A History: Lundeen Caramels of California

Caramel pour #2. #lundeencaramelsofcalifornia

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A Family Tradition

My great-grandmother Rachel Lundeen (aka GG) and her cousin started making holiday caramels for their friends and family in Bloomington, Illinois during the depression (early 1930’s). The caramel recipe they perfected was particularly addicting and yummy. Their friends and family kept demanding they make more caramels, and it quickly turned into a family Christmas tradition that is still going strong eight decades later.

A big thanks to Andrea, Bas, Abby, Ella, Stacey, SueAnn, Angela, Lily & Rob for helping us wrap all the caramels this year! <3

Some of my favorite childhood memories are wrapping caramels with my great-grandmother Rachel (she lived to be 98, passing away in 1999) and the rest of our extended family around my grandparents dining room table. I was in charge of cutting wax paper, but I also ate a lot of caramels. “Wrap one, eat one”, my grandpa used to say.

Four years ago Jonathan and I got brave and decided to try out hand at candy making. We bought a lot of commercial kitchen gear. We bought huge pots,  3′ long stirring spoons, oven mitts that go up to our shoulders, high tech laboratory thermometers, a dozen extra deep cookie sheets, etc. And then we got busy making test batches. There was a bit of a learning curve. We had some failures. Some of the early batches were too soft and stuck to the waxed paper. Some were too hard or just didn’t taste right. Eventually we started getting better at it. We now keep a detailed caramel log of every batch we make, so we can keep improving the recipe. This year we turned out 1600+ candies to share with friends and family.

We stick to the original family recipe for the most part, but we now sprinkle the plain caramels with sea salt (#seasaltisthenewplain). We also make small batches of specialty caramels each year. The flavored caramels for 2015 are: pecans, and chocolate/hazelnut. Based of feedback we may make more of one flavor the next year.

And to answer the million dollar question… No, I can’t give you the recipe. It’s top secret; I’ve been sworn to secrecy by my dad and grandpa Ed (Rachel’s son). We have relatives in different parts of the country who make the caramels each year so there is a little bit of a family competition to see who makes them and how they come out.

Enjoying your caramels? Instagram us a photo! Hashtag your photos #lundeencaramelsofcalifornia and they will automatically show up in the grid below!


Happy Holidays from Echo Park!




20 Gourmet Food Ideas for Your TV Night – (Part I)


TV Night & Food

We have a bunch of friends come over every Sunday for TV night.  We watch Mad Men, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Girls, etc. There are so many great shows on now (I think this must be a golden age of TV) and it is hard to keep up! A lot of nights we watch three hour long shows back to back — so it is important that we have great food (and drinks) to sustain us!

[quote] TV night is the highlight of the week! We argue about the characters, someone always has an iPad and is looking up the discussion on Reddit or Twitter, there is one person who has a really great memory and is always reminding us of things that happened 3 seasons ago, and someone else has read all the books and knows what is going to happen next. We catch up with what everyone has been doing all week. We watch rock videos while we wait for people to arrive. We enjoy the great food. It’s lively, let’s just say — and it makes the weekend seem longer![/quote]


How to Eat in Style in Front of the TV

There are a lot of challenges to feeding a large group in front of the TV. Here are a few tips:

  • Pick foods that you can eat with your hands or a toothpick. Save the forks for dessert (if you need them).
  • Make sure you have food for everyone: meat eaters – vegans. It is often as easy as keeping most things veggie but letting people optionally add more meat/dairy if they like.
  • Use seasonal ingredients as much as possible – Example: brushetta in July, artichokes in May/June, potatoes in the fall.
  • Avoid messy foods – you don’t want to accidentally stain couch or rugs.
  • TV seasons last a long time & you don’t want to repeat the same meals too often. If you repeat a dish try to make it different each time –  like thin crust pizza one night and a deep dish another night.
  • If you want to be fancy you can theme food around a show — Pinterest is great for this: Mad Men food ideas, True Blood party ideas
  • Invest in some little plates, tiny serving spoons, ramekins, and cloth cocktail napkins. Everything should be small, so it doesn’t take up much space on coffee and end tables.
  • Keep a roll of paper towels nearby.
  • Think about serving a different course with each show.
  • Poll people on what they want to eat at future TV nights – their answers might surprise you.


