Our story began more than 80 years ago when my Great-Grandma Edith began making caramels one Christmas on a ranch in Lockwood Valley, CA. I have visions of her standing over her wood burning stove in her cute little apron, stirring away, stealing glances to make sure her little ones were behaving. Little did my great-grandma know, but she was starting a tradition that would be passed down from generation to generation.
My grandma remembers helping her mom stir the pot of bubbling caramel and then wrapping the caramels to give as Christmas gifts to family. The tradition continued for decades, and all of the family would wait anxiously each Christmas for the caramels from my great-grandma’s kitchen. As the years went on, and the tradition was passed down, everyone waited for the caramels that were made out of my grandma’s kitchen, then my mom and dad’s kitchen and now mine.
Even though the tradition my great-grandma started has evolved beyond Christmas gifts, not much else has changed from the Lockwood Valley kitchen. I use all of the same ingredients that my great-grandma used, with the exception of the fresh cream and butter right off the ranch. She would skim the cream from the milk my great-grandpa acquired from the cows on the ranch, and then use the remaining cream to churn the butter. Nowadays, I go to the store. There is no milking of cows or churning butter in my kitchen!
Our caramels are still a labor of love though. They are made in small batches, then hand cut and hand wrapped just as my great-grandma did throughout the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s & 60′s. My own childhood memories are filled with my brothers and me sitting in front of the TV each Christmas wrapping one caramel after another (and of course grabbing a few here and there as payment)! Now my daughter helps with the wrapping, but I am pretty sure she eats more than she wraps.
My dad always wanted to start a caramel business, but had dreamed of doing it with one or more of his children. Many years ago he planted the seed of sharing these caramels beyond our family and friends. My husband agreed, and so for years I have heard him in my ear remind me of the idea, and encourage me to pursue it. I always loved the idea of having my own business, not to mention a handmade caramel business. What is better than making a product that puts a smile on everyone’s face? But then I had a baby, bought a house, worked outside of the home, and helped my husband start a business of his own. The idea was always looming in the back of my mind though . . . someday I will start the caramel business . . . someday.
And then, through the course of various events in my life, it became clear that now was the time to pursue this dream. As my research and brainstorming progressed, it became abundantly obvious that now was indeed the right time. One thing after another fell into place, and next thing I knew my dad and I were making and selling caramels. And the best part of it all: I have my husband, my daughter, my dad, and my dearest friends alongside me and my family cheering me on! Personally, I think they just like all of the samples they have been forced to try over the last several months, but I am not complaining!
So here is to my Great-Grandma Edith, and if she was still here with us, I have no doubt she would be stirring right alongside me. I hope you enjoy her caramels as much as I enjoy sharing them with you!