This is a dairy-free version of sweetened condensed milk, using honey as the sweetener.  For some other ways to make a substitute for sweetened condensed milk, including some with dairy, see here
It doesn't need cooked, which not only makes it super fast to make, but is great if you want to use raw honey and keep the enzymes.
Due to the fiber in this recipe, it won't be as smooth as the store product, but it is still thick, creamy, and sweet

This has one rather obscure ingredient: coconut butter.  That, however, is super easy to make, and will store at room temperature for a long time.  Months, at least.  
Coconut butter is plain, unsweetened coconut ('macaroon coconut') that has been pureed in a blender or food processor for several minutes, until it becomes liquid and creamy.  It, like coconut oil, will solidify at temperatures under about 75 F, but can be gently heated to liquefy again.  If you make your own, use at least 2 cups of coconut to begin with so there's enough in the blender or bowl to puree.  This much will give you about 1 cup of coconut butter.  If you want other ideas on using this coconut butter, see here or the Tropical Traditions recipe blog, where they call it Coconut Cream Concentrate.

No-cook Honey-Sweetened Condensed (coconut) Milk
Makes about 14 ounces

2/3 c. honey (7 oz. by weight)
1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. water, warm but not hot
1/2 c. coconut butter (also known as coconut cream concentrate), warmed



Add the warm water and coconut cream to the liquid measuring cup you have the honey in. Whisk together.

Mixture will thicken as it cools to room temperature, but can be used right away.

To thicken faster, cover and put it in the fridge.

This can be used any way that you'd use regular sweetened condensed milk, EXCEPT in the no-bake cheesecakes that call for lemon juice.  It won't thicken up properly there, because the condensed (dairy) milk thickens by the lemon juice curdling it.  Coconut milk doesn't.

Try it with the Two-Minute Fudge recipe!
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One tablespoon of this sweetened condensed milk contains 1g of fiber, 1g of protein, 7g fat, and 19g sugars.  The regular canned stuff has no fiber, 3g protein, 3g fat, and 22g sugar.

So this recipe is higher in fat, but it's a healthy fat.  It's lower in sugar, plus contains coconut fiber, which has shown an ability to reduce the glycemic load of foods by slowing glucose release.
 
 
Do you always have problems making crust?  Or maybe your great-aunt's favorite recipe works fine one year, but not the next?   This recipe may solve the problem for you.  When water soaks into flour, it creates gluten, which is fantastic for bread but makes pastry tough.     The method below 'protects' some of the flour from soaking, by coating it with fat.  This crust turns out flaky and tender, as long as you don't overwork the dough after adding the last flour and the water.   Just remember- cold and quick.  Keep it cold, handle it quickly so it doesn't get tough.  Cold and quick.  And yes, you need to spoon the flour to measure it.  If you don't, you'll have different amounts of flour packed into the cup each time.  It makes a big difference here.


If you need a pie recipe, check out the Holiday Pies post.


Rolled-out Crust 
This makes a single crust.  Recipe can be doubled.

1 ¼ c. flour, spooned in to measure, then leveled off
¼ tsp. salt
1/3 c. shortening or coconut oil, or 6 T. cold butter, sliced
¼ c. cold water

Combine 3/4 c. of the flour with salt and shortening.  Mix with an electric mixer for 30 seconds, until it is a paste and just starts to clump.  Add remaining flour, mix in a couple short bursts just til evenly mixed.  Sprinkle with water, a fourth at a time, lightly mix until it holds together when you grab a handful.  Form into a ball, wrap, and chill 30 minutes.  (You can freeze it at this point, too.)  Chilling helps gluten relax, re-firm the fat, reduce sticking, and keep from shrinking.  Roll out on floured surface, shape, fill, bake. Less handling= less gluten= more tender.

When the recipe tells you to blind bake, do you really need to weight the pie crust?

The crust on the left was lined with foil or parchment (either works), then filled with wheat kernels to hold the pastry in place while it baked.  The crust on the left WAS the same size before baking- but with nothing to hold it, the sides schlumped down, shrinking the crust.  This essentially changed a 9" crust into an 8" crust!
If your crust bakes up lower on one side than another, you don't have to be content with putting less filling in it. Fold a piece of waxed paper, parchment, or foil in half to double its thickness, then use it as a dam on the low side.  Leave it there until after the filling has chilled and set, then pull it out.  Now would be a good time to add a whipped cream border!
Still don't want to mess with pie pastry?

Try a shortbread crust, crumb crust, or cookie crumb crust.
Or skip making a crust, and make this Impossible Pumpkin Pie!
 
