked and dried)
  • 6 sticks or wooden dowels


  1. Whisk honey, cream, butter and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble, then immediately reduce the heat to medium. Stir in food coloring, adjusting the volume to match the intensity of color you like. 
  2. Continue to whisk the caramel frequently to prevent scorching and to prevent it from bubbling up and out of of your saucepan. Continue to cook until the caramel reaches a temperature of 260 F (about 25 minutes). The caramel should be a rich brown or red-brown if you also used food coloring; the bubbles should be small and should uniformly cover the surface of the pan and the caramel should be thickened.
  3. Prepare an ice bath. Then pour the hot caramel into a mixing bowl and place the bowl in the ice bath, taking care not to splash water into the hot caramel. Stir the caramel until it is uniformly cooled and it begins to thicken just a bit. 
  4. Plunge a wooden stick or dowel into the core of your apples and roll them, one by one, in the caramel until uniformly coated. Roll them in chopped pecans and place them on a piece of parchment paper to cool completely before serving.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Yummy Home Made Ketchup

Yesterday I threw a bunch of tomatoes in my sauce maker, boiled down the perfectly smooth sauce to make paste, added some spices and honey and voila, ketchup!  There are some really complicated recipes out there, but I found a quick one that doesn't have weird stuff like cloves in it from Whole New Mom. I did my own little spin on it using honey, omitting the molasses, and using fresh onion and garlic(because I didn't have the granulated stuff).  You can add what you like to your tomato paste and adjust it to your liking. I like the spices in this recipe so adjust as you like and stop buying the sugary junk!

Easy Homemade Ketchup

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups 
7 oz (approx 3/4 cup) tomato paste (Of course, you can use 6 oz cans and just reduce the other ingredients.)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons sweetener of choice, or to taste.  (I used 2 T Honey and 1/64 tsp stevia. )
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic (if using powder, use 3/4 tsp)
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion (if using powder, use 3/4 tsp)
3/8 teaspoon allspice
1 Tablespoon molasses (optional. I used blackstrap. For a low-glycemic option, use yacon syrup.)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup water (filtered.  See Is Your Water Safe?)
1.  Place all ingredients in a bowl.
2.  Stir to blend completely.
3.  Store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Warm Quinoa Salad

Also no carrots here. I just got a new oven and I'm still trying to figure out all the fancy functions.
Warm Quinoa Salad - by me!

 "Mom, what if someone broke into our house to steal your food because it was so good.  You better be careful". - Henry after eating this salad

Total prep time 20 min
Total cook time 30 min

Serves at least 6 people

2 cups quinoa
Organic or home made vegetable or meat stock
1/2 stick Grass Fed Cultured butter(you have no idea how delicious this is.  Please find and use it)
Coconut oil for roasting and sauteeing
Real Salt
1 cup red onion or any other onion:green, yellow, etc
Few cloves of garlic
Chopped tomatoes(I used cherry)
Arugula(for me)
(I also threw in some left over chopped brussels sprouts. Asparagus would also be great)
Note: this photo didn't have the carrots yet.  They were still roasting, but it added twice the bulk
Clementine shoving it into her mouth
 First of all, just assume everything is organic, because it is:) There is almost no need to worry about amounts in this recipe.  You can put as little or as much vegetables as you want in your quinoa and it will work.  Cook quinoa in a rice cooker using stock and a half stick of butter or cook according to instructions on the package.  Just throw it all in. Roast carrots, cut into pieces and covered in coconut oil and salt, in the oven at 400 until nice and brown and soft in the middle. Sautee red onions and when almost done, throw in the garlic.  Cut up tomatoes, parsley, cucumbers and anything else you have lying around.  Good additions would be roasted cauliflower(my personal favorite), roasted zucchini, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, let your mind run wild.  Chop everything up and throw it all together in a bowl and mix.  Serve on top of arugula or by itself and top with parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
Vivi finishing off the last bite.

Real Food Style

I've always liked all vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and to some, I might have had a pretty healthy diet.  However, I have also always liked candy, ice cream, chips and cookies and never shied away from eating as much of those as I possibly could.  I am also a very big eater and have always wondered why I wasn't obese because I eat so much food in general.  I'm like a fat person living in a thin body...until now.

A couple of months ago I was asked to do a BYU Women's Conference sharing station(booth) on Nutrition and I groaned inside myself because I knew what I believed in, which was a more traditional idea of eating food instead of what current trends were telling us about weight loss and cancer prevention.  I knew my conscience wouldn't let me live it down if I didn't present my more extreme, traditional idea of diet to the sisters in the conference.  Well, I enlisted the help of my dear friend Lindsay Killian and she gathered up a bunch of women who were all fully committed to living this lifestyle and they helped me put together the most amazing sharing station and it was a huge success.

Along the way I learned a lot of things that I wasn't aware of and I started implementing them into my life and I've had the most wonderful transformation of will.  I used to live the Body for Life eating plan which allowed me to eat sweets only once a week(which is still a decent way to live if you crave sweets) and all week long I would be craving candy and cakes and I couldn't say no to a cookie at a church function, so I would save it for my "free" day on Sunday.  After reading, pondering, studying out in my mind and praying about it, I have lost my desire to eat junk food and when I think about it, it seems repulsive to me.  I really feel like I've gained a testimony about how the Lord wants me to treat my body and the spirit it helping me to stay away from harmful substances.

