Countdown Begins – Day 1

I set an alarm of sorts today, although I usually don’t on Saturday mornings. The high-pitched notes were coming from my stove timer signaling that the Summer Sausage I put in the oven last night had finished its 8-hour baking time. I padded into the kitchen and pulled it out to cool then got ready to get on the road. First item done!

We had a lot to do today. We’ve rented a booth at the Antique Mall in St. Mary, Missouri and needed to make the 1 1/2 -hour trip down to do an inventory and restock with some new items. On the way back we stopped at Oberle Meats. On a trip there last month we ate at a local restaurant and they offered a charcuterie board. That appealed to me as a light lunch with a soup and salad. The server told us the meats were from Oberle’s. We happened to drive by the store on the way out of town and stopped in to pick up some of their Krakow. The texture and flavor is wonderful! This inspired me to put out a charcuterie board for our Open House.

With the Krakow sticks in the cooler we headed north to St. Louis We did some shopping at Costco (first time members) for bulk items, then on to the Hill for some Italian specialty items, then to Randell’s Liquors and finally over to the Global Market. After a quick supper we headed home to unpack our purchases and get a few items started. I’ve changed the menu up a bit this year putting some items on hiatus and adding a few others. We watched an episode of the Pioneer Woman where Ree Drummond made some Pretzel Turtles and they have been added to the Sweets category. This is her recipe – I am doubling the quantities she used to feed the crowd we anticipate.

Pretzel Turtles

24 pecan halves
24 mini pretzel twists
24 individually wrapped soft caramel squares, unwrapped
8 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Put the pecan halves on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake, shaking the sheet once halfway through, until lightly toasted, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate to cool.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the pretzels neatly on the baking sheet, then top each pretzel with an unwrapped caramel. Bake until the caramels soften (but are definitely not melting), 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and gently press a pecan half onto each caramel, just enough for the caramel to fill the pretzel. Set aside to cool completely.
Remove the cooled pretzel/caramels from the baking sheet. Spoon 24 small dollops (1 1/2-teaspoon helpings) of the melted chocolate all over the baking sheet, then lightly drop a pretzel onto the middle of each dollop, making sure the pretzel is centered. Allow them to cool completely before serving (you can hasten this along in the fridge).
Ree Drummond

It took a little while to unwrap 75 caramels, but with Kevin retired now, he is helping me out. I had two different brands of caramels and it was interesting to see the difference in how they softened in the oven. It looks like Kraft caramels are better suited to this recipe. They are cooling on the counter now and we’ll do the chocolate bases tomorrow. I also made a batch of Snickerdoodle dough and mixed the Buckeye centers. More on that in the morning. I have set a goal to get most of the candies done tomorrow so it’s time to turn in!