 
Just for fun...

because I hate being stuck in a rut.
Because I like to make things fun sometimes.
Because this takes almost no effort!

Since there is a group of us eating breakfast, Igenerally we cook one bigger pot of oatmeal, then add brown sugar or honey at the table.  We'll often have some nuts either on or in the oatmeal (depending on the child) to give the breakfast enough sticking power that my kids won't be hungry an hour later.

This time I had soaked some almonds overnight, and right before serving the oatmeal, it dawned on me that the ends very much resembled eggs.  Maybe hummingbird eggs.  Except they're the wrong color.  And I won't pull out the Jordan almonds for breakfast.  Cute, anyway.  

To make this nest:
1 cup cooked plain oatmeal (or flavored, doesn't matter)
1/2- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 small handful almonds (hazelnuts or macadamias would be spectacular here!  or maybe grapes)

Put the oatmeal in the middle of the plate.  With a spoon, push to form a well in the center, just like making a well for gravy for mashed potatoes.  :-)  Sprinkle with the brown sugar, then arrange nuts in the center, wide side up.  Serve to your baby birds.  Or whoever you have.  
 
 
About six years ago I discovered my boys had a vocabulary problem.  They were using one word to describe everything that tasted good: 'heavenly'.
This bothered me for two reasons-  one, I'm sure heaven is much better than the best food, and two, they weren't expanding their vocabulary.  This was a perfect time.  So we pulled out a thesaurus and looked up 'delicious' to come up with a new word to use.  'Toothsome' had them rolling on the floor laughing, so that became the new favorite.  
I've discouraged them using 'heavenly' very often- but I'll tell you, that was the first word that popped into my head (I didn't say it!) when the first spoonful of moist, custardy, caramel-y, pumpkin dessert hit my tastebuds.  

My apologies to Heaven.
  

This is a modified version of Caramel Bread Pudding.  (The link has other ways of using up stale bread, too.)  The spices in this play a supporting role to the pumpkin flavor: just enough there to help you notice the pumpkin, not the spice.  If you want to taste the cinnamon, double or triple the amount here.

Caramel Pumpkin Bread Pudding- fills a 9x13 pan

15 slices good-quality white bread, cut into 1” pieces (about 16 cups or 20-24 ounces)- baked until crisp (about 10 minutes at 450 degrees)
1 ½ sticks butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
¼ c. honey or corn syrup  
5 tsp. vanilla, divided
2 1/2 c. half-and-half, or use the last ½ cup evaporated milk from your can (above); use whole milk for the remaining 2 cups here.   
5 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. cinnamon  OR 2 tiny drops cinnamon essential oil
1/4 tsp. ground cloves OR 1 tiny drop clove essential oil
1/2 c. toasted nuts, optional

Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan on medium-high heat.  Stir about 4 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.  Remove from heat and stir in cream or evaporated milk, corn syrup, and 2 tsp. vanilla.  Pour one cup of this caramel into a greased 9x13 pan.  

Set aside one more cup of caramel, to use as topping later.  

To the remaining caramel, add the half-and-half (or mixture of evaporated milk and whole milk).  Beat the eggs together, then whisk in pumpkin, cinnamon, and cloves.  Whisk in the half-and-half mixture.  Add remaining vanilla.  Fold in the bread, and let sit until soaked through, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Put bread mixture into the 9x13 pan, bake about 40-45 minutes, until the top is crisp and the custard is barely set.  Sprinkle with toasted nuts.  Serve warm, with the reserved cup of caramel drizzled on top.
 
 
Where I live, the question is less whether one should vote for Romney or Obama, and more whether voting for Romney or either Goode or Johnson is better, on principle.  

I've been thinking through this, too, and two things have jumped out at me. One is something that Ezra Taft Benson said forty years ago about course corrections, the other is a chapter in Helaman.

Here's what Benson said in 1968:
How is it possible to cut out the various welfare-state features of our government which have already fastened themselves like cancer cells onto the body politic? 

...Obviously, not all welfare-state programs currently in force can be dropped simultaneously without causing tremendous economic and social upheaval. To try to do so would be like finding oneself at the controls of a hijacked airplane and attempting to return it by simply cutting off the engines in flight. It must be flown back, lowered in altitude, gradually reduced in speed and brought in for a smooth landing. Translated into practical terms, this means that the first step toward restoring the limited concept of government should be to freeze all welfare-state programs at their present level, making sure that no new ones are added. The next step would be to allow all present programs to run out their term with absolutely no renewal. The third step would involve the gradual phasing-out of those programs which are indefinite in their term.
(The Proper Role of Government)

As much as we'd like to completely solve the problem now, that is not an available option. Mitt Romney will at least freeze or cut back on programs. He was not my first choice for the Republican candidate, but he is very talented in the financial area. 