I have also been slowly transforming my children's diet and I really hope I can keep it up in the winter.  Luckily produce is available year round because in winter I usually buy tons of snack foods until summer comes around when I let it peter out and we just eat fruit and veggies until Halloween comes around and then we start eating junk again.  I'm fully committed to scheduling time to cook every day(especially because I enjoy it) and feeding my family foods that aren't processed.

The conversation about processed foods is endless, but all I have to say is that manufacturers of processed foods do not have our health in mind and there have been many recent books published, like Salt Sugar Fat that illustrate how the combination of the three has been formulated to addict us and harm our bodies, and it's just not safe to consume processed foods.

The ladies who helped me at my conference created these wonderful documents about nutrition in it's different categories and I will post them one by one in case anyone wants to read them.  Even if you think you're eating a healthy may be surprised to learn quite a few changes you can make.

From now on, I will only post healthy recipes and thoughts about consuming healthy foods, which seems to me the natural progression of my blog since it's entitled Hohl Foods. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Eataly: NYC

My new favorite place on the planet: Eataly -- Alti Cibi(high class food)
 Justin and I took a trip out to NYC to a wedding and basically we ate ourselves into oblivion.  On Saturday I ate a giant steak then ate a 5 course meal at a wedding until midnight.  I had visions of that movie, "Seven"(back when I watched R rated movies) where that murder kills people who were guilty of committing the 7 mortal sins.  I totally felt like the obese man who was forced to eat until he died.  I ended up curled up in bed with a totally sick stomach, waiting for the food to digest, but I could tell I was headed for upheaval so I didn't waste any more time missing the after party and I just gagged myself so I would feel better.  I don't know if there's anything I hate more than throwing up.  I even broke some blood vessels in my eyelids.  haha.  Hideous.  I ended up putting my make-up back on and joining Justin at the after party for about an hour and felt fine for the rest of the trip.  Normally I could have pounded down all that food easily, but my stomach has shrunken and I just don't have my bottomless pit pregnancy stomach. 

Fresh Italian bread
So, this place, Eataly, is like an indoor replica of an outdoor Italian market place.  The name is so catchy as well because the correct way to pronounce "Italy" or "Italia" is not the frequently mispronounced, "Aye-tal-ee-ya" or even "Iht-a-ly"  It is said just like the word "Eataly" or "EE-tal-ee-ah".  So clever.  Anyway, there are like 10 different counters that sell pizza, pasta, freshly made mozzarella, seafood, bread, cheese, meats, etc.  and the rest of the place is like an Italian grocery store.  It's pure genius and totally delicious.  Justin and I ate two balls of fresh warm mozzarella, incredible prosciutto, olive oil, basil and salt, then we slurped down some raw oysters on ice - delish, and topped it off with a pizza and some wild boar ragu pasta.  There were Italians everywhere and we were speaking in Italian the entire time we were eating and ordering.  It was such an incredible experience and it made me realize how excited I am to go back to Italy this summer! We are taking the kids and Lucy on a month long trip to Italy before Justin starts work.  It's going to be epic!

$5 pasta bags

My favorite pasta of all time: fusili bucati lunghi.  This particular bag was $ we left it behind

These are also really fun long straw-like pastas.  I wish I could have bought some!

Authentic Italian deliciousness

Even though these look pretty, don't be fooled by Italian pastries.  Most of them are not worth the money or the calories. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Accidental chocolate salted caramel volcano cake

Erupting with sweet, delicious dulce de leche(DDL)

The other day I baked a chocolate cake from scratch with all the best ingredients.  It was for the adults at Henry's Family Birthday dinner.  I followed the instructions exactly, but one thing I did not count on was the cake batter spilling over the sides of the cake pan because our oven is not perfectly level in our rental house! We started smelling smoke and I had no choice but to open the oven to take out the bottom pan of our oven so the smoke wouldn't fill the whole house and make the cake taste like smoke.  

Result: volcano cakes.  

All the cakes had sunken pits in the middles and so I just had to deal with it by shaving off a little on top and pouring an insane amount of caramel on top to fill it in.  Nobody minded at all.  I made one large cake for our whole family and kept the smaller cake for later.  I made home-made dulce de leche and toasted coconut for the filling and toppings.  I also tried to make ganache for the frosting on top, which is almost the simplest recipe in the book and somehow managed to curdle it, wasting about $10 of the best chocolate money can buy!  It was an unusually bad day for baking, but in the end, you can't go wrong with chocolate salted dulce de leche cake! Oh, and be generous with the salt.  The saltier the better!
This was actually the small one.  I didn't want to take a photo of the large one.  I was just too frustrated after the whole ordeal!

Toasted coconut or TC is always delicious with DDL

Recipe for Dulce De Leche

I have to say, there are many shortcuts to making this final product, but none are as good as this.  It's a labor of love, but it's worth the time!
DDL and salt together are my new best friends.  I have a tub of this in my fridge and it calls my name every time I open it. Yum.


  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month. 

We put Dulce de Leche on vanilla ice cream with toasted coconut on top.  It's to die for!