Ideas for TV night:


And don’t forget to leave room for dessert — more on that in PART II!


Do you watch TV with friends?
What are YOUR favorite foods to eat in front of the TV?
Tweet me @pattyhume

Home = 1st Class Lounge


Last year, Tom Haverford, on Parks & Recreations declared his apartment to be a “girl heaven”. He has it stocked 24/7 with “boutique eye cream, unisex cologne, lip exfoliator, chocolate-covered almonds, and a sudoko book — just amenities everywhere.”

Jonathan and I got a huge laugh from it because we are doing something similar at our house — but we like to call it “first class lounge”. We want to enjoy the luxury of a first class lounge at home, without going anywhere (or buying a $$$$ 1st class ticket). We started this project a few years back. Here are some of our lounge-y amenities we have added:

Food + Beverage

  • A snack basket bar (two large baskets on the kitchen counter hold individually wrapped snacks) — cookies, nuts, candy, chips, muffins, etc. Inspired by the amazing snack baskets in the galley of a Gulf Air flight from Paris to Abu Dhabi.
  • A well stocked beverage fridge: water, sodas, juice, beer, cider, tiny bottles of booze, champagne, wine — beverage option overload, all of the time. Note: A beverage fridge is hands down the best home upgrade ever. We love it; our guests love it. + It helps free up space in the regular fridge which is very helpful for entertaining.
  • Lots of ramekins: They are perfect size for snacks, nuts, getting rid of used tea bags, etc. They look fancy.
  • Round trays, for serving drinks and snacks.


  • Matching his/her black robes. Somehow black robes just seem fancier.
  • Mouth wash dispenser: On the bathroom counter we have a huge bottle of mouth wash and we have replaced the cap with a pump. Next to it is a stack of little cups. Help yourself to mouthwash!
  • Fancy hand soap: It feels amazing, smells amazing and moisturizes your paws.
  • Wipes: to wash your face, to apply sun screen, to sterilize your hands, for after sex, you name it and there is a wipe for it.
  • Electric throw blanket: Electric blankets are not just for beds anymore! You can have little throw sized ones on couches and in chairs. A-mazing.
  • Flowers: Scatter small bud vases with blooms in a number of locations. They pack more punch than one big bouquet.
  • Massage chair: We don’t have one yet, but it is on my bucket list. For now I just use the $1 machine in the waiting room at the local car wash.

Tech + Work

  • Loads of outlets, you can charge devices everywhere: Each couch has a power strip in a cord box with chargers for all common devices. If you sit down you can charge.
  • Your own weather station: Because you want to know YOUR actual weather, right?
  • Lots of magazines: On diverse topics like street fashion, bathroom renovation, tattoos and foreign politics.

It really doesn’t need to cost a lot to make your house or apartment into a “first class lounge”. It is more about designing your home for your own comfort and anticipating your needs (and your guests needs). We can all have a place to retreat to that calms us, it just takes a little planning and daydreaming.

(Image: Parks & Recreation Season 4 Episode 19 “Live Ammo” on NBC via Videori)


*Disclaimer: I’ve never actually flown 1st class (I’m sure it’s super nice…), but I do get to fly business class for work from time to time. If you have spent some quality time hanging out in 1st class lounges I would love to hear about it & send me suggestions for amenities to add!


What amenities would you ADD to your home?

My Dragon Fruit is booming (but not blooming)

Our neighbors down the street on Douglas Avenue of crazy looking cacti climbing their palm trees. I was fascinated by how crazy they looked, and snagged a piece of it when they pruned the cacti back last summer. I stuck a piece of the cacti in a pot (the bottom 1/2 in the soil) in my back yard and watered it occasionally.

To my surprise, when I researched it, I realized that it is Dragon Fruit. It is a fruit I totally love when ever I go to Asia. I think of it as kind of a white kiwi.

Here is my starter Dragon Fruit (below). This photo was taken a couple months after I planted it. You can see that it is starting to new segments.

This spring I transplanted it into a bigger pot and put it on drip irrigation. I’m careful not too give it too much water. But it has grown a lot.