Second, Helaman chapter 4. There are two columns in that chapter that have been my focus of study for 2-3 weeks now.

As you read through verses 12-26, substitute the word "freedoms" whenever it says "lands".

The situation was that the Nephites had lost "almost all their lands". Moronihah, who was the chief captain, stopped trying to regain them because he learned it was futile at that point. Wouldn't many of the Nephites been upset with him? Wouldn't they say he'd sold them short? If it was an elected position, I can just imagine the opposition's campaign ads.

He had become aware that they lost so much because of their wickedness: focusing on what they owned and earned, being self-centered, treating lightly or disregarding what was sacred, ridiculing those who were humble, "denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering (sanctions, foreign wars, abortion), plundering (REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH!), lying, stealing, committing adultery" as well as "boasting in their own strength".

The solution was not more battles, not more money for the army, not even having someone more determined to restore their lands. 

The solution was to preach, and to prophesy. 
To preach is to teach the Lord's way, or to teach natural laws and consequences in view of our Creator's plan and care. To prophesy is to predict an outcome, which we can do when we understand correct principles and the attached consequences of either embracing or disregarding those principles. The Apostle Paul says, "covet [be eager] to prophesy", that this helps edify [build, strengthen] all of us.

Moronihah himself devoted time to do this. So did Nephi and Lehi (the sons of Helaman). 

If another person- we'll call him Virgilhah- aspired to Moronihah's position, and campaigned on regaining all of their lands (liberties), wouldn't some people have thought him the best choice? Yet he was not the best man for the circumstances.

Through the teaching, though, as the people started becoming convinced of The Way, the Lord's Plan of Happiness, and turning to the Lord and their neighbors, Moronihah was able to regain a city at a time from the Lamanites. 

It could not be done politically. They tried that. It had to come through teaching love, duty, and responsibility.

Eventually he managed to get back half of their lands. Half. That's all they could feasibly do themselves. But a chapter later, the Lord gave them the miracle they wanted. As the Nephites became more righteous, and as Nephi and Lehi continued to teach the people, it spread to the Lamanites. The Lamanites became converted, too- and then the miracle: the Lamanites returned the rest of the lands and cities to the Nephites. 

Could this have happened any other way? 
Doubtful.

Could this have happened with Virgilhah as chief captain?
No, the people were not ready.

I see our current situation as similar. Even though Johnson and Goode are closer to the truth, in some cases, about restoring our country as the Founders set it up, the Congress and Senate are not enlightened enough to work with them.  With the system's inherent checks and balances, the lawmakers would block most every effort. 

Romney, at least, will start us on those steps that Benson begged us to do, and I'm confident that he'll make some headway with Congress and the Senate. And he might even encourage the people to be righteous. He might not be the best candidate, but it looks like he's the best candidate for the circumstances.

Either way, our next duty, after we vote tomorrow, is to be among those teaching the Lord's way to our neighbors and everyone within our sphere of influence. Share the Gospel, teach of how the Savior is truly that- our savior, the one who saves. That's how we can regain our liberties, maybe half of them. The rest we have to leave to the Lord, through whatever miracle he will provide.
 
 
Do you have carved - or not- pumpkins sitting around now?   Or do your neighbors?  Will they share?
If you have a pumpkin farmer nearby, even better.  Their selling season is over.  If you act fast, they're often happy to let you glean for free.  If you wait, the pumpkins will likely get tilled into the ground.

 If the pumpkins are not cut, you can store them for a couple months if you like- dry (NOT sitting on cement!!), cool (under 75 F), and dark is best.  Most often my whole pumpkins stay firm and fresh until about January or February- this is at about 65 degrees F, stored off the floor and on a layer of cardboard or newspapers to absorb moisture- but I've had a Hubbard that stored until the next July, and a spaghetti squash from a year ago!

But let's say you have a pumpkin that you'd like to cook with. 

Fresh has so much more flavor than the stuff in a can from the store.  

Smaller pumpkins tend to be sweeter, bigger ones more watery.  But you can always drain off extra liquid if you need to.  Below is a slide show on how to make your own fresh puree.  You can see here for another, more detailed post on making the puree, or see previous posts on finding,choosingbuying,storing, or dehydrating them.


Click on the "Pumpkin" category on the right for recipes.