Mom mixes bit of St. Louis into caramel varieties

BY ELLEN FUTTERMAN, EDITOR

Chew on this

Janet Ansehl Shulman insists she was born baking. This, of course, is beyond far-fetched though she emphatically makes the point that baking is in her blood.

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A few years ago, hoping to have more balance in her life as a working mother, she started a business called the Baking House. She whipped up yummy desserts that she sold wholesale, including several types of brownies and even baked doggie treats, but it was her artisan caramels that the public ate up (sorry). So about a year ago, she decided to concentrate on caramels and changed the name of her business to the Caramel House.

Today, Shulman makes six “St. Louis” varieties of caramels. What makes these caramels indigenous?

“I use only fresh ingredients with no preservatives and I feature homegrown St. Louis products in all of my confections,” explained Shulman, the mother of two teenagers who lives in Frontenac and attends Temple Emanuel.

She explains her vanilla-flavored caramel is made with vanilla from the family-run Lochhead Manufacturing Company, which has been producing vanilla extract in the St. Louis area since 1918.

Her Beer & Chip Caramel infuses locally made Schlafly beer and Billy Goat potato chips while the Cookie & Caramel variety features Gus’ cookies. There’s even a bacon caramel that uses fresh Missouri bacon, but best we don’t talk about that during Passover.

“I currently am working on an exclusive caramel for Laumeier Sculpture Park. It will be a new flavor reflective of the park,” said Shulman, unwilling to divulge much more about that other than to say she expects the Laumeier caramel to be unveiled in the fall.

If that’s too long a wait, caramel lovers can find Shulman’s confections at several local grocers and outlets, including all Straub’s locations, the Women’s Exchange, the Contemporary Art Museum, Botanical Gardens and more. A three-piece snack bag will set you back $5 while a 12-piece gift box goes for $15. Check out her website at www.thecaramelhouse.com.

The skinny behind Israel’s new law

Still flapping around the blogosphere: Knesset’s law passed last month forbidding the use of underweight models in Israeli advertising. In addition, photos that have been retouched or manipulated in any way must carry that disclaimer.

The new legislation is an attempt to change the perception of beauty in Israel away from idealizing skinniness and looking anorexic. According to a recent article in the Jewish Star, the sponsors of the bill, Kadima MK Rachel Adatto and Likud MK Danny Danon, called this a “revolution in the perception of beauty in Israel, shattering ‘the ideal of anorexic beauty’ that is an “impossible illusion.”

Danon stated that “this will help eradicate eating disorders” in Israel. “This law will send a message to teenagers that being thin is acceptable, but slimness has its limits and there is such a thing as being too thin,” the Jewish Star quoted Adatto as saying.

Under the new law, models in Israel must have a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 or higher to be in Israeli ads. BMI is an indicator of body mass based on a person’s height and weight. Photos submitted for advertisements are required to come with a letter from a health professional issued within the last three months indicating that the model is in good health, according to the new law. So, for example, a model who is 5-foot-8 should weigh no less than 119 pounds.

A report presented to the Knesset in 2002 found that five percent of young Israelis suffered from eating disorders. Of those, 90 percent were girls between the ages of 12 and 20.

Oldie but a goodie

The song “20 Things To Do with Matzah,” by William Levin and Michelle Citrin, has been a sensation since it first went viral on YouTube in 2008. Now, nearly 1.6 million hits later, it continues to amuse with suggestions of what to do with the leftover unleavened bread. Among them:

1. Catch it like a Frisbee with your friends in the park, or

2. You could jump in the water and pretend you’re a shark.

3. You can make a matzah pick and play the guitar, and you can

4. Make a matzah license plate for your car.

5. Use it as a coaster when you’re drinking a beer, and…

Check out the entire video at goo.gl/OSeHx.